by Abdirizak Omar Mohamed
Thursday, June 14, 2007
As we all know Somalia had entered into a dark era when Ethiopian troops invaded the country on December 25, 2006 and marched into our capital city of Mogadishu- the Nation’s icon and pride. In a nutshell, subsequent to their invasion Ethiopian troops committed atrocities against innocent Somalis including rape and through the end of April, 2007 bombarded the city of Mogadishu killing thousands of innocent civilians and displacing close to a half a million and destroying the infrastructure of the country. This invasion was designed, planned and supported financially and logistically by the USA
At this critical moment in our history, an overwhelming majority of Somalis in the country and abroad were united by this illegal Ethiopian occupation and the carnage and destruction they caused to the population and the country, there were rallies and protests against this occupation in general and America’s misinformed policies in the horn in particular. It is regrettable, that a number of Somalis were celebrating for the Ethiopian invasion, here in Toronto, London and Washington.
While majority of the proponents of the Ethiopian invasion are ill-informed about world politics and the hegemonic desire of the US as well as the ugly ramification of globalization advocated by the Bush administration and its neocons, there are others who are well versed on these issues and yet when you engage with them in a political discourse mumble with ambiguous vindication for Ethiopian occupation rather than real argument. Some would argue naively that we Somalis have failed to reconcile for the past 16 years and that Ethiopia is our savior, in more than few instance I was told the Ethiopians and its TFG stooges are fighting against Al-qaeda in Somalia. What is astounding is the fact that these individuals claim to be activists and community leaders who advocate social justice for the Somali Community and understand these issues from a social justice stand point. This is a sheer intellectual dishonest or utter ignorance as occupation, injustice and oppression is wrong every where, and hence their arguments with respect to fighting insurgents and presence of al-qaeda as well as Ethiopia being a savior of the Somali sovereignty must be put to the test in this short essay.
The Fallacy of Fighting Al-Qaida insurgents in Somalia
The myth that Ethiopians and United States are fighting Al qaeda insurgents was a well orchestrated plan and a pretext to invade Somalia, it is important to put the Al-Qaeda issue into a historical context and how this evolving “war on terror” is linked to claims of Al-qaeda presence in Somalia. It is simply amazing how many times the blatantly bogus “al-Qaeda” has been used as an utter justification to unleash violence against largely innocent Muslims. Notwithstanding, the warlords in Mogadishu used the Al-Qaeda card to promote their personal interest and score points with their adversaries and commit human rights violations against women and children.
In post 9/11, the bush administration used the attack on world trade center as a pretext to put into practice the preemptive strike policy that formed a major part of the neocon manifesto, this allowed the US to attack Afghanistan and crown one of its stooges as the head of the state, more than six years later Americans are still there, no real reconstruction has taken place, the opium trade has more than doubled since the Taliban were defeated and driven out.
Moreover, the Neocon’s extremely alarmist White Paper and the Downing Street memo both lacked the caveats and vividly demonstrated Bush’s intent on invading Iraq. It also demonstrates that neocons cherry-picked false Intelligence and convinced the UN that indeed Sadam regime possessed weapons of mass destruction and this was used as pretext for the Iraq war. After the Iraq invasion and after thousands of Iraqi and American casualties it became obvious that Sadam did not posses weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that this is a part of the escalation of the wider war of aggression planned and executed by the neoconservatives who published their Project for the new American century before they came to power; the neocon manifest became the policy paper adopted by the Bush administration and its central thesis is that in order for the US to achieve its empire ambition, it must orchestrate a plan that would allow the US to be in a position of global dominance, and one strategy was the use of its military power – a unilateral preemptive strike strategy.
Of course, this is little more than a superficial and threadbare excuse to kill Muslims, as neocons are big on slaughtering large numbers of them on ice-thin pretext, just as the recently air bombing of innocent civilians in Somalia demonstrate, and yet again an ice-thin pretext of pure lies and false intelligence reports were used to justify Ethiopian invasion. Now, after thousands of innocent civilians were killed in Mogadishu, the Washington examiner reported Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda has failed for more than a decade to establish an operational base in Somalia due to the country’s austere environment and inhospitable clans, a new U.S. military report says. Fears that Somalia, on the Horn of Africa and accessible by land and sea, is ripe to become an al Qaeda hub have so far failed to materialize the report states.
Ethiopia a savior or a peace spoiler
It is obvious that Ethiopia played an outside spoiler in the past 14 years for any Somali reconciliation and was catalyst responsible for the Embagathy reconciliation process, and succeeded in forming a government that takes orders from Addis Ababa. In this context, it is important to examine Ethiopia’s geopolitical interest.
First and foremost Ethiopia and Somalia had a century old contested border, in which two wars were fought and that has created deep animosity between the two countries. From a logical point of view, it is obvious that a peaceful and democratic Somalia would once again bring forth the Somali West Territory issue into any future discussion between the two countries, the alternative for Ethiopia is to prolong the conflict by forming and arming loyal clienteles, clienteles that Ethiopia has control over, and this has worked in the interest of Ethiopia as long as these warlords were capable of inflicting hardships on the population. Moreover, due to the nature of the clan structure, Ethiopia had created tribal warlords in every part of the country, and this technique of factionalization and fiefdoms protracted the conflict.
In the aftermath of the civil-war, there were many reconciliation conferences held outside Somalia, there was the peace conference hosted by Egypt, followed by Ethiopia and Djibouti. In 2001, the ARTA conference was hosted by Djibouti. Regrettably, Ethiopia opposed all these conferences and acted as an outside spoiler, when it called a parallel conference in Ethiopia to form the SRRC in opposition to the TNG. Moreover, it is well documented that even after the TFG was formed in Kenya, Ethiopia continued to arm its client faction leaders and kept the country chaos for the next two years. Moreover, it is also an open secret that Ethiopia expresses privately in the diplomatic circles that the 1977 Ogaden war still haunts every Ethiopian and doesn’t want to see Somalia stand on its feet as that will not serve its own interest. All these factual evidence point to one thing and only one thing Ethiopia has not in the past and is not in the immediate future interested in to see Somalia stand on its own feet and claim its role in the international arena. In fact, during the Embagathi peace process many faction leaders were wary about Ethiopia. For instances, by observing at the political context in which the conference was convened, it is obvious that the conflicting parties did not purely derive the peace process, but the peace process was initiated and convened by the regional organizations of Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), after they were pressured by Ethiopia and its client warlords namely the SRRC group led by Abdullahi Yusuf and other faction leaders
Similarly, if one examines the Ethiopia/Eritrea conflict in the context of Ethiopia’s geopolitical interest it becomes obvious that Ethiopia views Somalia a threat to its interest as Somalia is geographically positioned a strategic location that could have a far reaching influence and control on the flow of goods from and to Ethiopia.
By analyzing the Ethiopia/ Eritrea conflict we can draw some parallels, which offer an insight to the aggressive behaviour of Ethiopia towards its neighbours; it is simply put serving its geopolitical interest of the region by any means possible. To give a historical background about the Ethiopia/Eritrea conflict. When the former colonial ruler, Italy left Eritrea in 1952 Ethiopia annexed it in 1962 and had occupied since then until 1995, the major reason for the recent conflict is the fact that Ethiopia is landlocked and no longer has a border along the Red Sea and therefore relies on going through other countries such as Eritrea in order to ship and trade goods along that line. After Eritrean secession from Ethiopia, this consequently resulted in Ethiopia entering a bilateral agreement with Eritrea to allow it the use of Asmara port, while Eritrea continues using Ethiopian currency, nevertheless due to border dispute between the two countries, Ethiopia was once again without a port, but it knew a window of opportunity existed in Somalia, and ever since played an outside spoiler to the Somali conflict by creating corrupt regional elders and fiefdoms who were serving its interest, and its clientele included Mr. Yusuf and Mr. Gedi who take their orders from an Ethiopian General in Mogadishu who runs his daily operations from the SOMALI DEFENSE HEADQUARTER, a symbol of our sovereignty, yet some Somali intellectuals are drumming up for the Ethiopian occupation, as the Chinese saying about one of the three curses goes “May you live in interesting times”. Indeed a curse has befallen on our people and nation while the professed Ethiopian dream is about to manifest into reality.
Abdirizak O. Mohamed
Is an independent researcher who holds a Master’s Degree in Post-Conflict Development from York University, Toronto and can be reached at E:Mail: [email protected]