July 21, 2011

Somalia PM Asks Obama to Invade His Country

While the U.S. spends $4.4 trillion on its global war on terror, people are starving to death in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda. According to the organization Netaid, with just $13 billion a year the basic health and food needs of the world's poorest people could be met. One person dies every ten seconds from water-borne illness, according to Water.org. Even more heartbreaking is that of the nearly 9,000 daily death rate for water-borne diseases, most are small children.

The reason Somalia is being condemned, even while the breakup of the Sudan is applauded, is because Ethiopia, Uganda, Egypt, and even the DRC, share land borders with the Sudan and Darfur, which has one of the world's larger oil deposits. Somalia is not a territory without any government. Even though the federal government is barely there, the nation has simply broken up into pre-colonial sub-national level governments. Other than the Somalian governments that exist today, there is the constant presence of a foreign government -- the US government, and the Ethiopian government which invaded Somalia on its request -- looming over the internal affairs of Somalia, as is evidenced by the drone strikes, and the manipulation of neighboring Ethiopia by the U.S. Government's Jendayi Frazer, for instance (read:
US behind Ethiopia invasion in Somalia - Wiki leaks dispatch.) - ThomHartmann.com, July 12, 2011

Ever since the West launched military intervention in Libya, some scholars have said the powers were engaging in imperial interference to secure resources on the African continent. Professor Horace Campbell and Professor Molefi Asante are two who’ve said this isn’t just about Libyan oil but is about African oil interests and resources throughout the continent. - Libya, AFRICOM, And US Scramble For Africa, Somalia Observer, April 9, 2011

U.S. Drones Strike Somalia, or As We Can Now Call It, “War Number Five”

June 30, 2011

Today’s Washington Post reports that American drones have made strikes against “militants” in Somalia:

A U.S. drone aircraft fired on two leaders of a militant Somali organization tied to al-Qaeda, apparently wounding them, a senior U.S. military official familiar with the operation said Wednesday.

The strike last week against senior members of al-Shabab comes amid growing concern within the U.S. government that some leaders of the Islamist group are collaborating more closely with al-Qaeda to strike targets beyond Somalia, the military official said.

The airstrike makes Somalia at least the sixth country where the United States is using drone aircraft to conduct lethal attacks, joining Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. And it comes as the CIA is expected to begin flying armed drones over Yemen in its hunt for al-Qaeda operatives.

Al-Shabab has battled Somalia’s tenuous government for several years. In recent months, U.S. officials have picked up intelligence that senior members of the group have expanded their ambitions beyond attacks in Somalia.

“They have become somewhat emboldened of late, and, as a result, we have become more focused on inhibiting their activities,” the official said.”They were planning operations outside of Somalia.”

Both of the al-Shabab leaders targeted in the attack had “direct ties” to American-born cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, the military official said. Aulaqi escaped a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in May.

The White House declined Wednesday night to respond to questions about the attack.

But Obama administration officials have made repeated references to al-Shabab in recent weeks, indicating that the group has expanded its aims and its operations. In a speech Wednesday unveiling the administration’s new counterterrorism strategy, senior White House aide John O. Brennan included Somalia among the countries where the administration has placed a new focus on al-Qaeda affiliates.

“As the al-Qaeda core has weakened under our unyielding pressure, it has looked increasingly to these other groups and individuals to take up its cause, including its goal of striking the United States,” said Brennan, Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser. “From the territory it controls in Somalia,” he said, “al-Shabab continues to call for strikes against the United States.”

All of this is perfectly legal, of course, thanks to the broad, open-ended, unlimited in scope, time, or place Authorization For The Use Of Military Force that Congress passed in October 2001. While it’s certainly advisable that the President have discretion in going after al-Qaeda and its associates, one does wonder if it isn’t about time for Congress to review that AUMF and examine whether some limits need to be placed on it. At this point, it can be used to justify virtually any action anywhere in the world as long as the President says he’s going after al-Qaeda. That just doesn’t seem right to me.

WikiLeaks Reveals U.S. Twisted Ethiopia’s Arm to Invade Somalia

Foreign Policy in Focus
December 14, 2010

By mid-2007, the 50,000 Ethiopian troops that invaded Somalia in late 2006 found themselves increasingly bogged down, facing much fiercer resistance than they had bargained for as Somalis of all stripes temporarily put aside their differences to stand together against the outside invader.

As the military incursion turned increasingly sour, then-U.S. Undersecretary of State for Africa Jendayi Frazer, who taught at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies in the 1990s, insisted that, prior to the invasion, the United States had counseled caution and that Washington had warned Ethiopia not to use military force against Somalia. Frazer was a close collaborator with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, for whom there also is a strong University of Denver connection. Frazer certainly tried to distance the United States from responsibility for the Ethiopian invasion in a number of interviews she gave to the media at the time.

But one of the released WikiLeaks cables suggests a different picture, one that implicates Frazer in pressing Ethiopia’s President Meles Zenawi to invade his neighbor. The content of the cable is being widely discussed in the African media. It exposes a secret deal cut between the United States and Ethiopia to invade Somalia.

If accurate – and there is no reason to believe the contrary – the cable suggests that Ethiopia had no intention of invading Somalia in 2006 but was encouraged/pressured to do so by the United States, which pushed Ethiopia behind the scenes. Already bogged down in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time, the Bush administration pushed Ethiopia to invade Somalia with an eye on crushing the Union of Islamic Courts, which was gaining strength in Somalia at the time.

At the time of the invasion there was little doubt that the Ethiopian military incursion was “made in Washington.” Like so many other WikiLeaks cables, this one merely puts a dot on the “i” or crosses the “t” on what was generally known, although it does give specific information about Jendayi Frazer’s deep involvement in the affair.

According to the cable, as the main U.S. State Department representative in Africa, Frazer played a key role, spearheading what amounted to a U.S.-led proxy war in conjunction with the Pentagon. At the same time that she was pushing the Ethiopians to attack, Frazer was laying the groundwork both for the attack in the U.S. media and for a cover-up by claiming that although the United States did not support Ethiopian military action, she could understand “the Somali threat” and why Ethiopia might find it necessary to go to war.

Frazer spread rumors of a possible jihadist takeover in Somalia that would threaten Ethiopian security. Turns out that media performance was little more than a smokescreen. The U.S. military had been preparing Ethiopia for the invasion, providing military aid and training Ethiopian troops. Then on Dec. 4, 2006, CENTCOM Commander Gen. John Abizaid was in Addis Ababa on what was described as “a courtesy call.” Instead, the plans for the invasion were finalized.

At the time of the Somali invasion, Zenawi found himself in trouble. He was facing growing criticism for the wave of repression he had unleashed against domestic Ethiopian critics of his rule that had included mass arrests, the massacres of hundreds of protesters, and the jailing of virtually all the country’s opposition leaders. By the spring of 2006 there was a bill before the U.S. Congress to cut off aid to Zenawi unless Ethiopia’s human rights record improved. (His human rights record, by the way, has not improved since. Given how the United States and NATO view Ethiopia’s strategic role in the “war on terrorism” and the scramble for African mineral and energy resources, Western support for Zenawi has only increased in recent years.)

In 2006, dependent on U.S. support to maintain power in face of a shrinking political base at home – a situation many U.S. allies in the Third World find themselves in – and against his better judgment, Zenawi apparently caved to Frazer’s pressure. Nor was this the first time that Frazer had tried to instigate a U.S. proxy war in Africa. Earlier as U.S. ambassador to South Africa, she had tried to put together a “coalition of the willing” to overthrow Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe, an initiative that did not sit well with South Africa’s post-apartheid government and went nowhere.

The 2006 war in Somalia did not go well either for the United States or Ethiopia. Recently, a State Department spokesperson, Donald Yamamoto, admitted that the whole idea was “a big mistake,” obliquely admitting U.S. responsibility for the invasion. It resulted in 20,000 deaths and according to some reports, left up to 2 million Somalis homeless. The 50,000 Ethiopian invasion force, which had expected a cakewalk, instead ran into a buzz saw of Somali resistance, got bogged down, and soon withdrew with its tail between its legs. The political result of the invasion was predictable: the generally more moderate Union of Islamic Courts was weakened, but it was soon replaced in Somalia by far more radical and militant Islamic groups with a more openly anti-American agenda.

As the situation deteriorated, in an attempt to cover both the U.S. and her own role, Frazer then turned on Zenawi, trying to distance herself from the fiasco using an old and tried diplomatic trick: outright lying. Now that the invasion had turned sour, she changed her tune, arguing in the media that both she and the State Department had tried to hold back the Ethiopians, discouraging them from invading rather than pushing them to attack. The WikiLeaks cable tells quite a different story. In 2009, the Ethiopian forces withdrew, leaving Somalia in a bigger mess and more unstable than when their troops went in three years prior. Seems to be a pattern here?

The bombing of Somalia: U.S. grabs for power in Horn of Africa, April 2007

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