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Uganda bomb blasts reflect struggle over Somalia
Published Jul 16, 2010 9:04 PM
Bomb blasts in and around the Ugandan capital of Kampala on July 11 killed at
least 74 people who were gathered at a rugby club and an Ethiopian restaurant
watching the finals of the 2010 World Cup.
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Mike Hammer said in response that
the United States was “ready to provide any assistance requested by the
Uganda government.” (Al-Jazeera) The U.S. government has underwritten the
African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) military operations in Somalia under
both the George W. Bush administration and the current presidency of Barack
Obama, who condemned the attacks.
Inside the United States and the Western imperialist states, anti-war forces
have a responsibility to educate the general public about the true role of the
Pentagon and other European military institutions in the Horn of Africa and
their aims to dominate and influence events in the region, as they have done
since the 1970s.
Should additional military forces from pro-Western regimes be sent to the
region, this will only aggravate the political situation inside Somalia. Any
attempt at direct U.S. military intervention will result in greater resistance
on the part of the people in Somalia and throughout the region.
One of Somalia’s resistance organizations, al-Shabab, claimed
responsibility for the attacks, saying they were done in retaliation for the
continued occupation of the country by AMISOM, which is comprised largely of
military forces from both Uganda and Burundi.
A regional conference of the six-nation Inter-Governmental Authority on
Development (IGAD) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, threatened on July 5 to dispatch
another 2,000 troops to Somalia in order to prevent the total collapse of the
U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government.
Al-Shabab takes responsibility
A spokesperson for al-Shabab, Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, told journalists in
Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, that “al-Shabab was behind the two
blasts in Uganda. We thank the mujahideens that carried out the attack.”
(Al-Jazeera, July 12)
The Islamic resistance group spokesperson also emphasized, “We are
sending a message to Uganda and Burundi, if they do not take out their AMISOM
troops from Somalia, blasts will continue and it will happen.” In battles
last week in Mogadishu, more than 40 people were reported killed in heavy
artillery fire between al-Shabab and AMISOM troops.
During the week of July 5 another al-Shabab leader urged the people to overturn
the U.S.-backed TFG regime. Mohamed Abdi Godane condemned the military forces
of Uganda and Burundi for what he claimed were the deaths of numerous civilians
Godane called on “the Somali people to unite to fight against the enemy
of Allah. We know that the people in Mogadishu were honored with two previous
victories. They won the war against the Americans and the Ethiopians, and the
fight against AMISOM will be the final victory by God’s will.”
(Sapa-AFP, July 5)
The al-Shabab leader threatened the AMISOM forces: “My message to the
people of Uganda and Burundi is that you will be the targets of retaliation for
the massacre of women, children and elderly Somalis in Mogadishu by your
forces. You will be held responsible for the killings your ignorant leaders and
your soldiers are committing in Somalia.” (Sapa-AFP, July 5)
In a speech to the regional IGAD emergency conference on Somalia in Addis
Ababa, TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed appealed to the organization to send
additional military forces to fight both al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam, the other
resistance organization. Pressure exerted on the TFG has resulted in factional
tensions within the fragile regime, prompting a recent reshuffling of the
Echoing the sentiment of the TFG leader, Western-backed Ethiopian Prime
Minister Meles Zenawi stated: “The recent security situation does not
augur well. This, coupled with the approaching end of the transitional period,
calls for more serious work within the existing time frame.” (Sapa-AFP,
Regional implications for the Horn of Africa
Not only has the United States provided considerable military and political
assistance to the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia, it has, along
with the European Union, led a flotilla of warships that are occupying waters
off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden. This naval operation is being
conducted under the guise of fighting piracy within one of the most lucrative
shipping lanes in the world.
The announced deployment of another 2,000 troops to prop up the U.S.-backed TFG
has been welcomed by U.N. Special Envoy to Somalia Augustine P. Mahiga.
“The U.N. will continue to uphold its partnership with IGAD and the
African Union in Somalia in line with the Memorandum of Understanding on
Somalia signed by the three organizations on 28 April 2010,” Mahiga said.
(United Nations Office for Somalia, July 9)
The United States and other Western imperialist states are opposed to any
government coming to power in the Horn of Africa that is outside their sphere
of influence. Within the region, only the Eritrean government has spoken
forcefully against further outside intervention. Eritrean Minister of
Information Ali Abdu demanded that the East African states refrain from plans
to dispatch additional troops in a doomed effort to prevent the collapse of a
The Eritrean official said that Ethiopia’s government was pushing for the
escalation of the war inside Somalia because it “wants a disintegrated
and weak Somalia.” (Associated Press, July 9)
Background of imperialist intervention
In 1977-78, the Jimmy Carter administration encouraged the-then Somalia
government of Mohamed Siad Barre to invade the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. At
that time, Ethiopia had just had a revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed
monarchy and the feudal landowners and had declared its intention of building
socialism. The Somali invasion was defeated by Ethiopia with the assistance of
Cuban internationalist forces.
The policies of the Siad Barre regime resulted in massive social dislocation
and food deficits that led to an outbreak of famine in the early 1980s.
Political stability would not be achieved for over a decade, when the Barre
government collapsed in 1991.
In 1992, the U.S. sent thousands of Marines into Somalia in a supposed
humanitarian project called “Operation Restore Hope.” The campaign
was soon revealed to be a counter-insurgency move to root out independent
political forces that opposed Western economic and political policies in the
Meles Zenawi became head of Ethiopia after the overthrow of the revolutionary
government there and has acted in conjunction with the foreign policy
objectives of successive U.S. administrations since the early 1990s. This is
also true for the Ugandan government of President Yoweri Museveni, who has been
a reliable partner for imperialist aims in the region.
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