Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, is a frequent guest commentator on various media outlets throughout the world. Azikiwe is also a broadcast journalist and hosts the Pan-African Journal blogtalk radio program., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
U.S. Drone Hits IDP Camp Outside Mogadishu
Famine declared over but millions remain at risk of starvation
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Despite the continued denials by the Pentagon and the White House that United States military forces are directly involved in the current war over control of the Horn of Africa state of Somalia, a Washington-directed drone struck an Internationally Displaced Person’s Camp (IDP) just outside of the capital of Mogadishu.
Over the last several months hundreds of Somalis have been killed and injured by U.S. drones amid an escalation of military actions aimed at liquidating the al-Shabaab Islamic resistance movement inside the country. The most recent attack took place on February 3 and drew international attention to the role of the Obama administration in the current situation in East Africa.
In a report by Abdalle Ahmed of Raxanreeb Broadcasting Corporation (RBC) Radio, it stated that “The unmanned drone went down at Badbado IDP 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.” (RBC, Feb. 3)
Reports indicated that soldiers from the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and Somalian officials entered the camp and removed the crashed drone. Nafisa Ali, a health officer at the Badbado camp, told RBC Radio that “After we realized that this was a drone we just called the government and they came over and got it.”
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 the neighboring state of Ethiopia.
The deployment of drones by the United States represents an escalation of military aggression in Somalia and in other geo-political regions. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently revealed that there has been a 30 percent increase in the usage of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), of which predator drones are one of them.
In an article by Linda J. Blimes, the writer acknowledges that the utilization of drones constitutes a new strategy initiated by the U.S. in its so-called “war on terrorism.” Blimes notes that “In an age of unconventional warfare and an increasingly cash-strapped military, this approach has obvious appeal.” (Boston Globe, February 5)
This same article says that “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.”
The production and deployment of these deadly weapons have grown exponentially over the last decade. 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 have deemed “terrorists.”
The Boston Globe explains that “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 80,000s mission in various regions of the world. The countries targeted so far include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.
The legality of the usage of such weapons is never raised within the corporate media in the United States or debated inside Congress. The United Nations Charter, which the U.S. says it abides by, allows for the national defense of a nation-state, but prohibits the use of deadly weapons to settle disputes outside borders.
Since there has been no formal declaration of war against Somalia or Pakistan, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) which ostensibly launches drones under its command, is not compelled to reveal or acknowledge the deployment of these weapons. The budget of the CIA is classified and therefore no public information is available over the cost or the frequency with which these weapons are utilized.
U.S. Proxy War Kills Hundreds in Somalia
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 that it has killed hundreds of Somalians and displaced thousands more.
On February 3, RBC Radio reported that “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. Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir said Friday (Feb. 3) that the gunships targeted a meeting where close to 10 al-Shabaab vehicles were gathered near Badhade.” (RBC Radio, Feb. 3)
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 the AMISOM forces which are based in Mogadishu and are carrying out the war against al-Shabaab in the capital and other areas of the central region of the country.
Famine Declared Over Despite Millions Being Still at Risk
On February 3 the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the Famine Early Warning System (FEWSNET) declared the famine in Somalia over. Yet the latest data indicates that 2.3 million people are still at risk and are in need of life-saving assistance.
In fact if the international assistance does not continue in Somalia, by May the situation involving food security could worsen again. Mark Bowden, who is the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia said that “The gains are fragile and will be reversed without continued support.” (RBC Radio, February 3)
Consequently, the imperialist states must refrain from their militarism in the region and allow the unimpeded distribution of food and other relief assistance in the region. The escalation of military involvement in the Horn of Africa is designed to control the geo-political situation and to dominate the exploration and exploitation of oil that has recently been discovered in Somalia.