Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Struggle Escalates Against U.S.-backed Government in Somalia

Struggle Escalates Against U.S.-backed Government in Somalia

Imperialist forces increase efforts to bolster puppet regime

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
News Analysis

On September 9 United States Marines seized the German-owned M/V
Magellan Star vessel off the coast of Somalia. The Antiguan-flagged
8,000-ton container ship had been taken over by Somalis the day

The Marines took nine Somalis into custody and claimed that there were no injuries in the operation. This assault on the Magellan Star was launched from the USS Dubuque after a Turkish frigate TCG Gokceada responded to a distress call from the German-owned ship.

Both the USS Dubuque and the TCG Gokceada are part of a flotilla of
warships that patrol the Gulf of Aden in so-called anti-piracy
maneuvers designed to ensure safe passage through one of the most
lucrative trading waterways in the world. The multinational force that
is permanently stationed in the Gulf of Aden off the Horn of Africa
was formed in January 2009.

Although the United States along with the European Union and other
states have warships in the Gulf of Aden ostensibly to fight piracy,
the struggle for the control of the nation of Somalia has intensified
in recent weeks. Both areas on land and in the Gulf of Aden are
contested zones for imperialist hegemony over this strategic region of
the African continent.

In a recent article published by the BBC, “At least 23 foreign vessels
with more than 411 crew members are currently held by pirates,
according to Ecoterra International, an organization monitoring
piracy. Last year there were more than 200 attacks by Somali
pirates—including 68 successful hijackings—and ransoms believed to
exceed $50 million in total were paid, the organization said.” (BBC,
September 9)

Inside Somalia the military and political struggle for the future of
the state has escalated. On September 12, five troops of the
U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) were killed by the
resistance forces which control the majority of areas within the
capital of Mogadishu as well as large sections of the central and
south of the country.

On September 9 nine people were reported killed when the Al-Shabaab resistance movement launched attacks on the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) forces that are stationed at the Mogadishu airport. At the time of the attacks the TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was holding consultations with a delegation that included the United Nations special representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga.

Al-Shabab announced in recent weeks that it would step up its
offensive aimed at driving out the AMISOM troops who are mainly
Ugandan and Burundian soldiers. At an African Union summit in Kampala during July, the organization’s current chairman and host, President Yoweri Museveni, pledged to deploy additional soldiers to the Horn of Africa nation in retaliation for a bombing inside Uganda which killed dozens of people.

Uganda is heavily supported by the United States which supplies
military equipment and training for its defense forces. Museveni
stated on September 2 that his government was prepared to dispatch
10,000 troops to Somalia in order to prevent a defeat of the TFG.

A September 3 article from the French Press Agency (AFP) states that
“The African Union force in Somalia has boosted its size and set up
nine new positions in Mogadishu where it is protecting the government
from a fierce Islamist insurgency.” The African Union’s deputy
representative to Somalia, Wafula Wamunyinyi, reported that the
“Numbers of troops have gained up slightly above 7,000 to 7,200 since

Wamunyinyi went on to state that “We have steadily increased our area of control of Mogadishu, we have made progress and taken new
positions. If we get the correct support, troop deployment and
equipment, we are going to expand our presence towards the north (of
the capital).” (AFP, September 3)

Both of the resistance movements of al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam have
vowed to repel any efforts to expand the bases of the AMISOM troops in Somalia. In a recording message by Al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane (also known as Sheikh Abu Zubeyr) he urged “his fighters to redouble their attacks against Somalia government troops and African Union Peacekeepers.” (Garowe Radio, September 12)

“The clashes in Mogadishu that Al-Shabaab carries out are against our
enemy: the Somali government backed by the African Union. I appeal to the people to join the war against the TFG,” Abu Zubeyr said.

Meanwhile, Hizbul Islam leader, Sheikh Dahir Aweys, appealed to AMISOM forces “to leave the country” claiming that this is the only solution to resolving the conflict now escalating inside Somalia. Most
analysts agree that without the AMISOM troops the TFG would collapse immediately.

The United States administrations of both George W. Bush and Barack
Obama have provided funding and military assistance aimed at propping up the TFG regime. Since Obama came into office in 2009, military and political support for the TFG and AMISOM has increased.

In late August the Obama administration reiterated its support for its
current course in the Horn of Africa. In addition to support for the
TFG and the warships off the coast, in neighboring Djibouti, the U.S.
also maintains a military base along with France.

John Brennan, who is President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser,
condemned recent military actions by the resistance forces of
Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam. Brenan stated that “Al-Shabaab’s vision
of Africa stands in sharp contrast to the vision of the overwhelming
majority of Africans.” (Associated Press, August 24)

Yet the United States imperialists have long had designs on dominating Somalia and the Horn of Africa region. In 1992 under George H.W. Bush, the U.S. deployed thousands of Marines into Somalia in a purportedly humanitarian mission called “Operation Restore Hope.”

The mission was soon exposed as a military occupation and met fierce
resistance from the Somali masses. U.S. troops and United Nations
forces were compelled to withdraw after a year inside the country.

As a result of the increasing role of African resources, particularly
oil and strategic minerals, within the world capitalist system, the
United States is increasing its military involvement on the continent.
Anti-imperialists and anti-war organizations in the U.S. must demand
that the self-determination and sovereignty of African peoples be
respected and that the Pentagon withdraw its military advisers, troops
and naval vessels from the entire region.

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