In Somalia, a reckless U.S. proxy
by Salim Lone, Tribune Media Services
Undeterred by the horrors and setbacks
in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, the Bush administration has
opened another battlefront in the Muslim world. With full U.S.
backing and military training, at least 15,000 Ethiopian troops
have entered Somalia in an illegal war of aggression against the
Union of Islamic Courts, which controls almost the entire south
of the country.
As with Iraq in 2003, the United States
has cast this as a war to curtail terrorism, but its real goal
is to obtain a direct foothold in a highly strategic region by
establishing a client regime there. The Horn of Africa is newly
oil-rich, and lies just miles from Saudi Arabia, overlooking the
daily passage of large numbers of oil tankers and warships through
the Red Sea. General John Abizaid, the current U.S. military chief
of the Iraq war, was in Ethiopia this month, and President Hu
Jintao of China visited Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia earlier this
year to pursue oil and trade agreements.
The U.S. instigation of war between Ethiopia
and Somalia, two of world's poorest countries already struggling
with massive humanitarian disasters, is reckless in the extreme.
Unlike in the run-up to Iraq, independent experts, including from
the European Union, were united in warning that this war could
destabilize the whole region even if America succeeds in its goal
of toppling the Islamic Courts.
An insurgency by Somalis, millions of
whom live in Kenya and Ethiopia, will surely ensue, and attract
thousands of new anti-U.S. militants and terrorists.
With so much of the world convulsed by
crisis, little attention has been paid to this unfolding disaster
in the Horn. The UN Security Council, however, did take up the
issue, and in another craven act which will further cement its
reputation as an anti-Muslim body, bowed to American and British
pressure to authorize a regional peacekeeping force to enter Somalia
to protect the transitional government, which is fighting the
The new UN resolution states that the
world body acted to "restore peace and stability." But
as all major international news organizations have reported, this
year Somalia finally experienced its first respite from 16 years
of utter lawlessness and terror at the hands of the marauding
warlords who drove out UN peacekeepers in 1993, when 18 American
soldiers were killed.
Since 1993, there had been no Security
Council interest in sending peacekeepers to Somalia, but as peace
and order took hold, a multilateral force was suddenly deemed
necessary - because it was the Islamic Courts Union that had brought
about this stability. Astonishingly, the Islamists had succeeded
in defeating the warlords primarily through rallying people to
their side by creating law and order through the application of
Shariah law, which Somalis universally practice.
The transitional government, on the other
hand, is dominated by the warlords and terrorists who drove out
American forces in 1993. Organized in Kenya by U.S. regional allies,
it is so completely devoid of internal support that it has turned
to Somalia's arch- enemy, Ethiopia, for assistance.
If this war continues, it will affect
the whole region, do serious harm to U.S. interests and threaten
Kenya, the only island of stability in this corner of Africa.
Ethiopia is at even greater risk, as a
dictatorship with little popular support and beset also by two
large internal revolts, by the Ogadenis and Oromos. It is also
mired in a conflict with Eritrea, which has denied it secure access
The best antidote to terrorism in Somalia
is stability, which the Islamic Courts have provided. The Islamists
have strong public support, which has grown in the face of U.S.
and Ethiopian interventions. As in other Muslim-Western conflicts,
the world needs to engage with the Islamists to secure peace.
Salim Lone, who was the spokesman for
the UN mission in Iraq in 2003, is a columnist for The Daily Nation
in Kenya. This Global Viewpoint article was distributed by Tribune