For the Somali people, the overthrow of their president, Mohamed Siad Barre, in 1991 by imperialism brought about 15 years of internal conflict, chaos, violence, insecurity and economic dislocation, before the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) routed the last of the US-funded warlords from Mogadishu on 5 June 2006.
For the first time in 15 years, ICU rule brought to the Somali people a semblance of order and national identity and the prospect of a peaceful and prosperous future. Somalia witnessed the emergence of a government that enjoyed genuine legitimacy through the widespread support it received in all parts of the country.
Washington’s campaign against the ICU
The ICU victory interfered drastically with the United States’ plans for domination of the Horn of Africa – a region at the crossroads of the Middle East and Africa. Somalia, with one of Africa’s longest coastlines, stretching from the Gulf of Aden to its frontier with Kenya on the Indian Ocean, occupies an extremely strategic position, which US imperialism is determined to control.
No sooner had the ICU emerged victorious than US imperialism, with the help of its Ethiopian puppet regime of Meles Zenawi, began to plot for its downfall, painting the ICU in Al-Qaeda colours and asserting that it presented a danger to the peace and stability of the region, when the opposite was clearly the case.
Unprovoked Ethiopian aggression
The US and Ethiopia took their opportunity to interfere through backing the so-called Transitional Government (TG), centred around the town of Baidoa. The TG was formed at a UN-sponsored conference two years ago, and presided over by the most notorious Somali warlord, Abdullahi Yusuf. It is a weak organisation, driven by internal divisions and with no legitimacy or control anywhere other than in the small town of its seat. Even the Financial Times, no friend of the Somali people, felt obliged to state: “The transitional government by itself lacks all credibility. It was created in Nairobi and confined, until last month’s [Ethiopian] invasion, to Baidoa, close to Ethiopia’s border. It never asserted its authority; its prime minister, Ali Mohammed Gedi, does not even command the support of his sub-clan.” (‘Invading Somalia is no recipe for stability’, 4 January 2007)
On 24 December, Ethiopia, seeing the TG on the verge of annihilation following several days of fighting with ICU forces around the town of Baidoa, launched a devastating and unprovoked war of aggression against Somalia with full US support. After several days of bombardment by Ethiopian fighter jets and artillery, marking a dramatic escalation of conflict in the area, the ICU forces withdrew from frontline positions in central Somalia, followed by Mogadishu, and the southern port town of Kismayo, in an apparent tactical withdrawal in the face of the overwhelming US-supplied artillery and airpower of Ethiopia, combined with air strikes form the US’s Djibouti base.
The speed with which the ICU has melted away in the face of the Ethiopian advance suggests that the government has an intelligent plan for luring the Ethiopians deep into Somalia. Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a prominent leader of the ICU, has stated that the war was “entering a new phase”, indicating that ICU forces were busy preparing for a protracted people’s war. “We will fight Ethiopia for a long, long time and we expect the war to go every place,” he said. (Quoted in the Financial Times, 27 December 2006)
The Ethiopians will discover that, in invading Somalia, they have found themselves in a situation not very different from the one in which the Anglo-American imperialist forces find themselves in Iraq. With its unprovoked aggression against Somalia, Ethiopia faces a contradiction that it is powerless to resolve. If it pulls out its aggressor troops from Somalia, as it says it will soon, the TG will collapse like a house of cards in the absence of Ethiopian military support. If, on the other hand, the Ethiopian troops stay put, they will doubtless be sucked into an unwinnable guerrilla war.
The ICU is bound to emerge victorious from this trial of strength, for nothing arouses the hostility of the Somalis more, and unites them better, than the presence of foreign troops on their soil and meddling in their internal affairs.
US behind the war
US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has hailed the temporary Ethiopian victory as a “historic opportunity” for Somalia. On the contrary, by using the Ethiopian armed forces as its instrument of war against the Somali people, the US is engaged in turning the clock back 15 years.
Fully realising that the presence of Ethiopian troops on Somali soil is far too provocative to produce good results for US imperialism, the latter is busy organising an ostensibly ‘international peacekeeping force’ as an instrument for consolidating its hold on Somalia. Forces have been pledged by various stooges of US imperialism in the region, including Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. The EU promised to help finance a force of 8,000 troops, while Kenya, too, taking orders from the US, has officially closed its borders to stem the possible transit of ICU forces into Kenya.
US imperialism, still smarting from its humiliating exit from Mogadishu in 1993, and in the process of being similarly routed from Iraq, might have been tempted to intervene in the hope of a quick victory, but it will find, just as it has in Iraq, that it has dug yet another deep hole for itself, from which it can escape only through yet another humiliating retreat.
To paraphrase Mao Zedong, US imperialism has lifted a rock merely to drop it on its own feet. The proletarians and progressive people everywhere must condemn the US-Ethiopian war of aggression against the Somali people and demand that the US and Ethiopian forces depart from Somalia, leaving it to the Somali people to settle their internal affairs without outside interference.
Summarised from the article of the same name appearing in the Jan/Feb 2007 issue of Lalkar.
Condemn US-Ethiopian aggression against Somalia – Lalkar