Saturday, December 23, 2006


Bushco botches another battle, aids murderer of US troops

Maybe one of our readers knows of another major national leader who managed to pit the world's strongest military against, separately, (a) a few thousand Talibanis, (b) a few tens of thousands of Iraqis, and now (c) a handful of poorly-armed Somalis, and lose all three battles. Even George Armstrong Custer won a few, for heaven's sake. From Landay and Bengali at McClatchy: Western diplomats and experts warned that U.S. policy in the Horn of Africa - intended to curb Islamic radicalism - may not only be fueling this newest conflict, but also may be making it easier for al-Qaida to gain a foothold in the strategic region. ...The outbreak of fighting has focused new attention on U.S. policy in the region, which Western diplomats and regional experts say has been riddled with inconsistencies and missteps. The experts say U.S. handling of Somalia and Ethiopia is a tale of flawed intelligence, inadequate U.S. government attention and overheated rhetoric, with a measure of domestic U.S. politics thrown in. Earlier this year, Washington provided covert aid to an alliance of secular Somali warlords in a failed bid to prevent the Islamists from seizing Mogadishu, the capital. U.S. officials confirmed to McClatchy Newspapers that one recipient of the CIA payments was a leader of a Somali militia that killed 18 U.S. troops in 1993 in fighting in Mogadishu, which was portrayed in the film "Black Hawk Down." ...The Bush administration says it's urging Ethiopia to show restraint and that it's working closely with European Union officials in trying to arrange a truce and negotiations. But Western diplomats and regional experts said the United States is widely seen as approving of Ethiopia's intervention. ...Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frasier, the chief U.S. spokeswoman on Africa, helped fuel the perception of U.S. support for Ethiopia by charging on Dec. 14 that the Union of Islamic Courts, as the Islamists call their alliance, "is now controlled by al Qaida cell individuals, East Africa al Qaida cell individuals." The Courts' top layer comprises "extremists ... terrorists," she said. Western diplomats, some U.S. intelligence officials and independent analysts dispute those allegations as exaggerated. Among the most serious U.S. missteps in the run-up to the current fighting, analysts say, was the secret CIA payments to the secular warlords whose militias had controlled Mogadishu since the withdrawal of U.N. peacekeepers in 1995. Disclosure of the payments to men widely despised for years of lawlessness helped galvanize Somalis behind the Islamists, who captured Mogadishu in June and went on to overrun most of southern Somalia. One recipient of the payments was Abdi Hasan "Qaybdid" Awale, a former top aide to Mohammad Farah Aideed, the late militia leader whose forces killed 18 U.S. troops in the Battle of Mogadishu in March 1993, said U.S. officials, who requested anonymity because the matter remains classified.
This is a case of naked unprovoked and cold-blooded international aggression against Somalia.
I dunno, Vigilante.

The attack on American troops that was memorialized in Blackhawk Down was done by Al Qaida. The US had come to Somalia as part of a peacekeeping and humanitarian mission. While its behavior was not faultless, it did prevent mass famine... for a while. The current government is elected, sort of. It's called a transitional government. It was pushed aside by US-armed warlords and then by an Islamic Council. It doesn't really have the capacity to govern.

I don't like the idea of the US arming warlords and overthrowing governments, no matter how tenuously legitimate. But Somalia, unlike Iraq, was involved in aggression against American troops and has served as an Al Qaida base.

Where we can certainly agree is that this should have gone through the UN and involved a better plan than installing thugs. Cold-blood and naked agression, yes, but not entirely unprovoked.
By the way, here's a relevant article:

Peace talks with Somalia's fundamentalist movement are no longer an option, the president of the country's Transitional Federal Government said Friday.

The President, Abdullahi Yusuf, warned that the group is allowing al-Qaeda terrorists to "set up shop" in the Horn of Africa, Associated Press reported from Baidoa.

"This is a new chapter and part of the terror group's plan to wage wars" President Abdullahi told The Associated Press.

"The fighting can happen at any time now," Abdullahi said, adding that peace talks were impossible now that the terrorists' leaders have declared war on his government.

The sides have held several rounds of talks in Khartoum, Sudan, but have failed to produce any lasting effect, according to the report.

"They are the ones who effectively closed the door to peace talks and they are the ones who are waging the war," Abdullahi said of the Fundamentalists leadership, noting that his administration would not attack first.

"We are not under the illusion that peace is possible," the report quoted Abdullahi as saying.

The president said his government was the only legitimate authority in Somalia. "It is totally misguided not to accept the government," he said, adding: "The alternative is chaos."

Somalia has not had an effective government since warlords overthrew Dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, plunging the country into anarchy. The government was formed in 2004 with the help of the United Nations.

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