Sunday, November 18, 2007

The unreported destruction of Somalia

The following was sent to the local "alternative" newspaper. Despite the sizable Somali population in the Fargo-Moorhead area, there has been little to no coverage of the U.S. backed destruction of Somalia. I am aware that only loony bastards write "letters to the editor," but I am kind of a loony bastard, so it works out.

According to the United Nations, the situation in Somalia is the worst humanitarian crisis in all of Africa. In the last two weeks 100,000 people have fled Mogadishu, the capital of the country. It is estimated that 1.5 million Somalis are now in need of immediate assistance. Despite all this, coverage of the situation has been absent from nearly all national, and local, news outlets.

One can’t help but think that the United States’ involvement in the catastrophe is one reason why the media has been so silent on the issue. The US fervently backed the Ethiopian invasion, the installment of the unpopular warlord-led Transitional Federal Government and the attempted break up the Islamic Courts Union. Since January of this year, the United States has launched several air strikes in Somalia targeting individuals deemed “terrorists” (state-sponsored assassinations are illegal under international law). Ethiopia, caught in an Iraq-like situation of its own, has been accused of randomly shooting civilians, looting Somali shops, raping Somali women and various other abuses during the occupation. They have stated they are "defending themselves" in Somalia and intend to leave when a “stable” government is in place (stable, of course, means the U.S./Ethiopian proxy Transitional Federal Government).

The Islamic Courts Union had brought stability to a region that has seen nothing but war since the fall of Siad Barre in the early nineties. They were a broad coalition of Islamic groups that had gained the support of many people sick of being attacked and robbed by local militias and warlords. The ICU, who at best had limited influence outside Mogadishu before the invasion, now appears to include anyone who decided to fight against the imperial conquest, regardless of their beliefs. This labeling no doubt helps sell the occupation as a part of the larger so-called "war on terrorism." The possibility of Somalis, who aren’t known for extremism, to actually work with the ICU and hammer out a government backed by the people is all but lost. Now, directly due to the occupation, we are seeing a radicalization of the population, leading to roadside and suicide bombings.

This is another example of post-colonial Western intervention in Africa, causing nothing but death and destruction. Put into the context of the so-called “war on terror,” our meddling in Somalia is counterproductive. It is simply creating more “terrorists.” It also begs the question: Is terrorism always abominable, or is it somehow acceptable if it is done by Western powers, namely the United States of America?

UPDATE: Kris Petersen has more from Gaza.

UPDATE AGAIN: This piece was picked up by the Somaliland Times.