While receiving much less publicity and scrutiny than the interference and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the interference in the affairs of Somalia has a similar history and the same motive – oil and profits.
The war currently raging in Somalia is not simply one of one African peoples against another, Ethiopians against Somalis. When Ethiopia invaded Somalia on December 28, 2006, it was the interest of transnational companies represented by the United States government who were calling the shots.
In the 1980s nearly two-thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American oil giants Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips by the pro-American President Mohamed Siad Barre. In 1991, Siad Barre was overthrown and the country was left without a central government and in certain disorder. The all but Conoco left the country at that point, although many of those companies had eyes towards returning.
In 1993, President Bill Clinton authorized a 30,000 troop invasion into Somalia, but fled not long after the ‘Black Hawk Down’ incident left eighteen Americans dead at the hands of local Somali forces. At this time, Canada also had directly military presence as ‘Peacekeeper’s in Somalia, culminating in the highly publicized murder and torture of a Somali male by Canadian soldiers who were permitted into the military despite their obvious white supremacists tendencies such as having swastika tattoos.
Somalia remained without a central government and in a state of instability until 2006 when a grass-roots Islamic movement consolidated into the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) took over two-thirds of Somalia, including Mogadishu. Within 6 months the United States conspired with its ally, Ethiopian dictator President Meles Zinawi, to overthrow the local government and restore a foreign-backed regime.
On the 4th of December 2006, a US military official met with the Ethiopian president to decide the fate of Somalia. Two days later the United Nations recognized the illegitimate ‘transitional government’ in exile in its attempt to undermine international recognition for the government of the UIC in Somalia. Within days Ethiopia began attacks within Somali against the UIC, eventually leading to a full-scale invasion of some 15,000 troops bound for Mogadishu.
By January 8, the United States was also fully engaging in the illegal war, launching air strikes killing many people in the various parts of the country. All told, many thousands of Somalis have died at the hands of the Ethiopian, American, and transitional government forces since December.
In April 2007 alone, as many as 2000 Somalis were killed by brutal military attacks and The United Nations Human Rights Commission – an arm of the same international body which helped orchestrate the current chaos in Somalia – has recently reported that more than 400,000 people have been internally displaced. Indeed, Somalia’s humanitarian crisis on a similar scale as Iraq today, and all within a matter of a few months.
So why are Western countries and their companies interested in Somalia? Somalia is not only a potential source of hydrocarbons (oil, natural gas), but the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia is a vital shipping route for Saudi oil. Canada was one of a number of nations and oil companies who participated in a World Bank/UN Development Programme study of the petroleum potential of the area.
Given this history and as a partner in the brutal campaign to secure resources and profit from working people across the World (ie. Afghanistan, Haiti) it’s no surprise that Canada has, through its support for the illegitimate government installed by the US-backed Ethiopian government once again brought instability and violence to the Somali people.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter McKay safely expressed his approval for the United Nations resolutions which were designed to only strengthen the power of foreign forces in Somalia. More recently, Liberal Members of Parliament in Toronto including Judy Sgro have been canvassing support for the Ethiopian-backed government.
Working people in Toronto, not only those of Somali descent need to speak out against the Government of Canada’s role in supporting and carrying out oppression and bloodshed to fuel the pockets of the wealthy. Its our young people that they send to kill and die, and its our money that they use to fund their projects.