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The Ugly China in Africa

In Somalia, It's The Blood Money, Stupid!

By Amina Mire
July 06, 2007

Africa's Leaders Are Shoulder to Shoulder with Meles Zinawi
Africa's Leaders Are Shoulder to Shoulder with Meles Zinawi [1]

If the above image of Meles Zinawi, shoulder to shoulder with two other African leaders, seeks to project an image of a statesman, below is another image of Zinawi. The image in the next caption was on display at a 30 June 2007 demonstration in front of the office of the new British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown at #10 Downing Street. The image is a caricature, a work of art and not an actual photo of Zinawi.[2] Thus its meaning is symbolic and therefore more powerful. This is important because the caricature of Zinawi in this image expresses the true sentiment of the Somali people in that demo in response to the unmitigated death and destruction Zinawi's Tigre army has been wreaking in Somalia.

Demonstration in front of the office of the new British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown at #10 Downing Street
Demonstration in front of the office of the new British Prime Minister,
Gordon Brown at #10 Downing Street

In today's Africa, and in the shadows of Julius Nyerere and Kwame Nkrumah, we have murderous thugs such as Meles Zinawi, Abdullahi Yusuf, Ali Mohamed Gedi, et al, who are murdering, maiming, looting and displacing the people of Somalia as they collect rewards for their crimes against humanity in the form of blood money and false praises as payments of service rendered on behest of foreign imperialistic forces.[3] The image also makes other references such as UK, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Egypt, Algeria and Tanzania: these countries are part of an ad hoc committee known as The Contact Group for Somalia. They, too, have been complicit in Zinawi's crime of genocide against the people of Somalia.

Sadly, as a political union comprising of independent African nations, the AU is dead. This is not to suggest that the ideal of Pan-Africanism is dead. Far from it: as long as African people and people of African descent continue to struggle for economic, political and social justice and the restoration of their human dignity, Pan-Africanism will remain relevant. But, as a political organization, the African Union [AU] is dead. On the specific issue of an AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia, the current AU troops in Somalia is a mercenary army who are in Somalia' soil to serve foreign forces determined to gain a total ownership over Somalia's unexplored natural resources and install a puppet US friendly regime.[4]

Somalis have no choice but to struggle for the liberation of their nation from the menacing grip of the unholy trinity of Zinawi's Tirge army, US special forces and thuggish warlords of TFG. The AU has been collaborating with the forces currently menacing the people of Somalia. The Somali people are under the illegal occupation of the Tigre army of Meles Zinawi. It is the right and duty of all Somalis to struggle against the colonial takeover of their country. China has played a role in the project of death and destruction against the people of Somalia. Whilst the critics of western imperialism in Africa often point the accusing finger at the US's meddling of the internal affairs of Africa, China's meddling of the internal affairs of Africa has not received a comparable scrutiny.

As a result, China has been able to quietly cultivate a network of dubious relationships with some of the must ruthless regimes in Africa, including Ethiopia's dictator, Meles Zinawi, and the regime in Sudan. Second, whilst the US gives a cynical lip service to "the need to protect the human rights" of the local populations, China does not bother with such false pretenses. As a result, in Africa, China has been able to receive lucrative oil concessions and sweet deals from regimes in Africa with well documented gross human rights records such as Ethiopia and Sudan. In the specific case of China's oil drillings in Ogaden, China is implicated in Zinawi's program of genocide against the people of Ogaden. This is because Zinawi' program of death and destruction against the people of Ogaden, makes Ogaden "safe" for China to exploit the oil and natural gas in Ogaden. Thus, China, exploitation of natural resources of Ogaden and Zinawi's program of the systematic liquidation of the people of Ogaden are linked.[5]

China had been able to keep quiet about its increasing penetration deep into Ogaden and/or by masking it in the name of "bringing development to Africa". China's dubious collusion with Zinawi's gross human rights violation in Ogaden might have remained hidden from the international community for a long time. No more. The international community knows more about the plight of the people of Ogaden due to, in large measure, a recent attack by Ogaden Liberation Front [ONLF] against Zinawi's Tigre army killing scores of Ethiopian soldiers and nine Chinese oil workers.[6]

It is pertinent to point out that while Ogaden is one of the most underdeveloped areas under Ethiopia's control, China brought to Ogade Chinese workers to work in the Ogaden oil fields rather than hiring the local people. Thus, while China seeks to promulgate its colonizing designs on Africa's natural resources through the rhetoric of "bring development to Africa," in reality, China is systemically undercutting Africa's labour force by bringing a Chinese workforce to Africa rather than hiring local workers.

Rebels With A Cause
[ONLF] Rebels With A Cause[7]

It is equally pertinent to point out that whilst Zinawi's chosen tactic, in dealing with the Bush administration, is the need to fight "Islamic terror," in order to ally himself and his tribal based Tigre regime with the US's war against global terror, with China, Zinawi does not need to hide his ruthless human rights violations against the people of Oganden and other Ethiopian citizens. As a result, China and Zinawi have developed a cozy relationship predicated on genocide, murder and exploitation of the people of Ogaden. Consequently, China might be exporting economic "development" to other parts of Africa but in Ethiopian occupied Ogaden, China brought in, as well as has exacerbated, Zinawi's culture of gross human rights violations. It is in this specific context that China's collusion with Meles Zinawi's program of genocide against people in Ogedan must be critically examined, understood and contested.

It is on the basis of China's collusion with Zinawi's gross human rights violations against the people of Ogaden that I took a keen interest after reading about China's donation of $600,000 to help African Unions peacekeeping effort in Somalia. This is relatively a small donation.[8] However, I wanted to know what is the real motivation behind this pathetic gesture of goodwill, for as one of the five permanent members of the security council, China has endorsed the US sponsorship of Ethiopia's illegal invasion of Somalia. Put differently, China has contributed to the current death and destruction Zinawi's Tigre army is wreaking against the people of Somalia. Second, the African Union has also endorsed Ethiopia's illegal invasion of Somalia. Thus, by endorsing Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia, the African Union (AU) and UN Charters are in clear violation of Security Council resolutions 1724, 1725 and 1744.[9]

The naked AU partisan in favor of Ethiopia and against Somalia is particularly insulting to ordinary patriotic Somalis. This is particularly so, for Ethiopia's illegal invasion of Somalia violates Somalia's national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Absurdly, the AU has defended its backing up Ethiopia's illegal invasion of Somalia as a way of restoring and "protecting" Ethiopia's national sovereignty.[10] To add more insult to Somalia's collective injury, at present, the AU is using the destruction of Somalia to collect "blood money" in name of "peacekeeping" duties in Somalia. This is clearly a cleaver way of creating employment opportunities for soldiers from some AU nations working in Somalia, or might come at a later day, as a part of AU mercenary army occupying Somalia. Hence, the AU forces currently in Somalia are part of Zinawi's Tigre mercenary occupation army which is currently killing, maiming, looting and raping the people of Somalia with impunity.

I have argued elsewhere reasons for the Bush administration's preference of an AU "peacekeeping" force in Somalia over UN peacekeepers, for the former are willing to engage violent actions which are designed to subdue the Somali population in order to enhance the successful installation into political power a group of thuggish warlords as a US puppet regime, the TFG.[11] In that work, I have also argued that the US will seek the support of European Union nations to finance the bulk of AU peacekeeping force in Somalia.[12] This option is still open. However, faced with gross human rights violations by the US backed Transitional Federal Government and Ethiopia's occupation forces, EU member nations might be reluctant to give full financial backing to the warlord regime of Yusuf and Gedi.

Some European nations, such as Italy, have openly expressed their opposition to Ethiopia's continued occupation of Somalia.[13] Italy has also pushed for a more inclusive reconciliation process in Somalia, which includes members of the defeated Islamists. It is not clear how this is going to happen since Islamists consider themselves a nonclanist organization, and the transition government has refused members of UIC a seat on the negotiating table unless members of the Islamists are appointed by their clans. The clan based structuring of the Somali political process is being frowned upon not only by the Islamists, but increasingly, ordinary Somalis are expressing their opposition to what they see as Zinawi's designs of the systemic dismantling of Somalia's national identity as a nation state with clearly marked territorial borders, social, cultural institutions and legal a system.

It is in this context that, increasingly, the Islamists in Somalia are being seen as a genuine nationalist force against US/Ethiopian foreign occupiers and TFG as a stooge serving the interests of its foreign masters rather than those of ordinary Somalis. Italy has also pledged financial support to the AU peacekeeping force in Somalia. However, Italy wants Ethiopian forces to completely withdraw from Somalia before African Union peacekeepers can take their place. This is significant for Italy is trying separate between the occupation army of Ethiopia and peacekeeping forces from other AU nations.[14]

Whilst Italy has been demanding a complete Ethiopian troop pull out of Somalia; as the two main players currently contesting over the control of Africa's natural resources (including oil and natural gas explorations and exploitations in the Horn of Africa), neither China nor the US has made similar demands of an Ethiopian troop withdrawal from Somalia. The US is the main player which is currently footing the bill for Ethiopia's occupation of Somalia. With this small gesture, and probably more money to follow, China is now making an open investment in Ethiopia's occupation of Somalia. China's eagerness to publicize its meager contribution to peacekeeping forces in Somalia aims, primarily, at two main players: Ethiopia's strong man, Meles Zinawi and his boss George W. Bush. Towards Zinawi, China is rewarding him for the ruthless suppression of the people of Ogaden so that China can safely exploit and appropriate oil resources from Ogaden. So this is China's quid pro quo designed to appease Zinawi's ruthless occupation of Somalia.

Towards the Bush administration, by contributing or seeming to be contributing to, financially, the AU peacekeeping effort in Somalia, China is aiming to strike another quid pro quo deal with the US so that, rather than fighting over it, China and the U.S. might come to a mutually satisfactory agreement over the remaining oil and gas resources in Africa. So that the US might drop charges of human rights abuses against the regime in Sudan [i.e. Darfur], the US might go along with China's scheme, for China can also use it's own proxy agents who can bring charges of human rights abuses against the US's backing of criminal warlords in Somalia or even against Zinawi's Tigre army's gross human rights record in Somalia. In the current scramble for Africa's natural resources, human rights, war against "Islamic terror", "development" and "democracy" are interchangeable metaphors which are capriciously deployed to advance imperialistic agendas.

Reproduction of The Making s a Second Darfur in Ogaden
Left: see[15]. Right: see[16]. Reproduction of The Making of a Second Darfur in Ogaden

The majority of Africans are willing to deny or minimize the extent to which African tribes may have participated in the greatest genocide against humanity: The Transatlantic Slave Trade. Today, we cannot deny that African leaders are standing shoulder to shoulder with Meles Zinawi as his Tigre troops continue to commit war crimes and crimes of genocide against humanity, against the Somali people inside Ethiopia's occupied Ogaden and in Ethiopia's occupied Somalia. Today, leading African nations are either openly or by their tacit conspicuous silences, supporting the Tigre colonization of Somalia. For the people of Somalia, the message is clear. The Somali people must and will struggle to liberate their country and victory shall be theirs.


  1. AU summit debates unity. 2 July 2007.

  2. For Cartoon caricature below, please see

  3. Ibid.

  4. The Conoco-Somalia Declassification Project. College of DuPage-Geography Department-Prof. Keith Yearman.


  6. Scores die in Ethiopia oil attack. 27 April 2007. BBC.

  7. Jeffrey Gettleman travels with the Ogaden National Liberation Front, a separatist rebel movement in eastern Ethiopia. Monday, July 2, 2007. Yew York Times.

  8. China to donate 600,000 dollars to AU. Shabelle. Net.

  9. Sophia Tesfamariam. Ethiopian Air Strikes in Somalia: Violation of the Geneva Conventions. 10 January 2007. American Chronicle.

  10. Sophia Tesfamariam. Ethiopian Air Strikes in Somalia: Violation of the Geneva Conventions. 10 January 2007. American Chronicle.

  11. Ibid.

  12. Mire, Amina. 13 June. 2007. Menacing Somalia: Unholy Trinity of U.S Global Militarism, Meles's Ethiopia and Thuggish Warlords. Trinicenter.

  13. Italian deputy foreign minister meets Somalia officials in Mogadishu. 19 May 2007. Shabelle.

  14. Ibid.

  15. See reproduction of The Making s a Second Darfur in Ogaden.


Amina Mire, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Email:

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