Kenya’s ‘sea grab’

As suspected, Kenya’s military adventure in Somalia has not limited itself to the goal enforcing a buffer-zone on its border. The Kenyan government’s sudden hands-on approach to the long-running conflict in Somalia may in fact be more focused on exploiting the chaotic political situation in the country to expand its territorial waters by 150 nautical miles, a move which requires the consent of neighbouring countries. Kenya first applied for this expansion to the UN in 2009, claiming the support of the unelected and comically inept TFG in a memorandum of understanding between the countries, which was quickly voted against by Somali MPs in Parliament and condemned by the Puntland administration. Kenya is of course continuing with its bid,which will be determined by 2014, to expand its marine territory despite these protests because of the improved prospects of striking oil offshore. Prospects made ever more likely with recent news that two Western companies have begun drilling for oil in Puntland as part of a three month exploration project.

This whole project, to me at least, is clearly a brazen attempt to circumvent international law, steal and exploit the natural resources of a troubled but sovereign (technically) nation. And yet, it has received barely any media coverage or better yet, any non-Somali condemnation. This is not to say that the media have no interest in Somalia’s plight, every tragedy seems to have been documented to capture each indignity suffered by Somalis over the past 21 years. But perhaps a story of one poor African country screwing over another isn’t ‘sexy’ enough to stir the Western media’s interest.


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