Mon Apr 30th, 2007 at 06:15:22 AM EST
Here is another crisis that can be directly attributed to US intervention (I would call it US imperialism). Responsible citizens need to finger the US government's key role in this humanitarian tragedy as it unfolds and do the best to reverse it.
Democracy Now has provided an excellent update and analysis of this unfolding tragedy in the piece The Most Lawless War in Our Generation, a program based on interviews with John Holmes, United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator and Salim Lone, a former spokesman for the UN mission in Iraq and columnist for the Daily Nation in Kenya. In fact, it wouldn't be a bad idea to abandon this diary altogether and simply read the entire transcript or listen to the progam from start to finish.
From the diaries ~ whataboutbob
Before going to the Democracy Now
interviews, I feel it necessary to debunk some critical assumptions that I have tried to touch on in a previous diary
posted at Daily Kos. The whole issue of the US intervention in Somalia (and elsewhere, for that matter) being justified on the basis of the war against terrorism or chasing down Al Qaeda, is absolutely ridiculous and needs to be debunked. You will find no sympathy from me in this argument. If this were true, then Cuba would be justified in bombing and invading the United States in retaliation for protecting terrorist plane bomber Posada Carriles
. Furthermore, the overriding principle is that nodody has annointed the US police chief of the world
Secondly, while I may not be in favor Sharia law, which was reportedly imposed by the Islamic Courts on Somalia, I am not Somali nor am I hubristic to the point of wanting to impose my views on anyone. If the majority of Somalis supported the Islamic Courts, then that is their business and they must ultimately take responsibility for their own actions in this respect (Isn't that the abiding principle of democracy that George Bush so adamantly wanted to establish in the region, anyway?). According to the BBC, which echoed most news reprorts on the subject:
...Somalia is a strongly Islamic country and many people support the courts. During the years of warfare and anarchy, many Somalis have increasingly turned to their faith for some sort of stability. (...) Even those Mogadishu residents who are wary of Islamic extremism may welcome a single group being in control of the capital for the first time in 15 years, saying there will at least be some authority. And most will prefer Islamic preachers to the warlords who have repeatedly fought over and in many cases systematically looted the city since 1991. BBC Somali analyst Yusuf Garaad Omar says the warlords were hated - even more so because of the widespread belief that they were being backed by the US. The US has not been well thought of in Somalia since its humanitarian intervention went disastrously wrong - leading to the death of maybe 1,000 Somalis and 18 US troops in 1993.
What the US has done is plunge the region into another bloody mess which feeds Al Qaeda's propaganda of a Western crusade against Islam. Are we fighting terrorism or feeding it?
Amy Goodman points out the extent of the current crisis in her introduction to UN Relief coordinator John Holms:
A humanitarian catastrophe now looms over Somalia. The United Nations says more people have been displaced in Somalia in the past three months than anywhere else in the world. Some 350,000 people have fled fighting in Mogadishu since February, more than a third of its population. That makes the rate of displacement in Somalia over the past three months worse than Iraq. Many of the those displaced are camped on the outskirts of Mogadishu and lack food, medicine and clean water. There is also concern for those trapped inside the capital where more than 600 people have died from acute diarrhea and cholera.
To which Mr. Holms responds (in part):
I think already this is one of the -- the biggest movement of population, displacement of population we've seen this year, in terms of numbers, particularly in terms of comparative numbers, compared to the populations of Mogadishu or indeed of Somalia as a whole, greater in that sense than Darfur or eastern Chad, and the problems there are serious enough.
Ms. Goodman goes on to highlight the lack of coverage in the US media, but it is her next interviewee that provides the all-too-obvious reason behind that. Salim Lone says:
most Somalis will not abide this occupation. I mean, this is what is most distressing about this fighting. All fighting is terrible, but you hope in the end something good comes out of it. But in this particular case, it is clear Somalis will not abide the Ethiopian occupation or the government they put in place there. 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.
Salim Lone, furthermore, places responsibility at the foot of the UN Security Council and the international community:
But one of the big issues here is not merely the unilateralism of the United States, but the inability of the international community and particularly the United Nations Security Council to try to play, if not an independent role, at least a moderating role. It is quite astonishing that for now three months, there has been terrible violence in Somalia, and yet we have not heard anything from the security council about how this carnage must stop. There is no interest whatsoever. You know the death toll. I mean, you've given all the details. I don't want to go into it. But let me add that women are being raped, that 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.
Ms. Goodman then goes on to excerpt a revealing exchange between a reporter and US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack about the parallels between the Iraqi and Somali invasions. Salim Lone reverts the discussion back to the US influence over the UN Security Council in a number of instances. In Somalia's case, he states:
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 (pdf) 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.
By the way, the Chatham House Report deserves a reading, along with the Democracy Now interviews. Its main points are summarised as follows:
1.) Multilateral efforts to support Somalia have been undermined by the strategic concerns of other international actors – notably Ethiopia and the United States.
2.) Security in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, has severely deteriorated since the US-backed Ethiopian intervention in the country.
3.) The Islamic Courts, which were ousted, had strong support in the country but fell victim to the influences of ‘extremist elements’ within the country and an Ethiopian power eager for the Courts’ downfall.
4.) The standing of the Islamic Courts was damaged by their defeat but the subsequent disorder has served to make their time in control appear as a ‘Golden Age’.
5.) Support for the Courts has been fairly consistent for over a decade and is unlikely to melt away.
Since I don't want to reproduce the entire Democracy Now
transcript here (plus I want as many of you as posibble to go to the original piece), I just want to add one final and very suggestive note. It has been reported that
Somalian Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi has announced that his government wants to entice the return of the international oil majors by introducing a petroleum law to provide a legal framework. "The parliament will approve the law within two months," says Gedi. So guess what kind of "legal framework" will be provided? It will be Production Sharing Agreements, the basis of all the controversy surrounding Iraq's controversial Oil Law.
I think this speaks for itself about the US's ultimate intentions. Those who are not convinced might want to take a look at a diary I wrote about this sometime ago (and please check out the comments in particular.)