Sunday, September 27, 2009

Somalia Since "Black Hawk Down"

Whatever agenda the US and UN had about sending 28 000 blue helmet soldiers to Somalia as part of a

broad UN Operation in 1992, many Somalis including myself, who were at the time in Mogadishu, believed that the step taken was of an act of good faith as corridors of peace have been opened to feed hundreds of thousands of Somali children who were at the verge of extinction due to starvation.

But things went wrong when the objectives of this noble mission have been switched from humanitarian to an outright military confrontation with Somali warlords. Worse still, the mission targeted only one warlord, General Aideed, whom the UN/US forces considered as the most notorious faction leader in the areas of their responsibility. And one more mistake was the lack of coordination of the UN/US forces which had led to the demise of the billion dollar mission of two years.

Needless to go back to the fate of the two year UN intervention in Somalia and its disgraceful exit following the 1993 clash between Somali militia and American Rangers. I think I should not go into the details of that military engagement as everybody is satiated with all information concerning the October 3 firefight. My point is to focus on how the present situation has evolved since "Black Hawk Down".


"After Black Hawk Down" Somalia has been put ín the list of Neglected States, staging a campaign of isolation against the war-torn nation by total evacuation of all forces and closing almost all humanitarian agencies thereby leaving the people in the mercy of warlords. The general public has been paying the price of this cruel punishment in the form of: 
Death, hunger, disease, starvation 
Daily extortion by militia loyal to warlords,

And in addition to that there were:

Deepening economic crisis, 
Emergence of merchants of death 
Deforestation at an alarming scale, 
Dumping of nuclear and industrial wastes in the Somali seas, 
Closure of main trade and travel facilities such as the seaport and airport, 
Multiplication of warlords 
Rise of Islamic courts,

Further fragmentation of the country into pieces of tribal lands as in the case of Puntland (which had assisted Somali-land to stray further away from the fold or as others say "undermined Somaliland's existence as a republic unworthy of international recognition),

Spread of the self-rule virus: 
JubbaLand, Banadirland etc. 
Dislocation and displacement, 
Painful sea tragedies, 
Lucrative smuggling business, 
Loss of hope, 
High rate of inflation, 
Printing of illegal money 
Arms trade 
Breakdown of social order, 
ethics, culture and even religion 
as many groups with varying interpretation of Islam became visible in the Somali political scene, some of them being business-oriented moderates while others are hardliners belonging to the extremist wahaabi sect often accused of having links with Al-Qaida,

Killing and kidnapping of prominent journalists, peace and human rights activists, 
Worst humanitarian tragedy ever, 
Porous borders with no defense army to guard them 
Failed reconciliation efforts 
Failed governments 
Failed State leading Somalia to become a potential candidate for terrorist safe haven

When Has Alqaeda found a foothold in Somalia?

The Alqaeda ball started rolling to Somalia when the bombing of US embassies in Nairobi and Darussalam took place, Somalia has sunk deeper into the pits of isolation. It was accused of giving shelter to three of those who masterminded the bombings. The US which almost seemed to have closed the Somali chapter over the years preceding the embassy tragedy has shown a renewed interest in Somalia. Its intervention first started in a small-scale intelligence gathering surveillance on land, sea and air but later on graduated to a proxy war using warlords as their agents on the ground to hunt down foreign members of al-Qaeda, who supposedly have slipped into Somalia after the explosions.

But many believed that America's search for al-Qaeda members in Somalia was no different than the WMD in Iraq which was used as a pretext to invade a sovereign nation. But the US had proven facts that the terrorists were hiding inside Somalia though the world remained very skeptical of their claims. There was no evidence of Somali Islamists giving protection to terrorists until recently when Black Hawk returned to Somalia with a well planned attack and killed a Kenyan born Arab by the name of Salah Nabhan along with six others. That was the most precise attack ever carried out by American warplance since they started hunting down Alqaeda elements in Somalia. Previously they killed innocent people and sometimes hit animals in their shed.

The killing of Saleh Nabhan has shocked the Somali islamists who found the news as a harsh blow to their existence as insurgents. They have lost a key figure who may have been a major link between them and Al-Qaida in terms of communication and finance. But the killing sparked off a new wave of terror carried out by suicide bombers against the African Union forces in Mogadishu. In a one suicide attack the insurgents killed more than twenty African Soldiers at their base including the vice Commandant of the force. It is believed that those who carried out the bombings have come from America, especially Minnesota

In conclusion I would say that it was too early in 1993 to let Black Hawk go to war with the Somali militia as there were many other options ( much safer and more productive) to deal with the situation than to start shooting. And now I would say it seems too late for Black Hawk to come back because the suicide bombers are being manufactured in factories located inside America and the turnover is expected to double owing to the powerful brainwash machine as well as the extensive media coverage these human bombers are receiving. This is very serious and can lure more young jihadists into the web of terror explosions. If situation is not reversed, We have little hope to see Somali back into our hands anytime soon.

Abdi-Noot Mohamed
Writer and Film maker

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