Alt Tv/Fleet FM breakfast news comment
Ethiopia 'bogged down' in Somalia
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has acknowledged that his troops cannot withdraw from the conflict in Somalia. Mr Meles said he had expected to withdraw his soldiers earlier in the year, after Islamists had been driven out of the Somali capital, Mogadishu. But he said divisions within the Somali government had left it unable to replace the Ethiopians, while not enough peacekeepers had arrived. Some 60% of Mogadishu residents have fled clashes in the city, the UN says.
I’ve been blogging a lot about the situation in Somalia since the Islamic Courts took over last year and I am amazed at the mainstream media memory loss that has enveloped this issue, a memory loss that now has the US scripted as the savior with a now justifiable military presence off the coast of Somalia. It’s not like I’m even asking the media to stretch their memory back to the US backing of the Barre dictatorship during the 1980’s which helped create much of the situation which lead to the anarchy of the warlords or how that environment actually contributed to the rise of the Union of Islamic Courts. I’m just asking the media to remember what happened last year! The CIA backed the warlords last year against the Union of Islamic Courts because American’s can’t tell the difference between terrorists and nationalistic movements that have a genuine grievance. In the Bush world view where “Muslim=terrorist, and if you say otherwise, then you’re a terrorist too” there is no scope for reason.
While discussing the current situation in Somalia, there is NO mention of this CIA cock up. Once the population of Somalia found out that the hated US were backing the warlords, the Union of Islamic Courts received populist support and became a popular movement that once in power, brought a semblance of order that had been denied them by the era of the warlords. America refused to learn anything from this and turned to backing Ethiopia as a force, this has lead to the invasion and will only start another Islamic guerilla conflict that will again draw support for its genuine complaints regarding America fucking around once again in Somalia’s internal politics.
That this entire situation has now been sold as a legitimate issue where America has some sort of international peace making role to play is audacity from a country already jaw dropping in its display of unilateral self interest dressed up as ‘spreading Freedom Democracy Inc’.
My interest in this was first drawn by the death of Martin Adler which I blogged on last year…
Reporter and cameraman, Martin Adler, was the foreign journalist shot by an unknown assassin in Mogadishu last week during a rally for the new power block in war weary Somalia, a collection of Islamic nationalists.
This movement is non-Al Quada connected and was given popular support when the United States started arming the existing Somali warlords. The levels of justified anti-western sentiment amongst a population desperate for law and order was rallied with enough widespread support that the position of the Islamists has more mandate than any of the squabbling groups currently trying to claim Somalia.
The Americans in an almost identical historical mistake have put any opponents of the Koran on immediate Pentagon pay rolls with the same failed counter insurgent tactics that were brutally used in South America by fuelling paramilitary death squads with the defence of anti-communist fervour.
The fact that the policy of supporting the warlords has blown back so appallingly is bad enough, but it comes from a long history of blow-back where CIA 'black ops' play God with the internal politics of another sovereign state for 'national interests' and end up creating the monster they were trying to contain. Amongst this ghoulish galleries most recent graduates hang the pictures of Saddam and Osama. In most situations it is a reactive nationalism that seizes back the initiative from American supported dictatorships. These movements then get tagged by the Americans as Islamic terrorists or communist guerillas, once tagged the military aid starts pumping to find another warlord to support American hegemony in the region.
One would hope that the Americans would re-examine their heavy handed tactics but news that neighbouring (Christian) Ethiopia is gearing up to invade Somalia with tacit American support begs the question: who is the more fundamental, the more hell-bent on confrontation and control of the Islamic World, Bush or Bin Laden?
All of this clumsy proxy-war foreplay was being watched by Martin Adler. As the enormity of the American policy failure dawned on the media, attention from journalists is the last thing dirty wars need, and a good way of hostile governments to do that is by assassinating journalists. Kate Peyton, BBC Producer was killed in almost identical circumstances some months earlier and before that, 20 journalists have been killed during the current American sponsored warlords' reign.
The first time perhaps we ever saw Martin Adler's work was a piece he had done embedded with the American infantry in Iraq. The story had won him the Rory Peck Hard News award. It was a brilliant and terrifying report from a psychological front line of confusion and moral self-doubt with Marines roughing up Iraqi civilians during house to house raids. The highlight were comments from a gung ho Marine leader who stated he would shoot any Iraqi dead without excuse. The honesty of his words making the reasons for the war as empty as those searches for weapons of mass destruction. Adler was a remarkable journalist who went to the fringes of our global interests and recorded our naked vileness. His murder has become the starting point for another moral blind-spot into which American-backed Ethiopian forces have scuttled.
The people of Somalia deserve better than that.
I still believe the people of Somalia deserve better than this, and that Martin Adler reminded us that people deserve better from their media.