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The World After Bush Part II: Somalia

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I said in a recent article that the US arms sale to the gulf is a possible sign that a US withdrawal from Iraq might be closer than Bush wants to admit. With all my conviction I say: there will be no US victory in Iraq and eventually they will have to pullout, if not before Bush leaves office then sometime soon after.

When reading an article about the continued violence in Somalia with my last article still fresh in my mind, I asked myself the question, where will the world be after the Bush administration? Further, will things calm down, or have the Neocons caused so much friction and meddled so much that the explosion of violence in so many places around the world will continue to worsen?

I will attempt to answer my questions in a series of articles, and through the course will also inadvertently show why electing the son of a US President, as President is perhaps a mistake, that should not be repeated.

In most of the worlds current conflict zones the US has had some involvement, but never has their involvement been as catastrophic as under (the infantile megalomaniac) President Bush Jr.

Part II: Somalia — Past Mistakes:

Somalia is another country where the U.S.’ mistakes in the past have caused problems leading to current, recent and probably future mistakes. After Somalia’s dictator Siad Barre was ousted in 1991 a similar situation as that of present day Iraq arose: with the brutality of a dictatorship gone, a ticking time-bomb exploded — though unlike Iraq the bomb was clan warfare not sectarian warfare.

Somalia’s civil war began — it still hasn’t ended. In 1993 the US/UN sent in peacekeepers because of the heavy civilian death toll. Their mission: to enforce the latest peace agreement, disarm clan militias and engage one faction that refused to cooperate with the peace initiative — namely, warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s faction. Aidid’s militia inflicted heavy casualties on the US/UN force, culminating in the Blackhawk down incident Oct 3 – 4 1993, with the vicious killing of 18 American soldiers, 1 Malaysian, and the wounding of 83 US 7 Malaysian and 2 Pakistani troops.

On October 6 President Clinton ordered an end to all U.S. operations in Somalia except self-defense, announcing that all US forces would withdraw no later than Mar. 31 1994 — not least because the dead soldier’s bodies were dragged through the streets by elated civilians. There were similar scenes during the recent peacekeeping mission.

When the peacekeepers left, Somalia went back to much the same as it had been before: protection racketeering, hijacking and open battles between rival warlords and their respective clans/factions. Mogadishu residents — as always — suffered worst.

The warlords formed the Transitional National Government (TNG) when they met in Djibouti 2000, but it improved nothing in Somalia. The battles between the warlords and rival clans/factions lessened, but that just freed up more gunmen to roam the streets robbing, raping and pillaging. The situation remained the same after the Transitional Federal Government was formed at a second meeting in Kenya in 2004.

Bush Junior’s Mistakes:

The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) began to sweep to power in mid-2006. They swept the chaos and violence away, replacing it with their brand of socially restrictive but peaceful and secure calm in the areas they controlled. Children could go back to school and nurses could treat the sick instead of droves of war wounded.

Because of this the UIC enjoyed popular support, not least from the businessmen who founded and funded the growingly popular group. The UIC had the TFG and its warlords holed up in one town, Baidoa within months. Ethiopian troops began appearing in and around Baidoa to strengthen the TFG foothold. The UIC began to attract the world’s attention, not least with their threats to attack the Ethiopian invaders, as well as reports of the UIC closing cinemas and stoning women for not wearing Hijabs.

Their hard-line brand of Salafist Islam and Islamic (Sharia) Law put the UIC on the U.S.’ radar; in the crosshairs of the War on Terror. Not too long after that the inevitable al Qaeda connection was made. I am not denying an al Qaeda connection to a few members of the group, though I would say more that UIC hardliners sought al Qaeda affiliation than actually had it. Nor will I deny that a large number of UIC followers were (are) hard-line Islamists, because it was in fact that branch of the group that was responsible for their firepower and rapid sweep to power. But there was a moderate following just as large and powerful within the group.

Now anyone with any sense, seeing that the UIC was easily defeating the warlord TFG and seeing that they were restoring order in Somalia for the first time in 15 years, would have been attempting to talk with the UIC — even if only the moderates, attempting to gain assurances on its treatment of women and civilians, attempting to get them to make a public address condemning al Qaeda and all it stood for, in return for international recognition and assistance.

Yet the US and all its followers including the UN still refused to give the group validity. UN Resolution 1725 was passed authorizing a possible peacekeeping force, and reiterating that the TFG was the only recognized Somali government, that the U.N. saw the TFG as the only route to a peaceful Somalia, and stating that any group targeting the TFG would be dealt with.

But it was when the UIC made their final advance to crush the TFG once and for all that Bush really excelled himself in demonstrating his stupidity.

Bush would have been told (he certainly wouldn’t have known) about the long-running (since 1964) history of hatred and violence between Somalia and Ethiopia. So, Bush, supporting, or possibly even initiating Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia to reinstate the TFG government and crush the UIC was like supporting an Israeli invasion of Lebanon to crush a movement regarded as a terror group. Oh, that’s right, Bush did that too, but that’s another article.

With the summer Lebanon war and the Iraq quagmire as models, Bush should have known that a nation invading a country where it is hated is going to meet fierce resistance, from dedicated but invisible fighters coming from and/or embedded into the civilian population. An insurgency of almost never ending numbers, well, more recycling numbers; every innocent killed by the invaders creates more insurgents. But from a man who said while speaking in Vietnam about Iraq that the US only lost the Vietnam war because it pulled out, and he won’t make the same mistake in Iraq, Bush probably thought with his courage to stay the course he could bring peace to Somalia.

So Somalia’s citizens are still suffering from Bush’s error. The calm and relative normality under the UIC has been replaced by their insurgency and the same tribal issues as before the UIC took power: sporadic gunfire, mortars, Ethiopian and Ugandan peace keeper deaths, civilian deaths, general insecurity and anarchy. The situation is worse in Mogadishu than much of the country.

This is all made worse by the fact that there was no reason to invade Somalia. As I said the UIC were restoring order. The moderate elements should have been strengthened by conditional international recognition and support. Like doctors who bury their mistakes, this is just another U.S. mistake that the world has to live with.

So, I have looked at
Iraq (part I)
and Somalia, both very different in terms of how the Bush administration meddled, but both very similar in their chances of enjoying peace and security in the near future.

In Somalia the US involvement has always been indirect (on the surface), but because of Bush and with the help of US contractors, money and weapons, Ethiopia is now occupying Somalia. Given their history, that will never be a peaceful occupation. The Ugandan peacekeepers have also been attacked. Even if everybody withdrew tomorrow, or after Bush leaves office, Somalia went through 15 years of anarchy before the UIC. restored some semblance of order. Left to their own devices it could well be another 15 years before it happens again. It certainly won’t be anytime soon.

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About Liam Bailey

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    So let’s see if I get this straight, you’re suggesting that rather than oppose a murderous, oppressive, pro-terrorist regime of religious fanatics, Bush should have helped them take over Somalia because they would have brought ‘peace’? Mass graves are peaceful. Does that mean we want more of them?

    Dave

  • http://warpages-leejay.blogspot.com Liam Bailey

    Dave,

    So lets see if I get this straight. You’ve read the article, disregarded everyhting that doesn’t fit with into your neat little right wing box and made your comment based on what was left.

    One thing I take from your comment is you don’t believe in the afterlife, “mass graves are peaceful”, so no tumultous activity of all the tormented and angry souls then?

    Anyway, instead of opposing an oppresive regime we should… bla bla bla, what’s the point in opposing what you call an oppresive regime if your helping an oppressive murderous and criminal regime regain power, not even a regime one set to war with each other and sentencing Somalia to decades more violence. If you hadn’t disregarded the bit about the moderate elements in the UIC… that gives Somalia a better option than the two you have limited yourself to.

    But oh that’s right you’ve bought the Bush/Blair/Neocon line that all those with an extreme faith in the Islamic religion and who don’t support the policies of the west, in other words not moderate, are terrorists. That would mean there are millions upon million s of terrorists out there, when the number of attacks just doesn’t correspond with that — it’s rubbish.

    Instead of worryi ng so much about an extremists Muslim group taking control of Somalia, perhaps you should have concentrated on the extremist Christians you allowed to take power in your own country, hmm. After all there is a final judgement day in Christian belief as well that talks of all Jews and Muslims being slaughtered… What do you have to say to that Dave?

  • Djibouti Love

    Author makes the UIC seem like some naturally-arising grassroots movement widely accepted by most Somalis. Problem is that Somalia has little history of radical Islam. UIC was a product of foreign Arab-Islamist financing and military expertise, just like the Taliban movement and the largely fictional Afghan “Mullah Omar” used to lend legitimacy to foreign intervention. UIC tactics included suicide bombings and accompanying martyrdom videos – tactics not native to Somalia. Foreign elements, Arab and even Kenyan, were heavily recruited to fight the UIC jihad in Somalia. Still, the UIC never came close to ruling over the most progressive and prosperous areas of Somalia (northern Somaliland, for example). Lastly, the UIC was opposed by every other political power in fragmented Somalia – that includes Somaliland, Puntland, Jubba, TNG, etc.

    I have nothing to say about the Ethiopian invasion and subsequent return of TNG control over Mogadishu, but let’s not make it sound like the UIC emergence was any less a foreign intervention in Somali affairs than the Ethiopian invasion.

  • Yusuf

    Hello people i am a somali myself

    I agree with what the author said, he speaks the truth.

    The ICU were very popular in somalia, they had the support of the somali people, they brought law and order back to somalia, they got rid of the warlords in somalia, they opned schools and hospitals, they opened food centres to feed the needy.

    They were islamic but true in their purpose of establishing peace.

    You people what is wrong if somalia has an islamci goverment is somalia not a musilmsc country with 100% of the population musilm?

    Yeah i guess the lives of somali people means nothing to u people and guess somalia having peace means nothing.

    Thank you very much Liam Bailey, u are a good journalst u are the only few that speak the truth on wats really ahppening in the world right now, thank thank thank you very very much

  • http://warpages-leejay.blogspot.com Liam Bailey

    First of all, Thank you Yusuf, it is always nice to read a complimetary comment, it balances out all the crap from ill-informed people.

    Djibouti Lover,

    You are just another sheep, repeating the same rubbish – comparing the UIC to the Taliban.

    The taliban grew up in the Madrassas on the Pakistan Afghanistan border, filled with refugees and Mujahideen fighters given safe-haven. The Madrassas were built with U.S. dollars for the purpose of radicalizing Muslims to go and fight in the Afghan jihad. When the Afghan leg of the U.S.’ proxy war with Russia was over the Maddrassas kept on radicalizing. Eventually Pakistan’s Musharraf decided to use all these well trained and radical Jihadis to go and install a friendly and hardline Islamic government in Afghanistan, the Taliban swept to power rapidly in 1996, their rapid sweep to power is about the only similarity to the UIC.

    As for the UIC being a foreign creation…

    The Union of Islamic Courts has never been anything but a Somalia group. Every region and village had an Islamic court set up by businessmen to settle disputes in an Islamic fashion, they also had forces to enforce their decisions and to protect the local businesses and prevent anarchy in the regions they oversaw.

    When these courts and their forces grouped together to become the UIC they became a sizeable and well-armed force. Of course their taking back the streets was going to meet resistance from the TFG warlord/gangsters who’s income from hijacking, protection rackets and khat sales the UIC was taking away. So the war began and the UIC won. My article covers the rest, some were hardline and sought affiliation to Al Qaeda but most just wanted peace, prosperity and above all and security for Somalia and all its citizens.

    About Somaliland and Puntland, they are regions not political powers, they have their own clans, and their elders have power and control over their regions, but the UIC has members from Somaliland’s clans and a sizeable following there. As for Puntland, it adopted Sharia Law after skirmishes with the UIC, to avoid further trouble with the group. I have covered the UIC and I know nothing about Jubba.

    See what I did there, I admitted what I had little knowledge about, I didn’t have enough intel so I didn’t comment on Jubba. If you had followed that rule I wouldn’t have had a comment from you to answer.

  • Djibouti Love

    Damn, are you going to reply to each and every comment on your article with such hostility?
    Besides calling me a “sheep” and ignorant, etc., your only rebuttal to my comment was that UIC enjoys support in Somaliland. Could have easily stated that without the infantile ranting.

    As for the well-known foreign links to the UIC, I’ll simply refer you to the following U.N. monitoring report

    See also, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys admitting such

    Peace.

  • http://warpages-leejay.blogspot.com Liam Bailey

    Djibouti lover,

    I apologize if I have been offensive but your initial comment came with a derogatory tone, which got my back up. Even your second acuses me of only rebutting one element of your comment in a haze of personal abuse, so just to clarify:

    A list of things I actually rebutted from your comment:

    The UIC is not a foreign creation.

    It is a grassroots Somali movement.

    The UIC/Taliban comparison which you repeated is completely bogus.

    Somaliland and Puntland are regions in Somalia not political powers.

    The above region’s opposition to the UIC is not as clear cut as you suggested.
    Also FYI to the best of my knowledge there has only been one suicide attack in Somalia, not plural.

    Yes, there are foreign links to the UIC but not as strong as you first suggested. The groups firepower are hard line Islamists who follow Al Qaeda’s cause for pure Islam, anti-modernism, shunning of non-beleivers and ridding all impurities in Islam.

    But when the UIC took power the moderates were vying for power in the regions they controlled, With the groups need for international recognition and assistance the moderates were winning the battle for internal control of the UIC, and Somali affairs. They could have been helped in their struggle and Somalia could have lived in peace and security. Given the current situation and it always being likely from an Ethiopian invasion, as I said given the Iraq model, wouldn’t you say it should have been tried?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    So lets see if I get this straight. You’ve read the article, disregarded everyhting that doesn’t fit with into your neat little right wing box and made your comment based on what was left.

    No, I read the article, saw that it was lacking in basic logic, and pointed that out. Your assumption that I’m ‘right wing’ is just another in your many simplistic assumptions.

    One thing I take from your comment is you don’t believe in the afterlife, “mass graves are peaceful”, so no tumultous activity of all the tormented and angry souls then?

    I’m an atheist. My point about the mass graves was obviously too subtle for you. Peace bought at the cost of unnecessary suffering and death and oppression loses a great deal of its appeal.

    Anyway, instead of opposing an oppresive regime we should… bla bla bla, what’s the point in opposing what you call an oppresive regime if your helping an oppressive murderous and criminal regime regain power, not even a regime one set to war with each other and sentencing Somalia to decades more violence. If you hadn’t disregarded the bit about the moderate elements in the UIC… that gives Somalia a better option than the two you have limited yourself to.

    A choice between murderous oppressors is NEVER a good choice. Your bias is shown when you suggest that the UIC is somehow good and noble and in any way better than the alternative.

    But oh that’s right you’ve bought the Bush/Blair/Neocon line that all those with an extreme faith in the Islamic religion and who don’t support the policies of the west, in other words not moderate, are terrorists. That would mean there are millions upon million s of terrorists out there, when the number of attacks just doesn’t correspond with that — it’s rubbish.

    No, having lived in the muslim world I know that most are moderate. But that doesn’t cause me to blindly overlook the facts about the UIC and their violent history. I acknowledge that both sides in this conflict are out of control and behaving criminally. You choose to single out one side and ignore the other.

    I suggest that you take some time to read the detailed report on the conflict from Human Rights Watch. It makes abundantly clear that no one involved is the innocent you make them out to be.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, Liam, and picking between murderers doens’t make you a nice guy, it makes you someone who has chosen to back a murderer.

    Instead of worrying so much about an extremists Muslim group taking control of Somalia, perhaps you should have concentrated on the extremist Christians you allowed to take power in your own country, hmm. After all there is a final judgement day in Christian belief as well that talks of all Jews and Muslims being slaughtered… What do you have to say to that Dave?

    [Personal attack deleted] I’m an atheist and I don’t even think that christians control the US. You seem to be a fertile field in which the seeds of any loony propaganda that fits your preconceptions will take root and flourish.

    Dave

  • Ibra

    Hello Dave!

    Thanks for article, it is a good read. I went to Somalia two summers in a row, I have seen both the Islamic Courts Union were in power, and the Transitional Government. Without a doubt the ICU were supported by alot of people.

    Onething you left out is that ICU were led by mainly one tribe, though there were other tribes within the ICU. So, alot of Somalis were not happy. Especially, by those whose regions were controlled by none-natives. So, when I went back to Somalia this year, I didn’t miss them.
    I was glad they are ousted.

  • Yusuf

    What the american administration has done is somalia could only be described as very very harsh and crude.

    The international community has forgotten abt somalia and has left the somali people at the hands of callous warlords that care nothing whatsoever abt law and order and peace in somalia.

    Therefore the somali people took it upon themselves to put their house in order, they formed the union of Islamic courts to bring back the rule of law so that children can go back to schools and people can have normal lives.

    The union of Islamic courts had the support of the majority of somali people, they have proven to take the issue of the rule of law seriously.

    Yes i know that many of u might think that the Islamic courts were just to restrictive in their ideas, but the vast majority were moderates.
    The somali people just wanted peace, they did not care abt freedom to drink alcohol etc.

    Now the united states government has helped the most hated warlords back to power in somalia, the same warlords that killed 18 americans.

    Plus they have made the vast majority of moderate somalis now fundamentalist, the same ones that fight the ethiopian invaders day and night in the city of mogadishio.

    Somalia has had six months of blessed peace with the UIC and now they are back to the killings, rape, robbery thanks to bad american intervention and now there are 400, 000 somalis that have left their homes without food and clean water, and 3,000 somalis have died so far.

    Tell me people who are the real terrorist, i would say that the bush administration are the biggest terrorist.

    The west yells about the genocide that is being committed in Darfaur but they are so silent about the genocide taking place in somalia, which they are definetly behind.

    The US goverment does not respect international law, infact it does not even care bat upholding its own UN security resolution, where it stated that ethiopian troops should not invade somalia.

    In all this mess why is the UN so silent, they have not even said a word about ethiopian troops invading somalia, what happened to respecting a countries boundaries.

    It seems that the world follows the rule of the jungle.

  • Yusuf

    Dave ur a funny guy, seriously.

    People like you would best help the world if u educated yourselfs a bit more.

    Hey Dave please read the news now whats happening in somalia, do things look better for the somali people because of the careless united states government?

    Like i said the UIC gave the somali people what many others could not, and thats peace, law, unity.

    Now since the UIC government has been replaced by the US sponsored Warlord Government (the same guys that killed 18 marines which was well documented in that film Black Hawk down) there have been 400, 000 somalis that fled their homes in Mogadishio and into the countryside without clean water, food, and basic needs.
    Plus 3,000 somalis have died.

    The ethiopian military seems to make things worse in somalia, they are committing crimes against humanity, committing genocide.

    I guess to people like u somali lives are cheap.

    Dave u sit in your comfortable home, drinking your coffee and u speak about a people and a situation that u have very little knowledge of.

    Please Dave go and do some research, read some articles, don’t just watch Fox news.

    As a Somali u people don’t understand what the actions of the Bush Administration has resulted in somalia and the Horn of africa.

    I just wish that u guys were better informed, i hope thats where people like Liam Bailey can step in.

    Nowadays there are very few independent Journalist that tell the Truth, the mainstream media seems to be controlled and they all spit out the same lies

  • bliffle

    Yusuf: are you saying that the US press is controlled by the Bush administration?

    How does that square against the rightwing orthodoxy that the press is leftist? Are they, perhaps, lying?

  • Yusuf

    bliffle am just saying that the media is not really as free as we would like to assume.

    There is so much information that is being hidden, especially what happened in somalia

    Please people, watch this documentary about life under the Islamic courts. Compare the rule of the Islamic courts with the rule of the warlord US sponsored warlord Government.

    This US administration seems hell bent of causing Hovac in the Horn of africa, infact as a write this now the United states Government is encouraging the dictator meles of ethiopia to attack eritrea, which would be very bad for the people of the Horn.

    Where there were no terrorist sympathizers in the Horn, now there are so so many, thanks to misguided US policy, If Iraq was not enough they had to move on to somalia.

    I just wish the American people really knew what their goverment was up to in africa, instead of fostering peace, they foster warlords to kill somalis, instead of encouraging dictators such as the one in ethiopia to respect the rule of law, the advise him to break it and invade somalia.

    Even in ethiopia the situation is very bad, you have one tribe in ethiopia who the dictator of ehiopia hails from ruling countless other tribes with brute force, Executives and human right violations in the norm of the day in ethiopia.

    Infact Mr meles is committing a genocide against the people of Ogaden whos rebels killed 9 chinese oil workers around 3 months ago.

    I wish the good people of America that stand for peace and justice can hold to account the Bush administration’s Human rights abuses.

    That Administration has tainted the good image that america once had, where America once stood for the land of hope, justice, democracy and the rule of law, now it seems to most people of the world that America stands for terror, corruption i.e by supporting and funding dicators like the presidents of Egypt and Pakistan and the prime minister of ethiopia.

    I wish that America can take back the good values that it once stood for, the values that the founding fathers of america held dearly.

    By the way people please view that video that i have posted about the Truth about somalia.

    By the way if for whatever reason that the US government refused to accept the UIC government of somalia, they should have put in place another institution that can compete with the UIC goverment to win he hearts and minds of the somali people.

    The fact that the US government choose to side with the coalition of warlords that were armed and financed by ethiopia to continue the instability in somalia, is extremely worrying to the somali people and does not serve the interest of the United states or somalia

  • ahmed salah

    Thank you Liam Bailey for reporting the truth about what has transpired and what is still transpiring in somalia. I am a somali that left my country at a young age due to the consistent fighting and death. When the UIC took control they appealed to the vast majority of somalis abroad and i was actually making plans to go back and live in my motherland where i am not viewed as just another refugee. The bush government destroyed that, if the ethiopian government decided to launch an attack by itself it would not have enjoyed the victory it received. They were receiving logistical and tactical support from the u.s. military but inshallah i hope to God everyday that the people who perpretrated this attack on my homeland get punished with everything they hold dear. The americans turn a blind eye to the activities of their government, alot of them don’t know what is happening because the media doesnt report the daily killings and assassinations but even if they did know alot of them would not even care that is why the americans are setting themselves up for Gods wrath. Once a great nation oversteps its boundaries and tries to play god and thinks it is untouchable that is when they receive their punishment. I just hope God spares the innocent souls living in the states when that time comes.