Somalia war: A continuing result of United States foreign policy”

                                       By: Jebril Domenico

Pentagon bombing operations against the Horn of Africa state of
Somalia have killed numerous people over the last several weeks under
the guise of the United States “war on terrorism.”

On 30 November 2018 the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM)
reported that airstrikes were launched on al-Shabaab positions in
Lebede killing nine people. (Reuters, 2 December 2018)

Although Washington routinely claims these bombing operations only
target so-called “terrorists” there is no way of verifying who is
actually struck on the ground. Other damage such as the deaths of
civilians and the dislocation of people in small towns and rural areas
are never acknowledged by the military.

Official statements from AFRICOM indicate that there are approximately
500 soldiers stationed in Somalia. The actual numbers have increased
since the ascendancy of the administration of President Donald Trump
during 2017 as a part of his purported foreign policy aims of battling
armed Islamist groups such as al-Shabaab.

Other AFRICOM reports suggest there have been 37 bombing operations
inside this oil-rich Horn of Africa state over the course of 2018.
Successive US administrations have supported the federalised
governance system, which was installed under the tenure of former
President George W. Bush, Jr., who founded AFRICOM in early 2008.

Just one week prior to the November 30 attacks, the US announced
several bombing missions in Harardere in Galmudug state where over 40
people were killed. The 19-21 November airstrikes were said to have
hit an al-Shabaab training camp along with a weapons cache.

During early December, a ground offensive was launched by the
Western-trained Somali National Army (SNA) commandos against areas
controlled by al-Shabaab around the farming village of Awdhegle in the
Lower Shabelle region. The raids were reported by Somali intelligence
officials noting that the attacks received support from AFRICOM forces
along with units from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM),
which still has thousands of US and United Nations-backed troops
occupying the country. (Association Press, 5 December 2018)

Somali governmental sources, which spoke on the condition of
anonymity, said the raids on al-Shabaab areas in the Lower Shabelle
were designed to weaken the economic base of the organisation. The
US-backed government in Mogadishu said that al-Shabaab taxes merchants
and residents in the area in order to fund its activities.

In an apparent retaliatory attack on 6 December, two generals in the
SNA were killed when a roadside bomb exploded destroying their vehicle
in the village of Dhanaane located on the coastal road linking the
capital of Mogadishu to the port city of Marka. Al-Shabaab later
claimed responsibility for the attack in an announcement over their
broadcasting outlet Andalus Radio. (Voice of America, 7 December 2018)

These developments are complicated by the emergence of two distinct
factions within al-Shabaab over the last two years. One grouping is
reportedly linked with al-Qaeda and another minority faction is allied
to the Islamic State (ISIS). (Canadian Press, 7 December 2018)

Several killings have been attributed to this rivalry within the ranks
of al-Shabaab. Both groups are heavily dependent upon the forced
taxation of businesses and residents inside the areas where they
operate in the central and southern regions of Somalia.

Canadian Pressand Associate Press dispatches reported that the
factionalism has increased substantially in recent months noting: “The
ISIS-affiliated group in Somalia, largely made up of al-Shabaab
defectors, first announced its presence in 2016 with attacks in the
far north, far from Mogadishu and most al-Shabaab strongholds. Though
estimated at a few hundred fighters at most, their emergence in one of
the world’s most unstable countries has been alarming enough that the
US military began targeting it with airstrikes a year ago.”

These same articles continued by saying: “With no strong government to
protect them, businessmen often say they have no choice but to pay in
exchange for protection. Among the companies targeted by suspected
ISIS-linked extremists is Somalia’s telecom giant, Hormuud, which
intelligence officials say has lost up to ten employees in attacks in
recent weeks. Hormuud officials did not respond to requests for
comment. Businesses worry that the rise of another extremist group
seeking cash, as well as a new effort by Somalia’s central government
to impose taxes, will bleed them dry.”

The economic interests of imperialism in Somalia

Since the immediate years after the conclusion of World War II,
Somalia has been the focus of oil and natural gas exploration. This
coupled with its geographically strategic location on the Indian Ocean
and near the Gulf of Aden, which is one of the most lucrative shipping
lanes in the world, makes the country important in the overall global
economic system.

Beginning around 1948 the search for oil and gas resources began. In
the early 1950s these efforts were conducted by Agip (Italian) and
Sinclair Oil Corporation, then based in the US.

Later during the 1980s, when the country was in sharp decline due to
its internal conflict and the failure of the US to provide any genuine
assistance economically, several multi-national petroleum firms won
concessions for exploration. These corporations included
Conoco-Phillips, Shell (Pectin), Amoco, Eni, Total, Exxon Mobil and
Texaco. Eventually the resources were designated “force majeure”
meaning that these companies reserved the right to come back for
exploitation at a later time period when the political situation
became more stable.

In recent years, the northern breakaway region of Puntland has seen
drilling by the Canadian-based Africa Oil and Africa Energy
corporations. This interest in oil and natural gas exploration are not
confined to Somalia.

All along the East African coast from Somalia right down through
Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, there have been monumental discoveries
of offshore natural gas and oil resources in the region. Consequently,
the imperialist states encouraged by the multinational corporations
and international financial institutions are eager to stake claims on
the potentialities of enormous profits related to energy resources
exploitation.

The increasing presence of AFRICOM is clearly related to the on-going
quest for imperialist domination on the continent. With the People’s
Republic of China (PRC) emerging as a major trading and development
partner with African Union (AU) member states, Washington and its
allies in London and Paris are quite concerned over the possibility of
losing out to the PRC as it relates to economic cooperation.

Impact of US foreign policy in Somalia

As alluded to earlier in this article, Washington and its imperialist
partners have been adamant about maintaining control over the Horn of
Africa, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean basin regions. This
concern has been manifested in the repeated interference and
interventions into the internal affairs of Somalia.

With the recent death of former US President George H.W. Bush, efforts
were made by the corporate media acting on behalf of the ruling class
to paint a picture of the 41st head of state as a “statesman” and
“consensus builder.” This could not be further from the actual truth
of events during his one-term presidency from 1989 to 1993.

In addition to the unjustified Pentagon invasion of Panama in late
1989 and the massive bombing, ground invasion and imposition of
draconian sanctions against Iraq in the first Gulf War, Bush also
intervened in Somalia in December 1992 on the eve of his departure
from the White House. Operation Restore Hope was ostensibly designed
to provide relief for Somali civilians on the brink of famine
resulting from the collapse of the previous government of Mohamed Siad
Barre in early 1991.

Nonetheless, the deployment of 12,000 US Marines to Somalia by Bush
was part and parcel of the desire to reassert the military prowess of
the US in the aftermath of its colossal defeats in Southeast Asia
during the mid-1970s, Lebanon in 1983-84 and Southern Africa in the
late 1980s, where the world’s leading imperialist state was forced to
retreat after humiliating failures. The successor to Bush, President
Bill Clinton, inherited the Somali invasion where within a matter of
months huge sections of the country rose in rebellion against the US
and UN occupations, leading to the deaths of thousands of Somali and
the loss of hundreds Pentagon and so-called peacekeeping soldiers
during 1993-1994. The US and the UN were both forced to leave Somalia
by 1994.

This did not sit well with Washington and some 12 years later, the
Pentagon began to bomb Somalia under the leadership of the-then
President George W. Bush, Jr. By 2007, the US had facilitated another
invasion, this time utilising the military forces of neighbouring
Ethiopia and later Kenya. AMISOM, an aggregation of troops from
several regional states, was assembled, trained, armed and deployed as
a mechanism to implement US foreign policy in Somalia and the entire
Horn of Africa. This same policy continued under President Barack
Obama right through to the current administration of Trump who has
altered the regulations guiding military involvement in Somalia to
justify the deepening of the intervention utilising commando units and
airstrikes.

However, after decades of military involvement and political
machinations the situation remains unstable. The Somali’s only hope
for sustainable peace and development lies within the national unity
of its people absent of the tutelage of the US.

Jebril Domenico is a staff of Somali Top News site. He holds
a B.A (Hons) in History and Diplomatic Studies from the East Afrika.
University, Mogadishu, Somalia and an MBA degree with specialization
in General Management and Entrepreneurship as well as a Master of
Science degree in International Relations One from the East Africa
University, Somalia and the Other from Addis Ababa
University-Ethiopia. He was a recipient of the Global youth model
United Nations in 2018. He got the Best Student Leader award and also
a merit award from the Faculty of Arts Students Association during his
undergraduate days.

About The Author

  • Jebril is a development strategist/activist and youth empowerment advocate. He is a Member, African Studies Association of the UK; Member, Royal African Society; Member, African Institute of Business Simulations, etc. His main research interests are in Politics, Society and Governance in Eastt Africa, Africa inter-state relations, emerging powers, security, democratization and regional integration in East Africa. He has published articles in local and international journals; public media, among other several works.
  • <jebrildomenico@gmail.com>

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