From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sat Sep 10 2011 - 16:28:14 EDT
New American Ally in Somalia: 'Butcher' Warlord
By David Axe
September 10, 2011
If you thought it was bad that Washington is paying a shady French mercenary
to do its dirty work in Somalia, you ain't seen nothing yet. Just wait to
you see our latest ally: an admirer of Osama bin Laden with a gory past.
Richard Rouget, a notorious gun-for-hire who uses American funds to train
African Union soldiers fighting in the ruins of Mogadishu, has been
mentioned in connection with at least one murder. But U.S.-backed Somali
government general Yusuf Mohamed Siad, a.k.a. "Indha Adde," a.k.a, "The
Butcher," once ruled an entire region of Somalia with a bloody fist.
The U.S.-led international intervention in civil war-torn Somalia is unlike
any of America's other wars. Where the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are
fought by tens of thousands of U.S. troops, in Somalia Washington pays
others to do most of the fighting. These proxies include merc firms,
regional bodies such as the A.U. and local allies including the nascent
That means less direct danger to American lives. But in another sense it
means more danger. The more that the U.S. relies on proxy armies to do its
fighting, the more it risks those proxies usurping American support and
directing it towards their own dubious ends. That's the subject of ace
reporter Jeremy Scahill's latest piece in The Nation and also of my own
feature for The Diplomat.
"As one of the main warlords who divided and destroyed Somalia during the
civil war that raged through the 1990s, he brutally took control of the
Lower Shabelle region," Scahill wrote about Siad. "There are allegations
that he ran drug and weapons trafficking operations from the Merca port."
Siad also readily admits providing protection to al-Qaida operatives and
speaks fondly of the late Osama bin Laden.
Mind you, this is one of the top generals in the army of one of our closest
allies in Somalia.
For years, Siad resisted CIA efforts to lure him and his hundreds of
militiamen to the American side. It took a lot of sweet-talking plus seismic
shifts in Somali politics and U.S. strategy to draw in Siad. In 2008,
Washington backed Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist and former ally
of Siad's, for Somali president. Just two years prior, Ahmed had been
co-leader of the Islamic Courts Union, an Islamic group that birthed
al-Shabab, pictured, a terrorist and insurgent group and today the main
threat in Somalia.
Ahmed and Siad both changed sides as Al Shabab grew more extreme and foreign
governments organized to destroy it. For the moment, the U.S. and its shady
Somali allies share a common enemy. It's not clear how long the alliance
will last - or how strong it is even today. "Ahmed claims that Indha Adde
[a.k.a., Siad] and other warlords have sworn allegiance to the government,"
Scahill wrote, "but it is abundantly clear from traveling extensively
through Mogadishu with Indha Adde that his men are loyal to him above all
"The warlords being backed by you [America] have only a conflict of interest
with the Shabab, not of ideology," another former warlord told Scahill.
"That's why [arming and supporting them] is a dangerous game."
With Al Shabab on the run following relentless international attacks from
the ground, air and sea, Washington soon could find itself in an uneasy
relationship with U.S.-armed Somalis who, just a few years ago, were its
enemies - and who no longer have a greater enemy to focus on.
What happens after that is anybody's guess
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