More delicate questions of narrative and framing matter even less. So what if we stop talking about “aid” and start talking about “investment”? Doesn’t that just forge a more equal relationship between source nation and recipient?-Zoe Williams, The Guardian.
Aid,of course, is about Britain advancing its economic interests and, very often, gaining access to resources such as oil. This is clearly the case in Somalia. The UK pledged £100 million in 2016 and shortly later, Hassan Ali Khaire, a former director of British firm Soma Oil and Gas, was announced as the new prime minister.
Soma is also directed by none other than Lord Michael Howard. Aid thus can help improve Britain's 'public diplomacy' in circumstances where British companies have been alleged to have provided kickbacks and bribes to government officials in order to lubricate the process of gaining oil drilling rights.
As with Serious Fraud Office investigations into allegations of corrupt arms deals made between BAE, British officials and Saudi establishment insiders, also bankrolled by taxpayer's money, all pursuit of the truth was dropped as Soma claimed investigations could cause a cash crisis as investors lost confidence.
The SFO has often found its work hampered when big oil and monied interests are at stake, as it's answerable to the Attorney General, himself often deeply interconnected to Britain's political establishment. Trying to find out if Soma bribed Somalian officials as it's the most corrupt state on earth, where Western aid often disappears.
The elections in February 2017 were actually funded by Western donors The annual London Conference, established in 2012, has been criticised as being neo-imperialist as 'the millions of dollars pledged either never arrived or were used as a slush fund by the previous political leaders and their international cronies.'
As Bashir Gith lamented 'instead of rebuilding Somalia’s national army, the friendly countries’ geopolitical goals had become detrimental not only to the need of Somalia to have its own army but also to the real sovereignty of the Somali nation.' It hastened Somalia's break up 'into bantustan-like enclaves'.
Abukar Arman, a former Somalian diplomat, was certainly not impressed by Britain's aid pledges and its ulterior motives. In a column on 'London Predatory Carnival On Somalia' in May 2017 he wrote the 'UK was far from being an honest broker, and it was the principle facilitator of a clandestine economic butchery and security dependency'.
As British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, and PM Theresa May advocated humanitarian intervention, Arman complained,
'..the UK is anxiously readying herself for an immanent economic hurricane following Brexit and the Conservative Party lead by Theresa May is eager to duplicate David Cameron’s legacy and zero-sum triumph. The successful delivery of Soma Oil & Gas had international predatory capitalists salivating and marching to the orders of the gatekeeper of the chamber of exploitation.
One reason for this jaundiced view is that Britain's geopolitical goal is to act as advocate for the military bases of its Gulf client state, the UAE, which gained access to 'Berbera seaport in the unilaterally seceded (but unrecognized ) Somaliland. It also secured a deal in Puntland and is negotiating for more. All independent of the Somali federal government.'
Establishing control over the Horn of Africa is considered part of a strategy to control the sea lanes between Somalia and Yemen, where Britain is backing the Saudi war against the Houthi rebels as part of a regional proxy war against Iran, which is seen as vying for control in the Gulf of Aden and over the Bab el Mandeb straits.
Humanitarian largesse is very much interconnected with a neo-imperialist Great Game for strategic advantage and hegemony in resource rich regions. None of this tends to get much attention in the Western media which prefers to rehash the convenient fictions about 'our values' as a way to gain the moral high ground in these struggles.