According to the British government ‘Somalia is the world’s worst failed state’ and ‘directly threatens British interests’. Muna Hassan argues why the West should keep their hands off Somalia.
In February 2012 all stops were pulled out when a conference on Somalia was held in London, hosted by David Cameron himself, where he summoned 40 countries including Kenya, Ethiopia, Turkey and the US to find political strategies and solutions to deal with what he called ‘the Somali problem’. Cameron expressed concern regarding the rise of piracy, Al-Shabaab and the potential for the East African country to become a place where ‘young British minds are poisoned by radicalism’.
Of course, Al-Shabaab, the Islamic resistance group who control most of southern Somalia and oppose any form of foreign intervention, were not invited.
Analysts believe Cameron is planning a Libya-style invasion, having gained a major confidence boost from what he considers being a successful venture in Libya and that he has developed an arrogant and unhealthy appetite to continue waging wars in Africa.
Historically, Somalia is Africa’s most homogeneous nation with a population sharing a common language, religion and ethnicity. However, Somalia - a post British colony, has never been allowed to fully de-colonise, regain its self-determination and carve out a democracy that suits its own prevailing conditions, it has been torn apart by civil unrest for 20 years and as a result hasn’t had a functioning central government during this period.
During the summer of 2011, the country was hit by the worst famine and drought in 60 years, where 29,000 children died in 90 days alone. Many believe the famine was exacerbated by the Western-led proxy wars; first in 2006, the invasion by US-backed Ethiopia to oust Al-Shabaab which saw the killings of thousands of civilians and the displacement of 60,000. The second invasion in 2008, again by Ethiopia, displaced 80,000 across the borders of Kenya into overcrowded refugee camps, where shocking abuse and human rights violations against children and women were reported.
Somalia is one of the most strategic places on earth; it lies at the tip of the Horn of Africa and north to the Gulf of Aden, a crucial part of the Suez Canal shipping route. An estimated 21,000 ships pass through the Gulf each year, carrying approximately 11% of the world's petroleum. The World Bank and a UN report rank’s Somalia as the second most important country for unexploited oil reserves in North-East Africa.
Crime was rampant under the weak leadership of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which was formed in Kenya in 2004 by US and British officials and consisted predominantly of warlords. Militia backed by the west were also at large and ruled the country with an iron fist and were finally ousted by the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). In 2006 a group of Muslim scholars and business people set up a supreme courts council to reinforce law and order after 15 years of instability.
At last came a glimpse of hope that the ICU provided a seemingly promising solution to the ongoing violence and anguish. They promoted Islamic law rather than the clan allegiance; each court would trial its own tribe, reducing chances of accusations of unfairness. For six months the people of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, not only had a taste of stability but also enjoyed a sense of much-yearned for peace.
Despite these positive changes, the ICU earned the wrath of the US, who saw it as a threat, equating it to Al-Qaeda, and quickly moved to prop up the TFG in order to lead a terror campaign to drive out the ICU.
Currently, the Islamic Court of Union is weakened after the invasions, with most of its leaders actually joining the Transitional Federal Government. In contrast, Al-Shabaab, which was the youth wing of the ICU, now stands alone in opposition to any kind of foreign invasion of Somalia. It remains a strong force, controlling most of southern Somalia, and refuses to recognise the TFG, who it sees as cronies of the West.
The US and Israel have been drone-attacking Somalia since July 2011 killing hundreds of civilians. US backed Ethiopia, African Union troops, Uganda and Burundi, Israel backed Kenya and the CIA are all operating within Somalia.
The irony of it all is these outside powers are now outraged at the current state of affairs of Somalia, labelling it a ‘failed state’ despite themselves being the very culprits that push Somalia deeper into anarchy.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Somalia was a threat to Britain’s security, stating: "It is a place from which emanates piracy” and “drug running." Given that piracy is one of the pretexts used by Andrew Mitchell to instigate this ‘intervention’’ what the minister has failed to mention to the British public, whose taxes will be funding yet another invasion on the nation, is that the roots of this so-called ‘notorious piracy' stem from British imperialist interests and meddling in the affairs of the Horn of Africa.
For years, organized western criminals have been exploiting Somalia's inability to protect its shore and have dumped, radioactive nuclear waste into the coastline, poisoning marine-life whilst devastating local communities, not to mention the theft of vast resources. There was no speaking of intervention to stop exploitative tactics then. So, who are the real pirates? Those who take arms to protect what’s rightfully theirs or those who savagely and systematically demolish a nation's infrastructure and dignity along the away? In the City of God, St. Augustine tells a story about a pirate captured by Alexander the Great, who asked the pirate how he dare molest the sea. The pirate replied: 'How you dare molest the whole world? Because I do it with a little ship only, I am called a thief; you, doing it with a great navy, are called an emperor.'
‘What we are seeing today in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia is a replay of the colonial scramble for territories and resources played out by the major imperialist powers a century ago- only now it is conducted with far more lethal weaponry. The global crisis of capitalism is producing a battle for zones of influence and repartitioning of the world’ (Trevor Rayne- Fight racism Fight imperialism)
The Hands off Somalia campaign was organised to oppose what seems to be a scramble for Somalia. The campaign aims to highlight the corporate, political interest in the country and oppose all military intervention in Somalia by the British government. HOS held a successful demonstration on the 23rd of February outside Lancaster House where the conference was held and hundreds of protesters attended to oppose the talks of western intervention. The campaign plans to organise much more and welcomes your support.
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