THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views
April 27, 2007
Democracy Now!

Somalia: 'Most Lawless War of Our Generation'

by Salim Lone

. . . not just Islamists, which is a codeword for terrorists, but . . . most Somalis will not abide this occupation. . . . So it is not going to be a successful war for the Somali government, for Ethiopia and, of course, for the US, which is the orchestrator of the whole adventure this time.

. . . women are being raped, hospitals are being bombed. This is clearly a huge effort to intimidate and terrorize all those who come from clans who are fighting the government. They want to intimidate the civilians, because most of the death toll is of civilians. So this has been going on, and there has been no call whatsoever for this to stop.

. . . we are seeing the Security Council completely silent while these atrocities are going on. We are seeing Western governments completely silent. Nothing has come out of Washington. Nothing has come out of London. We now see, for the first time on Wednesday, the ambassador of Germany -- and Germany holds the EU presidency now -- the ambassador released a letter, which he had sent to Abdullah Yusuf, the president of the transitional government. It is a very candid and a very strong letter, and that's wonderful. However, where was Germany? Where was the EU for all this period? Their silence has really given the green light for the Ethiopians to do the terrible things they've been doing.

The death toll now in Somalia is greater than it was in Lebanon. And you will recall, of course, that even then, the big powers -- the US, UK, even initially the UN -- did not demand a ceasefire. But the world media was full of that story, and there were condemnations around the world for what the Israelis were doing. But, of course, Somalis and Africans don't count as nearly much, because there has just been no international outcry at all. . . .

But let's look at the other contrasts, which are very fascinating. In Iraq, the world body, the Security Council, for the first time in many years since the Soviet Union collapsed, stood up to the United States and refused, despite enormous pressure, to authorize a UN war in Iraq. In Somalia's case, it is precisely the opposite.

To begin with, the lawlessness of this particular war is astounding. I mean, this is the most lawless war of our generation. You know, all aggressive wars are illegal. But in this particular one, there have been violations of the Charter and gross violations of international human rights, but these are commonplace. But, in addition, there have been very concrete violations by the United States, to begin with, of two Security Council resolutions. The first one was the arms embargo imposed on Somalia, which the United States has been routinely flaunting for many years now. But then the US decided that that resolution was no longer useful, and they pushed through an appalling resolution in December, which basically gave the green light to Ethiopia to invade. They pushed through a resolution which said that the situation in Somalia was a threat to international peace and security, at a time when every independent report indicated, and Chatham House's report on Wednesday also indicated, that the Islamic Courts Union had brought a high level of peace and stability that Somalia had not enjoyed in sixteen years.

So here was the UN Security Council going along with the American demand to pass a blatantly falsified UN resolution. And that resolution actually was a violation. It contravened the UN Charter. You know, the UN Charter is like the American Constitution. Legislators pass laws, but they have to be in conformity with the Constitution. In this particular case, the Charter is the UN's constitution, and the Security Council cannot -- it's not allowed to really pass laws or rules that violate the Charter.

. . . the Horn of Africa, is newly oil-rich. Kenya has some oil. . . .

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Excerpts of an interview by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! Salim Lone is a columnist for the Daily Nation in Kenya and a former spokesperson for the UN mission in Iraq.

David Leigh and David Pallister, "The New Scramble For Africa," Guardian, June 1, 2005

"Backed by the U.S., Ethiopia Invades Somalia," The Wisdom Fund, May 12, 2006

[More people have been displaced in Somalia in the past two months than anywhere else in the world, the United Nations has said.--"Somalia is 'worst refugee crisis'," BBC News, April 27, 2007]

[ . . . behind the US-Ethiopian political alliance lies a strategic move to secure positioning in this oil region. . . .

We now know that the Bush administration gave the Ethiopian government the go ahead to ignore its own imposed ban on weapons purchases from North Korea, in order to gear up for the battle ahead. US military forces took part in the assault.

'The US political and military alliance with Ethiopia - which openly violated international law in its aggression towards Somalia, is destabilizing the Horn region and begins a new shift in the way the US plans to have permanent and active military presence in Africa', wrote Kadane.

Planning for the invasion actually began last summer when the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) took control of the Somali government.

The US-Ethiopian version of shock and awe was to swiftly bring about the desired regime change, installing the Washington-favoured, government-in-exile of President Abdullahi Yusuf.--Carl Bloice, "Somalia: The Hidden War for Oil," allafrica.com, May 10, 2007]

[United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, which is to be discussed by the security council in mid-June. He would like to mount a UN-sanctioned "coalition of the willing" to enforce peace and restore order in Somalia - in other words, the UN would help Ethiopia and the United States achieve what their own illegal military interventions have failed to accomplish: the entrenchment of a client regime that lacks any popular support. . . .

The Somali government is busy crying "al-Qaida" at every turn and offering lucrative deals to oil companies, in a bid to entice greater western support.--Salim Lone, "The only way the US can prop up its client regime in Somalia is through lawlessness and slaughter," Guardian, April 28, 2007]

[The reality, of course, is that deposing the Islamic Courts council - which had reached out to the West, seeking recognition and cooperation - and plunging Somalia back into anarchy virtually guarantees that it will indeed become a haven for terrorism, just as in Bush's other "regime change" operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But then, the Terror War has never been about curtailing the terrorist threat against Americans. This is blatantly obvious, as every aspect of the "War" has only exacerbated terrorism and anti-American feeling around the world. The Terror War is about securing even more loot and power for elite factions in the American Establishment (and selected foreign cronies). Somalia's oil and its strategic location make it a prime target for the Terror Warriors; hence the invasion and the blood-soaked occupation.--Chris Floyd, "Press Plays 9/11 Card to Justify Somalia Slaughter," lewrockwell.com, May 3, 2007]

[On file are plans - put on hold amid continuing conflicts - for nearly two-thirds of Somalia's oil fields to be allocated to the US oil companies Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips.

It was recently reported that the US-backed prime minister of Somalia has proposed enactment of a new oil law to encourage the return of foreign oil companies to the country.--Carl Bloice, "The Hidden War for Oil," Fahamu (Oxford), May 11, 2007]

[Somalia now represents a worse displacement crisis than Sudan's Darfur region.--"Ethiopia seeking Somalia pullout," BBC News, May 15, 2007]

"US attacks Somali 'militant base'," BBC News, June 2, 2007

[The ruins of the old sugar factory in Marere, in the southern interior of Somalia, tower over the wooden shacks and brick huts which shelter the 2,000 or so people still living here. This used to be the second-largest sugar factory in the world, employing more than 20,000 people. Now, its rusting steel frame, chimneys and pipes sunk deep into the tall grass provide a painful echo of the wreck which Somalia has become.

Local people, from teen-agers to elders, now talk of the brief period of rule by the Islamic Courts in wistful tones. For the first time in a generation, there was a level of security in the district that few had believed was possible. The various clan-based militias which terrorised the region, setting up checkpoints and settling disputes with guns, buried their arms.--Steve Bloomfield, "Somalis yearn for Islamic rulers to return and tame the warlords," Independent, June 15, 2007]

[Amnesty International accused Kenya of blocking 141 trucks of food and other aid headed for more than 200,000 displaced Somalis suffering from "alarming levels" of malnutrition.

Many businessmen and civil society leaders in Mogadishu say that over the past two weeks, they have been unjustly labeled "al-Qaeda" and their homes and offices have been ransacked by Ethiopian and Somali troops.--Stephanie McCrummen, "Ethiopian Premier Admits Errors on Somalia," Washington Post, June 29, 2007]

[Why is the U.S. subsidizing and supporting murder, rape, and systematic ethnic cleansing in the Horn of Africa? The reason: it's all part of our strategy for "victory" in the "war on terrorism."--Justin Raimondo, "Mass Murder in the Horn of Africa," antiwar.com, October 19, 2007]

[A year after the U.S.-backed Ethiopian army toppled a hard-line Islamist regime in Somalia, the country has become Africa's worst humanitarian catastrophe.--Shashank Bengali, "Somalia descends into Africa's worst crisis," McClatchy Newspapers, December 12, 2007]

"US bombs Islamist town in Somalia," BBC News, March 3, 2008

Aweys Yusuf and Abdi Sheikh, "Somali Islamists say US terror listing forges unity," Reuters, March 21, 2008

[Amnesty International has called for the role of the United States in Somalia to be investigated, following publication of a report accusing its allies of committing war crimes.--Steve Bloomfield, "Call for inquiry into US role in Somalia," Guardian, May 7, 2008]

[. . . many in Africa see it as an unwelcome expansion of the U.S.-led war on terrorism and a bid to secure greater access to the continent's vast oil resources. Several countries have refused to host the command, and officials say Africom will be based in Stuttgart, Germany, for the foreseeable future. . . .

U.S. covert operations in Somalia and elsewhere have fueled the controversy. . . .

The Department of Energy says that 17 percent of U.S. crude oil imports now come from Africa, more than the U.S. gets from Persian Gulf countries. But rising powers such as China have strengthened their ties with Africa and become a powerful counterweight to American influence. . . .

Africom will assume control over the largest U.S. military base in the region, the 1,500-strong Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, housed at a former French Foreign Legion facility in the tiny eastern nation of Djibouti.--Shashank Bengali, "The Pentagon's new Africa command raises suspicions about U.S. motives," McClatchy Newspapers, September 29, 2008]

[ . . . the United States has intervened directly into the conflict, carrying out bombing raids on fleeing refugees and nomads, firing missiles into villages, sending in death squads to clean up after covert operations, and . . . assisting in the "rendition" of refugees, including American citizens, into the hands of Ethiopia's notorious torturers.--"What Nobody Wants To Know About Somalia And Why; And What That Means," winterpatriot, October 3, 2008]

[His frank admission confirms what is known but seldom publicly acknowledged by those with a stake in Somalia's future, from Ethiopia, whose continued occupation unites the different Islamist groups against a common enemy, to the UN and western countries, which have backed the warlord-heavy government for years.--Xan Rice, "Government near to collapse, says Somalia leader," Guardian, November 17, 2008]

M K Bhadrakumar, "The Great Game of Hunting Somali Pirates," Asia Times, November 22, 2008

[The last Ethiopian troops in Somalia's capital have left Mogadishu, two years after they captured it from Islamists who again control much of it.--"Islamists take bases in Mogadishu," BBC News, January 15, 2009]

"Somali Islamists to rule by sharia law in Baidoa," Reuters, January 27, 2009

Daniel Ooko, "UN envoy lauds election of new Somali President," xinhuanet.com, January 31, 2009

[It is an Islamist versus Islamist war, and the Sufi scholars are part of a broader moderate Islamist movement that Western nations are counting on to repel Somalia's increasingly powerful extremists.--Jeffrey Gettleman, "For Somalia, Chaos Breeds Religious War," New York Times, May 24, 2009]

The battle-by-proxy for Somalia was not new; during the cold-war, the United States and the Soviets vied for control of the tiny country to gain access to the oil routes on its long coastline.--Eliza Griswold, "The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam," Farrar, Straus and Giroux (August 17, 2010) page 127

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