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Somalia: Creating Another Iraq?
Jan 16, 2007 (070116)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
While U.S. congressional debate focuses on the best way to withdraw
from a failed war in Iraq, and President Bush plans for a surge in
troops, U.S. policymakers seem determined to replicate the Iraq
experience in Somalia. If that outcome is averted, it will be due
not to better U.S. planning or strategy, but to the Somali desire for
peace and to diplomatic efforts that U.S. action has made more
Somalia is not Iraq, of course. For one thing, Somalia is smaller in population.
The U.S. military is relying on Ethiopia, which has taken the lead for
its own reasons, sending in ground troops and tanks and joining
in the bombing. Somalia's internal divisions are also profoundly different
from those in Iraq. But the similarity is nevertheless substantial.
The United States and Ethiopia are bypassing efforts at reconciliation,
relying on hyped-up information, and disregarding Somali and African
opinion in an effort to target and kill alleged terrorists. They are building
up long-term problems even while chalking up military "victories."
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains reports from the U.S. Air Force
and from Oxfam on the January 8 U.S. attack in southern Somalia,
and commentary on the U.S. and Ethiopian intervention by two
African commentators: Salim Lone, a Kenyan journalist and former UN
official, and Issa Shivji, a Tanzanian scholar and retired law
See also commentary, "Don't Replay Iraq
in Horn of Africa," by AfricaFocus Bulletin editor William Minter, published in
the Providence Journal, January 31, 2007.
For earlier AfricaFocus Bulletins and links on Somalia, see
For additional commentary on the most recent developments, see
News) and http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/3909 (Foreign Policy in
Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today contains background
analysis and commentary on U.S. military involvement in other
regions of Africa.
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
Aircraft attack al Qaeda haven in Somalia
by Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Air Force Link
1/9/2007 - Washington (AFNEWS) -- Air Force AC-130 gunships struck
al Qaeda targets in Somalia Jan. 8, news sources reported last
The operation allegedly hit al Qaeda concentrations in the southern
part of the country, but Pentagon officials did not comment.
The Navy 5th Fleet moved the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D.
Eisenhower into the waters off Somalia in an effort to capture al
Qaeda terrorists attempting to flee the country, a 5th Fleet
Officials of the United Nations-recognized Somali government said
the strikes were aimed at al Qaeda terrorists who planned the
attacks against the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
The Ethiopian military entered Somalia Dec. 24 with the mission of
neutralizing the Council of Islamic Courts, a Muslim extremist
group that took power in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. The
Ethiopian forces took the capital in 10 days and terrorists and
their sympathizers allegedly moved south toward the border with
Kenya to escape.
More U.S. ships are moving into the waters off Somalia to reinforce
the maritime interdiction effort there, said U.S. 5th Fleet
"Due to rapidly developing events in Somalia, U.S. Central Command
has tasked USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to join USS Bunker Hill, USS
Ramage, USS Anzio and USS Ashland to support ongoing maritime
security operations off the coast of Somalia," said Navy Lt. Cmdr.
Charlie Brown, a spokesman for 5th Fleet in Bahrain.
The ships will stop vessels and search them for al Qaeda terrorists
attempting to escape from Somalia, officials said.
Press reports said the AC-130 attacks hit an area called Ras
Kamboni, a heavily forested area near the Kenyan border. The area
is allegedly a terror training base. Press reports said there were
casualties in the area, and Somali officials said they had captured
28 suspected al Qaeda terrorists.
Organizations Report of Bombings Targeting Innocent Civilians
January 13, 2007
Oxfam is receiving reports from its partner organizations in
Somalia that nomadic herdsmen have been hit in recent bombing
According to the reports from local organizations in Afmadow
district, bombs have hit vital water sources as well as large
groups of nomads and their animals who had gathered around large
fires at night to ward off mosquitoes.
Further reports have also confirmed that bombings have claimed the
lives of at least 70 people in the district.
"These reports must be taken seriously. Under international law,
there is a duty to distinguish between military and civilian
targets. We are deeply concerned that this principle is not being
adhered to, and that innocent people in Somalia are paying the
price. These communities are already struggling to survive after a
severe drought last year was followed by widespread flooding," said
Paul Smith-Lomas, Oxfam's Regional Director for Horn, East and
Today, Oxfam and its partners warned that the recent escalation in
violence is making it extremely difficult for aid agencies to reach
people in need.
Since late December, violence in Somalia has forced an estimated
70,000 people from their homes, and has exacerbated an already dire
humanitarian situation. Last year, Somalia was hit first by severe
drought and then the worst flooding in 50 years, leaving some
400,000 people homeless.
Oxfam partner organizations in the region have been providing
communities with emergency medical supplies, essential household
items, and water chlorination services, as well as distributing
food in areas where food is not locally available.
Oxfam is calling on all parties to respect their obligations under
international humanitarian law.
Destabilising the Horn
by Salim Lone
Daily Times, Pakistan
January 7, 2007
[Salim Lone, a Kenyan whose last assignment in his UN career was as
spokesman for the UN mission in Iraq immediately after the 2003
war, is a columnist for the Daily Nation in Nairobi.]
The best antidote to terrorism in Somalia is stability. Instead of
engaging with the Islamists to secure peace, the United States has
plunged a poor country into greater misery
The stability that emerged in southern Somalia after sixteen years
of utter lawlessness is gone, the defeat of the ruling Islamic
Courts Union now ushering in looting, martial law and the prospect
of another major anti-Western insurgency. Clan warlords, who
terrorised Somalia until they were driven out by the Islamists, and
who were put back in power by the US-backed and -trained Ethiopian
army, have begun carving up the country once again.
With these developments, the Bush Administration, undeterred by the
horrors and setbacks in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, has opened
another battlefront in this volatile quarter of the Muslim world.
As with Iraq, it casts this illegal war as a way to curtail
terrorism, but its real goal appears to be to obtain a direct
foothold in a highly strategic area of the world through a client
regime. The results could destabilise the whole region.
The Horn of Africa, at whose core Somalia lies, is newly oil-rich.
It is also just miles across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia and
Yemen, overlooking the daily passage of large numbers of oil
tankers and warships through that waterway. The United States has
a huge military base in neighbouring Djibouti that is being
enlarged substantially and will become the headquarters of a new US
military command being created specifically for Africa. As evidence
of the area's importance, Gen. John Abizaid, the military commander
of the region, visited Ethiopia recently to discuss Somalia, while
Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Horn countries a few months ago
in search of oil and trade agreements.
The current series of events began with the rise of the Islamic
Courts more than a year ago. The Islamists avoided large-scale
violence in defeating the warlords, who had held sway in Somalia
ever since they drove out UN peacekeepers by killing eighteen
American soldiers in 1993, by rallying people to their side through
establishing law and order. Washington was wary, fearing their
possible support for terrorists. While they have denied any such
intentions, some Islamists do have terrorist ties, but these have
been vastly overstated in the West.
Washington, however, chose to view the situation only through the
prism of its 'war on terror'. The Bush Administration supported the
warlords - in violation of a UN arms embargo it helped impose on
Somalia many years ago - indirectly funnelling them arms and
suitcases filled with dollars.
Many of these warlords were part of the Western-supported
transitional 'government' that had been organised in Kenya in 2004.
But the 'government' was so devoid of internal support that even
after two years it was unable to move beyond the small western town
of Baidoa, where it had settled. In the end, it was forced to turn
to Somalia's archenemy Ethiopia for assistance in holding on even
to Baidoa. Again in violation of the UN arms embargo, Ethiopia sent
15,000 troops to Somalia. Their arrival eroded whatever domestic
credibility the government might have had.
The United States, whose troops have been sighted by Kenyan
journalists in the region bordering Somalia, next turned to the UN
Security Council. In another craven act resembling its post-facto
legalisation of the US occupation of Iraq, the Council bowed to US
pressure and authorised a regional peacekeeping force to enter
Somalia to protect the government and "restore peace and
stability". This despite the fact that the UN has no right under
its charter to intervene on behalf of one of the parties struggling
for political supremacy, and that peace and stability had already
been restored by the Islamists.
The war came soon after the UN resolution, its outcome a foregone
conclusion thanks to the highly trained and war-seasoned Ethiopian
army. The African Union called for the Ethiopians to end the
invasion, but the UN Security Council made no such call. Ban
Ki-moon, the incoming Secretary General, is being urged to treat
the enormously complex situation in Darfur as his political
challenge, but Somalia, while less complex, is more immediate. He
has an opportunity to establish his credentials as an unbiased
upholder of the UN Charter by seeking Ethiopia's withdrawal.
The Ethiopian military presence in Somalia is inflammatory and will
destabilise this region and threaten Kenya, a US ally and the only
island of stability in this corner of Africa. Ethiopia is at even
greater risk, as a dictatorship with little popular support and
beset by two large internal revolts by Ogadenis and Oromos. It is
also mired in a military stalemate with Eritrea, which has denied
it secure access to seaports. It now seeks such access in Somalia.
The best antidote to terrorism in Somalia is stability. Instead of
engaging with the Islamists to secure peace, the United States has
plunged a poor country into greater misery in its misguided
determination to dominate the world.
Somalia - the Next Afghanistan + Iraq?
January 11, 2007
By Issa Shivji
[Issa Shivji is a retired law professor].
On 9th January 2007, while we were basking in the limelight of Dr
Migiro's appointment, BBC reported that an American Air-Force
AC-130 jet had bombed a site in Somalia near the Kenyan border. The
excuse was the usual one - to destroy alleged Al-Qaida agents who,
the Americans have constantly propagandized, are part of the Union
of Islamic Courts. The planes flew from an American air base in
another African country, Djibouti.
This is a very, very ominous turn of events. Africans have
constantly warned of the American military design on the Eastern
seaboard. Yet, our "leaders" have thoughtlessly been currying
favour with this vicious military power. In the horn, the heavily
militarized Ethiopia has become their 'on the scene agent', doing
the dirty work of the American warmonger.
First, the Americans pushed through a Security Council resolution
to send an African peace-keeping force to Somalia. This was only a
cover; anyone could have seen it. The most important part of that
resolution was not so much the peace-keeping force but the lifting
of the United Nations (UN) embargo on arms sales to Somalia. The
resolution provided some legitimacy - albeit fig-leaf - to the
Ethiopian military presence in that war-torn country. Unilaterally,
with of course the green light from the US, Ethiopia invaded
Somalia ostensibly in support of the so-called Transitional Federal
The TFG is a cruel joke. It is made up of former warlords who have
kept the murderous killings alive in Somalia for the past 15 years.
These warlords are supported by the US and the Ethiopians. It has
simply no base in Somalia. No government in Somalia with even
little roots could have ever allied with Ethiopia, which is
essentially an occupying force.
Regrettably, Tanzania co-sponsored the Security Council Resolution.
Worse, Tanzania is the only African country which is a member of
the American sponsored International Contact Group. The other
members are the US, UK, Norway, Sweden, Italy and the EU. The AU,
Arab League and Kenya attend as observers. The contact group ploy
was clearly meant to by-pass ??what is IGAD (IGAD). No wonder Kenya
was angered when Tanzania, without proper prior consultations with
Kenya, agreed to be part of the Contact Group.
Ethiopia broke ranks with IGAD when it invaded
Somalia. The US broke ranks with the Contact Group when it struck
Somalia. So much for regional and international collective
Who authorized the US to strike deep into Africa's heartland? Let
us not be taken in by the so-called Al-Qaida presence. This is not
the first time the Americans are telling a blatant lie. They did it
in August 1998 when Clinton ordered his cruise missiles to attack
the al-Shifa Pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. The Americans said it
was producing VX gas. In reality, it was producing medicine.
Clinton knew it, but human lives, except American, matter little to
US presidents. Again, Bush told a lie that Saddam was hiding
weapons of mass destruction. He told another lie that Saddam was
connected with terrorists. We have seen the results.
If we keep quiet about American military planes flying over African
skies, they will paint our lands red with blood. Within less than
a decade, the Americans have razed two countries to the ground,
allegedly in search of terrorists. This air-strike is a curtain
raiser to expand the Middle East War theatre to Africa. We forget
this only at our peril. The US 'war on terror' is worse than the
proxy-hot wars that the US instigated on the continent during the
Cold War era. Now, it is fomenting and instigating civil wars in
which Africans will fight Africans, not only across borders but
within borders - Muslims against Christians, moderates against
extremists, radicals against liberals. It does not matter to them.
During the Iran-Iraq war Kissinger quipped: "Let both houses burn"!
And when asked about the death of half a million Iraqi children due
to sanctions, Madeline Albright shamelessly intoned: "It is worth
The US has just announced the formation of an African command
within its military forces to "train African troops" to hunt down
terrorists (meaning our own people). The truth is, and the American
spokesmen and women say it openly - that the command has been set
up to protect oil resources as 25 per cent of US oil needs come
Somalia today has all the ingredients of becoming the next
Afghanistan or Iraq. God forbid! The people of Africa must rise up
to condemn the American strike without reservations. The youth of
Africa must understand that the MacDonaldisation of the world is
accompanied by MacDonnelisation [MacDonnel Douglas is an American
firm supplying defense needs.]. Don't be mesmerized by
Globalization is the most militarized phase of imperialism, just as
it is the beastly face of capitalism.
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