US, France denies involvement amid escalating casualties
Pan-African News Wire
Although both the United States and France have denied involvement in the current Kenyan military land invasion in neighboring Somalia, the mark of imperialism is all over the current escalation of tensions in this region of East Africa. The U.S. has identified Al-Shabaab, the Islamic resistance movement in Somalia, as a terrorist organization and is conducting drone attacks in areas they claim are under the movement’s control.
Kenyan authorities, likewise, are pointing the finger at Al-Shabaab for what it says is its damaging role to the tourism industry after several high-profile attacks and kidnappings of Europeans inside the country. The Kenyan military has conducted airstrikes against an internally displaced persons’ camp where suspected members and supporters of Al-Shabaab have taken refuge from the drought and escalating Pentagon-CIA drone attacks.
A United States State Department spokesperson was quoted recently as saying that “The United States is not participating in Kenya’s current operation in Somalia.” While the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Scott Gration, said that “We are talking with the Kenyans right now to figure out where they need help.” (Global Research, October 26)
Finian Cunningham, the Middle East and Africa correspondent for Global Research, said that “such denials are contradicted by Kenyan and pro-Western Somali military officials who clearly state that American and French forces have bombed Somali civilian centers, including Afmadow Kismayu and Kadhaa, which have resulted in hundreds of deaths.”
Kenya Denies Airstrikes on IDP Camp
Following the pattern of denial set down by the U.S. and France, the Kenyan military has made false claims about its bombing of Jilib, where displaced persons are seeking shelter. The Kenyan defense ministry is saying that the camp is controlled by Al-Shabaab and that claims that five civilians, including children were killed on October 30, is merely propaganda fostered by the resistance movement’s leadership.
Nonetheless, the Medecins san Frontieres (MSF) has reported that in addition to the five deaths, 45 people, most of whom are children, were wounded in the airstrikes in Jilib, an area located near a MSF hospital in Marere. MSF spokesperson Gautam Chatterjee, who heads their operations in Somalia, said that “The medical team treating the wounded at Marere hospital have reported that most of the wounded have shrapnel injuries. “ (The Guardian, UK, October 31)
Contradicting this claim, Kenyan army spokesperson, Major Emmanuel Chirchir, said that the deaths occurred after they made an attempt to prevent a truck-laden explosive attack on the IDP camp by the Al-Shabaab fighters. In subsequent statements by the Kenyan authorities they have dropped references to attacks on an Al-Shabaab base.
Chirchir said that “The truck was burning and when it got to the IDP camp, it exploded.” Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga echoed this position by saying “Our troops are not targeting civilians. We have no intentions of staying a day longer than necessary. We have no intention of occupying any part of Somalia.” (Khaleej Times, October 31)
Al-Shabaab Responds to Attacks
The Al-Shabaab movement responded to the reports of airstrikes against IDP camps in Southern Somalia by vowing to avenge the deaths of civilians. “Kenya has brutally massacred civilians already displaced by hardship…We will ensure that Kenya mourns more than we did,” said regional official Sheikh Abukar Ali Ada.
Kenya has denied accusations that it wants to carve out a region of control in southern Somalia in an attempt to prevent operations in the areas by Al-Shabaab. However, the government has appealed to other states to assist it in campaign against the Islamic movement.
Officials from the U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government in Somalia and Kenya met October 31 in the capital of Nairobi on the current situation. After hours of deliberations, the delegations from both governments issued a communiqué pledging combined military, diplomatic and political support for the Kenyan land invasion and appealed for additional support from the African Union (AU), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the world community in general.
The communiqué read in part that Al-Shabaab is “a threat to both Somalia and Kenya” as well as “a common enemy.” It also says that “the Somalia government supports the activities of the Kenyan forces, which are being fully coordinated with the TFG of Somalia.” (Kenya Standard, October 31)
In other related Kenyan military activity in Somalia, a statement from the Defense ministry said that two small boats were captured and 18 pirates were killed on October 31. No further details were provided by the government in regard to this claim.
Meanwhile in the U.S., the FBI says that it is investigating the claim that an American citizen of Somali origin was connected with a bombing that took place on October 29 in Mogadishu. The attack was aimed at the forces of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) which is composed of 9,000 troops from the Washington-backed governments of Uganda and Burundi.
The suspect, who was one of two people killed in the attacks, has been named as Abdisalan Hussein Ali of Minneapolis. He had been indicted in 2010 by the Justice Department for allegedly leaving the U.S. to travel to Somalia and participate in the resistance movement led by Al-Shabaab.
A video has been released in recent days containing the purported voice of Hussein Ali requesting Somalis to join the Al-Shabaab movement to fight against the AMISOM forces occupying the capital of Mogadishu. The Somalian community in the U.S. has been subjected to FBI scrutiny amid claims that sympathizers of Al-Shabaab are residing in the country.
The U.S. State Department says that the Al-Shabaab movement is affiliated with al-Qaeda although the organization has denied this and emphasizes that its goal is to force the removal of AMISOM and other western-backed forces from Somalia. The organization controls large sections of south and central Somalia as well as the majority of the areas in the capital of Mogadishu with the exception of the neighborhoods where AMISOM is based.
Two Somali-American women were recently convicted on charges of providing material aid to Al-Shabaab related charities. These attacks on the Somali community are largely designed to justify the aggressive U.S. military policy toward the Horn of Africa region.