Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Why the problems in Uganda? The Congo?




Oil. Both the DRC (The Democratic Republic of Congo) and Uganda (Idi Amin's former stomping ground) are fighting over Lake Alberta's Rukwanzi island, a region where Ireland's Tullow Oil has been doing geological surveys early this year that have discovered between 400 million-to-1 billion barrels of oil, one of those fossil-based substances that we're supposed to be putting behind us to end global warming. Ho hum, there's money at stake, so no dice, the planet stays imperiled so someone can make more money than God. Note the proximity of the Sudan.

The DRC and Uganda have recently stopped their resource/tribal war that raged over most of the last decade and their militaries are now cooperating thanks to...money. The Ugandan military are now stationed in parts of the Eastern Congo fighting against militias there who want autonomy and probably their own piece of the action. In sum, Tullow is just making matters worse and future conflict is all-but-inevitable, like Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer's 1874 geological survey into the Black Hills that sparked more Indian wars and rapidly consumed him and many of his own troops.

As I wrote, we know how that ended, he had it coming, and history has a way of repeating itself (rendering reincarnation unnecessary). Once they fought Native Americans and now unaccountable power and their representatives fight and pit Africans against one another over valued resources. Similar dynamics are at play in Nigeria where the U.S. has been constructing
AFRICOM for future military adventurism, now training Rwandan troops, but it's all driven by greed rather than actual need, capitalism at its worst.

Yet, Tullow's Business unit manager has recently conceded that Sudan is currently off-limits because of political pressure over human rights abuses. There are limits to power--meaning some have limited power:
Asked if the company would work in countries like the Sudan where oil money is suspected of fuelling the war, he said: "There are certain countries we could not work in because of human rights issues and environmental concerns." (AllAfrica.com, 07.01.2009)
But Tullow is a small, independent firm, not a Chevron or a Shell. Their pull is significantly smaller. However, that doesn't mean that they don't want to meddle or that those other oil firms have any such qualms when the ability to do so is present.

With the ever-shrinking supply of oil and China's and India's ever-increasing demands as the factories of the world, it was time to look elsewhere, although it was known that there were oil-deposits in the region long ago.
"We finally found a location outside the Kabwoya Game Reserve. Another reason for the delay is that we found a lot of oil elsewhere. With the discovery of more oil, we have more options to choose from."

Asked why the oil in Uganda was found so late, he said when it was first discovered by Shell in the 1930s, it was considered not significant.

"They were looking for significant finds such as in Nigeria and Saudi-Arabia. But the world has moved on. Now is the time when oil has become scarce and the prices have gone up. So countries like Uganda come into consideration." (ibid)

Now the world (power) "wants" the remaining oil reserves in these African nations, regardless of the grade. Most of the wars of the 20th century were resource wars. The same is likely to be the case in the 21st century, imperiling the future of the species along with the directly-related effects of global warming.

And now we have the arrest and charges of murder against two Norwegian mercenaries who were in the DRC, ostensibly to set up their own private security firm. Both are former members of the Norwegian military, possibly from an elite unit. Private Military Herald is reporting some very curious facts about the Norwegian duo of Tjostolov Moland and Joshua French:

Evidence seized recently at the apartment the two men shared in Uganda could play a large role n the eventual outcome of the trial. During the police raid authorities found Norwegian military ID cards, counterfeit United Nations hats, employee ID badges with both the correct and false names of the two men. The employee badges are from a heretofore little known security company named Special Interventions Group (SIG) which is owned by and mostly staffed by Norwegians. During the raid on the apartment authorities also confiscated at least one rifle and a camera containing pictures of the two men on their recent travels in Africa. In one grainy image, believed to have been taken by Mr. French, Mr. Moland is seen smiling as he washes the blood believed to be that of Mr. Kasongo from the inside of the hired car. (Private Military Herald, 08.11.2009)
Additionally, Mr. French has been coy about his real identity until recently, allegedly going under the name of "John Hunt," an equally nondescript name. Both men are being charged with murder and it appears the death penalty will be expedited soon. They were apparently scouting the region where the oil is. The Congolese authorities could very well have caught the duo and the Norwegian government (and maybe even forces unknown) red-handed. One thing's certain: Africa is still the frontier of the Wild, Wild West (and China).

Tullow operations in the DRC: http://www.tullowoil.com/tlw/operations/af/congodrc/

Tullow operations in Uganda: http://www.tullowoil.com/tlw/operations/africa/uganda/

Proactive investors UK on Tallow Oil: http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/7618/tullow-oil-reports-oil-discoveries-in-ghana-and-uganda-but-falls-on-lower-revenues-and-production-7618.html

"Uganda: We are Transparent - Tullow Oil Boss," AllAfrica.com, 07.01.2009: http://allafrica.com/stories/200907020515.html

"Congo Murder Trial Of Two Norwegians Set To Begin On Friday," Private Military Herald, 08.11.2009: http://www.privatemilitaryherald.com/tag/security/