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U.S. effort to ‘pacify’ Somalia meets resistance

Published Apr 1, 2007 11:54 PM

Some 100 to 200 U.S. Army Special Forces are currently operating in Somalia. While not generally reported, the New York Times on both March 22 and March 23 did mention this fact. The Independent, a major bourgeois British paper, reported March 6 that special forces from both Britain and the U.S. were operating in Somalia.

They are meeting armed resistance from the Somali people.

Some analysts, like Ignatio Ramonet in Le Monde Diplomatique, a social democratic monthly in France, claim the U.S. has opened up a third theater in its “war on terror,” which is really a war to dominate the Middle East. Iraq and Afghanistan are the other two theaters. Somalia is right across the Gulf of Aden from the Arabian Peninsula and every ship headed through the Suez Canal must pass close by.

U.S. Army Special Forces intervened in Somalia at least once before, in 1992. After a major defeat in 1993, when U.S. helicopters strafed the capital but were downed by small arms fire—memorialized in the movie and book “Black Hawk Down”—the U.S. and the U.N. withdrew their forces. However, the CIA continued to supply some Somali agents and operatives with money, weapons and intelligence.

The country did not have an effective central government from the late 1980s to 2005.

The Islamic Courts Union started growing strong in 2004, especially in the capital city of Mogadishu, where constant fighting was making economic activity difficult. By June of 2006, however, after the ICU had established its authority, Mogadishu was so stable that families could even go to the beach, something that had been impossible for 15 years. (Toronto Star, March 22)

The U.S. government, however, considered the ICU an ally of al Qaeda and an obstacle to Anglo-U.S. domination of the region. Washington enticed the regime in neighboring Ethiopia, using significant financial and political support, to cooperate with some of its “assets” in Somalia operating under the name of the Transitional Government. Thousands of Ethiopian troops, backed by imperialist special forces and U.S. Navy ships, invaded Somalia and the ICU was swept from power by the end of 2006.

The ICU tried to mount a resistance in southern Somalia, near Kenya, but the special forces called in air strikes from a U.S. carrier group off the Somali coast and dislodged the ICU from its bases.

Kenyan authorities rounded up Somali refugees who fled the fighting and the U.S. set up a program of “extraordinary renditions,” with at least four flights taking captives to Mogadishu and then on to Ethiopia. (Independent, March 6)

While the ICU couldn’t hold on in southern Somalia, anger was growing in Mogadishu and other Somali cities. When Ethiopian and Somali troops from the U.S.-backed “transitional government” tried to stage a raid March 21 on a Mogadishu neighborhood opposed to the present regime, they were met with heavy weapons and a sustained fire fight. Some 15 raiders were killed and members of the community burned their bodies, dragged them through the streets and walked on them. A significant number were also wounded.

The next day a Byelorussian plane—carrying supplies to 1,000 Ugandan troops occupying Mogadishu as African Union “peacekeepers”—was shot down by a missile fired from an opposition neighborhood.

Even in a country poorer and more disunited than Afghanistan, the U.S. government and its agents can’t stop the resistance to foreign occupation. The U.S. ruling class wants to send more U.S. troops to Somalia, which is reported to have significant off-shore oil reserves, but it can’t even find enough for its beleaguered campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.