Ever since the fall of the Somalia’s pro-US president, Mohammad Siad Barre, in 1991, the country has been in a state of chaos and disorder. In the absence of a central authority, tribal conflicts, warlordism, and a resurgent militancy in the form of Al Shabab have come to dominate and define the political reality of Somalia.
Economic stagnation and lawlessness, moreover, have given rise to one of the oldest profession’s in human history, thereby turning a dangerous majority of the bright yet hopeless Somali youths into the world’s most prominent pirates. And as if this is not depressing enough, an unfortunate geography combined with a lack of state-planning have brought food insecurity and malnutrition to the proud inhabitants of this ancient land.
That Somalia has not received a single piece of positive coverage over the past 20 years, therefore, ought not to be surprising. After all, this is the ”œmost comprehensively failed state” where human suffering starts at birth. However, Somalia’s fortune might be about to change. This anticipated alternation, in turn, is not because Al Shabab’s power and influence is ebbing. Nor is it due to the approaching expiration of the Transitional Federal Institutions mandate which some claim will help to support a more inclusive political process. Rather, it is in the renewed international interest in Somalia as an oil producing nation that one can trace a fast-changing geostrategic role for Somalia; one that will no longer be confined to counter-terrorism and anti-piracy efforts.
After British Prime Minister, David Cameron, hosted an international conference on Somalia on February 23, The Observer revealed that London has been in a ”œsecret high-stakes dash for oil in Somalia” in return for British humanitarian aid and security assistance. The revelation and British Foreign Minister William Hague’s comments during his visit to Somalia, where he talked about ”œthe beginnings of an opportunity to rebuild the country”, cast a question mark over London’s, and indeed the entire western world’s humanitarian endeavours with some commentators going as far as dubbing the summit as ”˜aid for oil’.