On Nov. 18, the Kenyan government announced it had requested greater U.S. military assistance in its campaign to liquidate Al-Shabaab in southern and central Somalia.
During the same week the Ethiopian army reportedly crossed the border into Somalia once again in an effort to assist both the U.S. and Kenya. Kenya had launched a land invasion into Somalia in October aimed at capturing Al-Shabaab bases in the southern region and ousting the resistance movement from the strategic port at Kismayo.
In addition, the leaders of Uganda and Kenya traveled to Israel for a high-level meeting to request its assistance in the Somalia war. Both Israel and the United States have had economic and military ties with Kenya, formerly a British colony, for many years.
France also entered the war in Somalia during October. Its naval vessels reportedly bombed areas in the south of the country. Despite a denial from Paris, Kenyan military spokespeople confirmed the French intervention.
The Pentagon has recently stationed drones in Somalia. Air strikes have been carried out on a daily basis resulting in the deaths of hundreds of civilians. Washington supplies funding, arms and training for the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). This army of so-called “peacekeepers” has 9,000 Ugandan and Burundian troops, largely based in the capital of Mogadishu, to bolster the U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government regime in the city.
Kenyan invasion stalled
Reports from the battlefield in Somalia indicate that the Kenyan military intervention is not going well. Conditions of heavy rainfall and the lack of combat experience are hampering the efforts to dislodge al-Shabaab from key towns in the south where it has built up fortified positions with support from the local population.
The Los Angeles Times reported Nov. 18 that U.S. officials were considering providing military surveillance and reconnaissance, “which could include imagery from drone aircraft.”
The U.S. has been a major player in Somalian affairs since the late 1970s, when the Carter administration persuaded former leader Mohammed Siad Barre to break ties with the Soviet Union and ally Somalia with Washington. At that time Washington’s main target in the region was the revolutionary government in Ethiopia supported by the former USSR and Cuba.
With U.S. blessings and support, Somalia invaded Ethiopia’s Ogaden region in 1978, trying to annex the territory, but was defeated. This failed expansionist adventure began the unraveling of the regime in Somalia. Later, in 1992 under the first Bush administration, thousands of Marines were sent into Somalia ostensibly to provide “humanitarian” assistance to drought-stricken people. The intervention was quickly exposed as an invasion. A popular uprising forced their withdrawal by early 1994.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the revolutionary government of Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia was pulled down. His successor, Meles Zenawi, has maintained close ties with Washington. Zenawi ordered troops into Somalia in late 2006 to support U.S. aims in the region.
Despite large-scale assistance from the Pentagon, the Ethiopian military was defeated by the resistance forces, led at that time by the Islamic Courts Union.
This latest push into Somalia by the combined forces of Kenya, France, the U.S., Ethiopia, AMISOM and Israel is clearly designed to make this strategically located Horn of Africa nation a base for imperialist intrigue. The U.S. Africa Command, known as AFRICOM, already has a base in neighboring Djibouti. So does France. A similar outpost in Somalia would strengthen the overall objectives of the Western capitalist states: to secure East Africa as a continuing source of oil, raw materials, shipping lanes, tourism and cheap labor.
Parallels to Libya war
The recent overthrow of the government of Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Libya has set a dangerous precedent on the African continent. The U.S./NATO bombing campaign and support for rebel forces has provided an opening for further penetration of AFRICOM elsewhere on the continent.
In Somalia, the Kenyan and AMISOM forces, along with a newly formed army under the control of the TFG, are bogged down in a quagmire. By escalating U.S., French, Israeli and Ethiopian military engagement, the imperialists are searching for a formula to consolidate their hold over the region. As in Libya, this militarization will inevitably lead to further exploitation and impoverishment of the masses.
In Libya, U.S., British and French oil firms and other corporations are eager to exploit the vast oil and natural gas reserves. Under Gadhafi, the nationalization of oil resources gave Libyans the highest standard of living in Africa. Today, social programs that guaranteed free education, health care, housing subsidies and women’s equality are being systematically abolished, with the blessing of the U.S. and the NATO countries.
The use of drones, fighter aircraft, naval vessels, CIA and MI-6 operatives along with NATO-led rebel military forces on the ground sealed the fate of the Gadhafi government. A similar strategy is being utilized in Somalia, with total disregard for its impact on the people.
With the nationwide crackdown on the Occupy Wall Street movement, the U.S. is seeking to crush opposition to its program of austerity at home and imperialist war abroad. Anti-war organizations and the burgeoning anti-capitalist movement in the U.S. must raise demands against increasing military interventions in Africa. These wars drain resources away from the working class, the oppressed and youth here in order to enhance the power and influence of international finance capital.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Support independent news DONATE