Barack Obama has signed another Executive Order in which he cites a National Emergency, much like he did in his previous EO. Only this time it's not Burma, it's Somalia. It appears he is going down the same road as he did with Burma with one exception, charcoal. So in accordance with the EO the sale of charcoal is now banned from Somalia to third world countries.

Why charcoal? According to the Obama administration it's to deprive the Al-Quaeda affiliate, Al-Shabaab, from revenue that he collects from the export of Somali charcoal, specifically to countries in the Gulf area.

No one knows exactly how much money Al-Shabaab actually gets from the charcoal but apparently it's substantial.

CNN reported,

"The charcoal ban applies significant pressure on Al-Shabaab, which derives much of its income from charcoal exports," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a written statement. "The production of charcoal in Somalia has also had a devastating environmental impact that has exacerbated the country's protracted humanitarian crisis."

Al-Shabaab, a radical Islamist group that operates in southern Somalia, announced its affiliation with al Qaeda earlier this year and pledged its loyalty to Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's leader.

"Al-Shabaab continues to pose a serious threat to peace, security, and stability of Somalia, including by denying humanitarian access to those in urgent need," Nuland said in the statement.

Wait, is this the same Al-Queada that we aided in Libya? Yep same organization. We are just told this is the Somali version.

In a poverty stricken nation, one would think that lots of jobs would be affected and thus people with no work will not be able to provide for their families. The social and economic impact of the UN-sponsored ban was recently reported by VOA, which does show that it affects the poor people of the region greater than it does Al-Shabaab.

Charcoal Project reports,

Whatever the case, Al-Shabaab is far from being the only group that derives important economic benefits from the charcoal-trade.

I'll have my Al-Shabaab well done Barry

Readers may recall we reported in earlier blog posts how the illegal charcoal trade helps funnel tens of millions of dollars to the irregular armed groups that operate in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Much of the charcoal in that trade is illegally produced from the forests inside Virunga National Park in North Kivu Province. Virunga is Africa’s oldest, most biologically diverse, and most threatened park as a result of the charcoal trade. A report produced by the park’s administration in 2008 estimated the illegal charcoal trade generates some USD 35 million for the multiple armed groups that terrorize the region. More than 130 park rangers have died over the last ten years fighting the irregular armed groups that operate in and around the park.

The charcoal trade in the Congo is similar to the cocaine cartels operating in South America where the drug producers (in this case, charcoal-producers) pay protection money to irregular armed groups, like the FARC or Sendero Luminoso.

While wanting to deprive the bad guys of money is a good thing, the problem is that innocent poor people, who are dependent upon the charcoal for their survival and livelihood are also made vulnerable in the process. This is not a smart move, but then again the Obama administration has not been known for its brilliant domestic or foreign policies.

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