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U.S.–Made Mess in Somalia

ISSUE 273
Front Page
Index
Headlines

Victims of war crimes unearthed by heavy spring rains at Boqol-Jire in Hargeysa

UN Envoy Concerned At Rising Tensions Between Puntland And Somaliland

" Qaran has a legitimate concern and an arguable legal case "

Somaliland Troops Clash With Puntland Forces

Call For Peace And Justice In Somalia

Africa's Success Story

Two Eritrean Journalists Captured In Somalia Held With “Foreign Fighters”

Somali Civilians Murdered, Raped, As Conflict Worsens, UN Says

Mission Report on the Trial Observation of Detained Human Rights Defenders
in Somaliland

Regional Affairs

The Independence Of Somaliland A Reality Not A Hope, UDUB

Somaliland: Africa's Oasis Of Calm

Editorial
Special Report

International News

Peacekeepers With No Peace To Keep

U.S. declines to comment on reported North Korean arms sales to Ethiopia

Kadra Attacked In Public

Doomsday for the Greenback

Worse Than Apartheid?

FEATURES & COMMENTARY

KENYAS MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT FACT FINDING MISSION TO SOMALILAND

Ethiopia Acknowledges Detaining 41 Suspected Terrorists, Denies Wrongdoing

Washington Post Equates Imus's Racist Remarks with When He Called Cheney a "War Criminal"

Somalia's Descent To Hell

North Koreans Arm Ethiopians As U.S. Assents

Somalia : 'The World's Hidden Shame'

The West Now Takes Keen Interest in Peace for Somalia

Food for thought

Opinions

Recognition: Ritual or Requisite?

Bad Days Ahead For Puntlanders

The Twenth first Genocide

The Majeerten Envy Towards Somaliland

Mogadishu Massacre: Ethiopia Serves Vengeance In Cold For The US!

Somaliland's Foreign Policy, Understanding The Process Of Multilateral Diplomacy

Ich Bin Ein Hawiye (I Am A Hawiye Citizen)

Is Somaliland Teetering Towards Failure? - Part II


By
Ivan Eland

April 12, 2007

The media often report overseas developments, but don’t always explore their underlying causes, which, in many cases, conveniently lets the U.S. government off the hook. The recent internecine violence in Somalia provides a classic example.

The U.S. media have focused to date almost exclusively on the rising Islamist movement in Somalia and U.S. “covert” assistance to the Ethiopian invasion that supported Somalia’s transitional government against the stronger Islamists. The media should be focusing on one of the major causes of the Somali mess: U.S. government meddling.

After 9/11, the Bush administration feared that the absence of a strong government in the “failed state” of Somalia could turn the small east–African country—slightly smaller than Texas—into a haven for terrorists. The administration ignored the fact that other states with weak governments have not become sanctuaries for terrorists. Even if Somalia had become a terrorist enclave, the terrorists, absent some U.S. provocation, probably would not have attacked the faraway United States.

As a result of the administration’s unfounded fear, the United States began supporting unpopular warlords in the strife-torn nation. That’s when the real trouble began.

The radical Islamists in Somalia never had much following until the Somali people became aware that an outside power was supporting the corrupt and thuggish military chieftains. The popularity of the Islamist movement then surged, allowing the Islamists to take over much of the country. In sum, where no problem with radical Islamists previously existed, the U.S. government helped create one.

In many respects, the Somali episode is a replay of other horribly counterproductive past U.S. interventions. In the 1980s, for example, the U.S. government supported the radical Islamist Mujahadeen—then fighting the non–Muslim Soviet occupiers in Muslim Afghanistan—that metamorphosed into al Qaeda, which is now attacking the United States for its non–Muslim military presence in the Persian Gulf.

History followed a similar pattern in Iraq. The Bush administration justified the U.S. invasion of Iraq in part by al Qaeda’s alleged link to Saddam Hussein—a thug, to be sure, but one who had been wise enough, in reality, to support groups who didn’t focus their attacks on the United States. Now, in Iraq, where there were no anti–U.S. Islamic terrorists before, we have plenty to fight.

Somalia is the third example of the United States creating a potentially anti–U.S. Islamist threat where none previously existed. The U.S.–supported Ethiopian invasion weakened the Somali Islamists, but they are still fighting fiercely for control of Mogadishu, the capital. Like those in Iraq, all the Somali Islamists have to do is hang on until the foreign occupier gets exhausted and leaves. When that happens, the Islamists could very well become the dominant political force in the country, capitalizing on their “patriotic” resistance to the hated Ethiopian occupiers and their U.S. benefactors.

The U.S.–backed Ethiopians, already unpopular, have become even more despised as a result of their alleged indiscriminate shelling of Mogadishu’s civilian areas, which human rights groups are calling a war crime. Unlike the period when the Islamists controlled Mogadishu, the transitional government has been unable to keep order, undermining both its credibility and public support. As a result, many in Somalia see the period of Islamic rule as good days, and now long for its return.

And that’s probably what will happen. Like the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, whose recent good fortunes were brought about by continued foreign occupation of that country, we will likely see the Somali Islamists make a comeback.

U.S. experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia should teach foreign policy experts and the American public that U.S. meddling abroad is often counterproductive and dangerous. Yet the U.S. media help the U.S. government disguise these policy failures by failing to expose the underlying causes of violence, enabling the U.S. government to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Source: The American Chronicle


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