The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Ethiopia, the U.S.’s Fireman, Sets a New Fire in Somalia

Jan 8, 2007

On December 26, the Ethiopian army announced it had seized six cities from its neighbor Somalia. This military offensive was against the militias of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), an Islamic fundamentalist clan. The Ethiopian army was backed by the U.S. in its response to the offensive of the UIC. The UIC had taken control of two thirds of Somalia since the summer, including the capital, Mogadishu. Ethiopia, working for the U.S., is trying to keep the “transition federal government” (the TFG) in power, while stopping the Islamic militias’ offensive.

One objective of the Islamic militias, like other Somalian governments in the past, is to enlarge Somalia by retaking regions made up of Somali people who were cut off from the country in 1960 at the time of independence. One of these regions is in Ethiopia.

Somalia has been caught in the chaos of civil war between different warlords for several years. In 2004, after two years of negotiations and a “fourteenth conference of national reconciliation,” a self-proclaimed Somalian parliament, made up of dubious representatives, emerged. It met in exile in Nairobi, Kenya, since the situation was so unstable in Somalia itself. A transition government emerged from this parliament, with the goal of ending the civil war. This hasn’t happened, and Somalia remains under the control of warlords. The Islamic militias removed some of them and established a certain order in regions where they took control, especially in Mogadishu. At the same time, this greatly weakened the official government.

Washington accuses the Islamic militias of having links with Al Qaeda. The U.S. government is already bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it remembers the 1992 U.S. intervention in Somalia, which ended in a fiasco. The U.S. clearly prefers using the Ethiopian army in place of the U.S. army, hoping it will counteract the influence of the Islamists in the region.

Although the Ethiopian troops appear to dominate the situation, there is no guarantee they will remain in control. The U.S. is well aware that military superiority doesn’t mean that the occupation of a country is carried out without problems.

Rather than calming things down, the U.S. encouragement of the Ethiopian military intervention may very well light a new fire in the Horn of Africa. The immediate result will be still more misery for some of the poorest people in the world, just as in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the situation of the population has never been of concern to the U.S. rulers as they plunder the world.