Inside Africa’s Guantánamo – Salim Lone

April 28th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

The only way the US can prop up its client regime in Somalia is through lawlessness and slaughter. (more…)

The only way the US can prop up its client regime in Somalia is through lawlessness and slaughter.

This is the most lawless war of our generation. All wars of aggression lack legitimacy, but no conflict in recent memory has witnessed such mounting layers of illegality as the current one in Somalia. Violations of the UN charter and of international humanitarian law are regrettably commonplace in our age, and they abound in the carnage that the world is allowing to unfold in Mogadishu, but this war has in addition explicitly violated two UN security council resolutions. To complete the picture, one of these resolutions contravenes the charter itself. The complete impunity with which Ethiopia and the transitional Somali government have been allowed to violate these resolutions explains the ruthlessness of the military assaults that have been under way for six weeks now. The details of the atrocities being committed were formally acknowledged by a western government for the first time when Germany, which holds the current EU presidency, had its ambassador to Somalia, Walter Lindner, write a tough letter – made public on Wednesday – to Somalia’s president, Abdullahi Yusuf.

The letter condemned the indiscriminate use of air strikes and heavy artillery in Mogadishu’s densely populated areas, the raping of women, the deliberate blocking of urgently needed food and humanitarian supplies, and the bombing of hospitals. This is a relentless drive to terrify and intimidate civilians belonging to clans from whose ranks fighters are challenging the occupation.

There was a time when security council resolutions were hallowed in most of the world, as for example resolution 242 demanding the return of occupied Palestine territory in exchange for peace. But in our new world order, the powerful decide which UN resolutions are passed, and whether they need to be honoured. So the United States, which was violating the UN arms embargo on Somalia, rushed through another resolution in December that it thought would better serve US goals – and then proceeded to violate that one as well.

The new resolution forbade neighbouring countries from being part of the regional peacekeeping force the security council authorised for Somalia; but Ethiopia went much further and unilaterally invaded, with the covert assistance of the US – which also joined the war by bombing Somalia.

This December resolution actually contravened the charter itself, because it made the security council the aggressor and turned a clearly peaceful situation into war. The resolution linked the Islamic Courts government to international terrorism and mandated peacekeeping force, on the basis of chapter VII of the UN charter, to address the “threat to international peace and security” that Somalia posed – when every independent account, including Chatham House’s on Wednesday, indicated that the country was experiencing its first peace and security since 1991.

The resolution paved the way for the Ethiopian invasion that has led to the bitter conflict that many independent analysts, including those at a meeting in Addis Ababa organised by Ethiopia’s Inter-Africa Group, had warned would be the inevitable result. A government imposed through force by arch enemy Ethiopia was never going to hold sway.

The long silence and the refusal even now to announce measures that might arrest this slaughter mark the lowest point in the big powers’ abdication of the “Responsibility to Protect” mandate – adopted, with British leadership, at a summit-level meeting of the security council two years ago. The world’s most impoverished people are now being ripped to shreds with no effort whatsoever to get the perpetrators to desist.

A huge campaign must be launched to press western governments to end this slaughter, which is almost entirely the work of those in control of the country. The European Union warned a month ago that war crimes might have been committed in an assault on the capital last month – in which the EU could be complicit because of its large-scale support for those accused of the crimes. Human Rights Watch has documented how Kenya and Ethiopia had turned this region into Africa’s own version of Guantánamo Bay, replete with kidnappings, extraordinary renditions, secret prisons and large numbers of “disappeared”: a project that carries the Made in America label. Allowing free rein to such comprehensive lawlessness is a stain on all those who might have, at a minimum, curtailed it.

Work must begin to derail the astounding proposal from the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, which is to be discussed by the security council in mid-June. He would like to mount a UN-sanctioned “coalition of the willing” to enforce peace and restore order in Somalia – in other words, the UN would help Ethiopia and the United States achieve what their own illegal military interventions have failed to accomplish: the entrenchment of a client regime that lacks any popular support. Such an operation is unlikely to succeed in any event, but it could further threaten the turbulent Horn of Africa, which is already teetering on the brink of chaos.

The Somali government is busy crying “al-Qaida” at every turn and offering lucrative deals to oil companies, in a bid to entice greater western support. But this war was lost long ago. In turning to the arch enemy Ethiopia, the transitional government’s fate was sealed: the nation will not abide an Ethiopian-US occupation.

Only a political solution will resolve this crisis. Africa must step up to the plate and show spine and leadership in a drive to protect its civilians, and work with Europe and the UN to convince the US to swiftly terminate its latest destabilising adventure.

· Salim Lone, who was the spokesman for the UN mission in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, is a columnist for the Daily Nation in Kenya

The Guardian.

  1. Mesfin
    | #1

    It is so true that only a political solution will resolve this Somalia crisis. The problem is Weyannes don’t even comprehend what is a political solution means. They just don’t get it. That is why we have political instability in Ethiopia as well. With there incapability to engage in a civil dialog, it is obvious that Weyannes have no bright future.

  2. Debesay
    | #2

    Dear Guys this is the shame of our Leaders i got it from the web

    Agroup of Ethiopian delegates led by Ambassador Teshome Toga GoTo Indonesia. According to Our correspondent from Jakarta the group discuss with the national bank officers regarding the Freezed Accounts of EPRDF officials including PM Meles , Ato Bereket simon and First Lady Azeb Mesfen.According to sources from the bank the Bank forced to freeze the accounts because of the customers could’t show evidences for their huge Deposit which increase in a rate which is very strangein the history of the bank .The request of the bank to the customers to confirm their source is reported by AP.The delegates met and held discussions with the bank secretary, Assistant Secretary customers affairs on various issues.

  3. nahomi
    | #3

    weyanne is ethiopian okyyyi you have no aidi about this just keep quit ok

    weyannes future and ethiopian future is bright than you now
    god plce ethiopian

    but you are not an ethiopian okyyyi

  4. | #4

    you better take part on topics you understand
    and speak in a language you can express your views better.Blind loyalty = slavery.

  5. Reppi
    | #5


    You can not be a woyane and an Ethiopian at the same time.
    Even you do not believe that a woyane could be Ethiopian.

  6. | #6


  7. | #7

    zenawi is engaged in a widespread
    repression and genocide on the people of Ethiopia and somalia. You (zenawi) have to get a lesson from saddam hussien how he finished his life term.
    Your ending will be much severe than other dictators and you will get punishement in the near future.
    Zenawi your days are numbered and justice will be justified.

  8. Tariku
    | #8


    You know what people are tired of? the type of tell tell stories you just posted about woyane officials private bank deals, where is the proof??? if you can’t support your post with a convincing evidence then it is nothing but ALUBALTA.

    Don’t be a character assasin, or an echo.

  9. Tariku
    | #9


    Can you be OLF of ONLF and be Ethiopian at the same time? Who is the giver and taker of the Ethiopian citizenship??? Non other than God, instead of labeling anybody who opposes your view non Ethiopian, try to engage in a dialog because wheter you like it or not Woyane is a huge force and Ethiopian at the same time, it is not as weak and tyranical as you think it is.

    The first rule when you engage your opponent is to never under estimate him, it takes more than just cyber name callings and FUKERA.
    Just look at what happened to CUD politicaly, it is now directly assosiated with ONLF the gourp that attacked Ethiopia and they can’t deny this because their membership of AFD is well documented.

    Opposing and Hating are two different things.

  10. Reppi
    | #10


    First I want to make clear to you:

    Opposition is to Opponents.
    Distruction is to Enemies.

    Woyane has fought against Ethiopia to liberate Eritria,woyane did not fight for the people of Tigre.
    Woyane has made Ethiopia land locked.
    Woyanne is killing somalis and having ethiopians killed by the Order of the west.
    This by itself says it all.
    Working against Ethiopia is what makes woyanes bandas,therfore enemies of Ethiopia.
    BTW being an Ethiopian is a lot different than being a citizen of Ethiopia.One can become a citizen of any nation, but one can have only one nationality.
    As for OLF and ONLF, you would have to ask them what nation they belong to yourself.
    ONLF did not attack Ethiopia, it attacked the woyane regime.
    Only woyanne is worried about AFD and EPPF.

    If you are a woyane, nobody hates, we just want to get rid of you.

    Addressing Ethiopians and addressing western donor nations are 2 different things.Next time you write keep it in mind.

  11. fish
    | #11

    Hellow mr.Tariku: It seems you are telling us there is nothing that we can do about woyane because woyane is a huge force and they barbaric killer. they also acused the opositins for their own incomptence. You also said they are ethiopian and they are not tyranic as they are percived by ethiopians. If you are realy writing with clear mind and you are not serving some ones idea. How can you see them as an ethiopian when they are making the country land locked with out publicly given mandet? riging the election result and killing innocent childrens. Fighting with Eritrea after they separated them with out proper land demarcation and leagal process. What do you think other than tyrani 95% of a single minirity and uneducated tribe hold all the civil government,all diplomatic and military postion. How do you justify a group ( TPLF)whose doctrine and goal is for the development of Tgree and only tigray. How could they have an interest in the national development. I belive this things are not new for you but may be you don’t want to talk about it. I am waiting your justification for the points i have mentioned above.


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