Saturday, January 12, 2008
Somalis at home and abroad struggle for independence.
Towards the end of 2006, US-backed Ethiopian force rolled into Somalia to overthrow the popular Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). The UIC had restored peace and security in much of southern Somalia during their brief reign of power. The illegal Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia, with the installation of a puppet government, marks a new phase of US imperialism in Somalia.
Somalia has endured a long history of foreign domination, both at the hands of European colonial powers and the US. During the colonial era, Somalia was curved up into five territories; Italian Somaliland in the south, British Somaliland in the north, French Somaliland in Djbouti, Ogaden (Western Somalia), annexed to Ethiopia and the Northern Frontier Division (NFD), ceded to Kenya.
In 1960, European colonizers were eventually defeated when Somalia attained its national independence. In the early 1980s US imperialism gradually took hold in Somalia as the US administration propped up the military dictatorship of Mohamed Siad Barre through financial aid and the massive transfer of weapons. Working in collusion with Barre, US destabilization in this era was aimed at suppressing and dividing the Somali people, thereby making Washington directly responsible for state collapse in Somalia.
The primary objective of the US in Somalia is access to Somalia’s untapped but massive oil reserves and vast uranium deposits. In geopolitical terms, Somalia is strategically located where the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea converge. It oversees the daily passage of oil tankers that go through the Suez Canal, while its close proximity to the Middle East and Sudan makes it an ideal territory to launch US military attacks against the perceived “Islamist threat” in the region. Worse still, the US plans to use the strategic town of Berbera as the base of its newly launched ‘AFRICOM’ (Africa Command), an American military scheme aimed at the militarizing the entire African continent.
Just as the Somali people rallied hard to defeat the US occupation of 1993 during the so-called “Operation Restore Hope”, Somali resistance to the Ethiopian occupation has been unrelenting and fierce. All the while, the humanitarian crisis in Somalia worsens: hundreds of thousands of Somalis have been displaced by the Ethiopian army, while the Western corporate press completely ignores the issue.
Abroad, Somalis have begun to wage their own peaceful resistance. On November 16, the Somali Canadian Diaspora Alliance (SDA) of Toronto organized a demo outside the U.S. embassy, attended by at least 200. This demo came at a time when a large umbrella organization of progressive Somali Diaspora organizations from across Canada and the U.S. was formed. The mandate of the new organization, known as Somali Cause, is to demand an immediate end to the Ethiopian occupation and war crimes, promote an all inclusive national reconciliation process, and call for the establishment of an International War Crimes Tribunal for Somalia. The main objective of all these pro-people Somali organizations is to forge a united front to peacefully free Somalia from occupation and oppression, and to bring lasting liberation and real democracy to the Somali people.