(October 28, 2011)
France has supposeldy given Kenya ”logistical support in the form of transport of materials within Kenyan territory” according to a spokesman from the French military command, Thierry Burkhard, concerning French support to Kenya in its offensive in southern Somalia.
A Kenyan military officer in the early days of the offensive, had spoken of a “western country”, offering support in operations and specifying, at a later time, that the French navy had “bombarded” some rebel positions in Kuday, north of Ras Kamboni, on the Somali coast, raising several questions about French interests in the initiative. The French ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied this, promptly reduced the extent of the role played by French ships off the Somali coast.
“Despite the existence of a French military base in Djibouti, the sudden presence of the French navy in the waters facing Kismayo seems suspicious – observes Matteo Guglielmo, professor of Political Systems in Africa at the University ‘L’Orientale ‘Naples – but even more strange is the silence from powers that have typically been attentive and present in the Somali scenario, primarily Italy, concerning a possible Kenyan military intervention in Somali territory.”
In a conversation with MISNA, the expert on issues related to the Horn of Africa reminds us that “when in 2007, Ethiopia invaded Somalia, at the time of the Islamic Courts, the invasion met with almost unanimous international acclaim.
Today very few people have commented on the story that hides a lot more gray areas than at first imagined.” In recent days, the South African newspaper ‘Mail and Guardian’, quoted in The New York Times was first to raise the ’coincidence’ of Lamu – where two tourists were seized, but which is, at the same time, the terminal point for a 3600 km pipeline that would connect Kenya to Southern Sudan.
“The government of Nairobi – wrote the Times – has long had interests in the area that transcend tourism.” This is a pipeline, the estimated cost of $ 16 billion, which would allow the infant state of South Sudan to extract and refine oil without having to depend on the infrastructure of the Sudanese government.”
The new project, which would also involve neighboring Ethiopia, is being observed with interest by the French oil giant ‘Total’, which has recently acquired a 40% stake in the exploration blocks in Lamu, joining ’Anadarko Kenya’ in becoming the main operator in the area.
If it were to be developed, requiring the whole area to be pacified while large portions of the territory of Somalia would have to be taken over, says Guglielmo, “the pipeline would permanently isolate the regime in Khartoum, depriving it of valuable infrastructure that today makes it possible to export South Sudanese oil through the pipeline and the terminal at Port Sudan.”