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Will Somalia be next? U.S. targets another poor country 


by Deirdre Griswold



Workers World, December 2001

Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),  globalresearch.ca,  13 December 2001

The Pentagon has been sending warplanes over Somalia, claiming this is part of its "war on terrorism." The London-based Observer of Dec. 9 reported, "Navy pilots have flown waves of missions to map two Al Qaeda camps near the Kenyan border with a view to launching air strikes."

This was confirmed Dec. 11 in a news item from the United Nations service IRIN, which said "Fears of an imminent American air strike [are] gripping Somalia after reports that military aircraft have been conducting surveillance flights over the country. ... The first sighting of military aircraft was reportedly last week, according to Abdulkadir Isse, a Mogadishu resident. 'Over the past week we had to listen to their droning sound every night,' he said. 'People are really terrified to sleep at night.'"

Mogadishu is the capital of Somalia, an extremely poor country of 7.5 million people, many of them nomads, on the Horn of Africa facing the Indian Ocean.

On Dec. 9, the Mogadishu-based HornAfrik radio reported that a group of nine U.S. military officers had visited the town of Baidoa, 140 miles southwest of Mogadishu, that day. They toured military facilities, including the airport, evidently in preparation for air strikes or troop movements.

An article filed with the Telegraph of London by Robert Fox and Jessica Berry on Dec. 2 reported "Britain has been asked by America to help prepare military strikes against Somalia in the next phase of the global campaign against Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network. ... A team of senior British military officers who visited U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., last week was asked to prepare the strategy for attacks on sites in Somalia."

The rationale for all these military preparations is said to be Somalia's harboring of terrorists. But a report by BBC Africa analyst Elizabeth Blunt on Dec. 4 said "Somalia may still be a patchwork of feuding factions, but when a BBC team visited Mogadishu last week it found everyone united in asserting that there were no terrorist training camps in the country and that any American attack would be a great mistake."

Attacks on economy, too

This ominous military activity by the Pentagon comes after several U.S. and British moves paralyzed the Somali economy. On Dec. 3, Randolph Kent, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, said the country was "on the precipice of potential and total economic collapse."

U.S. authorities shut down overseas branches of the Somali-owned Al-Barakaat banking and telecommunications systems, charging them with "aiding and abetting terrorism." The FBI simultaneously raided small neighborhood offices inside the U.S. used by Somali immigrants to send money home to their families.

On Nov. 23 the BBC reported that the closures, along with denying all Internet access to Somalis, had "severely restricted international telephone lines and shut down vitally needed money transfer facilities." An estimated 80 percent of Somalis depend on money from relatives abroad.

The Somali Internet Co. was forced to close when it found that its international gateway had been cut off. International telephone service was shut down when Somalia's gateway to the world, run jointly by AT&T and British Telecom, was shut down.

Since these measures, prices have skyrocketed in Somalia. Some foodstuffs have more than tripled in price, leaving most of the population in desperate straits.

No one should think that this is because Somalia is guilty of attacks on the United States. Actually, the opposite is true. Elements in the Pentagon are determined to get revenge on the Somalis for having fought back in 1993 when the U.S. tried to impose a puppet government on their country, under the guise of delivering food aid.

On Oct. 3, 1993, U.S. helicopter fire killed some 500 civilians in the main market of Mogadishu. But the crash of a Black Hawk helicopter started a chain of events in which 18 U.S. soldiers were killed and nearly 80 wounded as Somalis rushed into the area to fight the invaders. After that, the U.S. withdrew from Somalia. Many in the Pentagon have been itching for "revenge" ever since.

If Bush spreads his war of exploitation and plunder to Africa, he will only further antagonize another huge section of the world's people, including many millions of workers here in the United States. That is probably why Washington is asking London to do some of the dirty work. But for the U.S. to get Britain, the world's biggest former colonial power, to attack Somalia only exposes both imperialist ruling classes as robbers bent on world domination.

Both imperialist powers will find that they have an Achilles' heel--the multinational working class at home, which is in no way friendly to the racist themes that used to motivate colonial expansion in the past.

Reprinted from the Dec. 20, 2001  issue of Workers World newspaper (Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: [email protected] For subscription info send message to: [email protected] Web: http://www.workers.org)

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