Tuesday, May 05, 2009

FIST Youth Group Says: 'US Hands Off Somalia'

Youth group says: ‘U.S. hands off Somalia’

Published May 3, 2009 8:06 PM

The following excerpted statement was issued by the youth group FIST—Fight Imperialism, Stand Together.

Fight Imperialism, Stand Together calls for the release of Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse—the young teen from Somalia who was brought to New York and arraigned in a federal court—and that he be allowed to return to his family in Somalia.

Muse, who according to his parents is only 16, has been charged with five counts, the most serious of which, piracy, carries a life sentence if convicted. The charges stem from the April 8 seizure of the Danish-owned Maersk Alabama, which was flying a U.S. flag. The ship had passed through the Gulf of Aden and was in the Indian Ocean, 350 miles off the coast of Somalia.

From April 8 to 12, the captain of the Maersk was allegedly detained by Muse and three of his companions. The incident was ended after Navy Seals shot to death three young Somali men aboard a tugboat anchored to their destroyer, the USS Bainbridge. Muse was aboard the destroyer trying to negotiate the release of the captain of the Maersk, as was agreed to, when the three youths were killed.

What jurisdiction does the U.S. have over events that occurred off the coast of the Horn of Africa? Moreover, the so-called pirates have not killed anyone they have captured. The only people killed so far have been the three young Somali men, killed by U.S. Seals, and a French national killed by French commandoes who stormed a yacht that had been seized.

The popular media can show sympathy for the crews of ships being seized and their family members. But, rarely do the media that have played up this human drama delve into the daily existence of the people of Somalia, Iraq or any place around the world that has been under siege from imperialist war and intervention.

Events in history give justification to the seizing of ships by so-called pirates from Somalia.

Barrels of toxic materials have been dumped off the coast of Somalia. This waste—nuclear waste in some cases—washed ashore after a tsunami in late 2004. Thousands have become sick with strange rashes, respiratory infections, stomach illnesses and hundreds have died. The toxic materials are coming from European companies that pay others to dispose of nuclear and other types of waste. Instead of responsibly paying to have the waste disposed of in Europe, they pay smaller fees to have it dumped off the Somali coast, ignoring the resulting suffering of the people there.

Additionally, more than $300 million a year in seafood is stolen from the waters near Somalia by ships from other nations that employ trawling, a fishing method that involves the dragging of huge nets across the ocean floor. Trawling not only damages the natural environment, but is illegal off the coast of many nations. It robs the many villages and towns on the Somali coast that have relied on fishing for centuries.

Added to these charges are colonial and imperialist occupation and subterfuge. The U.S. undermined progressive developments in East Africa in the 1970s, caused a war between Somalia and Ethiopia, tied Somalia to foreign aid and occupied the country in the early 1990s, killing thousands of Somali people.

Currently there are more than two dozen military vessels patrolling waters off the coast of Somalia. Somalia is occupied by foreign troops propping up a weak regime beholden to the West.

The EU, the U.S. and other countries discuss how to deal with piracy coming from Somalia, yet reparations to Somalia for years of imperialist intervention, theft of sea life and the dumping of toxic waste are not being discussed. The only option being put on the table is military action.

FIST demands there be no further imperialist intervention; that reparations be paid; that the foreign troops in service of Western world imperialism be removed from Somalia; that all ships off the coast return to their nations; and that Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse be set free and returned to his family in Somalia.

U.S. Hands off Somalia!

U.S. Hands off Africa!

Fight Imperialism, Stand Together
Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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The real pirates of the seas

Insurance giants profit from Somalia’s poverty

By Caleb T. Maupin
Published May 3, 2009 8:10 PM

There are some pirates who don’t use firearms to seize vessels on the high seas. There are certain pirates who commit their acts of oceanic theft from thousands of miles away, in cool office buildings in Chicago and London.

Patrick G. Ryan is the founder and chairman of the Aon Corporation, the world’s largest “risk management services” conglomerate. He doesn’t wear an eye patch and has no hook in place of his hand, although he could afford one made of solid gold.

In addition to helping his corporation obtain a net income of $685 million in 2004, Ryan took some time off that year to hold a personal fundraiser for George W. Bush’s reelection campaign at his estate in Winnetka, Ill., where Laura Bush and many of Ryan’s closest friends enjoyed a lobster dinner. They never even bothered to pay the $80,000 the city asked for as reimbursement for the massive police protection the city provided for the event. (Chicago Tribune, Jan. 17, 2005) Though Ryan is a Republican and strong Bush supporter, he was made a member of President Barack Obama’s inaugural committee and is working to get the 2016 Olympics in Chicago. (thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com, Nov. 25)

Ryan’s Aon Corporation, along with others in the insurance business, such as the London-based International Securities Solutions Inc., has taken advantage of the recent rise in so-called “Somali piracy” by astronomically raising insurance rates on ships traveling through the Indian Ocean.

Eleven percent of the world’s seaborne petroleum is carried in tankers through the Gulf of Aden, a location specifically targeted by “pirates” of Somali descent. (examiner.com, April 13) Even though the risk of a ship being seized in the Gulf of Aden has gone up only 1 percent, the folks at Aon Corporation and their associates in “risk management services” have raised the cost of insuring a vessel from an average of $900 to $9,000, according to military historian James F. Dunnigan. (strategypage.com, Oct. 18)

Presently, however, less than 10 percent of vessels in the Gulf of Aden even bother to be insured at all, as the costs have gone up so much. (time.com, April 20)

Aon rewarded for corporate crime

With maritime insurance profits going through the roof, Aon Corporation still felt it was necessary to cut the pensions of its British workers, some by as much as 50 percent. (timesonline.co.uk, April 8) A spokesman for Aon UK told the Times that this was necessary “to protect our business” and ensure that Aon can “emerge from the recession strong and successful.”

On Jan. 8, Aon Corporation received the largest fine ever given for financial crime in the history of the England. It was fined 5.25 million pounds for making $7 million worth of “suspicious payments” to unnamed sources abroad, without checking to make sure these firms were not involved in “corruption.” The fine was originally 7.5 million pounds, but Aon was rewarded for its “cooperation” with the investigation by a 30 percent cut in its fine. (ifaonline.co.uk, Jan. 9)

When interviewed by Time magazine, an executive at Cooper Gay, a British insurance giant making huge profits from the “piracy” off the coast of Somalia, was asked if some of the profits made could be used to “develop” Somalia and prevent the poverty that causes the starving people of Somalia to seize ships and take people for ransom. He responded by snorting, “It’s not down to insurance companies to promote peace in Somalia.” (time.com, April 20)

He should have said that actually the opposite is true. Dunnigan said that a 1,000 percent hike in insurance costs for vessels would be “modest.” (strategypage.com, Oct. 18) The fact that impoverished, starving people in Somalia are reduced to “piracy” in order to survive has made the folks in the insurance business richer than ever. If anything, they see it as their responsibility to make sure it continues.

Aon Corporation announced that its revenue for 2007 was $7.15 billion. But with insurance costs for those traveling across the Gulf of Aden going up 1,000 percent as Dunnigan estimated, Aon is bound to do even better in the coming months. Yet the company still found it necessary to reduce its British workers’ pensions to “protect” itself and be able to “re-emerge” in the “challenging conditions” they now face.

Is it ironic that a few years before Bush would bomb Somalia and kill thousands of innocent civilians, his spouse Laura was eating lobster at the home of a man who would use the impoverishment of Somalia as an opportunity to line his ever-hungry pockets?
Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: ww@workers.org
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