Has Obama Just Kicked Off Another Oil War -- This Time in Africa?
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Tullow's Mercenary Presence Long in the Making at Lake Albert Basin
Tullow, as revealed by State Department diplomatic cables leaked to Wikileaks, has been building up a mercenary army presence in the Lake Albert area for over three years.
A March 2008 State Department diplomatic cable reads, "...Tullow Oil, one of the four exploration companies operating in western Uganda, said that as the oil activity on Lake Albert increased, a security presence would be vital."
The cable also mentions that U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Steven Browning and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Rear Admiral Phillip Greene "met with representatives from Tullow Oil and the Ugandan People's Defense Force (UPDF), as well as local leaders...on March 4." The UPDF is lead by Salim Saleh, who also owns a 25-percent ownership stake in Saracen International, the private mercenary army also owned in part by Erik Prince.
During the meeting it was also "noted that oil exploration and production would raise the profile of the area, which could lead to increased incidences of violence between Ugandan locals and security forces..." and the meeting concluded with a request for "an assessment team...to provide the Ugandan military with an organizational, doctrinal, training, and equipment needs assessment for a future lake security force."
Toss into the ring the ongoing great power politics rivalry between the U.S. and China, and things become even more complex.
Great Power Politics Posturing in the Works?
Though ExxonMobil and Tullow Oil lost out on the corrupt oil bid in late 2009, while exploration has been done, drilling has yet to occur in Uganda. In that vein, 100 U.S. JSOC troops, likely teaming up with Erik Prince, Salim Saleh and Yoweri Museveni-backed mercenaries, have swooped into the Lake Albert area to secure the prize, oil, before its rival does.
The opponent? China.
On October 24, Tullow sold $2.9 billion worth of its shares of oil to France's Total Oil and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), though it has yet to be approved by the Museveni government and requires his approval.
Throughout all of this, it is vital to bear in mind the bigger picture, which is that the United States and China have been competing against one another in the new "African Scramble" for Africa's valuable oil resources.
Serge Michel and Michel Beuret, in their 2009 book China Safari: On the Trail of Beijing's Expansion in Africa, write, "China's advances in Africa's oil-rich regions have been viewed with concern bordering on paranoia in the United States....[It] could...deteriorate into a a head-to-head clash between China and the United States, prompting the kind of open conflict that some see as inevitable by 2030."
One has to wonder what will happen with regards to this recent oil deal, knowing the players involved, and seeing the geopolitical and resources maneuvering taking place in the Lake Albert region.
If the United States and its well-connected guns-for-hire have any say, Tullow Oil, Heritage Oil, ExxonMobil will take home all the royalties, and CNOOC will be sent home packing.
Another Piece of the Puzzle: Senate Bill 1067 of 2009
It appears that since the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, Senate Bill 1067, a bill that called for, among other things, to "apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield...and to disarm and demobilize the remaining Lord's Resistance Army fighters," the United States has Lake Albert targeted in its crosshairs.
An important provision squeezed into the bill was a section mandating that an official strategy be written up to "disarm and demobilize" the LRA.