US Intervention in Somalia Compounds Dire Humanitarian Crisis

July 29, 2011

Somali refugees wait in line for water.

Slowly but surely, the U.S. intervention in Somalia has reverted to a military-security focus, abandoning the Somali people to a dreadful fate.

Back in February 2010, reports indicated that Washington was imposing “impossible” conditions on aid deliveries for Somalia and holding up tens of millions of dollars of desperately needed food based on accusations that it would be diverted to terrorists.  However, according to the UN official in charge of humanitarian efforts in Somalia, the accusations of aid diversions to terrorists were “ungrounded.’

And a few month later in June, even after reports of the Somali government employing children as young as thirteen in the military, the United States authorized arms sales to Somalia for some 40 tons of arms and ammunition.

Unfortunately, the “new U.S. policy on Somalia” doesn’t stop with weapons sales to a corrupt government and the withholding of aid to starving people.

In June, Somalia witnessed the first U.S. drone strike within its borders, near the southern town of Kismayo. The strike targeted two alleged leadership figures in the Haraket al-Shabaab al Mujahedin, popularly known as al-Shabaab, thought to be in contact with Al Qaeda, and with fugitive radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.  Recently, the drone-strike “phenomenon” has been permeating the news because of the high risk of civilian casualties. While no civilians were reported killed in this particular drone strike, the first accidental death cannot be far off (if the United States’ military history in Pakistan is any indication).

If the United States somehow felt its presence was missed in Somalia, it has reportedly answered these sentiments by opening and operating a secret CIA base in a remote corner of Mogadishi’s Aden Adde airport. Recent articles published in The Nation and the New York Times claim that the U.S. has CIA operatives on the ground helping Somalia security forces question detainees for information on Al-Shabaab.

As another famine tears its way through the war-torn country of Somalia, the United States’ actions in this country have gone from noble to mercenary. No longer does the U.S. adhere to international law. If we expect the United States to set global standards, we must first hold ourselves to a human rights standard that is worth emulation.

CORRECTION:  This post was updated 8/18/11