United States Bombs Somalia


By BlueJay.




Since 2020, there was one word any American would be guaranteed to hear were they to channel surf their television, switch through stations on the radio, or pick up any national newspaper: Covid. Recently however, this trend has changed with the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022. With the corporate media flocking to “hot” news that will increase new viewers like flies to honey, our own government has been flying under the radar of the average profit hungry journalist to commit some atrocities of its own - days before the Russian invasion.

To understand why the United States launched the attack on the East African nation, one must first take a look back to our recent history there. Somalia has a deep-rooted history of ethnic jealousies that have existed since their time of independence from their multiple European rulers in 1960. These internal struggles led to a military coup in 1969. With Ethiopia as an ethnic rival allied to the United States, Somalia sought help from the Soviet Union, permitting a Soviet base to be constructed on the Gulf of Aden in 1975, though this alliance with the Soviets would not last.

Ethiopia soon turned to a more Marxist approach at government in 1974 and allied with the USSR themselves. This compelled the Somalis to cut their ties with the Soviets and attack the Ogaden region of Ethiopia - which Somalia claimed as their own. After defeating the Somalis with aid from both the Soviets and Cuba, the Ogaden War lasted from 1977-78, and with no allies to turn to, Somalia was admitted to the Arab League. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran began to counter Soviet activity and assist Somalia.

During the Iran hostage crisis of the 1980’s, the United States was cornered into establishing new bases around the Middle East. As friendly negotiations with Somalia reemerged, the U.S. set up camp at the Berbera Naval Base at the port of Mogadishu in exchange for $20 million to fund the Somali military. Ethiopia assisted a rebel group working within Somalia - the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SOSDAF) - in a series of attacks along the border and even within the nation itself. The United States aided in Somalian defense through deliveries of military equipment in order to protect their rights to the Naval and Air base at Mogadishu.


Referencial satellite image of the Mogadishu region of Somalia.

Following a severe traffic accident in spring of 1986, President Siad of Somalia was flown to Saudi Arabia for medical attention. The President's health had been waning for years, recreating an ever growing competition for power between government officials. These internal struggles led to the hastening of a treaty with Ethiopia. This goal was realized in the late 1980’s through a treaty resolving the disputes over the Ogaden region - though continued competition for power, attacks from another guerrilla group, the Somali National Movement (SNM), and the growing issue of famine began to devastate the nation into the 90’s.

In the summer of 1990, President Siad recognized the need for a multiparty political system in his country, as the democracy was simply too unstable with the number of dissidents opposing the current order. By fall of the same year, a bill was passed by the Council of Ministers legalizing the multiparty system. While discussions surrounding the bill were being held, the three primary Somalian guerrilla fighting groups that had been working separately from Ethiopia began to synchronize their attacks.

These synchronized attacks served the sole purpose of deposing President Siad Barre as President, and forming a coalition government under the three rebel groups. This resulted in brutal fighting in the southern region of Somalia in which thousands of civilians were killed in 1990-1991. The rebels eventually made their way into the city and forced a surrender, with one of the groups appointing an interim president and forming a government without consulting the others, resulting in infighting that has torn apart the nation to this day.

After the overthrowing of President Siad, the SNM grew unhappy with their alliance to the other rebel groups, with many seeking northern succession from Somalia altogether. Eventually in 1991 the independence of the Somaliland Republic was declared by the SNM, but has yet to be formally recognized internationally.

This brief history serves to tell the story of one of the many nations non-verbally deemed too unimportant to be reported on in mainstream media - especially in a war ravaged nation that the federal government is no stranger to bombing. On February 22, 2022, the United States launched an airstrike on the Islamic insurgent group of al-Shabab that has been operating out of Somalia since its founding in the early 2000s (taking a break from the residential areas they bombed in Yemen the day prior). This was not the first attack launched on the group, as the U.S. military has been involved in the war in Somalia since President George W. Bush initiated American involvement in 2006.


Al-Shabab, an Islamic extremist group with the goal of creating a Somalian Islamic state that had grown in popularity after the fall of President Siad in the 1990s, has been pushed out of major population centers by the African Union-led military campaign in recent years.

Although the Trump administration escalated the war in Somalia more than any of those previous, the Biden administration has launched five airstrikes on the African nation since coming into office. There is a question that should be lying in the minds of all of our readers: what benefit does this war in Somalia hold for the United States? U.S. Africa Command has stated that the airstrike was commenced in action against a string of suicide-bombings on allied forces by the militant group. However, aside from the widely spread narrative of the necessity of assisting our allies, these senseless bombings in Somalia and elsewhere have done little else but grossly inflate our military spending, and sickly bloat our national dept. One must simply ask how much we are actually helping the Somalian people, as these airstrikes do not come free of a civilian toll.


2016 image capturing the result of a “misdirected” drone strike from the United States which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 22 civilians and soldiers of Somalia.

Since 2001, over 330,000 bombs have been dropped by the just the United States in only a handful of Middle Eastern nations alone, while the government has intentionally suppressed media coverage. Learning not only of the bombings in Somalia, but of the people, history, and rich culture of the regions our government takes part in callously destroying every day is the first step in recognizing that these actions should not be considered the acceptable norm for a government or nation in any capacity.

We must take collective action to not only #StandWithUkraine in their time of need against imperialism, but recognize the imperialism that has been, and still is, being perpetrated by our own nation and #StandWithSomalia as well.



Image of the coast of Mogadishu (Image credit Stuart Price).

As always, Fly on and Fight On.



 


Citations:


“Al-Shabab.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/al-shabab.


Democracy Now! “Pentagon Says It Attacked Al-Shabab in First U.S. Airstrike on Somalia since August.” Democracy Now!, 25 Feb. 2022, https://www.democracynow.org/2022/2/25/headlines/pentagon_says_it_attacked_al_shabab_in_first_us_airstrike_on_somalia_since_august.


Harper, Mary. “Somalia Conflict: Al-Shabab 'Collects More Revenue than Government'.” BBC News, BBC, 26 Oct. 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54690561.


Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies / January 11th, 2022. “Hey, Hey, USA! How Many Bombs Did You Drop Today?: Dissident Voice.” Dissident Voice | a Radical Newsletter in the Struggle for Peace and Social Justice, 11 Jan. 2022, https://dissidentvoice.org/2022/01/hey-hey-usa-how-many-bombs-did-you-drop-today/.


Mohamed Duale Jabril Abdullahi, et al. “The Pearl of the Indian Ocean.” Africa Is a Country, 2 Jan. 2021, https://africasacountry.com/2021/02/the-pearl-of-the-indian-ocean/.


“Oops They Did It Again!: US Kills 22 in Somalia Using 'Misdirected' Drone Strike.” Sott.net, https://www.sott.net/article/329927-Oops-they-did-it-again-US-kills-22-in-Somalia-using-misdirected-drone-strike.


Pike, John. “Military.” Appendix A: Recent History: SOMALIA - OPERATIONS OTHER THAN WAR, https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/call/call_93-1_appxa.htm.


“US Bombed Somalia amid Russian Invasion of Ukraine.” Common Dreams, 20 Mar. 2022, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/02/25/us-bombed-somalia-amid-russian-invasion-ukraine.




 


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