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Casualties rise as U.S.-backed armies try to subdue Somalia

Published Jan 26, 2012 8:43 PM

During mid-January, the number of deaths and injuries in Somalia escalated as foreign military forces accelerated their campaign to destroy the al-Shabab Islamic resistance movement and subdue areas of the country under its control.

The invading troops come from Ethiopia, Kenya and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). They are financed and backed by the U.S., Israel and other imperialist states, which seek to prop up the pro-Western Somalia Transitional Federal Government. These forces on the ground are complemented by European Union naval vessels that are cruising in the Gulf of Aden, ostensibly to fight “piracy.”

Kenyan troops first entered southern Somalia in October in an operation called “Linda Nchi.” The Kenyan government said it was responding to incursions by al-Shabab into its territory. However, the military invasion had been planned with Washington for nearly two years.

In an effort to justify their latest intervention in Somalia, the White House and State Department have claimed repeatedly that al-Shabab is linked with al-Qaida. U.S. drones have killed hundreds of Somalis over the last several months.

On Jan. 21, a British citizen of Lebanese descent was killed by a U.S. drone in Elasha Biyaha, located outside the capital of Mogadishu. The AMISOM forces had launched an offensive in the capital and its environs aimed at driving al-Shabab supporters out of Mogadishu.

As early as Jan. 20, civilians living in the capital reported serious clashes between TFG troops, reinforced by AMISOM, and al-Shabab fighters in the Karan and Heliwa districts. Afgoye, a town that is the current residence of many people internally displaced by the war, was bombed as well in an air strike of unknown origin.

Hundreds of residents of the northern sections of the capital fled after they awoke that same morning to sounds of mortar fire. The AMISOM forces, composed of 10,000 troops from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti, states all closely allied with the U.S., are making a major effort to expand their operations outside Mogadishu.

AMISOM troops have been restricted to small areas of the capital due to the fierce resistance of al-Shabab and to their unpopularity among the Somali masses. The al-Shabab fighters are carrying out a formidable resistance to the Western-backed military units. People residing in the capital reported that al-Shabab ambushed AMISOM and TFG troops in Daynile, Heliwa, Dharkenley and Yaqshid districts, resulting in the death of a TFG military official.

In a video recently released by al-Shabab, an alleged spy for the Central Intelligence Agency, Ahmad Ali Hussein, confessed to being recruited by the U.S. covert action organization. Hussein was reportedly executed by his captors in late January or early February of 2011.

On Jan. 21, several armed militants reportedly took a U.S. citizen into custody in Galkayo, located in the breakaway Puntland region of the country. Somali police officer Abdi Hassan Nur said that the gunmen had surrounded the man’s vehicle, forced him to exit and enter another car.

During the recent fighting in Mogadishu, Keysaney Hospital in northern Mogadishu was struck by two mortar shells on Jan. 22. Reports indicate there were no injuries or deaths from the attack.

Keysaney is one of two International Committee of the Red Cross surgical referral hospitals in the capital. It is managed by the Somalia Red Crescent Society and treated 2,000 patients with war-related injuries in 2011.

Kenya pays heavy price for intervention

Despite claims that the Kenyan military is already halfway through its operations to subdue al-Shabab in Somalia, the invasion has had a serious negative impact on the East African state. A report issued by the Nairobi-based Inter-Regional Information Network of the United Nations says, “Security, service delivery and economic activity in northeastern Kenya have deteriorated considerably since October 2011, when the country’s military forces deployed in neighboring Somalia in an effort to eradicate the al-Shabab militia, which has vowed to avenge the incursion.” (IRIN, Jan. 13)

The same article points out that in Kenya, “In December alone, at least 15 incidents involving grenades or improvised explosive devices (IEDs) occurred in the regions of Garissa, Wajir, Mandera and Dadaab, where some 463,000 people, mostly Somalis, are housed in the world’s largest refugee complex. Food prices had also increased with local traders no longer able to import goods from Somalia.”

A former senior research analyst at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London wrote, “Military intervention in Somalia, whether unilateral, multilateral or under the auspices of some supranational body, has never achieved its aims nor led to long-term peace, let alone political and social harmony. Current operations conducted by the African Union, Kenya and Ethiopia are the latest in a line of foreign military actions in Somalia.” (African Arguments, Jan. 17)

Oil drilling begins

In the breakaway region of Puntland, whose leaders sought international recognition independent of Mogadishu, a Canadian oil and gas exploration firm has begun drilling at two wells in the Dharoor plains, known as Shabeel-1 and Shabeel North-1. Calling itself Africa Oil, the Canadian firm is working in partnership with two Australian counterparts, Red Emperor and Range Resources, hoping to find an estimated 300 million barrels of recoverable oil.

According to Reuters Press Agency, “Africa Oil said last year it planned to drill up to eight wells in blocks it holds interests in across East Africa, including the two in Puntland.” (Jan. 17)

The initiation of such economic activity lends credence to the notion that the current military interventions in Somalia are not because of al-Qaida. The U.S. and other imperialist countries are exporting more oil than ever from the African continent, with plans to expand well into the first half of the 21st century.