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    Middle East
     Jan 12, 2007
Page 1 of 2
Surging toward the holy oil grail
By Pepe Escobar

"I see the imminent death of 20,000 men,
That, for a fantasy and trick of fame,
Go to their graves like beds ...
O, from this time forth,
My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth."

Hamlet, Act IV; according to White House spin part of reading-adverse President George W Bush's book list during the summer of 2006.

And so, after a tsunami surge of spin, US President George W

Bush is heading toward escalation, summoning his 21,500 men, supported by barely 11% of Americans. Escalation in Iraq is the name of the president's game, and that also applies to Somalia - the new Afghanistan.

In far from accidental timing, the good old "war on terror" is back from the grave (nobody really related to the "long war" newspeak). After all, the galleries had to be reminded that there's a Pentagon-concocted "arc of instability" running from the Horn of Africa to the Middle East and then to the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Himalayas. The "war on terror" has expanded to the business of killing Africans, now afforded membership of the ever-expanding "axis of evil".

Bush, in front of a stack of books he never reads, blamed al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunni Arab resistance and "Shi'ites supported by Iran" for his failures; committed five more brigades to Baghdad and 4,000 extra troops to guerrilla and al-Qaeda-controlled al-Anbar province. As if these shock troops will be enough to pursue the "fight against terror". Bush's plan ultimately breaks down to a slightly bulkier US militia in Iraq capable of killing more Arabs.

Taking the bull by the Horn
With some aplomb, the White House/Pentagon axis has managed to turn Somalia into the new Afghanistan, in more ways than one and just in time for Bush's announcement of his escalation-tainted "new way forward". The Pentagon maintained it had "credible" intelligence before it decided to strike alleged al-Qaeda-infested villages in southern Somalia. This is highly suspect.

The intelligence was provided by unsavory, corrupt Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi - who came up with the clever plot of concocting a fictitious jihad conducted by "neo-Taliban" in Somalia and selling it handsomely to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Pentagon. He's now posing as a prime US ally in the "war on terror", just as Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov did in the autumn of 2001.

Zenawi's US-trained Ethiopian troops, the ones who invaded Somalia, are infested with CIA operatives and Special Forces - all of them flown in from the strategic US-controlled (since September 11, 2003) Camp Le Monier in Djibouti.

Arab media are having a field day reporting that Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf, a reconverted warlord "elected" by fellow warlords (all armed by the US) and then legitimized by the United Nations, told African journalists in Mogadishu that the US had the right to bomb "anywhere in the world". According to the Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation, this new US campaign of targeted assassinations has in fact killed scores of civilians.

But with the help of Ethiopia's dictatorship - whose soldiers it trained - Washington is being rewarded with one more client regime, and a crucial foothold in the Horn of Africa, right on the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea, very close to the Red Sea and literally next door to Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Or is it that simple? Somalia, 75% pastoral with six major clans and hundreds of sub-clans, is now in civil-war mode. Millions of Somalis live in neighboring Kenya, and support the deposed, moderate Islamic Union Courts. Kenya will be convulsed. Blowback will be inevitable - and bloody. "Long war" marketers and profiteers could not but rejoice.

The bull in the carpet shop
As the Somali Osama bin Laden slouches toward Kenya to be born, there is only one new Saddam Hussein strong enough to "save" the US in Iraq. His name is Abu Deraa. But there is a slight problem: he is a Shi'ite warlord, and head of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army.

The Iraqi media have been wildly speculating that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki could be the victim of a US-engineered white coup, the likely replacement candidates being two certified Washington puppets, current Vice President Adil Abdul Mahdi from the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), an enthusiast of a proposed new Iraqi oil law, and former interim prime minister, former Ba'athist and "butcher of Fallujah", Iyad Allawi.

But just when Washington and the Green Zone in Baghdad were abuzz with talk of regime change, Bush told Republican senators this week that his escalation and "new way forward" policies were basically designed by none other than Maliki, widely condemned for his support of Shi'ite death squads. It is astonishing that Maliki might actually have managed to convince Bush that he will frontally take on the militias of his ally Muqtada.

High on the White House wishful-thinking list is that Muqtada be isolated in the Iraqi Parliament as the US-trained Iraqi army, on Maliki's orders and helped by the Pentagon, crushes the Mehdi Army. Shi'ites killing Shi'ites? Now that's an extremely tall order. Yet this would lead, runs the scenario, to the mollifying of the 

Continued 1 2 

The perverse logic of Bush's war (Jan 11, '07)

The superhawk behind the surge (Jan 11, '07)

Negroponte and the escalation of death (Jan 11, '07)


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