US Steps Up Intervention In Somalia

By Thomas Mountain

With the announcement by the US Defense Department of the creation of five new bases in Somalia the US has made it clear they are stepping up their intervention in the country.

The previous government in Somalia had run the US military out of Somalia, pretty much, but when the new, US backed Somali President was about to be inaugurated the US had its troops in the air flying into Somalia from Africom headquarters in Germany even before he was officially President making it clear the fix was in.

The reason the US gives for “intervening” in Somalia is that old boogeyman, “fighting terrorism”, in this case the undoubtably terrorist “Al Shabab”. But the fact is there was no “Al Shabab” ( meaning “the youth”) before the US instigated Ethiopian invasion of Somalia 2007. Al Shabab was a direct result of US intervention in Somali affairs and now the US has to “intervene” once again, to “protect” the Somali people from “terrorism”?

Direct US intervention in Somali goes back to US National Security Capo Anthony Lake in the early 1990’s who sent US troops to invade Somalia, something his nominal boss Bill Clinton, when asked why this was done said so infamously “I will have to ask Tony Lake about this”.

Most famous for the Black Hawk Down debacle, this invasion was carried out to prevent Somali’s from reuniting, and the massacre of clan and religious elders who had gathered several hundred strong to carry out this desperately needed task was the job of the all white US Special Forces unit who used their helicopters to blast the building where this meeting was taking place slaughtering hundreds of the most important leaders in Somalia. Of course no mention of this evil act was ever part of the Black Hawk Down propaganda film.

The anger, hatred really, of the Somali people was displayed for all the world to see when Somali fighters shot down a Black Hawk copter and then dragged the dead US soldiers bodies thought the streets of the capital Mogadishu.

To understand why the US has such a history of animosity towards Somalia you need some basic history going back to the very beginnings of the modern Somali state upon independence from the colonial powers in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Somalia’s first and only President, Siad Barre, was a real Pan Africanist and provided support to anti-colonial freedom fighters from across Africa and was the biggest threat to US hegemony in Africa to arise from the newly independent African countries.

From Angola in west Africa to Mozambique in east Africa, Zimbabwe in central Africa to Eritrea in north East Africa, Somalia became a refuge for those engaged in the armed struggle for national liberation, providing a safe haven from the death squads from US backed apartheid regime in South Africa as well as for the Eritrean liberation forces that ultimately prevailed in their national liberation struggle against the Ethiopian colonialist regime first of Haile Sellasie and later the Soviet backed Mengistu regime.

Today with the Ansarallah/Houthi attacks on western shipping passing through the Baab Al Mandeb (so aptly named “the gate of tears”), the critically strategic chokepoint linking the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean through which the majority of the trade between the worlds two largest economies, Asia and Europe, passes, the importance for the US to control Somali has become much more obvious for Somalia sits at the mouth of the Baab Al Mandeb.

Having a nationalist, independent Pan Africanist government leading Somalia from independence onwards providing the only real concrete support by any newly independent African government for the anti-colonialist armed struggles across the continent was a major thorn in the side of US hegemony in Africa. And this was something the US was determined to stamp out and never allow to happen again.

So after the death of Somali President Siad Barre in 1991 and the subsequent drought and disintegration of Somalia the US, under senior National Security Establishment Capo Tony Lake sent it troops into Somalia and ended any hope of a new Somali government of national unity being formed with the massacre of the delegates who were in the process of doing so.

In 2006 a new movement developed in the Somali capitol Mogadishu under the leadership of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), a collective of religiously moderate Somali nationalist who organized their supporters to drive out the warlords, who some say were supported by the CIA, from Mogadishu, and brought peace for the first time in 15 years.

The UIC quickly got the Mogadishu port opened, then the Mogadishu airport. Banditry was widely suppressed and commerce was resuming relieving the desperate situation for the people in the capital Mogadishu and the UIC began outreach to the clan and religious leadership in the rest of the country.

Having a independent, nationalist, “Islamic” government uniting Somalia was not something the US was about to allow so they sent their policeman on the beat in the Horn of Africa, the TPLF regime headed by Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia to invade Somalia and overthrow the UIC.

Being that Ethiopia has never, ever instigated a war with the fervidly nationalist Somalis in its history, it was always clear this was not something the TPLF under Meles Zenawi did willingly. The TPLF was arm twisted by the US into invading Somali and the TPLF invasion ignited a storm of resistance uniting all factions against their traditional enemies, the Ethiopians. With the older generation of UIC leaders forced to flee the country the armed resistance to the US instigated TPLF invasion was left to the youth arm of the UIC, Al Shabab.

The clan based factions in “Al Shabab” quickly began to splinter and with the deeply reactionary forces in the Arab regimes backing the most backward elements in Al Shabab, reaction was victorious and todays terrorists were born.

When the UIC elders were run out of Mogadishu they finally found safe refuge in Eritrea, who never forgot the debt it owed to Somalia. Under President Siad Barre Eritrean freedom fighters in the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF) found their only friend on the planet, for no other country supported the Eritrean independence struggle but Somalia under Siad Barre. Eritrean freedom fighters not only had safe haven, military training and support but most valuable, Somalian diplomatic passports so their leaders could travel abroad raising support, all to critical for the armed struggles survival.

The CIA, of course, knows all this and is convinced and rightly so, that Eritrea is the premier threat to US hegemony in Africa. The “threat of a good example” to put it another way.

Eritrea continues concrete support for the reestablishment of an independent sovereign Somali state and the defeat of the Al Shabab terrorist army by training to date over fifteen thousand Somali Federal Police and Army with thousands more in training in Eritrea.

So the US has to move fast to try and counter growing Eritrean influence in Somalia and these five new bases are just the start.

Thomas C. Mountain is an educator and historian with over 40 years background in Africa. He lived and reported from Eritrea from 2006-2021 and at one time was the most widely distributed independent journalist in Africa. Follow him on X/twitter at thomascmountain. He is best reached at thomascmountain at g mail dot com

For more history on Somalia see;