Confronting the playground bully
By Emdad Rahman
January 12th, 2007
In bombing Somalia, America has let its mask slip – and all those with a conscience must now stand up and be counted.
Once upon a time, George Bush said: “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.” Somalia was probably the last place he had in mind when he made this announcement.
It was only a matter of time before the mask slipped and the US played its hand. Only a matter of time before the TPLF refused to abide by the status quo and carry out deeds hatched and plotted in Washington.
The president of Somalia, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, made his loyalty clear by laying his cards face up on his marble table. A spokesman said the air strike was based on “credible intelligence”, which in human speak means, was flawed beyond measure and obtained through nefarious means. Not seeming to care whether there have been civilian fatalities, Mr Ahmed spoke of his support of the American AC 130 bombing from his presidential palace in Mogadishu, claiming “America has the right to hunt down and air bombard wherever those who were responsible for bombing its embassies in East Africa are staying or hiding.”
And of those who are dead? Have they been identified as an al-Qaida cell? Rest assured that this is a message, coming through loud and clear: do as we say, not as we do. Anyone guilty of not toeing the line will be dealt with precisely and without discrimination. And that is what the US has done. The employment of air strikes by American forces that are employed to kill or maim hundreds has again signalled a complete lack of value for human life. And above all, has anybody mentioned that another fantastic recruiting ground has just been created, courtesy of Washington? Unless matters cease, this will most certainly turn into another Iraq.
Al Mariam, a native of Ethiopia, and a professor in the department of political science at California State University, San Bernardino, described the current invasion of Somalia by troops loyal to Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi, as that of the “fireman who deliberately sets a house on fire and calls the fire department to come and put it out. As the firemen arrive, he is heroically fighting the blaze, earning the gratitude and admiration of his colleagues.”
Zenawi is the fireman described by Mariam. He invented a “jihadi” bogeyman in Somalia and overstated a so-called “Islamist threat”. This in turn led to panic among the Bush camp, which left Zenawi as the knight in shining armour, the foremost ally of the US in the battle against terror. Now he hopes to present himself as America’s number one ally in fighting terrorism in the region.
Zenawi has used the “jihadi” threat to cover up deficiencies in his gross violations of human rights in Ethiopia, which has seen victorious opposition leaders and activists imprisoned. In this he has been openly supported by a Bush administration hell-bent on denying a foothold to al-Qaida.
Yemen has warned of many fatalities as escalating Somali migrants travel to Sanaa. Of the 84,000 refugees of Somali origin registered in Yemen, 23,000 arrived in the country in 2006; more than 360 died entering the country, and 300 are missing at sea.
The strikes by the US will further strengthen the widely held notion of dubious American interests in the Horn of Africa. The latest developments are simply an extension of the aptly named “war on terror”, a cacophony of military action that has swept through Afghanistan, Iraq and now Somalia.
The idea that these strikes are meant to root out fundamentalists is a flimsy and laughable one. Throughout all this, the administration of George Bush has firmly established itself as the greatest single threat to world peace. The Bush administration in its desperation has created unprecedented resistance to American foreign policy around the world. Most people view the US regime as the greatest threat to world peace.
Once upon a time, George Bush said: “You are either with us or against us.” We are reaching a situation where individuals will have to make wise and informed choices. Do you join the playground bully, stay silent or make a stand? A step in the wrong direction could prove to be very costly.
It is time for all those with conscience to stand up and be counted.