Somalia: Western Media Indulge US and French Denials of New War in
Famine-Hit Horn of Africa
by Finian Cunningham
> Global Research, October 26, 2011
Global Research Editor's Note
In the wake of NATO's "humanitarian" R2P intervention in Libya, which is by
no means over, the Pentagon has chosen to launch two more "unnoticed" wars
in the African continent: Somalia and Uganda.
Despite official denials peddled by the mainstream media, it is emerging
that the US and France are engaged in a new war in the Horn of Africa.
Given that 11-12 million people are at risk of starvation in the famine-hit
region, an escalation of conflict has huge humanitarian and legal
implications. Yet the Western public is being given no oversight on the
matter from what appears to be a veritable news blackout on the dire
The New York Times, Voice of America and the Financial Times have this week
quoted US and French officials categorically denying any direct involvement
in military support of Kenyan forces pushing deep into southern Somalia.
Other Western media outlets are not even carrying reports of credible
allegations that American and French forces are waging war in the
Two senior American officials in Washington cited by The New York Times said
that neither the United States military nor the Central Intelligence Agency
had carried out airstrikes in Somalia recently.
Voice of America quoted the US State Department claiming: “The United States
is not participating in Kenya's current operation in Somalia.”
At most, Washington and Paris are saying that they are offering vague,
logistical support. The Financial Times quotes Scott Gration, the US
ambassador to Kenya, saying: “We are talking with the Kenyans right now to
figure out where they need help.”
In a telling remark indicating self-censorship by the newspaper, the
Financial Times noted without further questioning that Gration “did not
comment on reports of a series of US drone attacks across southern Somalia
in the months since June”.
However, such denials are contradicted by Kenyan and pro-Western Somali
military officials who clearly state that American and French forces have
bombed Somali civilian centres, including Afmadow, Kismayu and Kadhaa, which
have resulted in hundreds of deaths. Kenyan Major Emmanuel Chirchir
referring to US drone attacks and French naval bombardment said: “Everybody
is in theatre… We know about the strikes. They are complementary.”
On 16 October, Kenya appeared to make a “surprise” invasion of neighbouring
Somalia by land, sea and air forces. But 10 days later, with increasing
bombardment of towns in Somalia’s southern region, reports of hundreds of
civilian casualties and large-scale displacement of people, it is becoming
clear that this is no “hot pursuit” cross-border swoop against kidnappers
allegedly belonging to the Al Shabab Islamist insurgency – but rather a
The pursuit of kidnap gangs was the pretext given by the Nairobi government
for the initial incursion, claiming that Al Shabab militants operating out
of Somalia on its eastern border had been responsible for a spate of
kidnappings of foreign workers and holidaymakers from Kenyan territory.
Now Kenyan officials are saying that their military campaign will continue
until Al Shabab is “flushed out” of all its strongholds – primarily the port
city of Kismayu about 500 kilometres south of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Three days after the invasion, on 19 October, Global Research reported how
“US drones were coordinating air power for the Kenyan ground forces” .
Only days before the cross-border incursion, we reported that American
unmanned aerial vehicles were involved in attacks on key southern Somali
towns and cities in what appeared to be a precursor artillery assault.
The bombardment is now being stepped up, with French naval forces stationed
off the Somali coast also involved – the latest killing 59 civilians in
Kudhaa, according to Press TV.
Three months ago, the New York Times, Washington Post and The Guardian
reported the “extended use of aerial drone attacks” in Somalia when two Al
Shabab leaders were targeted for assassination. A month before the Kenyan
invasion, both the BBC and Reuters reported on “increasing US drone
activity” in the country. Curiously, these same media outlets are either
not reporting any such activity – precisely at a time when drone attacks are
increasing with devastatingly lethal results – or they are prominently
peddling official denials.
It may be noted that the coordinated Western airstrikes in Somalia follows a
similar pattern to that conducted in Libya – whereby NATO acted as the air
force for anti-Gaddafi militants.
Why the Western media has so far declined to give similar glowing coverage
of events in Somalia may reflect the fact that the Kenyan military assault
on Somalia is a difficult narrative with which to rally Western public
support. Whereas in Libya, the Western media indulged NATO claims of
protecting civilians from imminent slaughter under a despotic regime, in
Somalia by contrast the pursuit of kidnap gangs does not quite ring true for
a cause for war – especially when millions of Americans and French are
racked by economic austerity and are being told by their governments that
there is no money available to create jobs or fund vital social services.
This public relations problem may be remedied, however, if recent terror
attacks in Nairobi can be blamed on Al Shabab. Just last weekend, the US
embassy warned of terror threats: 48 hours later two locations in the Kenyan
capital were bombed with three dead and dozens of civilians injured. No
group claimed responsibility for the atrocities and Kenyan police sources
said they had no evidence of Al Shabab involvement. Nevertheless, US
officials are now justifying their “intended” support for Kenyan forces in
Somalia out a shared objective of “the war on terror”.
Al Shabab has been waging an insurgency against the Transitional Federal
Government in Mogadishu, which was installed in 2009 with the support of US
and other Western governments as a bulwark against the Islamists. The TFG
has only managed to maintain a tenuous grip on power thanks in part to
Washington’s military and economic support and to the presence of thousands
of African Union troops from Uganda and Burundi. However, large swathes of
Somalia, especially in the south, remain under the control of Al Shabab.
Al Shabab is on Washington’s terror list and is accused of having links to
Al Qaeda. However, many Western analysts do not consider Al Shabab to be a
regional threat. The Council on Foreign Relations, the Washington-aligned
think-tank, estimates that the group has only a few hundred hardcore
combatants. Nevertheless, the militants have prevented the pro-Western TFG
from gaining control of the country. In that way, the group has thwarted
Washington and Western geopolitical dominance of the strategically important
East African maritime territory.
Recall that the US embarked on a full-scale – and disastrous ¬– military
intervention of Somalia in 1992 to salvage its client dictator Siad Barre
overthrown by rival warlords. Washington has not managed to regain control
ever since despite its backing of an equally disastrous invasion of Somalia
by Ethiopian troops in 2006.
With Ethiopia still licking its military wounds and currently facing risk of
famine along with its Somali neighbour, perhaps Washington and its French
ally have now found another proxy in the form of Kenya to pursue
geopolitical aims in Somalia.
Many Kenyans have deep misgivings about their government’s nubile proxy
military role. The country is also at risk of famine and its military
capability is hitherto untested. Kenyans have noted the way their government
launched into Somalia – with which they share much common tribal ancestry –
without any public discussion (suggesting orders were taken from Washington
and Paris). And they fear that their country could become involved in a
bloody regional quagmire that will take human suffering in an already
suffering region to untold levels of misery.
"Unnoticed" Military Aggression. US Combat Troops Arrive in Uganda
- by The Editors of Odario.Info - 2011-10-26
> Somalis Under
Relentless Drone Attack as U.S. Tightens Military Grip on Continent
- by Glen Ford
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Received on Wed Oct 26 2011 - 15:35:59 EDT