Somalia 6 Months After Occupation:
A Balance Sheet of An Imperialist Plot
By Thomas Davies
On December 28th of 2006 the earth shook in Mogadishu. US backed Ethiopian troops took control of the Somali capital, and were soon followed by US planes firing on civilians across the country. Their promise was an old one – to rid the country of a newly forming “radical Islamic” government (the Union of Islamic Courts), and bring law, order, peace, love and justice for all. The troops were greeted by the protests of thousands of Somalis both in and outside the country, and the past six months have proved what Somalis have been saying all along. Since the occupation began six months ago, the conditions in Somalia have dramatically worsened in every measurable way. The mission is a complete failure, and even its own creators are beginning to publicly doubt it.
Currently there are more than 4,000 Ethiopian troops in Somalia, as well as 1,600 Ugandan troops which are the African Union (AU) “peacekeeping mission”. This is far less than the 8,000 promised by the AU earlier this year that are supposed to come from Nigeria, Burundi, Malawi and Ghana. The United Nations (UN) was also supposed to have taken over the peacekeeping mission upon the expiry of the AU's mandate this month, but according to Assane Ba, an AU spokesman, "For the moment the UN is not ready, [so] we have decided to stay on.”
How many countries would want to commit troops to Somalia? Although the Western media refuses to cover the situation, there are daily attacks on the occupying forces.
A supposed Somalia “reconciliation conference” being pushed by the US and the newly imposed interim parliament was again postponed. It has already been postponed twice due to lack of security, and attempts to open it this month were unsuccessful. Five mortar shells landed near the meeting place, killing 3 people and injuring 12 others.
Somalia’s civil society organizations have also protested the conference, which excludes them and the broadly supported Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the chairman of the UIC, made the situation blatantly clear "For any genuine Somali dialogue to take place inside the country there has to be immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops from Somalia."
Ahmed Diriye, a member of the elders council of the largest clan in Somalia, the Hawiye, was also clear that, "Mogadishu is a war zone and occupied by a foreign force; it is neither neutral nor secure."
No Food, No Peace, No End in Sight
The largest open-air market in Somalia, Bakara, in the capital Mogadishu, could also close due to insecurity and continued restrictions on the movement of people by government security forces. Prices in the market had already increased the prices of basic necessities from between 50 and 100 percent, necessities such as transport, water, food and non-food items. The warehouses in the open-air market have not been opened for 11 days as of July 17th because of the violence or security forces who blame the shopkeepers for hiding resistance fighters. According to Abdulahi Hussein Haasn, the spokesman of Bakara business committee, "Whenever the troops set their eyes on us, they shoot us."
Meanwhile, the UN warned that nearly one million Somalis are facing a major food crisis. 71% of Somalis are now undernourished, and he United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has said it will be short of 8,500 tons of food by October. WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran stated that, “Close to 80 per cent of WFP's assistance to Somalia is shipped by sea but, because of piracy, we have seen the availability of ships willing to carry food to the country cut by half." Under the UIC leadership, Somalia had almost eliminated pirates from its water.
Occupied Democracy is the Democracy Occupied
Getting reliable information from Somalia has also been curbed by consistent government attacks on media. In four separate raids, troops searched the offices of Radio Shabelle, a leading independent station. According to the station’s press release, “Troops searched for weapons, threatened staff at gunpoint, and disrupted live broadcasts.” The station had aired recent interviews in which merchants and local residents alleged abuses by joint Somali-Ethiopian military forces in and around the Bakara market. It was the fourth time this year Radio Shabelle had been harassed.
What doesn’t the government want us to hear? That thousands have already been killed since the occupation began, with battles in Mogadishu between March 12 and April 26 alone killing at least 1,670 people, according to The Associated Press.
According to the Red Cross, approximately half a million Somalis have been displaced, causing a dozen unrecorded deaths every week. Somalia, with a population of under 11 million, now has the fifth highest number of refugees in the world, according to the UN. This in a year where the total number of displaced people has risen 14 per cent.
This grotesque situation is being push primarily by the onslaught of wars and occupations waged by imperialist countries, with the top three countries being Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq. Somalia follows closely behind only Sudan, and the recent huge increase in refugees is being called, “The Iraq Effect”
The Lies Will Stop
On July 8th the speaker of Somalia's interim parliament backed by occupation forces, Aden Madobe, announced Sunday that a three-month martial law imposed six months earlier was over. Although not speaking on a huge aircraft carrier, it wasn’t all that far from George W. Bush’s announcement of the end of “major combat” in Iraq on May 2nd 2003. Four years and over 700,000 Iraqi lives later, the Iraqi people have definitely not stopped fighting against a definitely ongoing and brutal occupation of their country. You could still hear the gunfire in Mogadishu as Madobe gave his speech. This month also saw the announcement of a major conference in Eritrea in September, with the purpose of forming a coalition to end Ethiopia's occupation of Somalia.
So, despite everything, people in Somalia continue to organize and to fight much like their brothers and sisters from the Middle East and beyond. By any means necessary, with the unity of their aspirations to end the suffering of foreign occupation. The responsibility of all peace and justice loving people around the world is to recognize both their right and capacity to rule their own country free of foreign domination, and demand an immediate end to the occupation of Somalia.
ALL FOREIGN TROOPS OUT OF SOMALIA NOW!
SELF-DETERMINATION FOR ALL OF AFRICA!
US HANDS OFF SOMALIA!
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