by midtowng | 10/20/2008 01:19:00 AM
The disasters in the countries that were Iraq and Afghanistan are well documented. Everyone is fully aware of the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Yet the largest humanitarian crisis in the entire world is hardly even noticed by the world's news media. The topic gets ignored in political circles, both inside the beltway and outside.
It's the elephant in the living room that everyone pretends doesn't exist.

However, a few days ago, one of the largest security companies in the world acknowledged it. The company is Blackwater, and they figured out how to make a profit from the ongoing disaster.

200 years ago, everyone called terrorists by another name: pirates

- Washington Post
"Blackwater Worldwide today announced that its 183-foot ship, the MacArthur, stands ready to assist the shipping industry as it struggles with the increasing problem of piracy in [Somalia's] Gulf of Aden," the firm says in a statement. "As a company founded and run by former Navy SEALs, with a 50,000-person database of former military and law enforcement professionals, Blackwater is uniquely positioned to assist the shipping industry."

SS MacArthur

"The coalition does not have the resources to provide 24-hour protection for the vast number of merchant vessels in the region."
- Combined Maritime Forces commander, U.S. vice admiral Bill Gortney

Piracy is on the rise around the Horn of Africa and the ancient tactic of using mercenaries to fight these mercenaries is being used yet again. Blackwater didn't bother to mention that this strategy has a track record of uninterrupted failure since Roman times.
Right now there is an international fleet of warships sitting off the coast of Somalia. Yet it isn't stopping the piracy. This should sound familiar to historians, because America's attempt at stopping the Barbary Pirates in 1804 ended in a similar failure. The war only ended when we agreed to pay the pirates for the release of their hostages.

Historically the only way that piracy can be stopped is to eliminate their safe harbors. This seems especially true in Somalia, where most of the pirates were recently fishermen. In this case the only way to do that is to bring peace to Somalia, and that's the problem.
Since 2006, the policy of the Bush Administration regarding Somalia has been the exact opposite of bringing peace to Somalia. Instead, the Bush Administration has consistently backed the most ruthless, costly, and destructive policies for the suffering region. The end result has been a humanitarian crisis of biblical proportions.

"Worse than Darfur"

"May God help us cos the world won't."
- Yusaf from Somalia

In Darfur there is a billion-dollar U.N. aid operation and 10,000 workers helping the displaced.
In Somalia, and the neighboring countries, there is a near complete lack of international aid despite the needs from about 3 million starving refugees.

Seven months ago the United Nations declared the crisis in Somalia to be worse than the crisis in Darfur. Since then, the humanitarian disaster has nearly doubled in the degree of death and suffering.
"The scale and the magnitude and the speed at which the humanitarian crisis right now is deteriorating is very alarming and very profound," Holleman said. "Just from the beginning of this year, the number of people in humanitarian crisis has increased 77 percent. That is going from 1.8 million people to more than 3.2 million people.
About 6,000 people leave Somalia and travel to Kenya every day. The Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya is the largest in the world, with 250,000 now living there.
The direct cause of crisis is the ongoing conflict in Somalia between occupying Ethiopian army and the building Islamic insurgency. About ten thousand civilians have been killed in the fighting since the 2006 invasion and the Ethiopian troops have resorted to methods even worse than al-Qaeda terrorists.
NAIROBI, Kenya - Amnesty International has accused Ethiopian troops supporting Somalia’s UN-backed government of killing civilians by slitting people’s throats, gouging out eyes and gang-raping women.
The Ethiopian troops aren't the only ones committing atrocities. The government police force have killed journalists, attacked aid workers, carried out extrajudicial killings, fired into crowds at markets, and raped women.
Despite this brutality, the insurgency is gaining strength, and Ethiopia is beginning to pull its troops out of Somalia. The puppet government of Somalia is on the verge of collapse.

This may all sound very familiar and tragic to the average American. The natural assumption is that it is just another example of Africans killing Africans and America is just a bystander to this conflict.
That assumption would be wrong.

“What you are seeing is a general indifference to a disaster that we played a role in creating.”
- U.S. Representative Howard Wolpe

Following Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia, America poured weapons and military advisers into Somalia as well as tens of millions of dollars into Ethiopia's military. It is this America aid that has allowed Ethiopia's corrupt leader, Meles Zenawi, to stay in power since 1991.

American military officers are still on the ground in Somalia directing AMISOM troops (African Union Mission to Somalia), and are reported to have given orders to fire on civilians. There has also been the more widely reported bombings of militants and civlians by American bombers.

But our crimes in Somalia go far beyond just that.
Here's how George W. Bush treats refugees fleeing from the carnage wrought by his "War on Terror": he has them captured at gunpoint and "rendered" to torturers in his pay, where they are chained, blindfolded, beaten, stuffed into cages then "disappeared" into secret prisons notorious for their vile abuses. These captures of people trying to escape from the terrors of "regime change," from the ravages of foreign armies invading their homes, include women and children, as attested by the story of 17-year-old Safia Benaouda, a pregnant Swedish woman who was grabbed – by American troops – as she fled from the bloodbath following the Bush-backed Ethiopian assault on Somalia, AP reports.
At least 140 men, women and even children as young as seven months old were disappeared to secret, underground prisons. Some of them still remain there to this day.

All this makes America morally culpable in this latest destruction of Somalia, which is bad enough.
However, the Bush Administration's responsibility in causing all this suffering is much more insidious and predates the Ethiopian invasion.

The origin of this crisis can be traced to a tribal dispute over a worthless piece of scrubland on the outskirts of Mogadishu on January 13, 2006.

Making a mountain out of a molehill

Our story begins with two warlords from the Abgal sub-clan. One warlord is named Bashir Raghe. He was a waste contractor with the U.S. military forces in Mogadishu before the United States pulled out in 1994. After 9/11 he became one of America's top allies in Somalia. He was paid handsomely to capture alledged terrorist and turn them over to U.S. officials.
Raghe strode through Mogadishu wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses on his head and a pistol strapped to each hip. And in the months leading up to the fighting in Mogadishu, he was seen using crisp, new $100 bills to buy machine guns and heavily armed pickup trucks.
The rival warlord is named Abukar Omar Adan, a devoutly Islamic and heavily armed clan elder with ties to the Islamic Courts Union (now named Supreme Islamic Courts Council).
The trouble began late last year when Adan paid $30,000 for land that straddled the airport road, intending to build a development including homes and warehouses.
Fearing the loss of control over lucrative airport traffic, Raghe objected, according to Adan's brother and son. After several verbal confrontations, the two sides began fighting in the open Jan. 13, moments after the U.S. intelligence officials -- most accounts put the number at four -- had landed at Esaly.
After a six hour battle Raghe's forces had killed seven of Adan's men and captured the land and four of his gun trucks. The U.S. officials, at the airstrip just three miles away, wrongly concluded that they were under attack by Islamic terrorists and abruptly fled. Adan had no idea the Americans were nearby, but soon learned of it.
Adan travelled to Nairobi to reassure the Americans that the gunfight was about land, and to ask for his trucks back.
But over the next several weeks, in numerous discussions in person and on the phone, U.S. officials accused Abukar and his family of being terrorists, he said. "They said, 'You were ready to kill us.' . . . They said, 'Your file will be put in Washington, and you will be recorded as a terrorist group.' "
A third Somali, speaking on condition of anonymity, recounted a separate but similar conversation with a U.S. intelligence official who said of the officers at the airstrip on Jan. 13: "They were ambushed. This was a terrorist who was trying to kill American officers."
The Bush Administration couldn't let a terrorist attack go by unanswered, and so began funding regional warlords, including Raghe. These were some of the exact same warlords that killed American soldiers in 1993. Anti-Americanism, stoked by the Iraq War, intensified in Mogadishu. Warlords had been raping, robbing and killing for over a decade, and now they were being funded by the Bush Administration. Public opinion swung in favor of the islamic courts, which were originally created as a judicial system by regional businessmen, but gradually became a local police force, and even provided services such as education and health care.

On February 18, Raghe and at least six other warlords created the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT). Four of the warlords were also part of the Somali Transitional Government. American support money flooded into this group. However, the popular reaction was even more swift. Battles between homegrown Islamic militias and a hated U.S. proxy force started the very same day.
Only a few months ago, this would have been impossible for lack of public support, experts said.
But the US support for the warlord Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism -- hated by the population -- sparked a wave of anti-American sentiment that massively boosted support for the Islamists, they said.
Karin von Hippel, a former UN expert on Somalia and member of the US Center for Strategic and International Studies, says that by backing the warlords, Washington encouraged the Islamic courts to take up arms.
A month later the forces of Adan and Raghe met again. This time Adan was backed by the islamic courts, and the ending was very different. Raghe's forces were routed despite the backing of American military aid. It was the start of the blowback against Bush's Somalia policy. On May 7th an outright war began between the U.S. backed warlords and the islamic courts, and by June 5th the warlords had been driven from Mogadishu. A few weeks later Raghe and another warlord fled to a waiting American warship. The fighting had cost about 350 lives.

Peace Comes To Somalia...the wrong kind

Most people are under the impression that Somalia has been in a states of constant anarchy for 17 years now. What many do not know is that there was a 6 month long exception to that rule, and the Bush Administration was determined to end it.
“The ICU was a relatively honest administration, which ended warlord corruption and extortion. Personal safety and property were protected, ending arbitrary seizures and kidnappings by warlords and their armed thugs. The ICU is a broad multi-tendency movement that includes moderates and radical Islamists, civilian politicians and armed fighters, liberals and populists, electoralists and authoritarians. Most important, the Courts succeeded in unifying the country and creating some semblance of nationhood, overcoming clan fragmentation.”
There were 72 functioning hospitals in Mogadishu when the islamists controlled the city. Now there are only two. The Mogadishu airport and harbor were opened up to commercial use for the first time since 1991, and the price of an AK47 had fallen to less than half due to lack of demand.

However, the Bush Administration was convinced that the ICU was full of terrorists and Ethiopia, Somalia's traditional rival, helped that impression along.
The Somalia Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is largely made up of ARPCT warlords, plus a few other warlords from other regions. It had never actually been in Mogadishu until after Ethiopia had invaded.
The Bush Administration never even recognized the TFG (which was formed in neighboring Kenya) until after the ARPCT was defeated. One nickname of the TFG is "Thugs, Farce and Gangs".

On December 21, 2006, the invasion of Somalia began, and the extremely short period of relative security in Somalia ended.




Blogger AndrewMc on 10/21/2008 6:57 AM:

Two retired soldiers I know--one in for 25 years, the other for "just 10" told me that they consider Blackwater the greatest threat to American democracy and security that they can think of. Both are conservatives.