From: Biniam Tekle (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Dec 30 2008 - 08:58:58 EST
Why are the media ignoring US- and UK-funded criminals in Somalia?
By Tim Coles
30 December 2008
Tim Coles considers the disparity in reporting the "Somali pirates" rather
than the far greater crimes perpetrated by Ethiopia and UK- and US-funded
Little is known in the West about the violence taking place throughout
Somalia in the name of freedom and democracy. Instead of reporting the more
serious issues, the media focuses upon the hijacking of cargo and oil
carriers by pirates, neglecting to report the much worse crimes taking place
throughout the country. Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is
leading a terror campaign to oust the Union of Islamic Courts because the
TFG "favour democracy", in the words of UK Foreign and Commonwealth Minister
Mark Malloch-Brown. The TFG is, however, responsible for major atrocities
including massacres, kidnappings and inducing starvation. Georgette Gagnon,
Human Rights Watch's African director, stated that Britain's silence amounts
to "complicity in crimes against humanity" (Pflanz 2008). Worse than mere
complicity is responsibility, namely Britain's funding and providing
diplomatic support for the TFG.
What is the evidence for these assertions? A total of 3.5 million Somalis
directly face starvation from what Channel 4 News calls "a manmade famine"
(Channel 4 2008), conveniently neglecting to report the British Labour
government's involvement in the atrocities; at least 1 million Somalis are
dispossessed (UNHRC 2008); and, since the beginning of 2008, over 30,000
Somalis have sought refugee status in Yemen, travelling perilously across
the pirated Red Sea, resulting in the deaths of thousands (UNHRC 2008).
The "manmade" aspect of the famine is the result of two elements. Firstly,
the majority of aid into Somalia has to come by sea because the land is much
too unstable. The meagre aid coming by land was prevented from entering
Somalia by the Minister of the Interior Guled Ga'amadheere – a man on the UK
payroll, a man who owns a house in Britain – under the pretext that the food
had expired (Hartley 2008). The other route is the sea, which is pirated.
The high level of piracy has given the British Foreign Office a pretext not
to supply aid in armoured vessels – a minimal contribution given Britain's
military power: although, in 2007, there were 31 civilian and refugee ships
attacked by pirates, no World Food Programme vessels up to November 2008,
which were provided solely by Holland, had been targeted.
Furthermore, the Danish contribution has proved economically unviable;
France provided ships for the whole of thee months; Sweden has refused to
help; South Africa refuses to help, as "food aid piles up in South Africa,
Somalia starves"; and, despite this, the British Ministry of Defence denies
ever receiving a request by the World Food Programme to provide naval ships,
which it now seems to have done solely to protect oil interests, namely
following the hijacking of the Saudi tanker. This, however, contradicted the
Foreign Office statement that they were looking into it with their "other
commitments taken into account", namely funding the destruction of Somalia
through the Ethiopian regime (Channel 4 2008). (In fact, at the time of
writing, if one types "Somalia" into the UK Ministry of Defence website
search engine, not one result appears).
When, during a parliamentary session, Lord Hylton asked if Labour has any
"proposals for limiting supplies of arms and ammunition reaching Somali",
Malloch-Brown responded with unusual candour: "The UK plays a leading role
in the drafting process of key UN Security Council resolutions on the issue
of arms and ammunition supplies reaching Somalia" (Malloch-Brown 2008) – in
other words, Britain will determine the outcome of UN Security Council
resolution before the vote is cast, choosing to "bypass" the Security
Council when it is in the UK's interest to do so.
President Abdullahi Yusuf of the TFG, "was implicit in the murder of a
political opponent, whose wife, Zahra Abdullah, took Yusuf to court in
Britain. The High Court ruled that Yusuf had organized the killings, and
ordered he repay £30, 000 in damages... Mr Yusuf, 70, a warlord, is
recognized by Britain as the head of the transitional government of Somalia
in exile. He is in Britain for medical treatment following a liver
transplant" (Campbell 2005).
Ethiopia's key US alliance in its "war on terror" (US Department of State
2008) allowed Yusuf, and Somali Prime Minister Mohamoud Gedi, to "virtually
hand-pick" their associates in Addis Ababa. "Mr Yusef is also from the Darod
clan, the long-time adversary of Mogadishu's dominant Hawiye clan, which
supported the [Islamic] courts," quoted in The Times (Fletcher 2007),
concluding that the overthrow of Mohamed Said Barre in 1991 by the
alarmed Ethiopia's Christian elite, who feared that the rise of an Islamic
state on its border would radicalize its own substantial Muslim population.
It also alarmed Washington, which feared that militant Islam was spreading
to the Horn of Africa and had belatedly sought to prop up the warlords. But
many ordinary Somalis rejoiced at the return of order despite the courts'
strict Islamic codes... In the midst of the offensive, Washington even
permitted Ethiopia to complete a secret arms purchase from North Korea – the
country on which the US had persuaded the UN to impose strict sanctions only
three months earlier... It was the US, after all, that helped to propel it
to power... European diplomats, officials and other experts fear that, in
helping to oust the Islamic courts, Washington could have wrecked Somalia's
best chance in a generation of achieving a lasting peace.
Somalia's Bank al-Barakat was closed by the Bush administration in 2001
under the counter-terrorism bill, yet, despite exoneration from the 9/11
Commission Report six years ago, the bank is still closed, leaving orphans,
war-widows and the disabled completely broke (Raphaeli 2001 and Hartley
2006). According to the International News Safety Institute, "press freedom
has many enemies in Somalia. The armed group al-Shabaab, Mogadishu governor
and mayor Muhammad Dhere and national security agency director Muhammad
Warsame Darwish are among those who are particularly brutal in the way they
treat journalists," (INSI), all of which are funded and protected by the UK
in our understanding of "democracy".
Campbell, D., "Britons widow seeks arrest of Somali president", The
Guardian, 27 May 2005,
Channel Four News, October 2008.
Fletcher, M., ''We don't have civil servants. We have guns. The US helped
government forces into power, but now it is protesting that the regime is
blocking aid to thousands of suffering
Online, 27 April 2007,
Hartley, A., 2008, "The terror: Tesco's finest forklift-driver Leicester
Somalia's feared general", The Daily Mail online.
––"The Warlords Next Door?" Dispatches, Channel Four Television, (dir) Robin
––2006, "Hearts, Minds and Holy War", Unreported World, Channel Four
Television, (dir) Robin Barnwell.
International News Safety Institute, "Reporters Without Borders names 10 new
'predators of press freedom'", May 2008,
Malloch-Brown, M., "Somalia: Arms and Ammunition", UK Parliament online, 14
Pflanz, M. "UK 'Complicit' in Ethiopian war crimes", The Daily Telegraph
online, 12 June 2008.
Raphaeli, N., "The Marginalization of OPEC's Pricing Power", Middle East
Media Institute online, 20 November 2001.
UN, 2008, "More than one million now displaced in Somalia: OCHA".
–––– "Major mass registration of refugees and asylum seekers in Sanaa, Yemen
US Department of State online, Bureau of African Affairs, July 2008.
Tim Coles is a writer and filmmaker. His films, "The Black Triangle" and
"The Collapse of the Two State Solution", have been released by Concord
Video and he regularly posts talks on Palestine on www.youtube.com/timcoles.
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