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SOMALIA: WARMUP FOR TODAY’S IRAQ

Posted in the database on Monday, August 08th, 2005 @ 10:33:56 MST (2408 views)
by Malcolm Lagauche    Lagauche Is Right  

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You may ask, "What does Somalia have to do with Iraq?" The answer is, "Plenty." In 1993, the United States, under the guise of a "humanitarian" mission, invaded and occupied Somalia. As with Iraq, the world's leading military superpower used its weapons to kill innocent people in their own country. Also, the United States demonized Somalia leader Mohamed Aidid much in the same way in which it discredited Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Aidid and the forces which were allied to him fought the U.S. presence, eventually leading to the U.S. decision to leave Somalia.

In July, 1996, Mohamed Farrah Aidid died while fighting in Somalia. He was demonized by the U.S. government and had a price put on his head. Despite the overwhelming propaganda that discredited him, some consider Aidid to be a true freedom fighter who took on the United States and helped to quicken the exit of the U.S. military from Somalia.

Aidid was buried on a small plot he owned near the line that divides Somalia's first city, Mogadishu. A long funeral procession wound through the streets and the city was somber. There were no clashes between rival militias as combating sides forgot their differences in paying respect to the man who solidified the opposition to foreign forces on Somali soil.

During the so-called "peacekeeping mission" in Somalia, the United States labelled Aidid the bad guy and put a $25,000 price on his head (inflation ran rampant and by 2003 Saddam was worth $30 million). The following week saw the fighting escalate, coming to a crescendo when 18 U.S. soldiers were killed in an attempt to capture Aidid. The next day, videotape showing Somalis dragging the dead body of a U.S. serviceman through the streets drew harsh condemnation from the United States government. Bill Clinton talked about how this was repugnant and stated that civilized people do not act in this manner. However, he did not mention the thousands of dead Iraqi soldiers who were mutilated and put on display by U.S. troops during and after the first Gulf War. He also did not bring up the fact that about 3,000 Somali civilians were killed in the same battle in which 18 Americans died.

His successor, Bush II had no problem showing the mutilated bodies of Uday and Qusay Hussein to the world via television. That doesn’t count because Iraqis and Somalis are subhuman. We should applaud the public display of dead foreigners as proof of U.S. superiority, but decry the showing of one dead U.S. soldier as "uncivilized."

Eventually, the United States gave up trying to capture Aidid. His resistance actually persuaded the United States to coin new phrases while discussing foreign intervention: "Doing an Aidid" and "Crossing the Mogadishu Line." Today’s equivalent utterance would be "the Sunni Triangle."

On October 3, 1996, celebrations were held in Somalia commemorating the deaths of the 18 American servicemen who had died three years earlier. The United States State Department called the celebrations "an affront to the American people." Spokesperson Nicholas Burns stated, "We haven't forgotten the deaths of those 18 people and it is uncivilized to celebrate the deaths of people who were there to bring peace and stability to Somalia." Ironically, the soldiers were killed during an attack on an Aidid stronghold. Burns failed to show the contradiction of calling a military attack a "peacekeeping" operation. He also failed to mention that the United States celebrates the killing of foreign soldiers several times every year during official holidays which commemorate past wars (Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Independence Day, Flag Day).

The official story was that Somalia was racked by civil war and famine and much of the blame was put on Aidid. Then, the "everhelpful" United Nations stepped in for famine relief and ended up trying to defend themselves from the bad guy — Aidid.

The facts are different, however. Aidid was the elected leader of Somalia, but he was opposed by European governments. He had nearly consolidated his hold against dictatorship-era holdouts when the United Nations/United States stepped in and committed mass violations of Somalis' rights, including trying to disarm them and shut down free speech.

After years as an Italian colony, Somalia gained independence in 1960. Siad Barre assumed control of the country in a dictatorship. Aidid spent the late 1960s and early 1970s in prison for planning a coup against Barre, who eventually freed him and made him ambassador to India, Sri Lanka and Singapore.

Aidid then helped form the United Somali Congress (USC) which deposed Barre. Ali Mahdi proclaimed himself USC President of the Republic of Somalia.

In June, 1991, Aidid was elected chairman of the United Somali Congress by a two-thirds vote, but Ali Mahdi refused to step down as president. By October, 1991, Mahdi had formed a government of eight ministers, and the Italian government promised massive financial support.

Aidid then declared his faction of the USC to be the legitimate government of Somalia, and Mahdi declared war on Aidid and his faction.

Aidid's militia forces quickly defeated Mahdi's, confining Mahdi's supporters to a small area of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. Aidid could have captured the remainder of Mahdi's territory, but he refrained. Instead, he concentrated his efforts on expelling what remained of Siad Barre's army in southern Somalia. Robbery by Barre's army was mainly responsible for the famine in that region.

The main difference between Aidid's faction and that of Mahdi was that Mahdi supported an Italian-style democracy, while Aidid favored the traditional tribal form of government known as kritarchy.

Various Somali clans sided with Aidid. On March 30, 1993, the four tribes of northwest Somalia adopted the traditional Somali constitution, the Xeer. On June 4, two more clans from the northeast and the center of Somalia adopted the Xeer. Violence decreased as the clans adopted a peaceful government.

The United Nations opened an office in Mogadishu a few months after Aidid routed Mahdi's forces. U.N. representative Mohamed Sahnoun realized he was too late to mediate between the two factions and concentrated on reducing the famine in southern Somalia. The U.N. Security Council wanted a more visible role and fired Sahnoun. His successors then declared Somalia an anarchy, Aidid a bandit, and firearms the problem. The United Nations then embarked on a military occupation of Somalia and a full disarmament of its population.

The United Nations decried Somalia's lack of ability to govern itself, not mentioning that only foreign subsidy was able to keep former dictator Siad Barre in power and that foreign governments rejected the Somali majority's choice of government (Aidid's) in favor of someone who would do their bidding (Mahdi). Somalia had been capable of governing itself when foreigners did not interfere in its internal affairs.

The U.N.'s expensive campaign resulted in more violence as the Somali tribes fought to preserve their right to bear arms.

On June 5, 1993, U.N. troops attempted to shut down Aidid's radio station because it was broadcasting "propaganda" (that is, anti-U.N. messages). In a victory for free speech, Somali militiamen repelled the attack.

The Somali's successful repulse of the United Nations attack led the United States to begin an expensive, bloody, five-month manhunt for Aidid. Dozens of U.S. troops and thousands of Somalis were killed. In October, 1993, the United States ended the search after 18 U.S. soldiers were killed.

During the weeks from June 5 to October 3, 1993, U.N./U.S. forces inflicted 6,000 to 10,000 casualties on the Somali resistance, stated Eric Schmitt in the December 8, 1993 New York Times. Schmitt confirmed the account with United States military intelligence, relief workers, United Nations officials and the U.S. special envoy to Somalia. U.S. Major General Anthony Zinni estimated that two-thirds of the casualties were women and children.

Only a small fraction of the money spent by the United Nations on "relief efforts" (hundreds of millions, possibly billions of dollars) actually benefited Somalis. Most of the money was spent on the U.N./U.S. effort itself, according to the November 28, 1993 Los Angeles Times. Foreign businesspeople profited immensely from such items as fast-food sales to occupying soldiers, a $9 million sewage system in the U.N./U.S. headquarters, and helicopter flights for Western officials.

In March, 1994, United States and other Western troops withdrew from Somalia, and by March, 1995, the remaining African and Asian United Nations troops left. The News and Observer reported, "The city has been generally quieter since U.N. forces left in early March, although there is sporadic factional fighting."

In June, 1995, the United Somali Congress-Somali National Alliance (USC-SNA) called a congress at which Aidid was ousted as chairman and replaced by former comrade Osman Hassan Ali Otto, who called for a return of U.N. troops to help "rebuild" Somalia.

Aidid refused to recognize the congress, believing it to be foreign manipulated. Aidid's supporters then elected him president of Somalia.

In September, 1995, in a major military move, Aidid and 600 militiamen seized the southern Somali city of Baidoa. Some groups reported heavy fighting and much looting, while travelers from Baidoa said the takeover involved little bloodshed.

Fighting in the capital of Mogadishu erupted again in October, 1995, as Ali Mahdi's supporters fired at a banana ship to keep it from docking. Somalia's banana export industry was tied to Aidid and Mahdi had banned banana ships from Mogadishu's port.

Of particular interest in the failed U.N. occupation of Somalia is the successful repulsion of the great modern armies of the West. Somali soldiers are militiamen who are unpaid volunteers fighting not on orders, but out of desire to defend their communities.



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