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On Imperialism in Somalia

By Sahal Saredo

US Marines in Mogadishu, 1993. (Photo: Master Chief Petty Officer Terry C. Mitchell)

Well, I believe some people have heard of UN and US intervention in Somalia during the 90s when the US military arrived with huge tanks on Somali soil, where photojournalists ran over to see what was going on down there, where the journalists encountered a group of Somali people lined up near the beach with banners reading 'Welcome to Somalia'.

Little did they know the beginning of the ruthless inhumane Operation Restore Hope would be underway…

The UN really thought this so-called "Operation" would stop the famine that was killing women, men, and children, and they thought it would protect civilians from "warlords," but this was just another population, just another land, just another geopolitical ragdoll, for George Bush to score more cheap points for imperial intervention. This was a tag team effort with George Bush and Bill Clinton, they were the real warlords after they sent 5,000 US troops and 23,000 coalition troops to invade, massacring hundreds of civilians and bombing the capital until it was soot. Is this really humanitarian? Or is this another excuse for the US to commit more imperialist crimes as they have been doing across the world?

Somalia is a "failed state" This affirmation is heard by the UN and US after the fall of Siad Barre. Somalia was driven to turmoil and famine along with clan war. This can all relate to what we call "world capitalism’" which not only Somalia but the entire African continent have become victims to. This gives a clear idea of how the imperialist government works by enforcing that rhetoric of "failed state" to take advantage of a country, bombing and going out of its way to actualize its perception of "true democracy" by committing world atrocities.

The colonial exploits of the British, Italian, and French empires are a significant cause of why warring factions and clans rived Somalia. The UN has even admitted this.

Young Somalis chant anti-American slogans on the wreckage of a downed Black Hawk helicopter in Mogadishu, October 1993. (Photo: Dominique Mollard)

The UN seeks imperialist "stability" in Somalia through armed intimidation which, in my Somali eyes, is just a restoration of colonial order, but this time with a 'neo' as its prefix. "Restore Hope" was enforced by the UN and US to make starving Somalis dependent, those who fell victim to the destabilization of Somalia by these same people. This caused an increase in clan war between two groups, and the green line was constructed to separate the Aidid clan and the Ali Mahdi clan (North/South Mogadishu), in an attempted act of dividing and conquering.

This neocolonial division brought motivation to the Clinton administration to deploy 400 soldiers to Somalia in response to the killing of UN "peacekeepers," resulting in more chaos in the capital to find one culprit, Aidid himself, who they believed was behind the killing of the UN "peacekeepers’’. They bombed every suspected area that Aidid forces were thought to be, whether they were truly present or not. This later resulted in the 3rd of October, or what Westerners may know as "Black Hawk Down".

This event caused mass casualties of Somali soldiers and civilians along with a small amount of US soldiers in this battle. It was humiliation and failure for the US and UN forces as Somalis chanted and dragged the bodies of US soldiers through the streets of Mogadishu. The US demonized Aidid as a ‘’warlord’’ and dehumanized his supporters to gain more legitimacy for the bloody efforts in Mogadishu.

Though the US and UN act tough, they have not solved anything in Somalia, and a bad situation has only been made worse by declaring war on Aidid. The civil war in Mogadishu shows once again that this isn’t about Somalia at all, but about other imperialist interests. The presence of the US and UN in Somalia has empowered other imperialist states such as Turkey to interfere, only serving to intensify the situation.

This was a struggle against colonialism and imperialism, and it still is. The conflict between US/UN and Aidid isn’t a simple binary between good vs bad. All of these structures are to blame for creating an environment of tension and war where the real victims are the people of Somalia. Imperialism, without a doubt, has been the largest culprit.

Author bio:

Sahal Saredo is a Somali Marxist organizer and writer spreading enlightenment on the Somali resistance to imperialism in all its forms. Her presence in the Somali diaspora has brought a renewed anticolonial light to the situation in the Horn of Africa, reminding those in the West and across the world that the Somali resistance to imperialism has not ended.


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