Somalia: United States Strategic Interest Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 18 December 2016

Somalia: United States Strategic Interest


In recent years, Africa’s growing strategic importance has been greatly noted and documented in several studies and papers by United States policymakers, Department of Defense (DOD) and military analysts. Africa’s natural and energy resources are the main focus due to the crude oil export has matched what the Middle East provided in the past. As envisioned by the DOD, AFRICOM aims to promote United States strategic objectives and protect United States interests in the region by working with African states and regional organizations to help strengthen their defense capabilities so that they are better able to contribute to regional stability and security [Lauren Ploch, 2011]. There are several issues that affect the United States and AFRICOM success, to include armed conflicts, violent extremist activities, piracy and several humanitarian crises across the region. In this paper, we will discuss and focus on the Somalia region and the primary issue that could arise.

The Importance of Somalia

Somalia has unexploited natural resources, including uranium, iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt and natural gas. Due to its proximity to the oil-rich Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the nation is also believed to contain extensive untapped reserves of oil. Somalia is ranked second only to Sudan as the top prospective producer of untapped petroleum. American, Australian and Chinese oil companies, in particular, are excited about the prospect of finding petroleum and other natural resources in the country. As a result of these developments, the Somali Petroleum Company was created by the federal government [“Exploration rights in Somalia for Chinese oil giant CNOOC”. Feb 2009].

Uranium is also found in large quantities in the region. In the nonexistence of a central government, Somalia’s residents reverted to local forms of conflict resolution, consisting of civil law, religious law and customary law. A few self-governing regions emerged in the north in the ensuing process of decentralization. The early 2000s saw the creation of fledgling interim federal administrations. [Central Intelligence Agency; Oct 2011] The Transitional National Government (TNG) was established in 2000 followed by the formation of its successor the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in 2004, which reestablished national institutions such as the Military of Somalia. In 2006, the TFG, assisted by Ethiopian troops, assumed control of most of the nation’s southern conflict zones from the newly formed Islamic Courts Union (ICU).

Somalia Government and al-Shabaab Influence

The ICU then splintered into more drastic groups such as Al-Shabaab, which battled the TFG and its AMISOM (African Union Mission In Somalia) allies for control of the region with the insurgents losing most of the territory that they had seized by mid-2012 [Reuters, 2012]. In 2011-2012, a Roadmap political process providing clear benchmarks leading toward the establishment of permanent democratic institutions was launched. Surrounded by this administrative framework, a new Provisional Constitution was passed in August 2012, which labels Somalia as a federation. Following the end of the TFG’s interim directive the same month, the Federal Government of Somalia, the first permanent central government in the country since the start of the civil war, was also formed. The nation has concurrently experienced a period of intense reconstruction, particularly in the capital, Mogadishu.

Through the years, Somalia has maintained an informal economy, based mainly on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications. Somalia, including the Al-Shabaab controlled areas, had its best crop yield in seven years in 2010. Al-Shabaab claimed some credit for the success, saying that their reduction of over-sized cheap food imports allowed Somalia’s own grain production, which normally has high potential, to flourish. In 2011, Al-Shabaab increasingly sought to cooperate with other criminal organizations and pirate gangs in the face of dwindling funds and resources. They launched maritime raids from areas in southern Somalia controlled by the rebellious outfit. Al-Shabaab members have also extorted the pirates, demanding protection money from them and forcing seized pirate gang leaders to hand over a percentage of ransom proceeds.

While Al-Shabaab has been reduced in power and size since the beginning of the coordinated operation against it by the Somalian military and the Kenyan army, the group has continued its efforts at recruitment and territorial control, increasingly sought to cooperate with other criminal organizations and pirate gangs in the face of dwindling funds and resources. The outfit maintains training camps in areas near Kismayo in the southern regions of Somalia. One such camp was constructed in Laanta Bur village near Afgooye, which is also where the former K-50 airport is located. On July 11, 2012, Somali federal troops and their AMISOM allies captured the area from the militants. [Top News Reuters; February 12, 2012.]

Strategic Analytical Technique

Using the Outside-in analytical technique, which is used to identify the full range of basic forces, factors and trends that would indirectly shape an issue, lets breakdown the Somalia effects on United States interests. The key forces that would affect the process would be the unexploited natural resources that several countries are interested in, insert the al-Shabaab influence that has been waging an insurgency against Somalia’s fragile interim government since 2007 who formally became part of al-Qaeda last year and the political windfall they could create. As reported on CNN February 9, 2012 an audio message posted on Al-Shabaab’s website Mukhtar Abu al-Zubair announced in a fifteen-minute video message that Al-Shabaab would be joining the Islamist militant terrorist organization al-Qaeda, under the leadership of Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Zubair stated, “On behalf of the soldiers and the commanders in al-Shabaab, we pledge allegiance to you. So lead us to the path of jihad and martyrdom that was drawn by our imam, the martyr Osama.”[CNN; February 9, 2012].

Furthering showing that, despite reports, the organization continues to stride and grow into a larger and more threating entity. Almost, in this reporters opinion; like the threat al-Qaeda posed to Afghanistan and other countries. The billions of dollars that could be potentially gained from the profits of the exporting of the resources drilled and mined from Somalia could cause different scenarios. Let’s begin with al-Shabaab, with collaboration they have formed with al-Qaeda presents a threat to both United States Homeland Security and the local authorities; could derail efforts to stabilize Africa as a whole. In regards to United States interest in Somalia, analysts have reported that al-Shabaab influences are not aimed at taking over United States areas, but to establishing fundamentalist administrations [Hurriyet, 2012.]. As of June 2012, they have been attempting to synchronize and coordinate their activities in terms of sharing funds, training and explosives.

Now, if they are able to complete this task it could potentially bleed over to controlling United States interests to fund their organization for example, taking over the Somali Petroleum Company. Although many experts believe that al-Shabaab will continue to impose their will on Government policies, but looking outside that theory could prove to show what could happen in the long term or future endeavors. The prospective of a major attack is there, just like the attack on the World trade center in the United States was considered improbable years ago, this situation with the facts could be probable. In conclusion, this situation could elevate in the near future to impact United States interest and Africa negatively. As in Iraq, United States influence to stabilize the government was needed and affective and could be a possible scenario. Full United States and multi country siege to stabilize and remove the growing threat that al-Shabaab imposes, stabilize the government and bring safety back to the people of Somalia and the region are the courses of action that should be considered.


1. “Exploration rights in Somalia for Chinese oil giant CNOOC”. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 2. “Shabab credit for Somali food boom – Africa”. Al Jazeera English. January 14, 2012. 3. Central Intelligence Agency (2011). “Somalia”. The World Factbook. Langley, Virginia: Central Intelligence Agency. 5 Oct 2011. 4. Special Report: In Africa, a militant group’s growing appeal”. Reuters. 30 May 2012. 5. ^ “Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and Al-Shabaab ‘merge’”. Hurriyet Daily News. 26 June 2012. 6. “African Terrorist Groups Starting to Cooperate, United States Says”. Bloomberg. 25 June 2012. 7. “Al-Shabaab joining al Qaeda, monitor group says”. CNN. February 9, 2012. 8. Africa Command: United States Strategic Interests and the Role of the United States Military in Africa Lauren Ploch July 22, 2011

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