Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Azania / Jubaland


2011-04-06 "Welcome to Azania/Jubaland: The world's newest pseudostate" by Joshua Keating
In addition to Somaliland and Puntland, it appears Somalia may now be home to a brand new semiautonomous region [], Azania -- confusingly also sometimes called Jubaland [].
Alex Thurston writes []:
[begin excerpt]
Jubaland/Azania now has a president, former Somalia Defence Minister Professor Mohamed Abdi Gandhi, who has said a main goal of his administration will be to defeat al Shabab, Somalia’s Islamic rebel movement. This, Kenya’s Daily Nation reports, is one of the driving goals of the new region’s creation, but Somalia’s neighbors disagree on whether this tactic is a wise one:
"The idea to create an autonomous region near the Kenyan border is hinged on the reason that it will prevent the movement of al Shabaab extremists within the region.
[end excerpt]
Thurston also notes that a recent WikiLeaks cable [] discussed Kenyan support -- with funding from China -- for the creation of Jubaland as a buffer state in early 2010. 
The news doesn't really raise the prospects of Somalia ever really being reunified under the control of Mogadishu. On the other hand, given the relative stability of Somaliland and Puntland, there's a reasonable case to be made that the creation of more smaller, locally controlled regions might be a better option. 
But unlike those states, Azania/Jubaland appears to be very much the creation of Nairobi. Combining this latest news [] with recent reports of Kenyan military activity across the Somali border, it's starting to look like Kenya is joining the civil war in Southern Somalia in a very big way.  
In any case, it appears Limbo World [] has a new member.

2011-04-06 "New semiautonomous region in Somalia vows to fight Al Shabab; The creation of Jubaland/Azania was driven by the need to fight the Al Qaeda-linked militant group, Al Shabab, but it's unclear whether the new region will be able to do that effectively" by Alex Thurston from "Christian Science Monitor"
The country called Somalia contains a host of would-be governments, including the Transitional Federal Government (which claims jurisdiction over Somalia as a whole) and the two semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland. Now Somalia has a third major semi-autonomous region: Jubaland, or Azania [], whose creation was celebrated yesterday (see here for a map of Jubaland [], and here [] for another, somewhat different political map of all Somalia).
Jubaland/Azania now has a president, former Somalia Defence Minister Professor Mohamed Abdi Gandhi, who has said a main goal of his administration will be to defeat al Shabab, Somalia’s Islamic rebel movement. This, Kenya’s Daily Nation reports [], is one of the driving goals of the new region’s creation, but Somalia’s neighbors disagree on whether this tactic is a wise one:
[begin excerpt]
"The idea to create an autonomous region near the Kenyan border is hinged on the reason that it will prevent the movement of al Shabaab extremists within the region.
As the conference ended on Sunday, it was not clear whether the Kenyan Government supported the election but recent WikiLeaks revelations showed that the country supported the creation of an autonomous region near its border with Somalia to prevent the flow of illegal arms.
The meeting had been opposed by both Ethiopia and Djibouti, who argue that creating autonomies in the war-torn country could inspire further insurgency by other regions or degrade the gains made by the TFG."
[end excerpt]
The Jubaland initiative has a long history. A Wikileaks cable [] (see item 6) shows Kenyan support for the idea in early 2010 (via @slowfalling), and “Kenya has been pouring money [and] supplies into the Jubaland area for some time to fight [al] Shabaab.” But momentum toward the creation of an official state picked up with a seven-day conference last week that culminated in the formalization of Jubaland/Azania [].
Now it remains to see how Jubaland will negotiate its relationships with the TFG, with Kenya, and with the rest of Africa.
Commenter James Gundun [], responding to an earlier piece, leaves us with some questions and issues to think about:
[begin excerpt]
Jubaland has been in the works for years – forming a presidential cabinet electing a parliament is expected – although it’s difficult to say what comes next. While TFG officials attended the week-long conference before appointing Mohamed Abdi Gandhi, how much overlap are they willing to cede to Kenya? This arrangement can squeeze al-Shabab through local governance and attempt to remedy the refugee crisis, but friction may easily develop between Nairobi and the TFG. Ethiopia also opposes the formal recognition of Jubaland, citing fears of increased insurgency, as it monitors the newly-created Shabelle Valley administration and aspiring Somali Central State. Positive interplay between the TFG, Kenya, and Ethiopia is vital to stabilizing Somalia.
[end excerpt]
What do you think? Will this move hurt or help al Shabab, or make no substantive difference?

2011-04-06 "Kenya creates new state to act as military, political buffer; Azania is an attempt by the Nairobi government to bring order and security to northeastern border with Somalia, which is overrun by militias" by Jonathan Manthorpe from "Vancouver Sun" newspaper
With little fanfare and even less international attention, a new state of 1.3 million people called Azania was ushered into existence on Sunday.
And Azania has an interim president, Prof. Mohamed Gandhi Mohamed, who was sworn in at the end of seven days of deliberations held in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
The venue for the discussions and the proclamation was no accident.
Azania is very much a creation of the Nairobi government and an attempt to bring order and security to Kenya's troublesome northeastern border with Somalia, where there has been no functioning administration since 1991.
Azania is to be made up of three Somali regions bordering Kenya: Lower and Middle Juba and Gedo. The capital of what some are calling Jubaland is expected to be the port city of Kismayo.
The Nairobi government of President Mwai Kibaki wants President Gandhi to create a buffer state to protect Kenya from the marauding fighters of the radical Islamic group al-Shabaab.
After his swearing in on Sunday, Gandhi said his first duty is to retake Azania from the al-Shabaab militias, which now control most of southern Somalia and travel back and forth across the border with Kenya at will.
The Kibaki government has already made preparations to give Gandhi, a former Somalia defence minister, the tools to do that job.
One of the WikiLeaks documents is a message dated Feb. 17, 2010, from the United States embassy in Nairobi to Washington, which says that the previous month the Kenyan government had received a shipment of arms and ammunition from the Chinese government "in support of the Government of Kenya's Jubaland initiative."
There's no doubt that the chaos in Somalia since the last president, Siad Barre, was ousted by warlords 20 years ago has been a real headache for Kenya.
Just two weeks ago, al-Shabaab fighters attacked two border towns, Dobley and Liboi. There was intense fighting with Kenyan security forces, and some reports say 200 people were killed and hundreds more wounded.
A continuing problem for Kenya is the Dadaab refugee camp inside Kenya, about 100 kilometres from the Somali border. The camp is holding 332,000 Somali refugees, according to the United Nations -three times the number for which it was designed when it was opened in 1991.
The camp, according to various reports, has become a rear base, rest and recreation resort and recruiting centre for al-Shabaab.
Nairobi wants Dadaab closed, the refugees sent home to Somalia. The creation of Azania is a key part of that strategy.
Kenya was a strong supporter of the United Nations and African Union-backed Somali Transitional National Government (TNG), created in 2004.
But despite the assistance of several thousand African Union troops, the TNG still controls only a few blocks of the capital, Mogadishu. There are almost daily battles and skirmishes with al-Shabaab, which controls the rest of the capital and much of the rest of southern Somalia.
Kenya's promotion of the creation of Azania is tacit admission that the Nairobi government has little confidence the TNG is going to get its act together and establish a functioning administration in Somalia any time soon.
And Azania is modelled on the two regions of Somalia where there are governments that are working reasonably well.
Soon after President Barre's ouster in 1991, northern Somalia declared itself separate.
It has been operating reasonably successfully as Somaliland since then, though it is not internationally recognized as an independent country.
Puntland, the northeastern region of Somalia, in 1998 also declared itself an autonomous region, but made it clear that, unlike Somaliland, it envisages an eventual reunification with Somalia.
Puntland was one of the main centres for piracy against shipping in the Gulf of Aden. But in the last couple of years the Puntland government, has worked hard to suppress piracy and most of the pirates in the region now operate from coastal towns further south in the region under the influence of al-Shabaab.
While the attraction to Kenya of trying to create something similar in Azania is clear, not everyone believes it can happen.
The governments of Ethiopia and Djibouti in particular fear Azania will just be a spark for more of the clan warfare that has kept Somalia in chaos for 20 years.

2011-04-03 "Somalis swear in the president of Jubaland" by AGGREY MUTAMBO
A former Somali Defence minister has been sworn in as the president of the newly created semi-autonomous region of Jubaland.
Prof Mohamed Abdi Gandhi was sworn in at a meeting of Somalis in Nairobi.
The longtime anthropology professor in France will be in charge of the area near the border between Kenya and Somalia.
The region includes the three sub-regions of Lower Juba, Middle Juba and Gedo and is estimated to have a population of 1.3 million.
The appointment followed a week-long conference that brought together representatives of the civil society, Somali youth, elders and members of the Transitional Federal Government.
Prof Gandhi had been spearheading the breakaway. But an official in charge of organising the conference said participants decided to elect Prof Gandhi because “he is the face of Jubaland in the eyes of the international community”.
The official, who requested anonymity because he is not the official spokesman, said: “Panellists viewed Prof Mohamed Gandhi as a punctual and flexible person. They thought it wise to have him lead them.”
Prior to the swearing in, Prof Gandhi had indicated he would love “to liberate Jubaland from extremists”.
The idea to create an autonomous region near the Kenyan border is hinged on the reason that it will prevent the movement of al Shabaab extremists within the region.
As the conference ended on Sunday, it was not clear whether the Kenyan Government supported the election but recent WikiLeaks revelations showed that the country supported the creation of an autonomous region near its border with Somalia to prevent the flow of illegal arms.
The meeting had been opposed by both Ethiopia and Djibouti, who argue that creating autonomies in the war-torn country could inspire further insurgency by other regions or degrade the gains made by the TFG.
The official said the election of the president was only the initial stage of making Jubaland autonomous.
The region will have to create a parliament and the president will appoint the cabinet.

2010-12-08 "US embassy cables: China providing military and intelligence gathering support to Kenya"
Summary -
In January 2010, Kenya received Chinese weapons, ammunition, supplies and textiles. Telkom Kenya awarded a contract to a Chinese company to provide landline telephone monitoring equipment after pressure from an official who received kickbacks. The US is closely watching China's growing influence in Africa.
Wednesday, 17 February 2010, 07:01
S E C R E T NAIROBI 000181
EO 12958 DECL: 2020/02/17
SUBJECT: Chinese Engagement in Kenya
REF: 10 STATE 10152
CLASSIFIED BY: Christopher Walton, Economics Officer, State, Econ; REASON: 1.4(B), (C), (D)
1. (S/NF) Summary: China's engagement in Kenya continues to grow exponentially. China enjoys a large trade surplus with Kenya; exports increased by more than 25 percent a year from 2004 to 2008. The China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) is drilling for oil in the Isiolo region. China may be a potential partner in the development of the new mega-port at Lamu. In addition, China is heavily involved in various infrastructure projects across Kenya primarily with roads. China is also providing weapons to the GOK in support of its Somalia policies and increasing their involvement with the Kenyan National Security and Intelligence Service (NSIS) by providing telecommunications and computer equipment. Recently, China signed an economic and technical cooperation agreement with the GOK providing new development grants. To date, China and the U.S. do not collaborate on development projects in Kenya. End summary.

2. (U) China enjoys a large trade surplus with Kenya, exporting more than 30 times its imports. For 2008, China exported $917 million of goods to Kenya while China imported $29 million worth of Kenyan goods. China's exports in 2008 grew by 39 percent over 2007 capping the fourth straight year of at least 25 percent export growth, including a 54 percent increase in 2007 and a 79 percent increase in 2005. China is now the third largest exporter to Kenya after the United Arab Emirates, which principally exports oil to Kenya, and India. In comparison, the U.S. exported $440 million worth of goods to Kenya in 2008 while importing $343 million worth of Kenyan goods.

3. (U) The CNOOC is drilling for oil in the Isiolo region of Kenya (see ref A). The exploratory well will cost $26 million dollars and drilling will be complete in April 2010. Numerous oil companies have drilled 31 exploratory wells in Kenya over the last 50 years without success. However, CNOOC is making a credible effort to find oil in an area geologically similar to Southern Sudan, with its substantial oil finds. As reported ref A, we had heard that CNOOC would announce results from the exploratory well by January 2010; we are now hearing an announcement may come in April.

4. (U) The GOK is highly interested in developing a major port complex in Lamu, which has much greater potential as a deep water port than Mombasa. The GOK originally held discussions with Qatar over the development of the Lamu port in return for a substantial allocation of farm land. Negotiations involving development of the Lamu port reportedly occur inside the "black box" of President Kibaki's inner circle at State House. We understand, however, that talks with Qatar are off, and that the Chinese are in play as a potential partner for the port development project and associated regional infrastructure (road and rail infrastructure to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia, and pipeline infrastructure to Southern Sudan and Uganda). China's interest in the Lamu project is reportedly linked to the presence of oil in Southern Sudan and Uganda which could be exported via Lamu as well as the greater export potential to Ethiopia, Southern Sudan and Uganda. The addition of oil from Isiolo would add additional impetus to China's interest in the port development which is estimated to cost more than $5 billion.

5. (SBU) China is currently developing a number of infrastructure projects in Kenya. Currently, China Wuyi, Syno Hydro, and China Overseas Engineering Corporation are working on the Thika Road project, a major eight lane highway from Nairobi to Thika town. Another Chinese firm, Shengli Engineering & Consulting Company was the prime contractor for the Mombasa-City Centre-Gigiri road upgrade project. In addition, the second phase of a project to upgrade the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is being worked by China National Aero-Technology International Engineering Company (CATIC). The first phase of the project was completed by the Chinese company, China Wu Yi. TBEA International, another Chinese firm, is developing a 120 MW thermal plant in Longonot and 600 MW coal-fired power station in Mombasa as an independent power producer. TBEA is also undertaking projects that involve construction of 132 kV lines and sub-stations in the Rift Valley, Central, Western and Coast provinces. During a recent visit to the Olkaria geothermal development site in the Rift Valley Province, Econoff observed that Great Wall Drilling, another Chinese company, was exploring for geothermal energy. The KenGen Olkaria Geothermal Development Manager told Econoff that while he would prefer to buy quality American drills, pipes, and other geothermal-related products, American companies could not compete with China on price and price won every time in Kenya.

6. (S/NF) In January 2010, the GOK received from the GOC via CATIC weapons, ammunition, supplies, and textiles for making uniforms in support of the GOK's Jubaland initiative.

7. (S/NF) As of late August 2009, XXXXXXXXXXXX awarded XXXXXXXXXXXX a contract to provide landline telephone monitoring equipment to XXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXXXX awarded the contract to XXXXXXXXXXXX after being pressured to do so by XXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX . XXXXXXXXXXXX 's preference for is based on kickbacks he received XXXXXXXXXXXX while on a visit to China. XXXXXXXXXXXX received monthly payments of over $5000 from XXXXXXXXXXXX which were used to pay medical bills.

8. (S/NF) As of September 2008, XXXXXXXXXXXX As of early March 2009, Chinese technicians were working on a project in the basement of the NSIS headquarters. The presence of the technicians was well known throughout the NSIS and was causing some concern over the level of cooperation between the NSIS and its Chinese counterparts.

9. (U) The GOK and GOC recently signed an Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement. The agreement provides a $7.3 million grant from China to Kenya. Of the grant, $150,000 will finance a computer program for the Ministry of Finance while the remaining funds can be used by the GOK to fund development projects of their choice. The agreement also covered Chinese funding of feasibility studies for the potential development of Lamu port. In addition, China committed to funding portions of the Northern Corridor road project, which links Mombasa and Nairobi to Ethiopia and Southern Sudan, as well as parts of the new Mombasa-Kampala standard gauge railway. Currently, China's Shengli Engineering Construction is refurbishing The Moi International Sports Complex at Kasarani with $12.8 million of grant-in-aid money from China. In Early 2009, China provided a $1 million grant to the GOK for the construction of a 100 bed hospital in Nairobi. In 2008, the GOK received approximately $381 million in interest-free and preferential loans, with $145 million intended for the planned ring roads aimed at decongesting Nairobi. Since 2008, the GOK has implemented campaigns to attract investment from the $1 billion China-Africa Development Fund.

10. (U) China's companies working in Kenya tend to import a substantial number of Chinese workers. This importation of labor from China tends to limit the number of Kenyans who directly benefit with wages and knowledge transfer from the projects. The low Chinese bids on major projects also push local firms out of the process, especially in infrastructure areas where capacity building of local firms would be useful. In addition, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) noticed a marked increase in poaching wherever Chinese labor camps were located and in fact set up specific interdiction efforts aimed to reduce poaching (see ref B). KWS also reports that 90% of the ivory smugglers detained at JKIA are Chinese nationals.

11. (U) The U.S. mission in Kenya has no current or pending development partnership arrangements with the GOC or any informal collaboration at the program or project level. The GOC does not participate in donor coordination in Kenya. Donors have encouraged the GOK to bring China into the donor coordination process, but no progress has been made to date. While we do not recommend it, a potential area for collaboration could include agricultural development, a USG strength and an area of Chinese interest in Africa. However, the GOC does not participate in the multilateral agricultural donors group in Kenya. The GOC could be invited to join this donors group, predicated on their willingness to sign a Memorandum of Understanding ensuring their support of Kenya's long term agriculture strategy. The World Bank recently announced a new initiative to work in cooperation with Chinese infrastructure development in Africa. This new effort seems to be aimed at working with China and African countries to maximize the benefits of Chinese development aid to the African people.

12. (SBU) Comment: Collaboration between the USG and China in Kenya should be approached cautiously as there appears to be little dovetailing of our interests to date. The GOC has been silent on the implementation of the reform agenda, which we consider essential to Kenya's future stability and prosperity; the GOC turns a blind eye to the flooding of the Kenyan market with Chinese counterfeit goods, such as batteries, which directly damage U.S. market share here; and the GOC has not demonstrated any commitment to curb ivory poaching. We expect China's engagement in Kenya to continue to grow given Kenya's strategic location. If oil or gas is found in Kenya, this engagement will likely grow even faster. Kenya's leadership may be tempted to move ever closer to China in an effort to shield itself from Western, and principally U.S., pressure to reform. Given the possibility of a backlash by the Kenyan people against China, perhaps over the issue of imported Chinese labor or mishandling of natural resources, there may be benefits to keeping our distance, at least publicly, from China. RANNEBERGER

No comments:

Post a Comment