Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 02, 2008

The Strategy of Keeping States Failed

As b real continues to document in comments here, the U.S. behavior around Somalia is somewhat mysterious.

What is the U.S. trying to achieve there?

U.S. officials will answer that they want to create some loyal, decent government and a healthy state of Somalia. But the current U.S. supported war-lord 'government', held up by deeply hated Ethiopian proxy forces, is certainly not the way to achieve that outcome.

So the official answer is likely wrong. Instead the U.S. may want Somalia to stay a failed state.

To reinvent Somalia as a stable, western oriented state without Islamic influence would cost an enormous amount of money, people and time. Maybe $100 billion, 300,000 troops and 10-15 years could create such a state. 

Any other stable government in Somalia, created without outer help, will be Islamic orientated, as this is the most uniting part of the national character in Somalia. But any Islamic government in Somalia, the U.S. fears, would turn the country into a safe haven for 'Al-Qaeda'.

As the U.S. does not want to invest the resources to achieve the desirable outcome, it decided to allow no outcome at all. Just keep the state failed and the problem is solved until the cows come home.

Via David Axe we find this general strategy described in a paper from the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point:

By identifying, catalyzing and swallowing ungoverned spaces, jihadi strategists believe they will be able to consolidate their strength and pursue their broader political and internationalist agendas. Notice that what is important to these thinkers is not the existence of a security vacuum, but what comes next, establishing functioning state institutions under jihadi control. In fact, existing security vacuums have not proven to be a viable base for exporting attacks abroad. No major international attacks, for example, have been supported out of Afghanistan, Iraq, or Somalia.

Thus, while a concern with security vacuums is warranted, the implication is not that we must consistently prevent security vacuums. That takes immense resources, as the largely unsuccessful effort to end the security vacuum in Iraq show. Indeed preventing all security vacuums would be a Herculean task involving American power in numerous failed and failing states around the world. However, denying terrorists the benefits of security vacuums is likely a more feasible strategy.

The paper assumes that the self-creation of a state out of a security vacuum would be a benefit for 'jihadis', and thus has to be denied. Doing anything else is too 'costly'.

The massive troop deployment in Iraq has so far denied terrorists the use of that country as a staging ground for attacks in the West. Meanwhile, terrorists are denied the benefits of a potential Afghan security vacuum with 18,000 troops, while [Centcom Joint Task Force Horn of Africa] effectively denies jihadis the use of Somalia and the rest of that region with only 1,600 troops—in both cases, these deployments are far less resource-intensive than would be required to actually end the security vacuum. A more cost-effective strategy, we believe, may be to maintain the capability to act decisively when necessary in security vacuums, without embarking on an unsustainable mission to end security vacuums worldwide.

There was a stable state government in Somalia the U.S. didn't like. Through bombing and the use of proxy forces that government and the state were effectively destroyed. Now the task is to keep it destroyed by whacking and bombing away any person or social structure that could change the situation.

Is a similar strategy of denial of real stability can be seen in the West Bank and Gaza. Is such also behind the chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Posted by b on May 2, 2008 at 15:59 UTC | Permalink


Some western journo blogging from Somalia

Posted by: b | May 2 2008 17:44 utc | 1

Security vacuum - new term for me. Was it invented by the Terrism Center at West Point as code for a govt-not-under-our-thumb?

I agree that denial of real stability has been the objective in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps these and other small countries like Panama, Bolivia can find stability if they agree to colonial status again?

The other objective more suited to the gut needs of the invaders is perpetual violence. That one can't be discussed, as it has no political or strategic validity, real or imaginary.

Posted by: rapt | May 2 2008 17:51 utc | 2>Afghanistan as Empty Space -- excellent article in multiple parts, by M Herold.

Suggests strongly that the creation of large stateless regions -- "failed states" as they are euphemistically known -- is a prime goal of neocolonialism.

Four years after the U.S.-led attack on Afghanistan, the true meaning of the U.S occupation is revealing itself. Afghanistan represents merely a space that is to be kept empty. Western powers have no interest in either buying from or selling to the blighted nation. The impoverished Afghan civilian population is as irrelevant as is the nation's economic development. But the space represented by Afghanistan in a volatile region of geo-political import, is to be kept vacant from all hostile forces. The country is situated at the center of a resurgent Islamic world, close to a rising China (and India) and the restive ex-Soviet Asian republics, and adjacent to oil-rich states.

The only populated centers of any real concern are a few islands of grotesque capitalist imaginary reality -- foremost Kabul -- needed to project the image of an existing central government, an image further promoted by Karzai's frequent international junkets. In such islands of affluence amidst a sea of poverty, a sufficient density of foreign ex-pats, a bloated NGO-community, carpetbaggers and hangers-on of all stripes, money disbursers, neo-colonial administrators, opportunists, bribed local power brokers, facilitators, beauticians (of the city planner or aesthetician types), members of the development establishment, do-gooders, enforcers, etc., warrants the presence of Western businesses. These include foreign bank branches, luxury hotels (Serena Kabul, Hyatt Regency of Kabul), shopping malls (the Roshan Plaza, the Kabul City Centre mall), import houses (Toyota selling its popular Land Cruiser), image makers (J. Walter Thompson), and the ubiquitous Coca-Cola1.

The "other," the real economy -- is a vast informal one in which the Afghan masses creatively eke out a daily existence.2 They are utterly irrelevant to the neo-colonist interested in running an empty space at the least cost. The self-financing opium economy reduces such cost and thrives upon invisibility. The invisible multitudes represent a nuisance -- much like Kabul's traffic -- upon maintaining the empty space. Only the minimal amount of resources -- whether of the carrot or stick type -- will be devoted to preserving their invisibility. Many of those who returned after the overthrow of the Taliban are now seeking to emigrate abroad, further emptying the space.3

I suspect that this new, penny-pinching colonialism has a lot to do with industrial tech and fossil power. To exploit the resources of a colonised space, the colonial occupier no longer needs to project force in the form of a permanent occupying population. As with MTR in Appalachia, only a small work force using the tools of gigantic industrial capitalism can extract all the resources; it's not necessary to build a "little England" in the occupied area to steal the wealth over a long period of time. The current model of colonialism is smash-n-grab raid.

So no "stable government" is required in the occupied area because no "people who matter" are in that area. And if that area is to be looted on the cheap, without a strong orderly structure of colonial workers, police, shopkeepers, courts, etc. -- then any stability there is can only serve the colonised, because it would be their own government and population being organised and stable, and that would be a basis for resistance. And we can't have that.

Like an opportunistic virus, colonialism always wants a maximally weakened host at the moment of conquest. Classic colonialism first weakens the host -- by warfare, bribery, culture shock -- and then inserts its own new hierarchies, structures, governments in place of the indigenous ones -- and even co-opts the indigenes into comprador and collaborator roles in the new structure (think of the hundreds of thousands of civil servants the British sent to India to "manage" the occupied space, enforce laws, build roads, etc, and the so-called "Babu class" of native-born clerks and bureaucrats enlisted by the British to help run the country). Old-time colonialism invests a tremendous amount of operating cost in running the territory it has conquered. But present-day neocolonialism, it seems, merely weakens the host and then siphons off the resources with a long technological straw, refusing to invest more than the bare minimum in overhead or operating cost. Structure and organisation can only interfere with this predation, so it wants the weakened host to stay weak, paralysed, fragmented: an empty space...

Posted by: DeAnander | May 2 2008 19:07 utc | 3

Actually... perpetual violence in the stateless spaces does make a kind of sense, if we figure in the mil/ind complex. They need to dump excess inventory at outrageous profits, so war materiel has to get used up. They need a testing ground for their latest diabolical toys. And the overlords need a fundamental mythology -- like any abusive husband -- that the World Out There is dangerous, violent, and scary and you are much better off being obedient and staying home under Daddy's (benevolent, of course) thumb.

So perpetual violence at the periphery makes sense in terms of the socialised arms and war industry; in terms of R&D for that industry; and in terms of a moral (exceptionalist, nation/race supremacist) tale to frighten citizens of Gringolandia into the garrison-state mentality that ensures obedience to the imperial project and imperial authority.

Posted by: DeAnander | May 2 2008 19:10 utc | 4

Yes violence makes sense in those terms DeAnander. I ducked away from discussion of it - it is a painful subject haha.

While a peaceful approach brings more benefit to the folks at home, and most of the arms expense can be used for food, water, etc., our psychopathic bosses need the violence for fulfillment. Directly and apart from the money angle.

So our entertainment (teevee) is bloated with shootemups, crime of all kinds, cops & soldiers (the shooters) created as heroes. That helps maintain a public mood for accepting obedience, as you mention.

The part I didn't want to discuss is that this public mindset is purposely maintained by a dominant sub-breed of beings which need, or one might say thrive, on violence and death for its own sake. A select cadre of warriors is maintained for this task, and the targets are selected too, from a list of threatening individuals and another list of weak, resource-rich countries.

I'll drop out now and readers may continue the discussion as DeAnander left it. Please ignore my comments as those of a wild-eyed radical.

Posted by: rapt | May 2 2008 21:18 utc | 5

the conflict with the USSR does'nt happen, we're stuck with all of this hardware, nobody to shoot at, and hundreds of military bases scattered around the globe. If the Soviets are'nt going to hold up on their end of the bargain, we're going to have to find someone who will. I do'nt know how many times I'm going to have to say this but we better come up with a mission or we can kiss the budget goodbye ?

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 3 2008 1:01 utc | 6


Drowned World

Talk about keeping a failed state failed!!!

Posted by: Au Platinos | May 3 2008 2:32 utc | 7

Sadly, 18,000 TONS OF GOLD the Marcos Family stole, is
less than $529,041,069,616 that Bush.Con stole for Iraq.
It only amounts to $489,600,000,000 at today's closing,
making Bush the one who dies with the most shoes!! Yeah!
Is America the last, greatest hope for mankind, or what!?

Posted by: Paren Thetical | May 3 2008 2:40 utc | 8

if you'll recall wes clark's story about being shown a pentagon list of countries slated for rollback or regime change following iraq, somalia was one of the six(?) listed, so it's been in their sights for a while now.

at the moment, it looks like the current u.s. objective is to achieve more enemies and stoke up anti-american sentiment in the HOA, which then gives them plenty of reason for expanding operations & establishing more bases in the region. in a self-fulfilling prophecy sort of way, as the propaganda value of the al shabaab quoted response to wednesday's bombing demonstrates.

or, substituting a few words in that ctc link that b provided,

..groups like [Gate]’s in [Somalia] operate with very loosely defined political goals which appear to extend little beyond driving out the [ICU] and preventing a political settlement.

i have lots of problems w/ that ctc paper. for starters, a working definition for jihad is never provided, nor is one for "terrorist" or "terrorism" though the terms are used frequently. in another study as part of the harmony project, in a footnote the authors stated that "we use 'terrorism' with reference to Islamic 'extremism'". i'm assuming the same loaded meaning applies here.

"security vacuum", as rapt points out, is another one of those euphemisms that attempt to disarm people -- obviously security in this usage implies u.s. control.

and "ungoverned spaces" is similar -- areas not ruled by those serving u.s. interests under an accountable/controlled western-style model.

the rpt linked above reads, in part, like a checklist for cointelpro efforts to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" targets perceived as threats.

but there's so much nonsense in it. for instance, consider this so-called "parallel" in comparison, which leads into the first blockquote b cited in the original post: [the emphases are added]

Policymakers are correctly concerned about the existence of ungoverned spaces as being potential safe-havens for terrorist groups. The Harmony documents demonstrate that al-Qa’ida has been thinking about the necessity to exploit such spaces since their organizational founding.

The Somali document referenced above identifies a five-point strategy to unite Somali forces and create an Islamic national front. The author argues for:

1. expulsion of the foreign international presence;

2. rebuilding of state institutions;

3. establishment of domestic security;

4. comprehensive national reconciliation; and

5. economic reform and combating famine.

This approach parallels the June 2005 Zawahiri letter addressed to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. In this letter, Zawahiri argues that jihad in Iraq should proceed incrementally, according to the following phases:

– expel the Americans from Iraq;

– establish an Islamic authority or emirate, then develop it and support it; and

extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq.

He also notes that jihad in Iraq may coincide with what came before: the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity.

Both of these documents focus on the need to create viable operational space by first expelling occupiers and then by establishing and nurturing their own system.

isn't that called nationalism & concerned w/ establishing one's own sovereignty? i don't really see how the two agendas connect, but then i'm not overly paranoid, imperialist or racist so i couldn't write something like

Thus, while a concern with security vacuums is warranted, the implication is not that we must consistently prevent security vacuums.

and then turn around and state that "Effective strategies will aggressively seek opportunities to create power vacuums within jihadi areas of responsibility."

i thought all vacuum's suck. how is a power vacuum conducive to the repression of your enemy?

in the rpt there's several attempts to take credit for, at best, dubious claims. like the one b included in a quote above

The massive troop deployment in Iraq has so far denied terrorists the use of that country as a staging ground for attacks in the West.

unless, perhaps, by the west, one means israel? otherwise, i don't even understand what that stmt means? are they still trying to peddle the line that iraq was involved in the 11 september 2001 attacks?

or this claim,

The United States and its allies have found great success fighting al-Qa’ida as an organization. We have significantly degraded its formal command structure, debilitated its capabilities to readily move money and closed most of its training facilities.

has AQ ever truly had a "formal command structure"? the exaggerations of a few years back that equated AQ w/ a transnational company were largely propaganda manufactured by the u.s. - as were the stories of bankrolling AQ, which were pretty much thoroughly debunked (see the 911 rpt, ibrahim warde's the price of fear: the truth behind the financial war on terror, and r.t. naylor's satanic purses: money, myth, and misinformation in the war on terror). and training facilities? well, i guess you actually could use the term "closed" and still be literally correct...

something else in the rpt that's been bothering me for a long time, embedded in this paragraph

The strategic proponents of al-Qa’ida are what Vladimir Lenin, among a wide variety of other revolutionaries, described as the “vanguard.” These “professional revolutionaries” possessed both the intellectual capacity and the fighting spirit to blaze the trail toward revolution. As most students of jihadi terrorism know, Abdallah Azzam employed this same notion of the vanguard in his early conceptualization of the al-Qa’ida organization. The application of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist revolutionary doctrine is critical to understanding jihadi strategy. Jihadi strategists have formulated a general roadmap for breaking what they see as America’s physical and virtual chokehold on the periphery—both in the literal international political sense, but also in a cognitive sense. Their solution draws not only on Lenin but also on Mao’s “Rural Strategy” or “Encirclement” path to revolution. Mao argued that the vanguard party needed to engage the masses, who in China were predominantly “poor and blank” peasants.

azzam & the idea of AQ as a vanguard creates cognitive dissonance for me.

from an acct of AQ by philippe migaux [italics in the original] was 'Abdallah 'Azzam who had named the organization. In 1988, at the first signs of a Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, 'Azzam decided that he would not disband the army of Arab volunteers he had created four years earlier but would use it to undertake a much vaster mission - the reconquest of the Muslim world.

To that end, he needed a standing vanguard of fighters to serve as leaders of the umma. He coined the term al-qaeda al-sulbah (the solid base) for this, which was also the headline of an editorial he wrote in issue number 41 of al-Jihad, published in April 1988. The article stated: "Every principle needs a vanguard to carry it forward that is willing, while integrating into society, to undertake difficult tasks and make tremendous sacrifices. No ideology, celestial or earthly, can do without such a vanguard, which gives its all to ensure victory. It is the standard-bearer on an endless and difficult path until it reaches its destination, as it is the will of God that it do so. It is al-qaeda al-sulbah that constitutes this vanguard for the hoped-for society."

now, afaik, "vanguard" and "base" have entirely different meanings, especially for revolutionary theory. it just seems really weird to me that AQ, "the base", was supposedly coined as the vanguard for a larger mvmt. am i missing something here, or is there really a glaring disconnect that can be attributed to a poor translation, a misunderstanding of the terms, or something else?

Posted by: b real | May 3 2008 7:16 utc | 9

Even in the 19th century colonial days, some colonies were operated in the smash and grab way. Congo comes to mind.

Congo Free State - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The rubber came from wild vines in the jungle, unlike the rubber from Brazil, which was tapped from trees. To extract the rubber, instead of tapping the vines, the natives would slash them and lather their bodies with the rubber latex. When the latex hardened, it would be scraped off the skin in a painful manner, as it took off the natives' hair with it. This killing of the vines made it even harder to locate sources of rubber as time went on, but the government was relentless in raising the quotas.

Congo Free State - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

One junior white officer described a raid to punish a village that had protested. The white officer in command "ordered us to cut off the heads of the men and hang them on the village palisades ... and to hang the women and the children on the palisade in the form of a cross."[8] After seeing a native killed for the first time, a Danish missionary wrote: "The soldier said 'Don't take this to heart so much. They kill us if we don't bring the rubber. The Commissioner has promised us if we have plenty of hands he will shorten our service.'"

And of course they were officially bringing civilization to the area by ending the rule of arabian slave traders.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | May 3 2008 11:48 utc | 10

Does the use of Depleted Uranium weapons contribute to the creation of "empty spaces"?

Posted by: catlady | May 3 2008 14:35 utc | 11

in my above comment, i inadvertently left out part of a quote in one of the examples of contradictions i highlighted from the ctc paper. it should have read

Thus, while a concern with security vacuums is warranted, the implication is not that we must consistently prevent security vacuums. ..denying terrorists the benefits of security vacuums is like a more feasible strategy.

my reading of this is that nationalist fronts should not be allowed to take advantage of those spaces where u.s. influence does not dominate, which is why i then was perplexed by the later stmt that

Effective strategies will aggressively seek opportunities to create power vacuums within jihadi areas of responsibility.

alot of the paper just strikes me as someone theorizing & speculating on things they really do not have a solid grasp of, especially in relation to the larger cultural & religious context. that's understandable, b/c it's obvious that military strategists & analysts operate w/i a very narrow mandate established upon very rigid & dependent premises.

for instance, in a section which looks for "insight into the jihadi understanding of American foreign policy priorities", the authors cite an extraction from one letter in their database & then attempt to draw some conclusions about "jihadi understanding" from it

The Somali experience confirmed the spurious nature of American power and that is has not recovered from the Vietnam complex. It fears getting bogged down in a real war that would reveal its psychological collapse at the level of personnel and leadership. Since Vietnam, America has been seeking easy battles that are completely guaranteed. It entered into a shameful series of adventures on the island of Grenada, then Panama, then bombing Libya, and then the Gulf War farce, which was the greatest military, political, and ideological swindle in history.

This statement reveals several important insights. First, at least throughout the 1980s and 1990s, al-Qa'ida believed the United States to be an aggressive and belligerent power, perpetually seeking opportunities to exercise its military domination.

hel-lo! as did the rest of the world. it doesn't take the proverbial visitor from mars to make that obvious observation. a quick look at the list of u.s. military bases seeded across the planet will suffice.

the authors then go on to write

Jihadists writings generally portray the United States as a paper tiger, one that possessed overwhelming military power, but constrained in its ability to employ this strength by a domestic population and leaders who lacked the resolve to sustain military campaigns without public support.

i guess those silly jihadists failed to comprehend bush the elder's 1991 exhalted pronouncement that "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!" similar to the way iraqi "insurgents" missed bush the lesser's 'mission accomplished' photo op, perhaps.

this POV of the u.s., or assessment really, independent of whatever group reaches it, could only be controversial to a party lacking in objectivity.

Posted by: b real | May 3 2008 17:42 utc | 12

arggh. " likely a more feasible strategy"

Posted by: b real | May 3 2008 17:44 utc | 13

this fits in w/ the stuff i was posting on the 'fresh open thread', this one w/ stmts from the ARS

al jazeera: US raid 'undermines' Somalia talks

A US air raid that killed a senior figure in Somalia's armed al-Shabaab group has put UN-sponsored peace talks under threat as the biggest opposition alliance said it was considering a boycott.

The Alliance for Liberation and Reconstitution of Somalia said on Friday that it was considering pulling out of the talks scheduled for May 10.

The negotiations are aimed at addressing the escalating fighting and humanitarian crisis in the country.

Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the exiled chairman of the Alliance for Liberation and Reconstitution of Somalia said: "The US strike can undermine the UN-sponsored peace parlay."

"We will reconsider taking part ... due to the US military attack," he said in a telephone interview from Cairo on Friday.

The alliance, which was formed in 2007 after the Islamic Courts Union was forced from the country by Ethiopian troops and Somali transitional government forces, contains both moderates and hardliners.

Its participation is seen as being crucial to the success of the talks, which are scheduled to take place in neighbouring Djibouti.

Aden Hashi Ayro, the leader of the al-Shabaab group, was killed after a US military strike on his home in the central Somali town of Dusamareeb on Thursday.

The attack also killed another 24 people, five in the targeted house and the rest in nearby homes, witnesses said.

Posted by: b real | May 3 2008 18:09 utc | 14

Over 65% of Somalia under resistance control, Sheikh Ahmed claims

CAIRO, May 3 -- Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, executive chairman of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, told Kyodo News in an interview in Cairo that resistance fighters now control “more than 65% of Somali territories.”

Sheikh Ahmed, 42, was also leader of the Council of Islamic Courts that until the end of 2006 controlled major cities in southern and central Somali, including Jowhar, Beledweyne, Kismayo and the strategic city of Baidoa.
Besides having taken control of several major cities, Sheikh Ahmed said the ARS is also bent on quickly regaining control of Baidoa.

“Resistance fighters have a presence now in Baidoa, which will be liberated soon. It is on the resistance`s list of must-be-liberated cities,” he said.
..Sheikh Ahmed said he is hopeful he can attain his main objective of the “formation of a national unity government enjoying the confidence and support of the Somali people and the international community.”

“Our ultimate objective is to drive the Ethiopian troops out of Somalia, restore security and stability, holding a reconciliation conference bringing together all Somalis interested in peace in Somalia.”

He added that Sheikh Aden Hashi Ayro, military commander of the Islamic militant movement Harakat Shabab al-Mujahideen who was killed in a pre-dawn U.S. air strike in the central city Dusamareb on May 1, was part of the Somali resistance with whom he shared “a common objective and a common enemy.”

Ayro was claimed by the United States to have been the al-Qaida leader in Somalia.

But the Somali leader denied the ARS has any relation to Osama bin Laden`s al-Qaida terror group.

“We have no relation with either al-Qaida or any other group. We are a local group keen on liberating our country from our traditional enemies and those supporting them,” he told Kyodo News.

Sheikh Ahmed, further distancing his group from al-Qaida, added the ARS “has no foreign financiers.”

“We rely on the donations of Somalis living abroad and inside the country to meet the needs of the resistance,” he said.

the biyokulule online site, where i grabbed this from since the kyodo news site requires a subscription, is interesting in that it posts lots of articles distributed thru the NTIS, the national technical information services, which is a u.s. fed agency under the dept of commerce, and which gets its foreign news compilations from the OCS, the open source center, another u.s. govt agency, which is otherwise only accessible to govt employees & contractors, so far as i can make out. which means that, on news in somalia, there's more english-lang translations of info one might otherwise miss.

Posted by: b real | May 3 2008 19:13 utc | 15

How to arrive at a Failed State - step I

Iran: Sanctions continue to batter the economy

Posted by: Alamet | May 3 2008 22:29 utc | 16

if these countries interested in Iran projects had any doubt that GWB's gone at the end of the year, they would just ignore him & his sanctions.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 4 2008 1:53 utc | 17

translation of a stmt from an al shabaab spokesperson in al jazeera story

Sheikh Mohamoud Ibrahim Suley of the Islamic Courts Union, which was forced from Somalia by transitional government and Ethiopian forces in late 2006, condemned the attack which killed Aden Hashi Ayro.
"This attack was cowardly and aggressive. We condemn the international, Arab and Islamic communities' silence," he told Al Jazeera.

"These bombs are making Somalis more united. These people do not need bombs, they need international humanitarian help.

"It is good for America to stop, if America continues what it is doing they will reap the harvest of thecrop they have sown."

[video rpt here]

i'm not seeing signs of international condemnation of the u.s. attacks at all. probably helped by claiming this was an attack on AQ, which either requires the perpetuation of false arguments needed to support a fraudulent premise, or automatically opens one up to the label of "terrorist" sympathiser, spun on its head, of course by the aggressor/victor. an ample illustration of just how powerful the media (and group-think) really is.

Posted by: b real | May 4 2008 7:41 utc | 18

democracy now had a brief segment on somalia monday morning

Thousands of Somalis Protest Deadly US Air Strike

AMY GOODMAN: ... To discuss the latest in Somalia, I’m joined in Minneapolis by Abdi Samatar. He is professor of geography and global studies at the University of Minnesota. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Professor Samatar.

ABDI SAMATAR: Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the reaction to the US air strike?

ABDI SAMATAR: I think it’s quite befuddling to Somalis and many other peace-loving people around the world as to why the United States has chosen to bomb people who are desperate for assistance and food and who have been dislocated and traumatized by an Ethiopian invasion, a country that has its own people under tyranny in itself. So it’s surprising to Somalis that the United States, who is supposed to be the beacon of democracy, is using all the terror tactics that it condemns in this instance, and people across the country have been demonstrating against this.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain exactly what happened with the air strike. Who got hit? Who got killed?

ABDI SAMATAR: Well, according to the reports and telephone calls from Dusa Marreb in central Somalia, it’s not quite certain whether it was planes or missiles sent from a ship on the Indian Ocean or a plane from—based in Gode, Ethiopia.

But that—the gentleman by the name Aden Hashi Ayro, who was a target of the United States Department of Defense and the CIA for quite a long time, him being accused that he was trained in Afghanistan, and therefore because he’s trained in Afghanistan, he is by nature guilty of being a terrorist. There has been no evidence produced so far that he has been linked to any terror attacks in Somalia against anybody else other than the Ethiopians themselves. So it seems to be that presumptions repeated sufficient times become a replacement or a substitute for reality.

The other people who have been killed, an area about the size of a sort of two blocks in places like Minnesota, for instance, has been leveled, and the majority of the people who were killed were innocent civilians, much like what the Ethiopians have been doing in Mogadishu itself.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain the Shabaab.

ABDI SAMATAR: The Shabaab used to be part of the wing, youth wing, of the Islamic Courts. Many of them are very religious. Aden Ayro has never been known to be quite religious. He has never sort of said many things that will suggest that he’s an Islamist. It seems to me that he was a nationalist who was trained in Afghanistan who was opposed both to the warlords who used to control Mogadishu before the Union of Islamic Courts took off and before the Ethiopians came in, but that the many members of the Shabaab, and to the order of about 250 of them, have broken ranks with the Union of Islamic Courts and the people who are based in Asmara, Eritrea, who are fighting against Ethiopians.

The Shabaab claim that the Union of Islamic Courts and their allies have sort of reneged on the promises which they have made, and therefore a few of them decided to do on their own. The Union of Islamic Courts spokesman, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in Asmara, said that these young men are fighters who are fighting the Ethiopians; they are not terrorists, in any sense of the word, and then, therefore, despite the fact that they have reneged on the promises and the agreements they had with the Islamic Courts, they remain to be nationalists.

Posted by: b real | May 5 2008 16:39 utc | 19

the actual rpt doesn't appear to be up yet, but amnesty int'l helps to create more int'l awareness of what ethiopia's u.s.-trained proxy army are up to in somalia

Killing of civilians now routine in Somalia

6 mei 2008 - Amnesty International today released a groundbreaking report revealing the dire human rights and humanitarian crisis facing the people of Somalia.

The report contains first-hand testimony from scores of traumatized survivors of the conflict, exposing the violations and abuses they have suffered at the hands of a complex mix of perpetrators. These perpetrators include Ethiopian and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops on the one hand, and armed groups on the other.

“The people of Somalia are being killed, raped, tortured; looting is widespread and entire neighbourhoods are being destroyed,” said Michelle Kagari, Africa Programme Deputy Director at Amnesty International, speaking from Nairobi.

Witnesses described to Amnesty International an increasing incidence of Ethiopian troops killing by what is locally termed “slaughtering” or “killing like goats” -- referring to killing by slitting the throat. The victims of these killings are often left lying in pools of blood in the streets until armed fighters, including snipers, move out of the area and relatives can collect their bodies.

In one case, a 15-year-old girl found her father with his throat cut upon returning home from school, after Ethiopian security forces swept through her neighbourhood.

Other cases in the report include:

  • Haboon, a 56-year-old woman from Mogadishu, who said her neighbour’s 17-year-old daughter was raped by Ethiopian troops. When her 13 and 14-year-old sons tried to defend their sister, the soldiers beat them and took their eyes out with a bayonet. The mother fled. It is not known what happened to the boys. This girl is in a coma as a result of the injuries she sustained during the attack.

  • Qorran, another 56-year-old woman from Mogadishu, described how after her family went to bed, she went out to collect charcoal. While she was out, a rocket propelled grenade was fired at her home, completely destroying it. She said, “When I came back, I couldn’t find my house.” Her husband and sons were all killed in the attack. She told Amnesty International, “If grief is going to kill anyone it’s going to kill me.”

  • Guled, aged 32, who said that he saw his neighbours “slaughtered”. The said he saw many men whose throats were slit and whose bodies were left in the street. Some had their testicles cut off. He also saw women being raped. In one incident, his newly-wed neighbour whose husband was not home was raped by over twenty Ethiopian soldiers.

    “The testimony we received strongly suggests that war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity have been committed by all parties to the conflict in Somalia – and no one is being held accountable,” said Kagari.

    “The human rights and humanitarian situation in Somalia is growing worse by the day. This report represents the voices of ordinary Somalis, and their plea to the international community to take action to end the attacks against them, including those committed by internationally-supported TFG and Ethiopian forces.”

  • AI won't take on the u.s. role or its direct killing of civilians, nonetheless this rpt will provide more documentary materials for war crime charges against meles & yusuf if it can get to that point

    Posted by: b real | May 6 2008 15:28 utc | 20

    something i reported on a few weeks ago

    iss: Somalia - Can the UN Succeed where IGAD Failed?

    The International Contact Group for Somalia (ICG) held an unprecedented meeting in Oslo, Norway, from 29-30th April 2008. At this meeting, Norway handed over the chair of the group to the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) in order to further strengthen the leadership role of the UN in Somalia.

    The meeting discussed the political process, the security situation and the humanitarian conditions in Somalia. It also signaled Norway’s reluctance to continue as member of the ICG and as an active peace broker internationally.

    Amongst the key actors at the meeting were the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, Tanzania, Kenya, Egypt, Yemen, Canada, Norway, the United Nations (SRSG/UNPOS, UNDP, UNICEF and OCHA), the European Union (the Presidency, the European Commission and the Council Secretariat), the African Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the League of Arab States.
    ..several reasons may have precipitated Norway’s decision.

    The first is that the country is disillusioned by the relapse of conflicts after her successful peacemaking efforts in a number of countries. This has put the country between a rock and a hard place. These include the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka between the government and Tamil Tigers and the protracted conflict between Israel and Palestine, especially after the Oslo Peace Accord.

    Secondly, in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia's dissatisfaction with Norway's policy in the region led to the expulsion of six Norwegian diplomats from Addis Ababa. Locally, Norway was perceived by the Somali diaspora-community as biased and deceived by the United States’ vision of the conflict as part of the global war on terror in Somalia. And last but not least, the recent arrest of two members of the Somali community for the alleged support of the Somali insurgency have culminated in a frosty relationship between the government and the community and elicited protests from the Somali diaspora.

    The key resolution from the ICG Somalia meeting is the acknowledgment of the absolute necessity for peace talks between the parties under the auspices of the SRSG and it further underlined the need for vigilance in protecting the dialogue from internal as well as external spoilers. It is noteworthy that the UN-led peace efforts in the Horn of Africa and Somalia in particular, were long overdue.

    The conflict in Somalia is escalating beyond the imagination of the international community, which, in the beginning of 2007 erroneously postulated that the departure of the Union of Islamic Courts and the installation of the internationally backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu heralded peace and stability in Somalia and the region.

    egads! unless it can explained away by "groupthink", it's difficult to believe that this was what anyone actually thought.

    The UN leadership’s peace-making effort in Somalia creates both hope and fear in that:

    1. It will refocus global attention on the Somalia crisis, the ongoing peace initiative and the humanitarian crisis. However, the peace efforts need to be insulated from the UN bureaucracies.

    2. If the UN is serious about peace-making efforts in Somalia, the initiative is likely to receive serious attention from key actors and also has a possibility of attracting international political and diplomatic support. However, the US and its allies’ desire to reconstitute Somalia in their own vision may not help the situation. For instance, the latest US designation of Al-Shabab as a terrorist organization portend an obstacle to the peace process, given that there is a thin line if any, between the UIC, Al Shabab and the Somali people as indicated by the popularity of the insurgency.

    3. The UN has the opportunity to take stock of the current reality of the Islamic political landscape in Somalia and especially the role of Islamic political movements in peace and stability. Thus the UN would learn from the failure of IGAD peace process which locked out other key actors and became a prisoner of Somali clan politics. The process must be all inclusive in terms of actors and issues to enhance the ownership of the final agreement.

    4. It gives the UN opportunity to understand the Horn of Africa whose conflicts are inter-related due to the array of actors and interlocking interests. This means that it would be difficult to resolve the Somalia peace process without taking into account and putting efforts towards resolving similar conflicts like the Ethiopian-Eritrea war and the Ogaden conflict among others.

    note that ethiopia, the u.s.' HOA ally in the GWOT, is at the center of all three of those conflicts

    Posted by: b real | May 8 2008 3:40 utc | 21

    Posted by: b real | May 13 2008 15:05 utc | 22

    adding this here since it's related to my comments @ the end of #15 above

    secrecy news blog: Open Source Center Keeps Public in the Dark

    The ODNI Open Source Center has imposed some rather ferocious controls on its unclassified products in order to shield them from public access.

    Even when its publications are not copyrighted, they are to be “treated as copyrighted” and in any case they “must not be disseminated to the public.”

    some of the NTIS compilations i've seen are very questionable pieces of info, for instance citing comments by anon poster(s) at unnamed "jihadist" websites and then weaving a narrative out of that, such as AQ already having nukes. wonder what type of vetting this stuff goes through, which may explain why they don't want it open to public scrutiny.

    Better Secrecy for Open Source Intel Collectors Urged

    U.S. intelligence employees who are collecting open source intelligence online should do more to ensure that they are not identified as intelligence personnel, the House Armed Services Committee said in its new report on the 2009 Defense Authorization Act.

    Failure to conceal the identity of open source intelligence collectors could conceivably lead to spoofing, disinformation or other forms of compromise.

    “Efforts in this area [i.e., open source intelligence] will require collectors to operate in benign cyberspace domains, such as media websites and academic databases, as well as more hostile areas, such as foreign language blogging websites and even websites maintained by terrorist or state-actors groups. The committee is concerned about the ability of our adversaries to be able to track and attribute collection activities to U.S. and allied forces. Technology exists to provide non-attribution services to protect identities, especially source country of origin.”

    “The committee urges the Secretary of Defense to ensure, through the use of all reasonable means, protection of government investigators involved in gathering open source intelligence. These means should include proven non-attribution services, as well as development of appropriate tactics, techniques and procedures that are incorporated into manuals and training programs.”


    See “Non-attribution of open source intelligence research,” excerpted from House Report 110-652, May 16.

    A copy of the Army field manual on open source intelligence, which has not been approved for public release, was obtained by Secrecy News and is available here (pdf).

    Posted by: b real | May 19 2008 18:55 utc | 23

    here's the example i was referring to
    Jihad Writer Claims Al-Qaeda Has Nuclear Weapons, Will Attack America From Within

    Posted by: b real | May 19 2008 18:59 utc | 24

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