Background Links On Somalia Beyond Pirate Tales & Black Hawk Down

A good summation by Chris Floyd

Task Force 88

Somalia: Western Toxic Dumping And Piracy

Pirates of the Horn

Medialens: Somalia- Hidden Catastrophe

You are being lied to about pirates, Johann Hari

’07 UN officials said that Somalia has higher malnutrition rates, more current bloodshed and many fewer aid workers than Darfur

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Somalia Becomes Shooting Alley

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously approved a US resolution allowing countries to pursue Somali pirates on land as well as at sea. It is an extension of the powers countries already have to enter Somali waters to chase pirates. Countries will need the permission of the transitional Somali government.

Well the transitional government is an Ethiopian installed US propped up sham, it didn’t take long for commerce to have its way…again-

When the Asian tsunami of Christmas 2005 washed ashore on the east coast of Africa, it uncovered a great scandal.

Tons of radioactive waste and toxic chemicals drifted onto the beaches after the giant wave dislodged them from the sea bed off Somalia. Tens of thousands of Somalis fell ill after coming into contact with this cocktail. They complained to the United Nations (UN), which began an investigation. “There are reports from villagers of a wide range of medical problems such as mouth bleeds, abdominal hemorrhages, unusual skin disorders and breathing difficulties,” the UN noted.

Some 300 people are believed to have died from the poisonous chemicals. Many European, US and Asian shipping firms – notably Switzerland’s Achair Partners and Italy’s Progresso – signed dumping deals in the early 1990s with Somalia’s politicians and militia leaders.

This meant they could use the coast as a toxic dumping ground. This practice became widespread as the country descended into civil war. Nick Nuttall of the UN Environment Program said, “European companies found it was very cheap to get rid of the waste.

“It cost as little as £1.70 a ton, whereas waste disposal costs in Europe was something like £670 a ton. “And the waste is of many different kinds. There is uranium radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury. There is also industrial waste, hospital wastes, chemical wastes – you name it.”

But despite the evidence uncovered by the tsunami, an investigation into the practice of toxic dumping was dropped. There was no compensation and no clean up. In 2006 Somali fishermen complained to the UN that foreign fishing fleets were using the breakdown of the state to plunder their fish stocks. These foreign fleets often recruited Somali militias to intimidate local fishermen.

Despite repeated requests, the UN refused to act. Meanwhile the warships of global powers that patrol the strategically important Gulf of Aden did not sink or seize any vessels dumping toxic chemicals off the coast.

So angry Somalis, whose waters were being poisoned and whose livelihoods were threatened, took matters into their own hands. Fishermen began to arm themselves and attempted to act as unofficial coastguards. They began to seize ships in late 2005. These were released after a ransom was paid. Among them were cargo vessels, luxury cruise liners and tuna fishing boats.

But the nature of this piracy soon began to change. Members of the Somali government, who were part of the then Western-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG), started to get involved. They transformed the piracy operation into a multi-million dollar industry that funded their lavish lifestyles.

The TFG was ousted during a popular rebellion in July 2006 led by the Union of Islamic Courts. Later that year the US backed Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia to drive the Islamic Courts out.

This provoked an insurgency labeled by some as the “third front” of the “war on terror”. The US became embarrassed when it emerged that its allies in the TFG were deeply involved in piracy. As concerns grew for the safety of ships heading towards the Suez Canal, global powers began to take notice.

(ht2 Danny Schechter)

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Cuddly Task Force 88 in The NYT

Task Force 88 gets mentioned again, now this the NYT so US military attacks are couched entirely in the context of ‘attacking Al Qaeda’ which make blowing the shit out of unsuspecting people all over the world by the Empire seem acceptable to the hard of thinking (mmm govt source says it was after Al Qaeda, yep I’ll believe them, they never lie). Nevermind the utterly unexamined imperialism, the manifest destiny and nationalist exceptionalism of an empire killing at will anywhere on planet Earth. Thought experiment for the those lacking perspective- Somalia destroys a town in Idaho, they say they suspected some white supremacists might have been there, it also just happens to be part of an ongoing operation to install a state government that will sign over resource contracts to Somalia and its Canadian allies (oh yeah, the canucks invaded with Somali missile strikes wiping out resistance and yet in the news no mention is made of Somalia. Even now hundred of thousands of American refugees are dying of hunger as the media praise the brave Canadian forces and ignore the death toll, even as Somali corporations are profiting from the invasion), is that good with you? Everything tickety boo and war-on-terror-tastic there?

The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.

These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said. The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States.

For example, shortly after Ethiopian troops crossed into Somalia in late 2006 to dislodge an Islamist regime in Mogadishu, the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command quietly sent operatives and AC-130 gunships to an airstrip near the Ethiopian town of Dire Dawa. From there, members of a classified unit called Task Force 88 crossed repeatedly into Somalia to hunt senior members of a Qaeda cell believed to be responsible for the 1998 American Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

At the time, American officials said Special Operations troops were operating under a classified directive authorizing the military to kill or capture Qaeda operatives if failure to act quickly would mean the United States had lost a “fleeting opportunity” to neutralize the enemy.

Occasionally, the officials said, Special Operations troops would land in Somalia to assess the strikes’ results. On Jan. 7, 2007, an AC-130 struck an isolated fishing village near the Kenyan border, and within hours, American commandos and Ethiopian troops were examining the rubble to determine whether any Qaeda operatives had been killed.

Now then can you spot the clue? Once again ‘examining the rubble to determine whether any Qaeda operatives had been killed‘ so of course this village was empty yeah?…no villagers in that rubble huh? The NYT is not concerned with them, like a magic talisman, mention Al Qaeda enough and all is well in slaughterville. So how about a different take on what went on with Task Force 88, bearing in mind it took 2 years for Mai Lai to become openly acknowledged (covered up by one Colin Powell back then)-

Chris Floyd-

Barnett reveals that the gunship attacks on refugees were just the first part of the secret U.S. mission that was “Africa Command’s” debut on the imperial stage. Soon after the attacks, “Task Force 88, a very secret American special-operations unit,” was helicoptered into the strike area. As Barnett puts it: “The 88’s job was simple: Kill anyone still alive and leave no unidentified bodies behind.”

Some 70,000 people fled their homes in the first wave of the Ethiopian invasion. (More than 400,000 fled the brutal consolidation of the invasion in Mogadishu last spring.) Tens of thousands of these initial refugees headed toward the Kenyan border, where the American gunships struck. When the secret operation was leaked, Bush Administration officials said that American planes were trying to hit three alleged al Qaeda operatives who had allegedly been given sanctuary by the Islamic Councils government decapitated by the Ethiopians. But Barnett’s insiders told him that the actual plan was to wipe out thousands of “foreign fighters” whom Pentagon officials believed had joined the Islamic Courts forces. “Honestly, nobody had any idea just how many there really were,” Barnett was told. “But we wanted to get them all.”

Thus the Kenyan border area — where tens of thousands of civilians were fleeing — was meant to be “a killing zone,” Barnett writes:

America’s first AC-130 gunship went wheels-up on January 7 from that secret Ethiopian airstrip. After each strike, anybody left alive was to be wiped out by successive waves of Ethiopian commandos and Task Force 88, operating out of Manda Bay. The plan was to rinse and repeat ‘until no more bad guys, as one officer put it.

At this point, Barnett — or his sources — turn coy. We know there were multiple gunship strikes; and from Barnett’s account, we know that the “88s” did go in at least once after the initial gunship attack to “kill anyone still alive and leave no unidentified bodies behind.” But Barnett’s story seems to suggest that once active American participation in the war was leaked, the “killing zone” was abandoned at some point. So there is no way of knowing at this point how many survivors of the American attacks were then killed by the “very special secret special-operations unit,” or how many “rinse-and-repeat” cycles the “88s” were able to carry out in what Barnett called “a good plan.”

Nor do we know just who the “88s” killed. As noted, the vast majority of refugees were civilians, just as the majority of the victims killed by the American gunship raids were civilians. Did the “88s” move in on the nomadic tribesmen decimated by the air attack and “kill everyone still alive”? Or did they restrict themselves to killing any non-Somalis they found among the refugees?

Somalia & The Memory Hole

In this story about Somali repsentatives being stranded after a summit the following quick summation of recent history is presented-

The government was strongly criticised for failing to bring peace to Somalia, which has not had an effective national government for 17 years. The government needed Ethiopian troops to oust Islamist forces from Mogadishu but they continue to stage attacks.

Er, what? So the US backed Ethiopian invasion which destroyed the brief stability the Islamic Courts provided is hereby erased, it was helpful Ethiopians cooperating with the Somali government, oh except do you see where the fib rather falls down, by their own words ‘Somalia, which has not had an effective national government for 17 years‘ so this Somali ‘government’ which was helped out by those terribly nice Ethiopian chaps where has that come from? What in fact is it other than the product of a fevered imagination erasing the US involvement. We’ll all be mystified why resource rich Congo is engulfed by conflict next, oh wait… (must go my mobile’s ringing).

PS. The International Crisis Group has a useful briefing (although needs updating) on the Congo, they are not exactly free of corporate motives but it’s worth a read.

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Blackwater Goes Navy

Every invasion an opportunity, the Empire took Somalia and now-

Navy Times (US)– The contractor Blackwater Worldwide is in talks with 13 shipping companies interested in hiring the firm’s ship to escort their cargo vessels through the pirate-plagued waters off the Horn of Africa, the company’s president said.

Blackwater CEO Erik Prince said the world’s shipping firms are eager for as much protection as possible for their vessels, partly because the U.S. and international warships in the Gulf of Aden haven’t done enough to stop or dissuade piracy.

Prince appeared Sunday on “This Week in Defense News,” a television show hosted by Navy Times’ sister publication, Defense News. He said the 20,000 ships that travel past the Horn of Africa each year could provide a steady market for protection services.

The U.S. and international navies that patrol the Gulf of Aden have been stymied by a thicket of legal confusion about what capabilities they have to fight pirates on the high seas and in Somali waters. Adm. Mark Fitzgerald, commander of Naval Forces Europe, told reporters Oct. 21 that NATO is debating rules of engagement for dealing with pirates.

AP- The growing interest among merchant fleets to hire their own firepower is encouraged by the U.S. Navy and represents a new and potential lucrative market for security firms scaling back operations in Iraq.

“This is a great trend,” said Lt. Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet. “We would encourage shipping companies to take proactive measures to help ensure their own safety.”

Yeah, it’s a great trend.

Cut Out

With an early autumn power cut and subsequent downing of the vast telecommunications complex that feeds my secure undisclosed undersea base I offer you some quick cuts-

Chris Floyd again keeps the coverage of Somalia visible, civilians deaths now approach 10,000 and the piracy problem has been reinvigorated by the US backed ‘regime change’.Otto sez- Instead of “Estados Unidos” (United States), the big country up North is being called “Estados Hundidos” (sunken States).

Also see his advisory for what it’s really like in Bolivia as peace breaks out, even as the US pulls out Peace corps ‘operatives’ it is not a dangerous hell hole of anti American horror, perhaps because they value tolerance more than Bushland.

Washington refuses to say who it is funneling millions to in Bolivia, rejecting FOIA’s like they were going out of fashion (which I think they largely have under Bush) (ht2 BoRev).

Bigwood has made several attempts to obtain detailed information about the nature of current U.S. spending in Bolivia, without success. He says he has filed five separate petitions under the Freedom of Information Act since 2005. However, one FOIA request he filed revealed that the quasi-governmental National Endowment for Democracy had funded programmes that brought 13 young “emerging leaders” from Bolivia to Washington between 2002 and 2004 to strengthen their right-wing political parties. “It’s not just the USAID but also other U.S. government entities that are putting money into opposition groups in Bolivia,” Bigwood told IPS, charging that a major part of the funding is apparently aimed at “bribing people” in that country.

Abiding in Bolivia notes how blog coverage has perhaps inspired some mainstream media to a bit less rubbish- Making a Dent.

If you are down Manchester way check out the Convention of the Left which is what actual leftists will be doing while corporate conservatives attend the Labour conference (perhaps though without money off vouchers for lap dancers like the Tories have). Also there is the Stop the War demo in town and an Anti fascist march in Stoke. And also something else is happening…niece number one is flying the nest, she is off to uni in Manchesterland, seems like only 18 years ago she was projectile vomiting milk all over me, whereas now she will get the chance to barf up kebabs and vodka all over Manchester’s rainy streets, truly God’s own country! It’s good stuff, none of her grandparents or parents went to university, she loves what she does, I hope she really has an enriching experience.

And finally, I would recommend subscribing to Pulp of the Day, each weekday a scan of the cover of a pulp novel in all its lurid exploitative glory, today is the brilliantly named Shanty Boat Girl, which is fabulous, it’s a song waiting to happen. The cover promises all kinds of saucy thrills, the guy bottom right clearly has more in mind than telling charming jokes, don’t fall for him Shanty Boat Girl, he’s only after one thing, your Boat!

Burying the Lede- What Do We Do With A Problem Like Somalia?

Does not compute, this NYT article is interesting but it starts like this-

Does the international community have it all wrong on Somalia? After 17 years, 14 transitional governments and more than $8 billion in foreign aid, the country is as violent, lawless – and, many say, as hopeless – as ever.

Oh noes, what can we do? Yes it is a genuine conundrum, but this is the odd thing, the article does tell the truth about what led to the latest catastrophe, except it’s buried in the second half-

By the early 2000s, several of those local courts began to gain strength, and in 2006 they united under an Islamist banner to fight warlords being paid by the Central Intelligence Agency. The Islamic courts won and disarmed and pacified much of south-central Somalia, following their own version of the building block approach. But the United States and Ethiopia considered the Islamic courts a terrorist threat, so the United States helped Ethiopia invade Somalia.

Now I don’t know about you, but surely this context -that so many people have no awareness of (and Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia is a client leader so let’s not pretend America and Ethiopia *considering* is like two completely independent conclusions)- is sort of relevant in like… the first few lines when discussing the situation in Somalia, especially when people are looking for solutions. One of course presents itself- whatever else you do, stop the US Empire from rampaging around the place, it’s not helping! Thankfully for Team USA the NYT editors protects it’s cursory readers from such conclusions. Like a treasure hunt that works only for the dedicated sifter of copy.

Medialens on Somalia

As Andy Rowell and James Marriott have noted, the key fact is that “some 30 per cent of America’s oil will come from Africa in the next ten years”. (Rowell and Marriott, A Game as Old as Empire – The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption, edited by Steven Hiatt, Berrett-Koehler, 2007, p.118 )

The US has plans for nearly two-thirds of Somalia’s oil fields to be allocated to the US oil companies Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips. The US hopes Somalia will line up as an ally alongside Ethiopia and Djibouti, where the US has a military base. This alliance would give America powerful leverage close to the major energy-producing regions.

Chatham House, a British think tank of the independent Royal Institute of International Affairs, commented on US and Ethiopian intervention last year:

“In an uncomfortably familiar pattern, genuine multilateral concern to support the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Somalia has been hijacked by unilateral actions of other international actors – especially Ethiopia and the United States – following their own foreign policy agendas.” (http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/15545)

Predictably, the government’s strategic silence is reflected in press reporting. In the last year, the words ‘Somalia’ and ‘famine’ have appeared in a grand total of seven British broadsheet newspaper articles discussing the topic. Of the few references to the latest US attack in the British press over the last week, only the Independent and the Sunday Times made briefs references to Somalia’s humanitarian crisis. The Independent noted that life for Somalia’s nine million residents has become “unbearable”. The Guardian merely quoted Reuters:

“Western security services have long seen Somalia as a haven for militants. Warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre in 1991, casting the country into chaos.” (Reuters, ‘US airstrike kills head of al-Qaida in Somalia,’ Guardian International, May 2, 2008 )

The Amnesty report was mentioned in three broadsheet newspapers. Of these, the Guardian failed to mention the US role at all. Ian Black commented:

“Ethiopia sent in troops in December 2006 and ejected them. Since then, Mogadishu has been caught up in a guerrilla war between the government and its Ethiopian allies and the Islamist insurgents. Up to 1 million Somalians are internally displaced.” (Ian Black, ‘Somali refugees speak of horrific war crimes,’ The Guardian, May 7, 2008 )

By contrast, a short Independent piece led with the US role:

“Amnesty International has called for the role of the United States in Somalia to be investigated, following publication of a report accusing its allies of committing war crimes.” (http://www.independent.co.uk/news /world/politics/call-for-inquiry-into-us -role-in-somalia-822166.html)

Amnesty’s Dave Copeman was cited:

“There are major countries that have significant influence. The US, EU and European countries need to exert that influence to stop these attacks.”

This is the sole reference to Copeman’s comments in the entire national UK press.

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Press Notices US Role in Somalia

A bit-

U.S. war planes killed an Islamist rebel said to be al Qaeda’s leader in Somalia and as many as 30 other people on Thursday in Washington’s biggest blow against an insurgency raging since 2007.

The rebels said Aden Hashi Ayro — who led al Shabaab militants blamed for attacks on government troops and their Ethiopian allies — died in the first major success for a string of U.S. air-strikes on Somali insurgents in the last year.

“Infidel planes bombed Dusamareb,” Shabaab spokesman Mukhtar Ali Robow told Reuters by phone, referring to a town in central Somalia, where body parts lay strewn round a wrecked house.

“Two of our important people, including Ayro, were killed.”

The United States confirmed it was behind the attack.

“Bits of human flesh are scattered on the ruins of the building,” witness Farah Hussein told Reuters. “People are counting the skulls to know the exact figure.”

Another local said residents were woken at 2 a.m. 2300 GMT Wednesday) by two huge blasts and counted four planes overhead.

Robow said Ayro had trained many men: “We know our enemy is happy today, but their work will continue.”

The Pentagon said Central Command, part of the U.S. military responsible for operations in the region, conducted the strike in Somalia against “a known al Qaeda target,” but would provide no details or say whether the strike was a success.

“We will pursue terrorists worldwide. The U.S. is committed to identifying, locating, capturing and if necessary killing terrorists wherever they operate, train, plan their operations or seek safe haven,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

The U.S. Defense Department has in the past said no U.S. troops operate inside Somalia. But Whitman on Thursday appeared to acknowledge the possibility that there are some.

Asked how many U.S. troops are in Somalia, Whitman said: “I honestly don’t know and I don’t know if I could answer that question or not.”

So nowadays wars happen in secret? Actually not so different, the covert bombing of Laos for example. Except now the license to kill is merely two words –al Qaeda -and it also serves under the broader magic word –terrorism– to legitimate the American Empire. All I see is a dominant gang killing people with impunity, people in jail for doing the same thing must be really pissed, they just did it for the wrong crew.

Somalia Iraq Style

“The ICRC is deeply concerned about the plight of civilians caught up in the fighting and calls on all warring parties to comply with international humanitarian law, and to take precautions while conducting military operations to safeguard the lives and dignity of civilians,” Pascal Hundt, head of the ICRC’s delegation in Somalia, said.

Someone tell the Ethiopian forces who just pulled a Haditha, their US support and training really shows-

At least 12 Somali civilians have been killed after Ethiopian troops opened fire on them in the southwestern town of Baidoa, witnesses say. The incident came shortly after a roadside bomb blast hit a water tanker, killing an Ethiopian soldier and prompting other soldiers to open fire, according to one witness. Abdurahman Takow said: “At least 12 people were killed and nine others wounded by fire from Ethiopian soldiers.”

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US Backed Ethiopian Army Slit Civilians’ Throats

Via Chris Floyd who also is not ignoring the war in Somalia-

AMNESTY International has accused Ethiopian soldiers of killing 21 people, including an imam and several Islamic scholars, at a Mogadishu mosque and says seven of the victims had their throats slit. Amnesty said those killed at the mosque included imam Sheikh Saiid Yaha and several scholars of the moderate Tabligh group that operated there.

“Eye-witnesses report that those killed inside the mosque were unarmed civilians taking no active part in hostilities,” Amnesty said.

“Seven of the 21 were reported to have died after their throats were cut – a form of extra-judicial execution practiced by Ethiopian forces in Somalia.”

Some moderate Islamist leaders have reacted to the mosque incident, and a recent upsurge of fighting in Mogadishu, by postponing plans to join UN-sponsored peace talks.

Amnesty urged the Ethiopian military to release all 41 children it said were held after the mosque raid. “Witnesses have told Amnesty International that Ethiopian forces would only release the children from their military base in north Mogadishu ‘once they had been investigated’ and ‘if they were not terrorists’,” it said.

Some of the children – who were aged as young as nine – were reported to have been freed, though the majority were still in custody, Amnesty said. Witnesses said they had seen beheaded bodies lying outside the mosque after the fighting.

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Ethiopia Learning From Its Imperial Master

So…Ethiopia-
US ally and client state led by Meles Zenawi who even now is locking up anyone who notices he fiddled the last election (a true Bush protégé), a former communist who now espouses neo-liberalisation and hung with Tony. -invades Somalia with US support. Ethiopia and new Somali puppet regime and the US start threatening Eritrea while Somalia is named the current worst humanitarian disaster in Africa yet oddly no one is funding a big Darfur campaign for it in America. Forces fighting US proxy Ethiopia are routinely branded terrorists (as all oppostion to the empire is). Then-

According to the BBC’s Elizabeth Blunt in Addis Ababa, Foreign Ministry sources say that the Ethiopian government believes Qatar is giving substantial sums of money – amounting to something like $150,000 a month – to Eritrea, which then go on to fund insurgents in Ethiopia’s Somali region, the Ogaden National Liberation Front

And

Ethiopia also said that its complaints included its support for Eritrea and “the output of its media outlets”. In recent days Al Jazeera has broadcast several reports on the conflict in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, where ethnic Somali rebels are fighting government forces.

The assumption of Meles Zenawi is as Al Jazeera has ties to the Emir of Qatar (via subsidy and initial launch funding) that pressure on Qatar will shut down the coverage of Ethiopia’s counter insurgency in the Ogaden region.

Ogaden- Ethiopia’s Ogaden, also known as the Somali region, is an oil-rich, but poor area that is ethnically Somali.

The Ogaden region, which borders Somalia, has been the scene of a violent insurgency by rebels calling for greater autonomy. Ethiopia’s government has responded with a brutal counter-insurgency operation which has paralysed trade and forced thousands to flee their homes.

Refugees who have fled the Ogaden to Somalia told The Independent in October that Ethiopian soldiers are burning villages, raping women and killing civilians as part of a systematic campaign to drive them from their homes

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Somalia In Disneyland

With news that Ethiopian troops shelled a marketplace in Mogadishu-

(Reuters) – At least 11 people were killed in Mogadishu on Saturday when troops at the Villa Somalia presidential palace returned fire against Islamist insurgents who attacked it with mortar bombs, witnesses said.

President Abdullahi Yusuf was meeting Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin there at the time, an aide told Reuters, but no one in the hilltop compound was hurt.

Residents said Ethiopian soldiers guarding Yusuf then launched shells at Bakara Market in the city below, killing a number of people and wounding dozens more.

One notices in various reports that the consensus narrative on the current conflict has now emerged – Ethiopian forces came to the aid of the Somali government to fight Islamist militias – (not unlike the stories told to justify the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in Pravda- which was provoked by the US). No mention of US involvement in the invasion, or that humanitarian groups have said the invasion (sorry, ‘intervention’) has produced a far worse disaster than anything happening under the Islamic courts which actually was a period of relative calm. I chose the Reuters report because it does at least include these details-

The fighting, which killed 6,500 people last year in Mogadishu alone, has sharply worsened what aid workers warn is a fast deteriorating humanitarian disaster. More than 1 million Somalis are now internal refugees, and some 20,000 flee the capital every month. Most of them end up in areas suffering from the worst drought in years.

One story that got zero coverage (1 result on Google news as far as I can tell) was this yesterday-

A US military drone crashed in a Somali coastal area south of Mogadishu on Friday, a local government official and witnesses said.

“It’s a small unmanned American plane. It’s small and can be carried by three people,” said Mohamed Mohamoud Helmi, the government official in charge of security in the town of Merka.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

“I saw the small plane, it’s about one metre and a half,” local president Mohamed Saddam said. “It has cameras on it and things like computer components.” – Sapa-AFP

Because that kind of story could cause one to ask what America is doing there and that could lead to discovering the Disneyland version of recent events is just that, a childish fantasy designed to keep the simple minded herds content. Otherwise known as the ‘War on Terror!!!!’

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US War Crimes In Somalia: Task Force 88

From a brilliant article by Chris Floyd about the press’s imperial fawning over Admiral Fallon and his supposed reluctance to attack Iran [“‘Get serious,’ the admiral says. ‘These guys are ants. When the time comes, you crush them.'”] some details from last year of what went on in Somalia (emphasis added)-

This is not the first time that Barnett’s true-believer cluelessness has produced genuine revelations. Last year, in a similarly gung-ho, brass-awed piece on Washington’s latest imperial satrapy, the Africa Command, Barnett revealed that the Bush Administration was using an American death squad in Somalia to “clean up” areas after a bombing or missile strike. As I wrote in June 2007:

The Esquire piece, by Thomas Barnett, is a mostly glowing portrait of the Africa Command, which, we are told, is designed to wed military, diplomatic, and development prowess in a seamless package, a whole new way of projecting American power: “pre-emptive nation-building instead of pre-emptive regime change,” or as Barnett describes it at another point, “Iraq done right.” Although Barnett’s glib, jargony, insider piece — told entirely from the point of view of U.S. military officials — does contain bits of critical analysis, it is in no way an expose. The new details he presents on the post-invasion slaughter are thus even more chilling, as they are offered simply as an acceptable, ordinary aspect of this laudable new enterprise.

Barnett reveals that the gunship attacks on refugees were just the first part of the secret U.S. mission that was “Africa Command’s” debut on the imperial stage. Soon after the attacks, “Task Force 88, a very secret American special-operations unit,” was helicoptered into the strike area. As Barnett puts it: “The 88’s job was simple: Kill anyone still alive and leave no unidentified bodies behind.”

Some 70,000 people fled their homes in the first wave of the Ethiopian invasion. (More than 400,000 fled the brutal consolidation of the invasion in Mogadishu last spring.) Tens of thousands of these initial refugees headed toward the Kenyan border, where the American gunships struck. When the secret operation was leaked, Bush Administration officials said that American planes were trying to hit three alleged al Qaeda operatives who had allegedly been given sanctuary by the Islamic Councils government decapitated by the Ethiopians. But Barnett’s insiders told him that the actual plan was to wipe out thousands of “foreign fighters” whom Pentagon officials believed had joined the Islamic Courts forces. “Honestly, nobody had any idea just how many there really were,” Barnett was told. “But we wanted to get them all.”

Thus the Kenyan border area — where tens of thousands of civilians were fleeing — was meant to be “a killing zone,” Barnett writes:

America’s first AC-130 gunship went wheels-up on January 7 from that secret Ethiopian airstrip. After each strike, anybody left alive was to be wiped out by successive waves of Ethiopian commandos and Task Force 88, operating out of Manda Bay. The plan was to rinse and repeat ‘until no more bad guys, as one officer put it.

At this point, Barnett — or his sources — turn coy. We know there were multiple gunship strikes; and from Barnett’s account, we know that the “88s” did go in at least once after the initial gunship attack to “kill anyone still alive and leave no unidentified bodies behind.” But Barnett’s story seems to suggest that once active American participation in the war was leaked, the “killing zone” was abandoned at some point. So there is no way of knowing at this point how many survivors of the American attacks were then killed by the “very special secret special-operations unit,” or how many “rinse-and-repeat” cycles the “88s” were able to carry out in what Barnett called “a good plan.”

Nor do we know just who the “88s” killed. As noted, the vast majority of refugees were civilians, just as the majority of the victims killed by the American gunship raids were civilians. Did the “88s” move in on the nomadic tribesmen decimated by the air attack and “kill everyone still alive”? Or did they restrict themselves to killing any non-Somalis they found among the refugees?

War Of Terror: Somalia- 6,501 Civilians Killed In US Backed Invasion

The first accounting of the dead, injured and displaced caused by the US backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia has been released-

MOGADISHU, Dec 31 (Reuters) – Conflict in Somalia killed 6,501 civilians in the capital Mogadishu in 2007 and wounded 8,516 more, a local human rights group said on Monday. The Elman Peace and Human Rights Organisation said it had recorded 1.5 million people uprooted from homes in the city during a year that began with the toppling of an Islamist movement, spawning an insurgency.

The group’s chairman, Sudan Ali Ahmed, blamed Ethiopian forces supporting the interim Somali government for many of the civilian deaths. Residents are often caught in the crossfire as Ethiopian soldiers battle Islamist-led guerrillas. “The international community must intervene in Somali affairs to force the Ethiopians to get out. At the same time they must bring a joint international peacekeeping force to secure the country,” Ahmed told a news conference. He said he believed the United States was funding Ethiopia to keep its troops in Somalia, and must take some of the blame.

I am yet to perceive that this invasion is in the public consciousness or that the US involvement is adequately reported. Darfur is aided by a huge campaign but then that attention aids the empire’s strategies. It is also highly likely that Ethiopian forces will invade Eritrea in 2008 aided by the US which has been agitating against Eritrea for months (bad luck for the country which was in the ‘coalition of the shilling willing’ in 2003, imperial winds change and allies become targets, you lie down with dogs etc. though Eritrea was at that time probably feeling they had to to avoid the treatment they are now getting). Why not shine some light there, stop a war before it starts and thus actually save thousands of lives? It really could be done, no more mopping up after an atrocity, don’t send troops, recall them, pre-emptive… peace.

Or will I be writing- Eritrea- and the number killed there exactly a year from now?