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Leaked cables confirm U.S. role in Somalia war

Published Jan 4, 2012 8:32 PM

The Wikileaks website released cables showing that plans for the Kenyan military invasion of southern Somalia had been mapped out for nearly two years and refuting claims that the intervention was done without Washington’s knowledge. They showed that high-level meetings had taken place in early 2010 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which laid the ground work for renewed attempts to eliminate the Al-Shabaab Islamic resistance movement that controls large sections of the Horn of Africa nation.

This secret plan, dubbed “Jubaland Initiative,” outlined the creation of an artificial state in southern Somalia in an effort to choke off Al-Shabaab from the border areas near Kenya. At the meeting in Ethiopia in January 2010, the Kenyan delegation led by Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang’ula appealed for U.S. support for the operation.

Other Kenyan officials in the delegation included Chief of General Staff Jeremiah Kianga, Defense Minister Yusuf Haji and Director of National Security Intelligence Services Maj.-Gen. Michael Gichang’i. This meeting in Addis Ababa was just one in a series of discussions designed to enlist U.S. support for the current military operations.

Operation Linda Nchi, the Kenyan invasion of southern Somalia, began on Oct. 16 and involved over 2,000 Kenyan troops. The war has become bogged down due to the lack of logistical coordination, the inclement weather and the formidable resistance to the intervention by Al-Shabaab and its supporters inside the country.

A Dec. 17 article in the Kenya Daily Nation points out, “The cables also say the military action took years of planning and was not a spontaneous reaction to abductions conducted by the Islamist group on Kenyan soil as repeatedly stated by government officials. The abductions seemed to provide Kenya with a convenient excuse to launch the plan, which, officials argued, was necessary to ensure protection against threats posed by an unstable neighbor.”

Cables released by Wikileaks reveals that Kenyan Foreign Minister Wetang’ula had informed U.S. Undersecretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson of developments being made in preparation for the invasion of Somalia. The plan was to invade Somalia, drive away Al-Shabaab units from the border and then seize the port at Kismayo.

The Kenyan government justified the invasion based on false allegations that Al-Shabaab planned to stockpile weapons near the border with Kenya and send its fighters into the neighboring country. One U.S. diplomatic cable indicated that Kenyan Director of Military Intelligence Brig. Philip Kameru told visiting U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin that Al-Shabaab had plans to begin incursions inside Kenyan territory.

The U.S. diplomatic cable stated, “[Kameru] added that the Director of Military Intelligence expects Al-Shabaab to begin cross-border incursions into Kenya and he claimed to have received reports indicating Al-Shabaab has plans to use improvised explosive devices and landmines against security personnel and civilian traffic inside Kenya.” (Daily Nation, Dec. 17)

Other false claims reported to the U.S. ambassador involved unsubstantiated reports that Al-Shabaab was circulating currency obtained through piracy and purchasing real estate inside Kenya. Officials from Kenya also told Washington that Al-Shabaab was radicalizing youth inside the East African country.

Al-Shabaab has denied participation in hijacking ships in the Gulf of Aden and in kidnappings taking place in Kenya. The Islamist organization is now fighting to drive outside forces from Somalia.

Fighting intensifies inside Somalia

The Kenyan army’s drive to eliminate Al-Shabaab bases in southern Somalia has been frustrated. U.S. drone attacks assisting the Kenyan’s efforts have killed hundreds of civilians. The French military has also been responsible for logistical and naval support and bombings of Somali territory.

In addition, the Israeli state has deployed drones in Somalia. And the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), which consists of 9,000 Ugandan and Burundian troops, has stepped up military operations against Al-Shabaab in the capital of Mogadishu and other areas in the central regions of the country.

With troops stalled on the ground, the Kenyan Air Force has engaged in bombing operations in southern Somalia. According to Mareeg Online, “On Dec. 13 the military choppers destroyed Al-Shabaab camps at Garbaguso, Afmadow airstrip and Usingo.”

In a military briefing on Dec. 17, Kenyan Col. Cyrus Oguna reported that the Air Force attacked and destroyed a purported Al-Shabaab camp at Wamaitho on Dec. 14. (Mareeg Online, Dec. 18) The following day additional strikes were carried out against areas in northern Somalia at Bungavu.

Oguna also reported that there were numerous casualties among the Somalis and said that no injuries or deaths took place on the Kenyan side. “Kismayo hospital has been overflowing with the injured,” Oguna said during the press briefing.

In response to reports that Kenyan military forces would join AMISOM in joint efforts against Al-Shabaab, Oguna asserted that this merger would not prevent Kenya from engaging in separate military operations in Somalia.

Reports from other areas of Somalia indicate that clashes are escalating between Al-Shabaab and the Transitional Federal Government’s allied militia known as Ahlu Suna. In Dhusamareb City in the Galgudud region, at least 10 people were killed and a number of others were wounded in bitter fighting between supporters and opponents of the U.S.-backed TFG regime.

Meanwhile inside Kenya, it was reported that a policeman was killed in the northern region near the Dadaab refugee camp where many Somalis have taken flight in response to the horrendous food shortages inside the country. Kenyan authorities said the policeman was killed in an explosion as he was traveling in a vehicle.

This incident took place amid a series of small-scale attacks that have targeted Kenyan security forces since the beginning of the Kenya Defense Force invasion of Somalia. Dadaab is currently housing approximately 400,000 refugees from Somalia.

Imperialist intervention cannot stabilize TFG regime

Despite these multiple outside interventions, Somalia is becoming more unstable every day. A split within the TFG parliament has led to the expulsion of the speaker of the assembly, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, who was fired in a dispute over the future of the transition process.

Both the United Nations and the United States have issued statements demanding the end to these internal power struggles within the TFG. The interim regime in Mogadishu could not survive long without the intervention of U.S.-backed forces in the capital and other regions of the country.

A Dec. 19 U.N. statement says, “A joint delegation of the UN, the African Union and a regional organization has urged Somalia’s transitional institutions to quickly resolve a political stand-off triggered by last week’s passing by Parliament of a vote of no-confidence against the Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden.” The U.N. urged all parties involved in the interim TFG to rapidly implement the so-called Kampala Accord, which provides a framework for the continuation of the current political dispensation for another year.

A similar U.S. statement acknowledges that Washington “has been following with concern recent developments within the Transitional Federal Government’s Parliament, including efforts to remove the Speaker and Deputy Speakers. We call on all the signatory institutions to set aside distracting political infighting and instead focus their efforts on fulfilling their collective obligations under the Kampala Accords and the Roadmap.” (Mareeg Online)

At the same time Al-Shabaab has threatened to attack a planned Constitutional Conference on the future of Somalia. This conference, which was postponed until Dec. 20, is bringing together all signatories of the Kampala Accord and the Roadmap.

U.S. hands off Somalia!

The U.S. military is intervening in Somalia to control political developments in the Horn of Africa as well as other states in East Africa. The Pentagon has been involved in Somalia directly for at least since 1992, when thousands of Marines were sent into the country under the guise of a humanitarian mission to fight famine.

In 1993, large sections of the Somalian population rose up against the U.S. and U.N. military, prompting their withdrawal in 1994. Since 2006, Washington has sponsored the Ethiopian and Kenyan governments to militarily intervene on behalf of their interests in Somalia.

At present large flotillas of warships from the U.S., Europe and other states are patrolling the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia under the pretext of fighting piracy. Nonetheless, all these efforts have failed to stabilize Somalia in the interests of Western imperialism.

The problems and political differences in the Horn of Africa must be resolved by the people themselves. Anti-war and anti-imperialist forces in the Western states must oppose U.S. and NATO intervention in East Africa as well as encourage the people and governments of the region to embark upon efforts aimed at finding a lasting and just resolution to the ongoing conflict.