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.
French Navy, US Drones Bomb Southern Somalia Amid Kenyan Land Invasion
US-backed regimes in region provide political cover for imperialist aggression
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
An all-out offensive against the Al-Shabaab Islamic resistance movement based in Somalia is currently underway in the southern region of this Horn of Africa nation. A combined force of United States predator drones, French Naval vessels and Kenyan military units are targeting areas near Kismayo.
Battle field reports indicate that Kenyan troops are attempting to advance on four towns in the southern region in their efforts seize Kismayo, a port city under the control of Al-Shabaab. The city is a major source of trade and serves as the economic lifeline for the resistance movement that has been labeled by the U.S. as a terrorist organization allied with al-Qaeda.
Kenyan press reports on October 23 indicated that French warships bombarded areas near Kismayo in efforts to support the land invasion and the ongoing Pentagon drone attacks. Although French diplomatic sources denied these reports, it is highly unlikely that Kenya would fabricate these allegations without a logical reason.
Kenyan army units have deployed at least 4,000 troops that are fighting alongside the military forces of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the interim government based in Mogadishu that is largely subsidized by the U.S. The TFG is bolstered by the so-called African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) which encompasses 9,000 troops from the Washington-backed regimes of Uganda and Burundi.
Naval ships from Kenya fitted with heavy weapons are said to be operating in Somalian territorial waters and have established bases around the Bajuni Islands of Kudai, Ndoa, Chuvaye, Koyama, Fuma Iyu na Tini and the Nchoni Islands. Also the town of Afmadow is a focal point for seizure by the Kenyan military as reinforcements from Al-Shabaab are heading toward the area from Bula Haji to mount a defense in the attempts to take control of Kismayo.
U.S. drone attacks have escalated against Somalia over the last few weeks. Between October 20-21, at least 66 people were reported killed in bombing raids carried out by the CIA-Pentagon unmanned weapons.
French naval vessels were reported to have struck the town of Kuday near Kismayo. These attacks may be related to the abductions of several French nationals and a British citizen in Somalia in recent months.
According to Defense Web “Two weeks ago two female Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) staff were abducted in a daytime raid on Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, located about 50 miles from Liboi in the third attack on Westerners in a little over a month. Somali militant group al-Shabaab has said it is not behind the abduction of the MSF staff from the world’s largest refugee camp.” (Defenceweb.co.za, October 24)
U.S. officials told the Associated Press during the week of October 17 that Washington was pressuring the Kenyan government to take action inside of Somalia. Despite this admission, the White House is claiming that the Kenyan invasion took the Obama administration by surprise.
Kenyan military leaders are anticipating heavy fighting in their efforts to take the town of Afmadow. Heavy rains have stalled the Kenyan military advances as hundreds of residents fled the town in order to avoid the impact of the impending assault.
Military spokesman Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir of Kenya said that “Most likely man-to-man battles will occur in Afmadow. That is one of the areas we want to inflict trauma and damage on the al-Shabaab basically to reduce their effectiveness completely so that they do not exist as a force.” (Associated Press, October 24)
Regional Grouping Calls for “No-fly Zone” Over Somalia
In another development involving the political and military situation in Somalia, the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has called for the imposition of a so-called “No-Fly Zone” and naval blockade against Somalia. This appeal was made to the United National Security Council despite the fact that the Al-Shabaab resistance movement does not have any air power to defend its organization amid the escalating offensive.
A March 2011 “No-Fly Zone” resolution against Libya resulted in a seven-month bombing campaign that destroyed the infrastructure of the country, the killing of thousands of civilians, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of workers and the targeted assassination of leader Muammar Gaddafi, several members of his family as well as other top governmental officials in this oil-rich North Africa state. On previous occasions the Security Council has turned down similar requests, however, the prevailing atmosphere in the United States and other imperialist countries is heavily geared toward military intervention in Africa and could influence the world body to endorse actions in the Horn of Africa.
The invasion of Somalia by Kenya, which is supported by U.S. and French naval and airstrikes, is closely related to the pro-western policy imperatives of the IGAD/East Africa Community Political Initiative. Leading states within IGAD/EAC Political Initiative includes Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda whose current governments have close political, economic and military ties to the U.S.
In the October 24 edition of Mareeg Online is states that the ongoing Kenyan invasion of Somalia is illegal. An article in this Horn of Africa publication states that “The Kenyan action contravenes the UN and African Union Charters and infringes the sovereignty of Somalia.” (Mareeg Online)
This article refers to both the Kampala Accord, which was signed on June 9 and mandates the postponement of elections in Somalia for one year and the ongoing involvement of pro-western interests in the political dispensation inside the country, and the Communique of the International Contact Group signed in Denmark on September 29. Both documents make reference to a Regional Political Initiative which is not explained in detail.
Mareeg Online states that the current situation in Somalia provides a political framework which “serves the leaders of IGAD/EAC as an insurance coverage for their political abuses and corruption in their own countries and as a cash cow to receive special privileges and massive financial, military and diplomatic assistance from the U.S. administration and European countries. The clashes between Somali factions along the border with Kenya and the recent spate of kidnapping of foreign citizens from inside Kenya have disturbed the security and economic situation of Kenya but they were not sufficient to justify a military invasion of Somalia.”
The Kenyan government in preparation for the invasion received helicopter gunships from the U.S. In addition, the former Somalian TFG Minister of Defense Mohamed Gandi “reached a personal understanding with Kenyan officials for the recruiting, training and arming of 2,000 troops selected from specific clans of the Jubba regions and asked for their relocation in the capital of Mogadishu.”(Mareeg Online)
Regional Interests for Imperialism in East Africa
The Horn of Africa nations and the entire East Africa region has strategic interests for the United States and the European capitalist states. The Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean contain some of the most lucrative shipping lanes in the world with billions of dollars of goods traveling through this region daily.
Oil has recently been discovered in Uganda and Kenya is major area for the western-oriented tourist industry. Somalia, which has been without a stable government for over two decades, has posed a monumental challenge for U.S. imperialism which has unsuccessfully intervened directly and indirectly since 1992.
The Al-Shabaab resistance movement has taken control of large sections of the south and central regions of Somalia. Inside the capital of Mogadishu, the organization controls most of the city and if it were not for the presence of a CIA station, predator drone missions, along with the U.S.-funded AMISOM forces, the Islamic group would have seized power long ago.
These developments in Somalia are taking place within the context of greater U.S. and NATO military intervention in Africa. In addition to the Libya mission where AFRICOM conducted its first major operation on the continent, the U.S. imperialists have dispatched 100 military advisers and Special Forces commandos into four states in Central and East Africa.
Other reports indicate that the oil-producing state of Nigeria has stepped-up its military cooperation with the U.S. and the Gulf of Guinea is the scene of periodic war games conducted by the Pentagon in partnership with several governments in West Africa.
These military operations on the part of the imperialist countries are framed to the public as “humanitarian missions” designed to fight terrorism and protect civilians. Yet it is the U.S. involvement in Somalia that has destabilized the region and created the worst food and water crisis in the world.