Save military resources by closing Djibouti base



Somalia has not had a credibImage result for Djibouti base usle, elected government in place in its capital, Mogadishu, for 26 years, since January 1991. Somalia’s population is 11 million, the country has no interesting resources — no oil, no minerals — and is mostly desert.

Nonetheless, the fact that Somalia hosts a hit-and-run Islamic movement, al-Shabab, “the youth” in the Somali language, has served as a justification for the U.S. military to set up its only major military base in Africa in Djibouti, on Somalia’s northern border. Djibouti, the former French Somaliland, has a population under a million. The U.S. base there, Camp Lemonnier, holds fighter bombers and several thousand troops and plays a role in aImage result for Camp Lemonnier regional drone program. How much it has cost is hard to determine, masked in Pentagon budget fog.

The problem of Somalia has attracted considerable American and world attention since 1992, when President George H.W. Bush decided to put U.S. troops there to protect those delivering humanitarian aid to a suffering population from other, marauding Somalis. Almost all forces were withdrawn by President Bill Clinton in 1993 after Somalis killed some 18 Americans in Mogadishu, an episode captured in the book and film “Black Hawk Down.”

Since then, an expensive coalition of United Nations and African Union troops has strived mightily to put together a credible Somali government, basically without success. The latest failure to do so was outlined in a U.N. report released Dec. 27, which described the most recent mess that Somali elders and other leaders had made of choosing a parliament that will, in principle, elect a president later this month. Among other democracy-abusing measures, the so-called NatiImage result for Black Hawk Down.onal Leadership Forum raised the number of members of the upper house of the new legislature from 54 to 75, completely outside the Somalia constitution, to provide more internationally financed jobs for legislators.

There is just no reason for 26 years of corruption-based insecurity in Somalia to continue to serve as the justification for an expensive American base in northeast Africa. It is clearly time for the new administration to red-pencil Camp Lemonnier out.


  1. Somalia has untapped reserves of numerous natural resources, including uranium, iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt and natural gas.[5] Due to its proximity to the oil-rich Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the nation is also believed to contain substantial unexploited reserves of oil. A survey of Northeast Africa by the World Bank and U.N. ranked Somalia second only to Sudan as the top prospective producer.[52] Australian[53] and Chinese oil companies have been granted licenses for finding petroleum and other natural resources in the country. An oil group listed in Sydney, Range Resources, anticipates that the Puntland province in the north has the potential to produce 5 billion barrels (790×106 m3) to 10 billion barrels (1.6×109 m3) of oil.[54] As a result of these developments, the Somali Petroleum Company was created by the federal government.

    In the late 1960s, UN geologists also discovered major uranium deposits and other rare mineral reserves in Somalia. The find was the largest of its kind, with industry experts estimating the deposits at over 25% of the world’s then known uranium reserves of 800,000 tons.[55] In 1984, the IUREP Orientation Phase Mission to Somalia reported that the country had 5,000 tons of uranium reasonably assured resources (RAR), 11,000 tons of uranium estimated additional resources (EAR) in calcrete deposits, as well as possibly up to 150,000 tons of uranium speculative resources (SR) in sandstone and calcrete deposits.[56] Somalia concurrently evolved into a major world supplier of uranium, with American, UAE, Italian and Brazilian mineral companies vying for extraction rights. As of 2014, Kilimanjaro Capital has a stake in the 1,161,400 acres Amsas-Coriole-Afgoi (ACA) Block, which includes uranium exploration.[57] Besides uranium, an unspecified quantity of yttrium, a rare earth element and costly mineral, was also found in the country.[55]

    In mid-2010, Somalia’s business community pledged to invest $1 billion in the national gas and electricity industries over the following five years. Abdullahi Hussein, the director of the just-formed Trans-National Industrial Electricity and Gas Company, predicted that the investment strategy would create 100,000 jobs. The new firm was established through the merger of five Somali companies from the trade, finance, security and telecommunications sectors. The first phase of the project started within six months of the establishment of the company, and trained youth to supply electricity to economic areas and communities. The second phase began in mid-to-late 2011 and saw the construction of factories in specially designated economic zones for the fishing, agriculture, livestock and mining industries.[58][59]

    In 2012, the Farole administration gave the green light to the first official oil exploration project in Puntland and Somalia at large.[60][61] Led by the Canadian oil company Africa Oil and its partner Range Resources, initial drilling in the Shabeel-1 well on Puntland’s Dharoor Block in March of the year successfully yielded oil.[60]

    According to the Central Bank of Somalia, as the nation embarks on the path of reconstruction, the economy is expected to not only match its pre-civil war levels, but also to accelerate in growth and development due to the Somalia’s untapped natural resources.[6]


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