Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Other Proxy War

US proxy war in Somalia reckless

Salim Lone

30/12/2006 12:00 AM (UAE)

Undeterred by the horrors and setbacks in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, the Bush administration has succeeded in opening another battlefront in the Muslim world. With full US backing and military training, at least 15,000 Ethiopian troops have entered Somalia in an illegal war of aggression against the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which until three days ago, controlled almost the entire south of the country.

As with Iraq in 2003, the US has cast this as a war to curtail terrorism, but its real goal is to obtain a direct foothold in a highly strategic region by establishing a client regime there. The Horn of Africa is newly oil-rich, and lies just miles across from Saudi Arabia, overlooking the daily passage of large numbers of oil tankers and warships through the Red Sea. US General John P. Abizaid, the current Iraq war military chief, was in Ethiopia this month, and Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia earlier this year to pursue oil and trade agreements.

The US instigation of war between Ethiopia and Somalia, two of the world's poorest countries already struggling with massive humanitarian disasters, is reckless in the extreme. Unlike in the run-up to Iraq, independent experts, including from the European Union, were united in warning that this war could destabilize the whole region even if the US succeeds in its goal of toppling the Islamic Courts. An insurgency by Somalis, millions of who live in Kenya and Ethiopia, would surely ensue, and create and attract thousands of new anti-US militants and terrorists.

With so much of the world convulsed by crisis, little attention has been paid to this unfolding disaster in the Horn. Even Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, who last Sunday condemned the "ignorant" policy on Iraq that made Muslims believe that there was a crusade against them, did not refer to this new war, even though it will exacerbate the divisions he highlighted.

The United Nations Security Council, however, did take up the issue. In another craven act that will further cement its reputation as an anti-Muslim body, it bowed to US and UK pressure to authorize a regional peacekeeping force to enter Somalia to protect the transitional "government" that is fighting the Islamic Courts. This government was created outside Somalia by US allies and, until two days ago, only controlled the small town of Baidoa. What gives the UN the right to intervene on behalf of one of the parties struggling for political supremacy?

The new UN resolution states that the world body acted to achieve "peace and stability" in Somalia. But all major international news organizations have reported that the country finally experienced this year its first respite from 16 years of utter lawlessness and terror at the hands of marauding warlords who drove out UN peace keepers by killing 18 American soldiers in 1993.

Since then, there had been no Security Council interest in sending peace keepers there, but as peace and order took hold, a multilateral force was suddenly deemed necessary - because it was the Islamic Courts Union that had brought about this stability.

Rallying people

Astonishingly, the Islamists had succeeded in defeating the warlords primarily through rallying people to their side by establishing law and order through the application of Sharia law, which Somalis universally practice.

The transitional government, on the other hand, is dominated by the warlords and terrorists who drove out American forces in 1993. This government is entirely unviable, having been organized in Kenya by US regional allies; it is so completely devoid of internal support that it turned to Somalia's archenemy, Ethiopia, for assistance in holding on even to Baidoa.

The United States opposes the Islamic Courts, saying they support terrorism, but the only "proof" of this inclination is a misinformation campaign that included a forged letter, along the lines of the one that detailed Iraq's attempt to buy yellow cake [uranium] from Niger, that predicted imminent suicide bombings and assassinations by Courts' followers in Kenya and Ethiopia.

There are some UIC members who have a terror history, but their collective pool of terror acts is dwarfed by the terrorism of the warlords the US has been supporting in a blatant violation of a UN arms embargo on Somalia.

If this war continues, it will affect the whole region and also do serious harm to US interests and threaten Kenya, the only island of stability in this corner of Africa. Ethiopia is at even greater risk as a dictatorship with little popular support and beset also by large internal revolts. It is also mired in a conflict with Eritrea, which has denied it secure access to seaports that it now seeks in Somalia.

The best antidote to terrorism in Somalia is stability, which the Islamic Courts have provided. The Islamists have strong public support, which has grown in the face of US and Ethiopian interventions. As in other Muslim-Western conflicts, the world needs to engage with the Islamists to secure peace.

-Global Viewpoint. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Salim Lone, former spokesman for the UN mission in Iraq in 2003, is a columnist for the Daily Nation in Kenya.


Friday, December 29, 2006

Bum's Rush to the Gallows

Hanging Saddam

By Mike Whitney

December 29, 2006

“There’s no way to describe the loss we’ve experienced with this war and occupation. There is no compensation for the dense, black cloud of fear that hangs over the head of every Iraqi. Fear of the Americans in their tanks, fear of the police patrols in the black bandanas, fear of the Iraqi soldiers wearing their black masks at the checkpoints.” Riverbend; blogs from Baghdad

12/29/06 "Information Clearing House" -- -- The execution of Saddam Hussein is another grim chapter in the catalogue of war crimes perpetrated against the Iraqi people. It is a gratuitous act of barbarism devoid of justice.

What right does Bush have to kill Saddam? What right does the author of Abu Ghraib, Falluja, Haditha and countless other atrocities have to pass judgment on the former leader of a nation which posed no threat to the United States?

Let’s be clear, the lowliest, most ruthless Iraqi has more right to rule Iraq than the most upright American. That’s what’s meant by “self determination”. When we honor “self rule” we avoid bloody interventions like the invasion of Iraq.

Bush believes that killing Saddam will achieve the “closure” which has eluded him through 4 years of occupation. But he is mistaken. Saddam’s death will only eliminate any opportunity for a political solution. Reconciliation will be impossible and Saddam will die as a hero.

Is that what Bush wants?

Or does Bush really know what he wants? Perhaps, he is just a war-mongering psychopath completely disconnected from reality.

Capital punishment is a moral evil. The state never has the right to kill its own people regardless of their crimes; Saddam is no exception. But the premeditated murder of Saddam is particularly appalling, because it is stupid as well as unjust. It cuts off dialogue with the very people (the Ba’athist-led resistance) who need to be entered into the political process to achieve normalization. Bush is destroying his last chance for a negotiated settlement and paving the way for America’s total defeat.

It’s complete madness.

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, told the Times Online that “the deposed president could be hanged ‘within hours’” and that his death sentence would be executed by Saturday at the latest.

Munir Haddad, the presiding judge on the appeals court, said, “All the measures have been done. There is no reason for delays.”

Plans are already underway to film the entire event.

It’s impossible to imagine a more fitting summary of 6 years of Bush rule than video-footage of Saddam’s limp figure dangling at the end of a rope. The pictures will no doubt replace the iconic photos of the hooded Abu Ghraib prisoner who appeared in headlines across the world.

The United States will pay a heavy price for Bush’s savagery. The war is already going badly and this latest travesty will only quicken America’s inevitable withdrawal.

America has become a moral swamp, its leaders incapable of wisdom or mercy. Hanging Saddam only adds to our mutual disgrace and exposes the real face of American justice.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

One Day Closer to Race War in America

No red carpet: Texas town takes serious steps against illegal aliens

November 13, 2006 | AP

FARMERS BRANCH - This Dallas suburb could become the first city in Texas to adopt a sweeping ordinance intended to keep out illegal immigrants, a cause for concern among its large minority population.

More than 50 municipalities nationwide have considered, passed or rejected laws banning landlords from leasing to illegal immigrants, penalizing businesses that employ undocumented workers and making English the local official language.

But until now, that trend hasn't been matched in the Lone Star State.

"This is the first town in Texas that had the guts to do what's right," Susie Hart, who grew up in Farmers Branch, said during a recent demonstration outside City Hall. "The education system is tanking, health care has gone through the roof, everybody is bilingual."

Such sentiments and the proposed ordinance trouble many people in Texas, where many Latino families can trace their roots here to the era before statehood. "This is not just a Farmers Branch problem," Elizabeth Villafranca said of the proposal.

Villafranca, whose family owns a Mexican restaurant in Farmers Branch, said she worries that such laws will spread to other cities if the city council approves the proposal. The measure is expected to be submitted to the council on Monday, but there was no indication when it might be put to a vote.

Since 1970, Farmers Branch has changed from a small, predominantly white bedroom community with a declining population to a city of almost 28,000 people, about 37 percent of them Hispanic, according to the census.

It also is home to more than 80 corporate headquarters and more than 2,600 small and mid-size firms, many of them minority-owned.

The local debate over illegal immigration began in August and spawned demonstrations by both sides of the issue. Council members adopted a resolution criticizing the federal government for not aggressively addressing the issue.

A councilman has given city attorneys drafts of an ordinance that would make English the city's official language and proposals to fine companies and landlords who do business with illegal immigrants.

The Farmer's Branch proposal follows a vote this year in Hazleton, Pa., to fine landlords who rent to illegal immigrants, deny business permits to companies that employ them and require tenants to register and pay for a rental permit. However, a federal judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the Hazleton ordinance while he considers a lawsuit against the town by the
Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups.

More than a dozen other Pennsylvania cities have taken up similar ordinances, as have several others in the South and a handful in California.

Many of the towns and counties have based their ordinances on a model provided by the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which favors limits on immigration and is affiliated with the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

"They've all expressed a great deal of frustration with the failure of the federal government to respond" to illegal immigration, said Mike Hethmon, the institute's general counsel.

Critics fear the spread of anti-illegal immigration rules will lead to sanctioned discrimination and racism.

"It's basically saying those people are illegal in their very nature; it is all right to be against them because they are lawbreakers. Many people are assuming that all immigrants are lawbreakers, and that people who are different, who speak a different language, are to be shunned," said Cesar Perales, president and general counsel of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and
Education Fund.

source: ^

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ethiopia says forced into war

Ethiopia says forced into war with Somali Islamists
By Hassan Yare

BAIDOA, Somalia (Reuters) - Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Sunday he was waging war against Somalia's Islamists to protect his country's sovereignty, intensifying a conflict that threatens to engulf the Horn of Africa.

It was Ethiopia's first public admission of military involvement in Somalia, where for the first time it sent warplanes on Sunday to pound the Islamist fighters now encircling the weak interim government.

Ethiopian officials have said the Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC), which now controls most of Somalia except for the government-held town of Baidoa, is a terrorist group backed by Ethiopia's enemy, Eritrea.

"Ethiopian defence forces were forced to enter into war to the protect the sovereignty of the nation and to blunt repeated attacks by Islamic courts terrorists and anti-Ethiopian elements they are supporting," Meles said in a televised address.

"Our defence forces will leave as soon as they end their mission."

Despite the military campaign, Meles said Ethiopia supported talks between the two sides to set up a joint administration.


Earlier, Ethiopian Information Minister Berhan Hailu said the operation had targeted several sections of the battle front including Dinsoor, Bandiradley and Baladwayne and the town of Buur Hakaba, close to Baidoa. Fighting on the front has now raged for six days.

Somalia's ambassador to Ethiopia, Abdikarin Farah, said government forces had killed 500 Islamist troops, most of them Eritreans, in two days of heavy fighting, but there was no independent confirmation of the death toll.

Farah said the Islamists had killed 10 government soldiers and wounded 13. He said the government had taken 280 prisoners, including Pakistanis, Afghans and Sudanese.

The Islamists, armed with machine-guns and mortars, say they have killed hundreds of pro-government troops, but aid agencies put the total number of dead at dozens.

The Islamists claim broad popular support and say their main aim is to restore order to Somalia after years of warlord rule and anarchy.

They said Ethiopia, which has also sent tanks towards the front in the last few days, had used MiG fighters and helicopters against their forces. Somali witnesses reported that the aircraft had been firing missiles.

Ali Dahir Horow, a resident of Baladwayne, 190 miles (300 km) north of Mogadishu, said one airstrike killed two people.

"People started fleeing once the planes fired at the town," he said, adding that most of the missiles nearby hit Ceel Jaale, which many people escaped to after last month's heavy flooding.

Diplomats fear the war will not only suck in Ethiopia and Eritrea but also attract foreign jihadists answering the Islamists' call for a holy war against Christian-led Ethiopia.

"There is a risk that the civil conflict in Somalia will develop into a regional war. And that could make an already serious situation even more serious," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told Sweden's national news agency.

"The task now is very much to prevent a military escalation," he said.


U.N. aid agencies said the conflict would have disastrous consequences for efforts to supply food and aid to 1.4 million people suffering from the floods.

The European Union condemned the bombardments and exchanges of artillery fire, and urged both sides to return to talks.

But the war against old foe Ethiopia has roused the support of many Somalis.

In the Islamist-controlled port city of Kismayu, women and children waved goodbye to 1,000 men who had volunteered for the frontline. Dressed in ragged fatigues, the men sped off in camouflage trucks to the chants of "Victory is ours".

Further north in Mogadishu, women and children gathered in a market to badger men walking along the streets to join the war.

"They told me to wear their clothes if I will not go to war," said Abdi Rashid. "They said I'm not a man, because all men are on the frontline, so I should wear women's clothes."

The SICC captured Mogadishu and a swathe of south Somalia in June, frustrating the Western-backed government's aim of restoring central rule for the first time in 15 years.

Somalia analyst Matt Bryden said he did not expect either side to win the war decisively.

"The Ethiopians are trying to hit the Islamists hard enough that they will come to the negotiation table," he told Reuters. "But they run the risk that the war will become a protracted and unwinnable conflict."

Military experts estimate Ethiopia has 15,000-20,000 troops in Somalia, while Eritrea has about 2,000 behind the Islamists.

Eritrea denies it has sent troops.

(Additional reporting by Guled Mohamed and Sahal Abdulle in Mogadishu, Sahra Abdi in Kismayu, Tsegaye Tadesse in Addis Ababa; Wangui Kanina in Nairobi; Simon Johnson in Stockholm)

Reuters (IDS)