Somalia: Will It Become Obama’s War?

Somalia: Will It Become Obama's War?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary
by Glen Ford
"George Bush and his Ethiopian military allies have reduced Somalia to a wasteland."

Somalia's humanitarian crisis is nowhere near an end - but the cause of it might be. Ethiopia may be preparing to end its bloody occupation of its neighbor, which began with the invasion of December 2006, at the instigation of the United States. If the Ethiopians are, indeed, going, they are leaving Hell behind. Half the population has been displaced, in what the United Nations has called "the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa." The capital city, Mogadishu, once home to three million people, is empty of civilians. The puppet government installed by Ethiopia is said by the UK's Sunday Herald to "control just three small areas in Mogadishu and a few streets in Baidoa, the seat of parliament." If the Ethiopians withdraw, the so-called "transitional government" is unlikely to survive.

The United States' own Voice of America reports that all of Ethiopia's opposition parties now demand the regime bring the troops home. It is also clear that the Bush administration wants the Ethiopians to remain in Somalia, as U.S. surrogates. Their departure could lead to a quick pullout of an African Union so-called "peace-keeping" force made up mostly of Ugandans, who have acted as proxies for the United States elsewhere on the continent.

In less than two years, George Bush and his Ethiopian military allies have reduced Somalia to a wasteland. The U.S. is widely - and justifiably - despised by Somalis, who have been bombed and strafed by American airpower, and know full well that Ethiopia would not have invaded without massive U.S. urging and assistance.

"All of Ethiopia's opposition parties now demand the regime bring the troops home."

The Islamist forces that had brought a brief period of relative peace and stability to Somalia - and whom Washington claimed were linked to Al Qaida - may soon be in a position to claim military victory against the invaders and their American backers. Ethiopian politicians worry that their country's reputation in the world will suffer. Said one former Ethiopian lawmaker: "No Somali would consider Ethiopia as a savior.... They resolved to fight against us, and they are fighting, and in my opinion they are winning."

The timing seems to make it certain that Bush's proxy war against Somali society will have to be rethought by the next U.S. administration. Barack Obama has said nothing - not a word - about the suffering of the Somali people, or to indicate what his policy will be on Somalia, the northern neighbor of his father's country, Kenya. Kenya is also home to a huge ethnic Somali population, and the site of a giant refugee camp where a quarter million displaced Somalis languish.

A President Obama would have at his disposal the newly launched U.S. Africa Command, Africom, and a giant U.S. military base in Djibouti, the French neocolonial outpost on Somalia's northern border. With Ethiopia's occupation unraveling, the next American president will have to choose: Will he continue George Bush's murderous assaults on the Somali people, or allow them to rebuild their nation in ways of their own choosing.