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U.S. escalates drone use against Somalia

Published Feb 12, 2012 10:33 PM

The Pentagon and the White House continue to deny that United States military forces are directly involved in the current war over control of the Horn of Africa state of Somalia. Nevertheless, a Washington-directed drone struck an internationally supervised displaced persons camp just outside Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

Washington’s escalation of military involvement in the Horn of Africa is designed to control the geopolitical situation and to dominate the exploration and exploitation of oil that has recently been discovered in Somalia.

Over the last several months, U.S. drones have killed and injured hundreds of Somalis. The escalation of military actions aims to liquidate the al-Shabaab Islamic resistance movement inside the country. The most recent attack on Feb. 3 drew international attention to the Obama administration’s role in East Africa.

Raxanreeb Broadcasting Corporation Radio reported, “The unmanned drone went down at Badbado [displaced person] camp which is in the Dharkenley district, south of Mogadishu. According to Badbado resident Ahmed Abdi, ‘It was around noon that we saw a white small aircraft flying over our camp and in minutes we saw it fall down here.’” (Feb. 3)

Reports indicated that soldiers from the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali officials entered the camp, removed the crashed drone and turned it over to the government.

This is the second reported drone crash in Somalia over the last three months. Last year the U.S. administration admitted that it had set up a base for surveillance drones in neighboring Ethiopia.

That Washington has deployed drones in Somalia and other regions represents an escalation of military aggression. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently revealed a 30 percent increase in U.S. use of pilotless aerial vehicles, including predator drones.

A Feb. 5 Boston Globe article acknowledges that drone use is a new U.S. strategy in its so-called war on terrorism: “Drones are much cheaper than boots on the ground; they avoid putting American troops at direct risk and allow us to target enemies wherever they may be. By using unmanned weapons, the argument goes, we can avoid the kind of protracted, costly wars that have been so disastrous in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Previously used mainly for surveillance purposes, drones now target and kill “perceived” enemies of the U.S., along with innocent civilians who have no involvement with organizations that the White House has deemed “terrorists.”

The same article explains, “When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 it had only about 60 unmanned aircraft. Today we have more than 7,000 as well as 12,000 ground-based robots.”

These weapons have flown more than 80,000 missions worldwide, hitting targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Somalia and spying on other countries.

The legality of the usage of such weapons for targeted assassinations is never raised within the U.S. corporate media or debated in Congress. The United Nations Charter, which the U.S. says it abides by, allows for national defense of a nation-state, but prohibits the use of deadly weapons to settle disputes outside borders.

There has been no formal declaration of war against Somalia or Pakistan. Thus the CIA, which ostensibly launches drones under its command, is not compelled to reveal or acknowledge the deployment of these weapons. The CIA’s budget is classified, and therefore the public has no access to the cost of these deployments or the frequency with which these weapons are utilized.

U.S. proxy war kills hundreds

In October 2011, the Kenyan Defense Forces crossed over into neighboring Somalia and began a war against the Al-Shabaab resistance movement, which controls large sections of the central and south of the country. Since October, the KDF has said it has killed hundreds of Somalians and displaced thousands more.

The RBC Radio report stated, “The spokesman for Kenya’s military says an estimated 100 Somali militants were killed after helicopter gunships targeted a gathering of more than 20 al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia.”

The Kenyan government, in cooperation with the U.S., had planned the intervention in Somalia for nearly two years. Also the White House has pledged ongoing funding for AMISOM forces, which are based in Mogadishu and are carrying out the war against al-Shabaab in the capital and other areas in the central region of the country.

Famine ‘over’ with millions still at risk

On Feb. 3, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and the Famine Early Warning System declared the famine in Somalia over. Yet the latest data indicate that 2.3 million people are still at risk and are in need of life-saving assistance.

In fact, if international assistance does not continue in Somalia, by May the food security system could worsen again. Mark Bowden, who is the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, said in the same RBC dispatch, “The gains are fragile and will be reversed without continued support.”

Consequently, the imperialist states must refrain from continuing their militarism in the region and allow the unimpeded distribution of food and other relief assistance there.