Somalia: America’s other war…
Posted by abu ameerah on Sunday, January 14, 2007
Another unwanted war
BY ERIC S. MARGOLIS
14 January 2007
IN HIS memorable, 1961 farewell speech, President Dwight Eisenhower warned Americans to avoid foreign entanglements and beware the growing power of the military-industrial complex. It was thus ironic to see American air strikes being launched last week from the decks of the mighty attack carrier USS Eisenhower’ against the East African nation of Somalia. The US has opened a fourth front in the war on terrorism’ trumpeted the Pentagon, as if it did not have enough failing wars on its hands in Afghanistan and Iraq.
US warplanes and, reportedly, Special Forces units, attacked Somalia from the sea and from the US base at Djibouti. Other US units and FBI agents have been deployed on the Kenya-Somalia border. Much of Somalia is already occupied by Ethiopia’s powerful, US-financed army. Ethiopia invaded defenseless Somalia, with Washington’s blessing, under cover of the Christmas holiday.
But was Somalia really a ‘hotbed of terrorism’ as Washington claimed? The US-Ethiopian invasion of Somalia was sparked by last fall’s defeat of corrupt Somali warlords armed and financed by the CIA. They had kept Somalia in turmoil and near anarchy for 15 years. Last year, a group of Muslim jurists and notables, the Union of Islamic Courts, managed to defeat the warlords and impose a rough form of law and order on many parts of chaotic central and southern Somalia.
The conservative Islamic Courts were sympathetic to pan-Muslim causes. But there is no evidence they were involved in anti-American jihadist movements and had no identifiable links, as Washington claimed, to Al Qaeda. A handful of African Al Qaeda suspects in the 1998 bombing of US Embassies in East Africa may have been in Somalia, but going to war against a sovereign nation to try to assassinate or capture a handful of suspects (some reportedly escaped) is like using a nuclear weapon to kill a gnat and is sure to generate more anti-US violence. Air strikes by carrier- based US F-18s and the deadly AC-130 gunships killed between 50-100 Somali civilians but, apparently, no Al Qaeda suspects.
In line with increasing militarisation of US foreign policy, the Pentagon’s new golden-haired boys, Special Operations Command, pushed aside the humiliated CIA and the feckless State Department and vowed to drain the Islamic swamp’ in Somalia.
Thus begins President Bush’s fourth war against the Muslim World. He failed dismally to capture Osama bin Laden, conquer Iraq, or pacify Afghanistan. Dirt-poor, defenseless Somalia is Bush’s last stab at military glory and a last-ditch effort to convince Americans the so-called war on terror’ is a success.
The administration is again recklessly charging into a thicket of tribal politics in a remote nation it knows nothing about. US policy in Somalia is being driven by neoconservatives seeking war against the entire Muslim World, and self-serving advice from ally Ethiopia. Israel has close intelligence, military and economic links to Ethiopia’s regime and has long conducted covert operations in the Horn of Africa.
Eritrea’s 1993 secession took away Ethiopia’s natural access to the sea, leaving it landlocked. Ethiopia’s prime goal in Somalia is seizing one or more deep-water ports, turning Somalia into a protectorate, and crushing any Islamic movements that might enflame its own voiceless Muslims, who comprise half of Ethiopia’s 73 million people.
America’s attack on Somalia recalls Afghanistan. The US is again blundering into ancient clan and tribal conflicts, using foreign troops and local mercenaries to defend a puppet regime without any popular support. US-Ethiopian intervention in Somalia is certain to re-ignite the murderous clan rivalries that brought it to its current state of anarchy.
Like Afghanistan, Somalia was easy to invade, but may prove very difficult to rule, or eventually leave. The invading Ethiopians, blood foes of Somalis, were not greeted with flowers, as US neocons again promised. Many Somalis saw the US and Ethiopians as invaders, and the now scattered Islamic Courts militias as their best hope for stability and normalcy. Now they are back to zero – or worse.
Like Afghanistan after the US invasion in 2001, Somalis have been slow to organise resistance against their latest occupiers. But in time they will likely mount a fierce resistance to the new US-Ethiopian condominium over Somalia. Again, as in Afghanistan, Somali resistance to foreign occupation was initially feeble, but it is likely to intensify into guerrilla operations if the Ethiopian Army remains for long. From 1899 to 1930, Somalia waged a bitter guerrilla war against British colonial occupation, in which a third of its population was killed. Britain gave the Ogaden region of western Somalia to Ethiopia, thus ensuring permanent hostility between the two neighbours.
So begins yet another unnecessary war.
Eric S. Margolis is a veteran American journalist and contributing foreign editor of The Toronto Sun.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This Op-ed piece raises a number of important points/concerns. Here are just that a few that I think are relevant:
1) U.S. Special Forces in Somalia. The U.S. has most likely inserted a number of Delta Force operators into Somalia. Delta Force are a particularly important element of the Special Forces community (in the U.S. Military) as they are well suited for battle in the most difficult of environments, including counter-insurgency type warfare. In the case of the latest conflict in Somalia, however, the Delta Force operators are doing what they have been doing since their creation (and what they truly specialize in) — counter-terrorism operations. Simply put, Delta Force is in Somalia with the task of killing those suspected with involvement in the US embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
2) U.S. aims in Somalia are two-fold. The first goal of the US involvement in Somalia is to kill those believed responsible for the ’98 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania – revenge politics one might say. The US thus becomes judge, jury, and executioner for all intents and purposes — what else is new. The second goal of US involvement in Somalia is not only to delegitimize the Islamic Courts Union (and the Muslims of Somalia) but ultimately to destroy them. As soon as the ICU took power of Somalia’s capital (Mogadishu) the State Department immediately began associating it with terrorism and alleging links to al-Qaeda. All of this, of course, under the guise of “the war on terror”.
3) Black Hawk down 2.0? The newest conflict, and the subsequent US invasion, that we are witnessing in Somalia is merely a continuation of America’s unfinished business in the Horn of Africa. The US goal in Somilia in 1993 was not, as many pundits once asserted, to merely give out food – but rather it was to eliminate undersirable elements in the lawless African nation. Therefore, in ’93 the US targeted a number of key warlords and other figures in the hopes that Somalia would be in a position to form some kind of centralized government that would be friendly to the west (basically do America’s bidding). Time will tell if the current conflict in Somilia becomes some kind of protracted insurgency or civil war akin to the conflict in Iraq. Will the Islamic Courts Union be able to mobilize and ultimately take a page in insurgency warfare like the various armed factions in Iraq? You can bet that Bush certainly hopes otherwise.
4) A mess like Afghanistan. The US has done, and will continue to do, what it did in Afghanistan. I am referring to US reliance and use of warlords, criminals, and other less than desirable elements to route out the Taliban during Operation Enduring Freedom (2001) and Operation Anaconda (2002) in Afghanistan. I think that we can all pretty much assume that the US will work with, protect, and empower warlords in Somalia to kill any oposition force just as was done in Afghanistan. The use of warlords, clans, criminals, dictators, and those with blood on their hands is nothing new for the United States.
5) The Kabba will be destoryed by an Ethiopian. Ethiopia’s illegal invasion and attack on Somalia should not surprise us. The current conflict in Somalia (as well as the protracted conflict in the Horn of Africa) are merely an extension of Ethiopian animus towards Muslims – both at home and abroad (as was the case with Somalia). Dr. Ali al Timimi once said in a lecture, “The Prophet (Sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) told us that an Ethiopian with two thin shanks will destroy the Ka`bah, piece by piece. So therefore do we say, “Well, OK, it’s going to happen, the Ethiopians are going to come and destroy the Ka`bah, so therefore whatever happens in the East Africa, we’ll just let it happen?” No. We know this will happen, one day the Ka`bah will be destroyed by an Ethiopian, but we fight that qadar with a qadar by making sure that the da`wah is strong in East Africa and that it remains that no non-Muslim country ever has a rule in East Africa, but that strong Muslim states have that.” (Transcribed from the lecture “Muslims and Studies of the Future” Dr. Ali al Timimi)