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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Oil and Pirates...Can Big Oil Save Somalia?

The leader of the allegedly autonomous Puntland area seems to think oil development is a good thing -- even if the "devil" were involved:
The president of Somalia's semiautonomous Puntland State government has said that he will pursue all roads to achieve a successful oil exploration program, and has suggested that he will even sign "a deal with the Devil."

Gen. Adde Muse, the Puntland leader, told the BBC Somali Service during a Sunday interview that mounting a successful exploration program is linked to creating a stable security situation on the ground.

"We have found out that without security, there can be no success," President Muse said, while admitting for the first time that Puntland is undergoing "one year and a half of insecurity."

Describing the situation in Puntland, President Muse said that some of the people are "on the brink of starvation" and the government's security forces have "no salary."

He said that piracy has only worsened the situation, but added that the regional administration is taking steps to combat crime and piracy, saying: "We have destroyed places they [pirates] live and arrested others…as many as 15 men, some of them are commanders."

The Puntland leader said pirates had "bought more weapons and high-speed boats" with ransom payments collected in recent months. But President Muse expressed optimism in his security forces: "We are fully confident that we can stop them [pirates]."
In criticism of unnamed opponents of his ambitious exploration project, President Muse contradicted his prior admission about insecurity in Puntland, saying: "Many people oppose us…who spread lies about insecurity here [in Puntland]."

But Gen. Muse's most memorable remark during the interview came in response to unnamed critics: "They criticize us for making deals with 'thug companies'…forget thugs, I will make a deal with the Devil to explore my land. My people across Somalia are poor. We can fight poverty as a unified front who work together."

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