The on-going, American-backed atrocity continues to rage in Somalia, where George W. Bush has launched a third "regime change" front in his global Terror War, with the help of one of his many pet dictators, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.
This week the head of the UN Development Program in Somalia, Osman Ali Ahmed, was shot dead as he left evening prayers at a mosque near his home in Mogadishu. The Bush Administration immediately blamed insurgent factions fighting against the Ethiopian-imposed government; insurgent leaders immediately denied the charge: "All the Mujahedeen are not behind his killing and it is not becoming of them to kill important persons who help the Somali people on whose behalf we are fighting," said a spokesman for one of the Islamist factions opposed to the Ethiopian-imposed government. Whoever carried out the killing was obviously trying to foment more chaos in the shattered land and derail the fraught and fragile peace process, which has as one of its ultimate goals the withdrawal of Bush's Ethiopian proxy army.
The brutal conflict in Somalia – which has seen the U.S. bombing of fleeing civilians, "renditions" of innocent refugees to Ethiopia's torture dens, the usual "collateral damage" from botched "targeted assassinations" by American forces and the cheerfully admitted use of American death squads to "mop up" after covert ops – has been almost entirely ignored by the U.S. media and political establishments. [For copious links to these and other aspects of the U.S. involvement in Somalia, see Willing Executioners: America's Bipartisan Atrocity Deepens in Somalia.] It has not figured in the U.S. presidential contest at all; neither John McCain nor Barack Obama is in the least bit troubled by this killing spree on the imperial frontier.
Why should they be? After all, both men have pledged to continue the even larger Terror War atrocity in Iraq – McCain more forthrightly, Obama by stealth. The Democratic nominee's pledge to "end the war" is based on a "withdrawal" plan that could leave a "residual force" of up to 80,000 American troops in the conquered land, training Iraqi security forces, carrying out "counter-terrorism" operations, and providing "force protection" for American interests. Obama has also noted that "we've got to make sure that Iraq is stable" before any large-scale pullout: a stance which is a virtual guarantee of a long-term, major American military presence, given the vast societal, cultural and civic ruin the American war of aggression has wrought in Iraq. Thus we can see that despite all the partisan rhetoric and heated disputes over this or that detail, there is, at bottom, a bipartisan consensus in Washington for prolonging the war crime in Iraq in one form or another. How then can we expect anything different for the scorned and abandoned people of Somalia – dying by the thousands and displaced by the millions in a "sideshow" not worth mentioning?
Mike Whitney has an excellent round-up of recent developments in Somalia, along with relevant background, in a very important article that has appeared at CounterPunch and at one of our associated websites, Pacific Free Press. Among many chilling facts and sharp insights, Whitney notes:
Heavy fighting and artillery fire have reduced large parts of Mogadishu to rubble. More than 700,000 people have been forced to leave the capital with nothing more than what they can carry on their backs. Entire districts have been evacuated and turned into ghost towns. The main hospital has been bombed and is no longer taking patients. Ethiopian snipers are perched atop rooftops across the city. Over 3.5 million people are now huddled in the south in tent cities without sufficient food, clean water or medical supplies. It is the greatest humanitarian crisis in Africa today; a man-made Hell entirely conjured up in Washington.
Just weeks ago, Amnesty International reported that it had heard many accounts that Ethiopian troops were "slaughtering (Somalis) like goats." In one case, "a young child's throat was slit by Ethiopian soldiers in front of the child's mother.”
In another Democracy Now interview, Abdi Samatar, professor of Global Studies at the University of Minnesota, had this to say:
The Ethiopian invasion, which was sanctioned by the US government, has destroyed virtually all the life-sustaining economic systems which the population have built without the government for the last fifteen years. And the militia that are supposed to protect the population have been looting shops. For instance, the Bakara market, which is the largest market in Mogadishu, has been looted repeatedly by the militias of the so-called Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, supported by Ethiopian troops. And the new prime minister of Somalia, Mr. Hassan Nur Hussein, has himself announced in the BBC that it was his militias that—who have looted this place. So what you have is a population that’s hit from both sides: on one side, by the militias of the so-called Transitional Federal Government, which is recognized by the United States, and on the other side, by the Ethiopian invaders who seem to be bent on ensuring that they break the will of the people to resist as free people in their own country.... What you have is really terror in the worst sense of the word, a million people have been displaced that the Ethiopians have been denying humanitarian aid, and the United States which seems to just watch and let it happen.
It’s like there's has been a calculated decision made somewhere in the world, maybe in Washington, maybe in Addis Ababa, maybe in Mogadishu itself, to starve these people until they submit themselves to the whims of the American military and the Ethiopians, who are acting on their behalf.
Calculated decisions have indeed been made to consign the Somali people to perdition. And they are still being made, in Washington, Addis Ababa – and in Chicago and Arizona, where the two would-be presidents have made it clear that in their administrations it will be business as usual for Somalia – the blood-soaked business of empire.
And that's no-change you can believe in.
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This story was published on July 9, 2008.