Ethiopian Troops Out of Somalia
US Hands of Somalia
By Mike Chimenti
It has been 10 months since US imperialism opened its new era of war and occupation in Africa, massacring Somali civilians from the air, while its proxy Ethiopian force attacked Somalis on the ground.
The empire's plan to install a client regime that would answer to the beck and call of US monopoly capital has all but failed, succeeding only in re-igniting a vicious civil war and bringing millions of innocent Somalis to the brink of death.
In May, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and their Ethiopian allies, claimed to have cleared Mogadishu of all opposition forces. Despite their claims, daily fighting in the capital has continued unabated as has the flow of refugees fleeing the city.
"At any moment, a tragedy might happen to you ... Even at night there is no respite as despite the curfew, you can hear automatic gun fire as well as explosions."
- Somali aid worker, July 20th 2007, UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency)
From the beginning of June through the end of September, 65,000 people were forced to leave Mogadishu, adding to the more than 400,000 people who fled the capital in the first 6 months of 2007. Despite the fact that Somali's are now the 5th largest refugee Diaspora in the world, the TFG forced at least 3,000 people out of public buildings they had been living in, leaving them with no where to go, and no way to get there. Many of the roads leading into Mogadishu are routinely closed, blocking the delivery of food and medicine, and entire neighbourhoods are locked down by TFG forces as they carry out mass arrests, terrorizing the population, while they claim to be searching for "terrorists".
At the end of September, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) ordered Somalis in 3 different areas of Mogadishu to leave their houses, without providing any alternative shelter or emergency relief. This campaign of neighbourhood lockdowns and forced expulsions has turned northern Mogadishu into a veritable ghost town. Those who cannot find a way out of the city are forced to relocate to the southern sections of Mogadishu, hoping to find shelter and food in this relatively calm part of the city. However, given the constant road closures and street fighting, finding work is almost impossible, and the price of staple food items tripled between August and September.
According to the United Nations, 1.5 million Somalis are now "food insecure", an increase of 750,000 since the start of 2007. Despite the fact that thousands risk starvation in the refugee camps and along the roadways leading out of Mogadishu, on October 17th the TFG sent more than 60 police officers to arrest Idris Osman, the head of the World Food Program's operations in Somalia. This unexplained action forced the WFP to cancel its first food distribution program in Mogadishu since June, leaving the 75,000 intended recipients to their own fate.
Mr. Osman was not the only victim of the transitional regimes' continuing violence. Suppression of any media hostile to the Washington backed regime has been common practice since the occupation began. Throughout October, government forces continued shutting down radio stations and arresting scores of journalists, until ultimately, the chairman of independent Radio Shabelle, Bashir Nur Gedi, was found dead on October 19th
"As long as Mogadishu is not peaceful, my future is in Saudi Arabia, where I can have a job and live without fearing for my life."
- Ali, a 25-year-old student from Mogadishu, Aug 31st 2007, UNHCR
Many Somalis, faced with an increasingly violent and desperate situation in their country, have been forced to chance a dangerous voyage to neighbouring countries in search of some form of stable life.
Tens of thousands of East Africans, half of them Somali, gather in the northern Somali port of Bossaso, placing their fate in the hands of smugglers who take refugees across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen. From here, the refugees hope to move on to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries in search of jobs. But the crossing itself is often no safer than life on the streets of Mogadishu. Of the 20,000 smuggled across the Gulf of Aden this year, at least 439 people were killed during the crossing, and another 489 are missing and presumed dead. In most cases, these unnamed dead were thrown overboard by the smugglers who feared capture by Yemeni authorities.
"The insurgents are attacking the government and Ethiopian forces almost everyday now ... Whenever this happens, we civilians are the target for the Ethiopian army as well as the Somali forces, so fleeing is the only option we have,"
- Fartun Adan Mohamed, Somali mother of three, AFP, October 29th 2007
The ongoing street battles reached a new level at the end of October as the Somali resistance began attacking police stations and army barracks in broad daylight. The escalating fighting forced 36,000 Somalis to flee Mogadishu in a single weekend and set off a wave of demonstrations against the TFG and the Ethiopian occupiers.
Demonstrators filled the streets chanting "Down with Ethiopia! Down with the Somali government!" in heroic displays of defiance and anger with the imposed government. In response, Ethiopian soldiers opened fire on the march killing 3 civilians, one of them a young boy.
"These two conferences seem to be polarising the situation, making it worse, rather than bringing people together."
- Unnamed Somali analyst, September 7th 2007
While Somalis fled their homes throughout the course of the summer, the members of the Transitional Federal Government were engaged in a "Congress of National Reconciliation". From July 5th to September 30th, where conference delegates discussed their plans for Somalia.
As fighting raged in the streets, they proclaimed August 1st as the official end of the Somali civil war and announced complete reconciliation between all Somali tribes. Then, taking a page from the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, they proposed the drafting of a new constitution, to be followed by a national referendum, crowned by national elections before the end of 2009.
Unfortunately for the millions of Somalis affected by the daily violence, there was no mention of how this reconciliation would take effect, or how Somalis would be able to discuss the creation of a new constitution, participate in this referendum, or vote on a government while they linger in refugee camps awaiting a slow death from starvation, or instant death from the bullets of the occupiers.
While the members of the Reconciliation Congress congratulated themselves on a job well done, the forces aligned against the occupiers and TFG opened their own conference in Asmara, Eritrea, on September 6th. This conference resulted in the creation of "The Alliance for the Liberation of Somalia". Announced on September 12th, the Alliance comprises members of the ousted Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), as well as opposition politicians and members of previous Somali governments. The Alliance is run by a 191 member central committee with 2 wings - political and military. The political wing is assigned to lobby international bodies to demand Ethiopia leave Somalia, and the military wing has been assigned to "liberate the country through the barrel of the gun."
Transitional Government in Crisis
As the Transitional Federal Government continues to posture and claim it is unifying Somalia, the cracks within this opportunist alliance are widening. In October, the Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi, resigned after a long power struggle with President Abdullahi Yusuf. The two politicians, representing the largest clans in Somalia, had been involved in a battle over oil company alliances - an issue which has increasingly fostered division not only amongst members of the TFG, but between the regime in Mogadishu and the government of Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region. The government of Puntland signed oil exploration contracts with Range Resources in 2005, but these agreements are now threatened by a draft oil law passed by the TFG regime that includes areas already covered under Puntland's previous agreement.
As the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have shown the world, all of the scripting, plotting and planning of the imperialist countries turns to ash in the face of the resistance of the occupied. As Somalis continue to declare their resistance to foreign occupation and demand self-determination, the anti-war movement must do the same.
The war in Somalia is only the opening phase of the new era of war and occupation in Africa. The occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have shown the people of the world that the imperialists have no limits on the death and destruction they are willing to unleash on residents of their target countries. These occupations have also shown the people of the world that the only way out of this new era of war and occupation is resistance and fight back.
All Foreign Troops Out of Somalia Now!
US Hands Off Somalia!
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