— The Erimtan Angle —

 

In the great tradition established by Bush, Jr. the British Prime Minister David Cameron has now issued a warning, insinuating that the UK’s domestic security is at risk from Somali militants. Hyperbole and fear-mongering at its finest, and for good measure the name of that that “catch-all ghost entity” has once again been drummed up to garner support. It seems that Cameron is trying to construct a parallel with Afghanistan, as a way of securing the voting public continuing support, in a fashion similar to Bush’s high popularity ratings in the aftermath of 9/11 and the opening months of the invasion of the Hindu Kush. Will his stratagem work and will the British public be lured into voting Tory again next time around???  The BBC remarks that ‘British Prime Minister David Cameron has told the BBC that radical jihadist islamism in Somalia remains his biggest concern about the country. In an interview with BBC Somali Service editor Yusuf Garaad Omar, Mr Cameron said the international security threat from al-Shabab, which controls large areas of Somalia, is real and substantial. The British government is hosting an international conference on Somalia in London on Thursday [, 23 February] to discuss strategies to tackle the security situation, piracy and aid for Somalia. The conference will be attended by more than 40 political leaders from Africa, the Middle East and other countries’.[1]

The Telegraph’s Damien McElroy informs us that “Britain is to spend £20 million on a new civilian rapid reaction force to secure parts of Somalia wrested from the control of the Islamic militant group al-Shabaab”, once the AU forces have left the country”.[2] Thus, one could argue that Cameron felt compelled to up the ante and sharpen his rhetoric so as to justify this extravagant-looking expenditure to a austerity-struck home public. Like Bush kept on saying that America was battling the terrorists in Iraq, rather than at home in the U.S., Cameron now employs a similar figure of speech to convince his critics that spending millions of Pounds on yet another foreign war is not just justified but necessary to keep Britain safe. The Foreign Secretary William Hague supports the words of his boss: “We want to help Somalis find longer-term political solutions, and a key part of tomorrow will be capitalising on recent security progress on the ground. We can make a huge difference if we get this right”.[3]  Cameron and Hague imply that this £20 million spent on weapons constitutes yet another humanitarian intervention that will secure the West, while immobilizing the threat of radical Islam. Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab have become the latest configuration of evil now that the Taliban are seen as a necessary evil in the Hindu Kush and Al Qaeda elements are primarily conspicuous in their absence in the Af-Pak theatre. Yemen, across the Gulf of Aden, has also been mobilized to present another Islamic threat, necessary for the continuation of the never-ending War-on-Terror. Will the Af-Pak theatre now be replaced by the Somali-Yemen axis as the locus for the West’s military interventionism???  Making his point abundantly clear, David Cameron told the BBC Somali service Al Shabaab “encourages violent jihad not just in Somalia but also outside Somalia. And there is a very real danger of young British Somalis having their minds poisoned by this organisation. So there is a terrorist threat that is current today, and if we are not careful, could get worse”.[4]

David Cameron has now ensured that Britain will stay the course on the ever-lasting War-on-Terror, but other world leaders are also attending the London Conference on Thursday, 23 February. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, and representatives of the World Bank, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as well as many others will be present too in London. It seems that a number of Yemenis will be able to attend: the ‘Foreign Minister Abu Baker al-Qirbi, who will represents Yemen in the conference, said the conference will discuss the Somali case and its security and political implications on the Horn of Africa and the world in general. The discussions will be based on seven headings: Security, Political Process, Local Stability, Counter-Terrorism, Humanitarian, and International Coordination, according to Al-Qiribi. Senior representatives from over 40 governments and multi-lateral organizations will come together in London with the aim of delivering a new international approach to Somalia. They will discuss how the international community can step-up its efforts to tackle both the root causes and effects of the problems in the country’, as reported by the Yemen Post.[5]

But not just Yemen, also Turkey – which now sees itself as the pseudo-Ottoman champion of the Third World, as clearly evidenced by the charity campaign organized by the Diyanet during last Ramazan – is present at the London conference. In fact, Turkey’s wily Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu abandons an unofficial meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Mexico to be present at the Somalia Conference. David Cameron thus calls upon the international community to endorse his bold moves to perpetuate the never-ending War-on-Terror. The conference organizers have released this statement, already echoed by the Yemen Post higher: ‘The international community hopes to agree a series of practical measures which will be published in the form of a communiqué at the end of the conference. Discussion will be arranged under seven headings:

Security: sustainable funding for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and support for Somali security and justice sectors. Political Process: agreement to what should succeed the transitional institutions in Mogadishu in August 2012 and the establishment of a Joint Financial Management Board. Local Stability: a coordinated international package of support to Somalia’s regions. Counter-terrorism: renewed commitment to tackle collectively the terrorist threat emanating from Somalia. Piracy: breaking the piracy business model. Humanitarian: renewed commitment to tackling Somalia’s humanitarian crisis. International coordination: agreement on improved international handling of Somalia issues’.[6]


[1] “Cameron on hopes for Somalia conference” BBC News (2 Feb 2012). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17122583.

[2] Damien McElroy, “Britain to spend £20 million on new rapid reaction force for Somalia” The Telegraph (23 Feb 2012). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/somalia/9096795/Britain-to-spend-20-million-on-new-rapid-reaction-force-for-Somalia.html.

[3] Damien McElroy, “Britain to spend £20 million on new rapid reaction force for Somalia”.

[4] Damien McElroy, “Britain to spend £20 million on new rapid reaction force for Somalia”.

[5] “Yemen partakes in London Somalia Conference” Yemen Post (22 Feb 2012). http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=4774&MainCat=3.

[6] “Conference details” Foreign & Commonwealth Office. http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/global-issues/london-conference-somalia/conference-details/.

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