Coming Iraq in Africa: Somalia After Occupation
By Thomas Davies
It didn’t take a crystal ball to know what was going to happen for the many voices who protested the US-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia at the end of 2006. Four months later and the urgent predictions of massacres, brutal puppet governments, and crisis have all come true. However, also as predicted, Somalis have become much more than a thorn in the side of their occupiers - as they continue a proud history of opposing foreign invasion and fighting for their right to self-determination.
The capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, is in flames. What else could have anyone expected as 15,000 US-equipped Ethiopian troops shook the ground as they rolled into the country in heavily armed tanks and jeeps. They were charged with installing a puppet government created in Kenya and ridding the country of the broadly supported Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) government. Now joined by 1,500 Ugandan “peacekeepers”, the facts speak for themselves about their impact:
According the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, at least 280,000 people have been forced to flee Mogadishu since February 2007 alone. A Somali report covered by Reuters News puts the number at a staggering 1.4 million.
The same report puts the number dead in the capital alone at 1,086 people as of April 10th. Colonel Hussein Siayaad, a member of the committee grouping security officials and civil society activists, stated, "This is a rough estimate and the number is going to be much higher because we have not ventured out of the main roads…The dead bodies are still there and it will take weeks to collect all of them."
According to the Associated Press, "Human rights groups, lawyers and several Western diplomats assert hundreds of prisoners, who include women and children, have been transferred secretly and illegally in recent months from Kenya and Somalia to Ethiopia, where they are kept without charge or access to lawyers and families."
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is protesting the April 8th arrest of two of its reporters. Meanwhile the current puppet government has officially banned all unauthorised conferences, lectures and public events about media matters, in some areas, as well as the creation of media associations.
One kilo of sugar now costs almost three times the regular price, while the cost of gasoline has doubled.
All this, and they’ve only been occupying the country for four months…
Still Completely Isolated
The “Transitional Governing Authority”, a coalition of US backed warlords, continues to try and rule the country from the farm town of Baidoa, close to the Kenyan border. They cannot enter Mogadishu for fear of their lives and recently had to fire 31 members of parliament who had simply stopped coming to meetings.
Jendayi Frazer, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, was the highest ranking US government official to visit Somalia in 13 years when she visited Baidoa on April 7th. As what the Red Cross called, “the worst fighting in Mogadishu in more than 15 years” raged in the capital, her amazing solution for everything was to continue to push for a “reconciliation conference” on April 16th. The conference was then postponed to May- and now to June due to the complete lack of conditions for anything even resembling this to take place.
As for the African Union, it continues to be unable to find any African country willing to actually send either the troops or the funding for the 6,500 more soldiers it promised to send as “peacekeepers” to Somalia months ago.
"I call upon the Somali people, wherever it exists, to unity in the fight against the Ethiopians. The war is not between Ethiopia and our tribe, it is between Ethiopia and all Somali people."
- Hawai clan spokesperson, Mogadishu
Things got a lot worse for the occupiers on April 13th, when the largest clan in Somalia, the Hawai, called for unity in a determined fight against occupation. They join what BBC News calls, “a groundswell of popular anger” and “the swelling ranks of the opposition” in a fight that has occupation forces reeling.
Uganda has already admitted to casualties, while 89 Ethiopian soldiers recently deserted by boat to southern Yemen. Muhammad Hassan, an Ethiopian officer who had participated in the invasion explained why they left, “We did not expect the fighting to reach this level of ferocity or that it could turn into a guerrilla war.” He added that more troops were fleeing Somalia after they found themselves stuck in a “flaming hell.”
How is the US going to convince any more African countries to plunge their troops into this?
The UIC has also been making a resurgence. Sheikh Dahir Aweys, chief of the Supreme Islamic Council of the Somali Islamic Courts, had a public interview on al-Jazeera News. He emphasized that, “The Somalis are now more united than before proving that they are one nation against the Ethiopian invaders." Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the other main leader of the UIC, recently met with Isaias Afwerki, the president of the neighbouring country of Eritrea. This is terrible news for the US, whose post-invasion propaganda had always emphasized the downfall of what had been the main emerging political force in Somalia.
Somali anti-imperialist poet Safi Abdi once wrote in a poem “Broken Hearted Somalia”,
There are times I wish
I were a roaring ocean
So as to toss overboard
The scum caught on my sails.
This roaring ocean is now growing in her homeland, bearing down on the “scum” of foreign occupation. What is plain to see is that groups from all sides are calling for and responding to a united Somali people fighting for the freedom of their country from foreign occupation. This will continue until the last boot of the last foreign troop has left their land, and Somalis are finally able to begin to rebuild their lives and country.
All Foreign Troops OUT NOW!
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