Somalia: U.S. Sponsored War

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As 2006 came to a close the war of words between the Somali Council of Islamic Courts and the so-called Somali “transitional government” finally exploded into a full fledged military conflict. On December 24 Ethiopian troops, in support of the “government” bombed targets in Somalia controlled by the “Council”. In the days that followed an all-out military offensive by Ethiopia quickly routed the ill equipped and poorly trained Islamic military forces.

The victorious Ethiopian government has declared that its soldiers will leave Somalia in a matter of weeks. The emboldened Somali “transitional government” is cheerfully talking of economic recovery and peace for this ravaged country that has not had a central government for decades. The idea of a UN mandated African peacekeeping military force is being floated by the US and others. So everything seems dandy. One more local conflict resolved, one more war waged and won against the “threat” posed to civilization by Islamic fundamentalism. It would seem that finally the Bush administration, that is to say the US –the power behind Ethiopia’s and its Somali friends’ success- seems to have got one right!

Yet one should be careful to bet on it. Despite the abrupt military collapse of the forces of the “Council of Islamic Courts” that controlled much of Somalia until last December the war is far from over. It is believed that there are over 20,000 militiamen in the country responding to one or another warlord that have been killing one another for decades. The hard-core Islamist themselves have threatened to wage a guerrilla war against the government and its American/Ethiopian supporters and are attempting to reorganize in the Southern part of the country. In fact there are signs that this conflict is escalating to the point of being a new war front for American imperialism. The US force in Somalia –between 1400 and 1800 according to the media- seems to have mostly kept a low profile up to now, limiting its role in the battlefield to providing support to Ethiopian forces on the ground. However the US has not been shy in showing its military muscle using its gunship deployed in the region to launch devastating air-strikes against retreating Islamic forces in the Southern part of the country.

The Bush administration is saying that it does not intend to commit additional troops to this battlefield, but this conflict still runs the risk of escalating and is nevertheless already a new war front full of political implications for American imperialism’s long term strategy of defending its world hegemony.

In the context of the Bush administration’s planned escalation of the war in Iraq and the increasing military threats against Iran and Syria this new offensive in the Horn of Africa by US imperialism is one more push down the road of chaos and devastation that threatens to engulf the whole world over. Only the international working class movement can provide an alternative to this mind-boggling madness. –Eduardo Smith, 13/1/07.