"The Somali occupation is to be transformed into a wider war."
Vowing to wipe out "terrorists" in Somalia, Condoleezza Rice last week surrounded herself with key African proxies in an effort to shore up the American-instigated Ethiopian occupation of Somalia, and to further U.S. military dominance of the Horn of Africa. The Ethiopian invasion, backed by U.S. air power, intelligence assets and close collaboration with ground forces, one year ago, faces increasing resistance by Somali nationalists from a range of political and religious persuasions. The resulting military "quagmire" has left at least 6,000 civilians dead in the capital city, Mogadishu, and displaced over a million more, half of whom face imminent death in what the United Nations calls the "worst humanitarian crisis in Africa."
But civilian suffering wasn't high on Secretary of State Rice's agenda when she met last week in Addis Abba with Ethiopia's foreign minister and Nur Hassen Hussein, prime minister of the puppet Somali "government" installed by the Ethiopian occupiers - a gaggle of warlords and supplicants that virtually all observers are convinced would "not last a day" on its own.
"Counter terrorism requires good intelligence sharing and good training of forces that can deal with bad elements," Rice told her junior partners in the bogus "war on terror" that threatens to set East Africa - and beyond - aflame. "It would have been extremely difficult to make any progress in terms of fighting extremism in Somalia without your support," replied Seyoum Mesfin, ministerial mouthpiece for Ethiopian dictator Mele Zenawi, whose forces are also waging scorched earth warfare against the ethnic Somali majority in Ethiopia's Ogaden region, and priming for renewed conflict with Eritrea, its northern neighbor.
"Washington has designated The Horn a strategically vital military and natural resource prize."
The "bad elements," "terrorists" and "extremists" whose existence serves as the cover for massive American military penetration of the Horn of Africa, are the Islamic Courts that for a brief time brought relative peace and rule of law to Somalia - stability that threatened a more than four decades-long U.S. policy of fomenting chaos in all regions of the continent in which trusted strongmen could not be imposed. Since 9/11, Washington has designated The Horn a strategically vital military and natural resource prize - a largely Muslim region easily accessible to the U.S. armadas, air fleets and armies massed in the Indian Ocean-Persian Gulf region to the east.
Through encircling alliances forged by bribery, coercion, subversion, exploitation of regional rivalries, and mutual greed, the U.S. has made proxies of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti. Sudan faces what it fears is imminent U.S.-led intervention in its western province, Darfur. The invasion of Somalia signaled that the U.S. felt confident it could mobilize surrogates and deploy its own awesome assets to "secure" an entire corner of Africa, and thereafter expand the "American sphere" to the south and west. But first, it must complete the subjugation of Somalia, where "insurgents" and "terrorists" - the identical terms used to describe resisters in Iraq - are on the offensive. And any setbacks suffered by the Ethiopian occupiers and their Somali dependents must be blamed on the sole remaining, indispensable "rogue state" in the immediate area: Eritrea.
The U.S. Juggernaut is In Place
U.S. forces in The Horn are formidable. At any given time, thousands of American troops and sailors can be found in Djibouti, a former French colony, now virtually an American protectorate, bordering northern Somalia at the juncture of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, whose population is majority ethnic Somali. U.S. units routinely rotate to Djibouti from duty in Iraq and the Persian Gulf. Kenya, on Somalia's southern border, has long been a U.S. client, and closely collaborated with the Ethiopian invasion, closing the border to fleeing Somalis seeking to join their numerous kin on the other side.
Uganda, bordering Kenya and Sudan and led by strongman Yoweri Museveni, is Washington's staunchest ally and ever-eager mercenary in Black Africa, and the shot-caller for Rwanda's military regime - its partner, along with Euro-American corporations, in the looting of Congo. Condoleezza Rice, while visiting Addis Ababa, promised Uganda $59 million for sending 1,800 "peacekeepers" to Somalia - the only African Union (AU) force in Mogadishu. "We hope that you (Uganda) will not be alone anymore," she added. Burundi - like neighboring Rwanda, dominated by a minority Tutsis military beholden to Uganda - is expected to provide a second AU contingent in Somalia, unless the situation in Mogadishu becomes untenable.
All of East Africa south to the border of Mozambique falls under the purview of the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, a wing of the U.S. Central Command (the war-wagers in Iraq): Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Yemen, the Comoros Islands, Mauritius, and Madagascar (Malagasy Republic).
Stretching across the breadth of Africa, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Sudan, is the U.S. "war on terror" apparatus dubbed the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative. Designed, like its predecessor, the Pan-Sahel Initiative, as a means of luring African military commanders into the U.S. orbit through "general-to-general" and "captain-to-captain" collaboration - and, of course, lots of U.S. equipment and training (and officer-to-officer bribery) - the Initiative coordinates U.S. military activity in Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria, and Tunisia.
"The United States Africa Command is to ‘be responsible for U.S. military operations in and military relations with 53 African nations - an area of responsibility covering all of Africa except Egypt.'"
Having successfully insinuated this massive military infrastructure on the continent, the Pentagon this year announced creation of the United States Africa Command, "to be responsible for U.S. military operations in and military relations with 53 African nations - an area of responsibility covering all of Africa except Egypt - and to be fully operational by September 2008." Africa Command is still searching for a home headquarters - Liberia and Kenya are top prospects on the betting circuit - but in truth the Americans already have many African homes from which to operate, and are waiting for some politically "acceptable" regime to make the best offer or accept the most lucrative deal.
The Europeans at the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 could not have conceived of ambitions so vast as those of 21st Century Americans. The Europeans met to carve up Africa - the Americans are planning to swallow it whole.
Same Formula as Iraq
Washington's African military offensive flies the false flag of the "war on terror," requiring that the "usual suspects" be identified and crushed as the rationale for the imperial presence. There must be a "rogue state" fomenting "terror." In the Horn of Africa, the front line of actual combat by the U.S. and its proxies, Eritrea has been chosen to fill the obligatory bill.
A largely Muslim country that won independence from Ethiopia in 1993 in a socialist- guided war of liberation, Eritrea fought another two-year border war with Ethiopia (1998-2000) before international mediators fixed the lines of demarcation. Tensions remained extremely high, and have been exacerbated by Washington's opportunistic decision to take Ethiopia's side in a dispute that the world considered settled. Eritrea now plays the role of Syria and Iran in the U.S. State Department's cookie-cutter formula for American "war on terror" aggression: the designated demon. Eritrea "actively seeks to destabilize the Horn by fueling insurgencies among his neighbors and supporting groups linked to international terrorists," said James Knight, director of the Office for East Africa, Bureau of African Affairs. Speaking at the University of San Diego, earlier this month, the suited hit-man declared that "Eritrea is increasingly authoritarian, its economy continues to worsen, and it now has established a record of interference in the affairs of its neighbors."
Sound familiar? The State Department propagandist/conspirator continued:
"Eritrea pursues expensive and dangerous adventurism in the Horn. Eritrea materially supports extremists to undermine the internationally-supported Transitional Federal Government in Somalia.... Eritrea encourages unending violence, especially in Mogadishu. Eritrea is also believed to support Ethiopian insurgents, including the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).... Our relations with Eritrea are increasingly strained by these policies."
"The cauldron in the Horn of Africa must be stoked and stirred, to facilitate deeper U.S. penetration."
Eritrea, like Iraq, poses no threat to the United States. But no matter. The cauldron in the Horn of Africa must be stoked and stirred, to facilitate deeper U.S. penetration. The Somali occupation is to be transformed into a wider war, which Washington is confident will redound to its geopolitical interests. Millions may die to prove the Americans wrong.
As we wrote in the November 28 issue of BAR: "The war will also destabilize Ethiopia, which is more than a third Muslim and home to many peoples that oppose the dictatorial regime in Addis Ababa. If the rulers of the United States were searching for a plan that would kill hundreds of thousands of Africans, they have found it. This time, however, as in Iraq, Washington has created more chaos than it can handle."
Black Caucus Impotence
The Congressional Black Caucus and American Black "leadership" in general seem singularly unfit to confront the current, and larger, looming conflagrations in The Horn. Despite the transparency of America's evil motives in the region, and direct U.S. involvement in Somali-killing - including the use of air-dropped napalm and AC130 flying gunships - the Caucus can only rouse itself to bemoan the familiar "humanitarian" tragedies created by "other nations" and peoples on the African continent. They appear collectively and constitutionally incapable of calling U.S. aggression by its name - even on the Mother Continent.
"The Caucus appears collectively and constitutionally incapable of calling U.S. aggression by its name."
The CBC, in particular, as officials of the legislative branch of the United States government, are obligated to SCREAM their horror at the imminent immolation of millions of Africans as a direct result of U.S. policy. Instead, they satisfy their "Africa concerns" quota with lamentations about Darfur - and associate their names and good offices with groups that have every intention of instigating a U.S.-led military thrust into Sudan, thus completing Washington's trans-African iron straightjacket.
The U.S. African offensive is not some future threat - it is already in motion.
* BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com