20 years ago, the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command under George W. Bush began supporting warlords in Somalia to target and kill what the U.S. deemed to be ‘Islamists,’ escalating tensions in the area. 6 years later, the Bush administration began an undeclared war in Somalia launching airstrikes as part of the nation’s imperialist expansion efforts, popularly referred to as the “War on Terror,” starting in Mogadishu with reports claiming that the strikes eventually expanded to all parts of Somalia.
These drone and airstrikes were, and are, conducted by AFRICOM (United States Africa Command) which was established in 2007 by Bush and later expanded under Obama. Since then, scores of Somali people have been murdered by drones, cruise missile strikes, AC-130 gunships, naval bombardments and attack helicopters by both the CIA and by US Special Operations Command under AFRICOM. According to Airwars, this has resulted in a total of 249 U.S actions in Somalia since 2007 resulting in approximately 2,682 deaths of Somali people as of today. U.S. attacks in Somalia trigger a great deal of people to flee the violence, inflicting the displacement of 188,000 people in 2019 and 295,000 people in 2020. AFRICOM has, reluctantly, admitted to only 5 casualties in Somalia after denying any for so long, yet no families affected by AFRICOM have been compensated. Thousands of Somali people, many with no ties to any actors in the conflict, have been murdered and countless more have had their lives altered through injury and displacement. Reports indicate that these same folks receive death threats if they dare speak out against U.S. war crimes.
U.S. airstrikes in Somalia are hitting an all time high during the coronavirus pandemic, despite calls for armistice from many countries including U.S. allies. The Trump administration and now the Biden administration continue the mission to enact violence against Somalia’s people. Even though U.S. troops were relocated to other parts of East Africa in early January, there has been a rapid increase of U.S. airstrikes in Somalia, of which at the current rate will greatly exceed the number of airstrikes committed in prior years.
The U.S. ruling class continues to defend the existence of AFRICOM on the basis that it stems from the rise of “extremist organizations” in Africa, but the Pentagon has been in Somalia long before any such organizations existed. In 2001, the Bush administration dispatched CIA and Special Operations Command to Somalia to support warlords in the hunting down and killing of “Islamists,” as part of America’s globally violent response to 9/11. The more money and weapons the U.S. gave the warlords, the more violent they became, provoking a stronger reaction and opposition. The ICU, (Islamic Courts Union) an association consisting of 13 groups, finally came together in 2005 as a response to the warlords in order to develop a sort of government that would usher in a new state that would make attempts to throw what they deemed to be Somalia’s oppressive warlords out of the country in an attempt to strive for stability. In response, the United States funded the creation of the Warlord Alliance in 2006 to seize control of Mogadishu and challenge the influence of the ICU, but their offensive failed and the ICU was [briefly] successful. This angered the Bush administration and culminated in support for the 2006 Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, which resulted in the massacre of approximately 8,000 people. Massive war crimes were committed by Ethiopia, with the CIA on the grounds executing renditions of torture on Somali people and Special Operations forces participating via AC-130 gunships. Violence was further perpetuated as famine was another horrendous outcome of this invasion resulting in a quarter-million Somalis dying from starvation in 2010-2012 because of the chaos caused by U.S. imperialist efforts. The violent war completely disrupted the economy of the country and all of the local food distribution systems. Al-shabaab was the youngest group and had the least sphere of influence in the ICU, but once the war began, the other groups disbanded back to their local territories while al-shabaab fought the insurgency against the Ethiopian troops, temporarily driving them out. Al-shabaab resorted to begging Saudi princelings for money in 2012, after Kenyan forces, influenced by the U.S., invaded and forced al-Shabaab from their base in the port city of Kismayo. This financial assistance required al-shabaab’s allegiance to al-Qaeda, taking place 11 years after George W. Bush had started attacking Somalia days after September 11, and 6 years after the Washington backed Ethiopian war on Somalia began; thus, the U.S. war on terror in Somalia predates the existence of any “extremist” organization in Somalia, and in fact (as seen in other nations) actually commenced their inception.
The reality is, there has long been transnational interest in Africa’s natural resources. AFRICOM is ushering in another scramble for Africa, and in the case of Somalia, the oil corporations of Europe, the U.S. and Canada are engaged in the search for petroleum. Somalia’s coastline is on the Indian Ocean and is an access point to the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf of Aden, at the mouth of the Red Sea, both areas being significant geo-politically for the control of shipping lanes as it relates to energy resources and the military.
HOA PALS condemns the continued U.S. attacks in Somalia, as we strongly oppose military aggression and state sanctioned brutality enacted on the working class, poor people globally. We recognize that it is not sufficient to only call for accountability and transparency for war crimes, which is why we demand an immediate ceasefire and prompt removal of all U.S. military action in Somalia. We denounce the devastation enforced on Somalia made possible with the financial support of U.S. tax dollars. People around the world, and specifically here in the U.S. must demand the U.S. get out of Africa, and demand the shut down of AFRICOM!
Actions you can take today:
- Spread the #ShutdownAFRICOMSomalia campaign
- Register for the #ShutdownAFRICOMSomalia Webinar
- Sign up for the Black Alliance for Peace U.S Out of Africa Network Watch Bulletin
- Stay tuned for ways to monetarily support survivors of AFRICOM in Somalia by following @hoa_pals on Twitter and Instagram
- Click here for our Somalia Campaign – Social Media Toolkit