The recent devastating car bombing in Mogadishu has been blamed by Somali officials on the terrorist group al-Shabab. But the violence (and famine) that have beset Somalia have deeper roots — decades of imperialism and intervention, and use of Somalia as a staging grounds for the “war on terror.”
MOGADISHU, SOMALIA — In the Somali capital of Mogadishu, nearly 400 were killed, hundreds more were injured, and dozens are still missing after a car bomb was detonated at a busy intersection. According to a Somali official, the original target was a newly erected Turkish military base, the largest of its kind, and the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency believes that the perpetrators were members of the terrorist group al-Shabab.
Somalia is now struggling to deal with the aftermath of an attack that is not the first of its kind, on top of living with the impact of an ongoing famine. But the start of this nightmare in Somalia begins and continues with imperialism.
In 1992, with Operation Restore Hope, the U.S. intervened militarily in Somalia under the guise of “humanitarian relief” — and this came after gaining access to the country’s oil fields, thanks to the Carter administration. In 1993 The New York Times reported that there were some 10,000 Somali casualties in the span of four months, two-thirds of them women and children.
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As interventionism in Somalia surged, stories of torture and other forms of abuse began to appear involving foreign soldiers in the country. In 1994 Canadian troops were involved in graphic violence against Somali civilians, and pictures were released showing the abuse of a teenager who was tortured until he died. In 1997 Italy confirmed that its soldiers brutally tortured Somali men, women and children, but senior officials were absolved.
In recent years the U.S. has expanded its war on Somalia, thanks to a drone program that was revitalized under Obama. All of this has resulted in the deaths of hundreds. These attacks, which the U.S. argues are a necessary part of the wider “War on Terror,” have further destabilized Somalia, and have resulted in nothing beyond utter devastation. There has been a great expenditure on weaponry and troop deployments, all devoted to the containment of a group that’s estimated to have fewer than 10,000 members.
The Trump administration has sent more U.S. troops to Somalia to “advise and assist,” though they are very much armed and able to engage in combat. The violence that is forced upon the people of Somalia will continue, not only because of the actions of al-Shabab but owing also to the role of the U.S. and allies in weakening the country, and bringing about even more bloodshed.
Top photo | Somalis remove the body of a man killed in Saturday’s blast, in Mogadishu, Somalia Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. (AP/Farah Abdi Warsameh)