Interests of the Superpowers

MOGADISHU/BERLIN/ADDIS ABABA | | aethiopiensomalia

MOGADISHU/BERLIN/ADDIS ABABA (Own report) - German politicians specializing in foreign policy are promising arms aid for deployment in Somalia. According to Berlin Somalia, which was attacked and occupied by Ethiopia, should be "pacified" with "at least 10,000 soldiers" of the African Union (AU). The continuing militarization is in the service of a so-called interim government (Transitional Federal Government, TFG), which collaborates with Ethiopia. It consists of Somali exiled politicians and was installed - with German accord - in Mogadishu by the invaders last December. Berlin has already supported the TFG in the past and grants the Ethiopian dictatorship technical, economic and military assistance. Ethiopia, whose government persecutes the national opposition with mass arrests, is considered a barrier against Islamic forces due to its Christian population, and is appreciated as a geopolitical outpost in the Horn of Africa. Off-shore German naval units assure security for one of the world's most important sea routes. Actually the entire region is subordinate to western military supervision. The Ethiopian occupation of Somalia clears obstacles, standing in the way of NATO military domination, and is part of the German-American agreements to secure resource supply routes.

Protecting Power, Ethiopia

The Transitional Federal Government (TFG), installed recently in Mogadishu by Ethiopian troops, was formed in exile at the end of 2004. It is a result of Ethiopian influence. A previous attempt to provide a new government for Somalia, which since 1991 has been submerged in civil war - was a failure because of Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian government lays claim to regional hegemony over the Horn of Africa and has already initiated wars of conquest against Somalia. In 2001, Addis Ababa began to support the armed Somali opposition against the newly appointed - and toward Ethiopia, non-compliant - administration. And finally Ethiopia helped its Somali collaborators obtain the crucial positions in the TFG.[1] From the outset their acceptance by Somalis was so low, that it was impossible for months for their functionaries to leave their exile and enter Somalia.[2] The TFG could only gain access last summer, to their first Somali base of operations, in the provincial town of Baidoa, under protection of the Ethiopian armed forces.

No Support

According to experts, the TFG still does not have enough support inside Somalia to be able to peacefully achieve control of the country. In the Somali society, characterized by clan structures, it is presently only supported by small pro-Ethiopian segments, shutting out powerful families. By forming a coalition, the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), these families had begun to stabilize the extensively destroyed Somalia and received broad endorsement from the war-weary population. The UIC has been fought from the beginning, because it did not guarantee an unconditional subservience, in spite of the fact that, according to western specialists, it is supported by only a small segment of the country's Islamic forces.[3] The Ethiopian government and the TFG, under its control, have made themselves available as regional enforcement powers.

German Support

The Ethiopian government and the TFG, which are waging their imperial campaign against the UIC, as an alleged anti-terror struggle, openly receiving US military aid, are among Berlin's East African protégés.[4] In November 2004, the former Minister of State in the Foreign Ministry, Kerstin Mueller, (The Greens) had already assured the newly founded TFG in exile, that it can count on "the support of Germany, in its efforts to have a mission of the African Union re-establish security in Somalia".[5] The CDU development policy spokesman, Hartwig Fischer now demands, that the African Union send "at least 10,000 soldiers" to Somalia in support of the TFG, and is considering providing training facilities and aid in arms from the EU.[6] The surveillance activities of German warships permit Berlin to prevent weapons supplies from reaching the UIC.

Regional Hegemonic Power

Two years ago, Addis Ababa made itself available to Berlin's extraordinary influence offensive: Hundreds of German specialists work in Ethiopia, on behalf of German development agencies in "key positions in industry and administration" and closely bind that country to Germany in relationship to comprehensive diplomatic initiatives (German foreign policy.com has reported extensively).[7] The Development Ministry confirmed upon request, that despite Ethiopian belligerence, a cutback in German aid is not in discussion. Two years ago, the Addis Ababa branch of the Goethe Institute proclaimed that "in the year 2020, Ethiopia will be a regional hegemonic power".[8] The current invasion of Somalia and the installation of an Ethiopian puppet government in Mogadishu, are already components of the developments being hoped for in Germany. For more than a century Berlin has regarded Addis Ababa as a Germanophilic outpost in East Africa and sought to obtain an alliance with Ethiopia already in World War I. Berlin views a close cooperation as self-evident, even though, over the past few years, the Ethiopian regime has encountered substantial criticism, including from several EU states, because of massacres of its opponents and the arbitrary arrests of thousands of innocent people.

German Interests

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier now uses the German presidency of the EU Council, to further extend German influence in East Africa, through the so-called Somalia Contact Group. So far Germany has only participated in this informal union of western interested parties by the round-about way of the EU.[9] As Chancellor Angela Merkel recently stressed, at the focal point of German Africa policy there are no "charitable arguments, as once had been seen in the past, but (...) tangible Interests."[10] Last fall, these German interests in the Horn of Africa were described in "a special report" co-authored by the German ambassador to Addis Ababa and a former section chief in the Foreign Ministry. It is explained, that there is an important potential of "strategically important raw materials (for example gas, oil, minerals)" in the area.[11] Besides Ethiopia plays "a strategic role" in the precarious Northeast African water supply, because the Blue Nile, which has its source on Ethiopian territory, provides four-fifths of the entire water volume of the Nile - an important source of power. What's more, the situation in the East African coastal regions has "direct political, economic and social-cultural consequences and mutual ramifications on the opposite Arabic shore", elucidates the paper with a view to the resources rich area of the Arabic Peninsula.

Commerce and Warships

But above all, write the authors, it is the security of the maritime routes off the East African coast that constitutes the "special German interest".[12] Tankers with altogether more than 3.3 million barrels of oil, as well as other merchant vessels pass daily through the straits Bab el Mandeb, near Djibouti, which permits the passage from the Indian Ocean, via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, into Mediterranean European ports. This waterway is not only important for European oil imports, but also for Germany's booming commerce with Asia. Finally the passage through Bab el Mandeb is indispensable for logistical supplies for the Middle Eastern theaters of conflict. In the years 2002 and 2003 alone, the German navy escorted off the Horn of Africa more than 40 warships (most from the USA), which crossed between the Mediterranean and the Arabian Sea. According to the Eritrean information Minister, at the core of the current conflict between the TFG and its western allies in opposition to the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), lie "the geopolitical interests of the superpowers against the choice of the Somalis".[13]

Please read also: Deutsche Flotte bricht nach Ostafrika auf, Soldaten für Ostafrika, Sehr gut, Gesamtstrategie and Sonderbericht

[1] Can the Somali Crisis be Contained? International Crisis Group, Africa Report No 116, 10 August 2006
[2] see also Sehr gut
[3] Can the Somali Crisis be Contained? International Crisis Group, Africa Report No 116, 10 August 2006
[4] see also Mit Rebellen gegen Khartum and Geteilte Menschenrechte
[5] Staatsministerin Müller traf mit Führung der somalischen Übergangsregierung zusammen; Pressemitteilung des Auswärtigen Amts 17.11.2004. See also Sehr gut
[6] Deutsche Zurückhaltung; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05.01.2006
[7] see also Key positions, Regionale Hegemonialmacht, Berater, Indispensable Rights and Governance Aspects
[8] Äthiopien im Jahr 2020. Akteure, Szenarien und Optionen; www.goethe.de. See also Regionale Hegemonialmacht
[9] Mitglieder der sogenannten Somalia-Kontaktgruppe, die im Sommer zum innerwestlichen Interessenabgleich gegründet wurde, sind außer den ehemaligen Kolonialmächten Italien und Großbritannien die USA, Norwegen, Schweden, Tansania und die Europäische Union.
[10] Rede von Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel anlässlich der Tagung "Impulse 21 - Berliner Forum Sicherheitspolitik" des BMVg und des Tagesspiegel zum Thema "Ziele und Interessen deutscher Sicherheitspolitik" am 10. November 2006 in Berlin
[11], [12] Anmerkungen zur politischen Lage am Horn von Afrika von Dr. Claas D. Knoop und Dr. Peter Roell; Sonderbericht Afrika der Hanns Seidel Stiftung, Oktober 2006. See also Sonderbericht
[13] Der lange Weg zum Frieden am Horn von Afrika; Deutsche Welle 02.01.2007