Violence and Violation: An Update on Terror War III

There is much to write about concerning the Bush-backed assault on Somalia, where multitudes have died and hundreds of thousands have been ruined and dispossessed by the American-trained Ethiopian dictatorship and its Somali warlord allies. There is also the continuing distortion of the reality of this new "War on Terror" operation by the American press, which is largely parroting the lies and spin of the Bush Faction in its reports. We recently detailed one of the most egregious examples of this journalistic perversion here; but yesterday, an even more craven, bootlicking piece of propaganda emerged from the "respectable media," a story by Chris Tomlinson of the Associated Press which is simply dictation from Bush officials without even a pretense that there is any reality outside that concocted by the imperial spinners.

But due to various reasons, I've not been able to bear down on all this at the moment, but I will return to the subject (and others) very shortly. Meanwhile, Salim Lone has an excellent piece on the larger picture in Somalia in the Guardian, while Reuters reporter Sahal Abdulle gives us the view from the killing fields in Mogadishu.

Excerpts from Inside Africa's Guantánamo, by Salim Lone: This is the most lawless war of our generation. All wars of aggression lack legitimacy, but no conflict in recent memory has witnessed such mounting layers of illegality as the current one in Somalia. Violations of the UN charter and of international humanitarian law are regrettably commonplace in our age, and they abound in the carnage that the world is allowing to unfold in Mogadishu, but this war has in addition explicitly violated two UN security council resolutions. To complete the picture, one of these resolutions contravenes the charter itself.

The complete impunity with which Ethiopia and the transitional Somali government have been allowed to violate these resolutions explains the ruthlessness of the military assaults that have been under way for six weeks now. The details of the atrocities being committed were formally acknowledged by a western government for the first time when Germany, which holds the current EU presidency, had its ambassador to Somalia, Walter Lindner, write a tough letter - made public on Wednesday - to Somalia's president, Abdullahi Yusuf.

The letter condemned the indiscriminate use of air strikes and heavy artillery in Mogadishu's densely populated areas, the raping of women, the deliberate blocking of urgently needed food and humanitarian supplies, and the bombing of hospitals. This is a relentless drive to terrify and intimidate civilians belonging to clans from whose ranks fighters are challenging the occupation....

A huge campaign must be launched to press western governments to end this slaughter, which is almost entirely the work of those in control of the country. The European Union warned a month ago that war crimes might have been committed in an assault on the capital last month - in which the EU could be complicit because of its large-scale support for those accused of the crimes. Human Rights Watch has documented how Kenya and Ethiopia had turned this region into Africa's own version of Guantánamo Bay, replete with kidnappings, extraordinary renditions, secret prisons and large numbers of "disappeared": a project that carries the Made in America label. Allowing free rein to such comprehensive lawlessness is a stain on all those who might have, at a minimum, curtailed it.

Work must begin to derail the astounding proposal from the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, which is to be discussed by the security council in mid-June. He would like to mount a UN-sanctioned "coalition of the willing" to enforce peace and restore order in Somalia - in other words, the UN would help Ethiopia and the United States achieve what their own illegal military interventions have failed to accomplish: the entrenchment of a client regime that lacks any popular support. Such an operation is unlikely to succeed in any event, but it could further threaten the turbulent Horn of Africa, which is already teetering on the brink of chaos.

The Somali government is busy crying "al-Qaida" at every turn and offering lucrative deals to oil companies, in a bid to entice greater western support. But this war was lost long ago. In turning to the arch enemy Ethiopia, the transitional government's fate was sealed: the nation will not abide an Ethiopian-US occupation.

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From "'The smells and sounds are unbearable. I find myself crying. It is too hard emotionally,'" by Sahal Abdulle: Anybody with the means to leave Mogadishu has already gone. Some houses have one or two people guarding them. Many others are abandoned. The markets are open but very quiet. Even the people who carry sacks of rice are too afraid to work...

In other areas it is far worse. There are burned bodies in burned-out houses. People are being buried by the roadside in shallow graves. There are so many wounded people; from babies to 90-year-olds. They are brought to the hospitals near my house in wheelbarrows and donkey carts, bleeding, missing limbs. The smells and sounds are unbearable. I find myself crying. I need to go to the hospitals to chronicle what is happening. But it is getting too hard emotionally. As a reporter for Reuters I am an observer, but I am also a human being.

I grew up in Mogadishu and returned to the city last July with my young son Liban, who is 10. He was born in North America but I wanted him to live among his relatives and to learn to speak proper Somali. We came because we had heard that the warlords had been defeated and that we did not need to move around with bodyguards. The beaches were open and safe. My 64-year-old mother, who was living in Canada but struggling in the cold winters also returned to Mogadishu. So did two of my brothers who had been living abroad. For a few months we were all happy...Now I am the only one in my family left. My son and my brothers are in North America and my mother is in Kenya with my nephews and nieces.

[The remaining journalists] often report from the roof of my house because it is too dangerous to move around the city. We must walk a very fine line. Not only are we afraid of getting killed in fighting as innocent bystanders, but by reporting the reality you quickly create enemies.

My sons phone everyday from Toronto to ask why I am still here and doing this to them. Even local people here ask why I am staying when I could get out. I tell them that I want to show the world what is going on. But they say that the world doesn't care or this would not be happening to us.
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