US On the Wrong Side Again

ABID ULLAH JAN argues that US support to unpopular warlords against the Islamists of Somalia strengthens the Muslim view that America is at war witrh Islam

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ABID ULLAH JAN argues that US support to unpopular warlords against the Islamists of Somalia strengthens the Muslim view that America is at war witrh Islam

Jeffrey Gettleman and Mark Mazzetti wrote an interesting report in the New York Times December 14 edition.

Besides the convoluted core concept, also have a look at the opening of the report, filled with all cliché terms mastered and hammered down our throats by Islamophobes with increasing intensity.

“The stadium was packed, the guns were cocked and even the drenching rain could not douse the jihadist fire.

Thousands of Somalis, from fully veiled, machine-gun-toting women to little boys in baggy fatigues, gathered Friday to rally against what they called foreign aggression. As a squall blew in, they punched wet fists into the air and yelled, “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great.”

“I am ready to die,” said Osama Abdi Rahim, dressed head to toe in camouflage and marching around with a loaded rifle. He is 7 years old.

The inevitability of war hangs over Mogadishu, Somalia’s bullet-pocked seaside capital. But unlike the internal anarchy that has consumed the country for 15 years, the looming battle is now with Ethiopia, threatening to further destabilize the troubled Horn of Africa.

In the past week the increasingly militant Islamists in control of Mogadishu and much of the rest of the country have begun a food drive, a money drive and an AK-47 assault rifle drive, and have sent doctors and nurses, along with countless young soldiers, to the front lines.

For its part, Ethiopia, with tacit approval from the United States, has been steadily slipping soldiers across the border, trying to hold off the Islamists and shore up Somalia’s weak, unpopular and divided transitional government.”

There doesn’t seem to be much debate about the alignments of power in Somalia. The power of the people is overwhelmingly behind the so-labelled “Islamists.” Representative Donald M. Payne, who is expected to become the next chairman of the House subcommittee on Africa, is admitting as much when he concedes, “The Islamists aren’t going away, so the sooner we talk to them, the better.”

What irony then that in the place where Vice-President Cheney and his Islamophobe cohorts claim that Osama bin Laden and company were once taught a fateful lesson in American weakness because of the United States’ ignominious retreat from Mogadishu in 1994, the Bush administration is now providing another lesson – this time in American duplicity – as it sides with Ethiopia in its intervention in Somalia and with Somalia’s unpopular warlords against the overwhelming majority of Somalis.

A more enlightened administration might see in Somalia an opportunity to reverse the expectation across the Islamic world that the United States will always act in visceral opposition to the Muslim will to live by Islam, which has been demonized as “political Islam”; the U.S. could thereby empower the more pragmatic Muslim leaders struggling against the oppressive dictators.

Instead, the American response simply gives more strength to the fear of a majority of Muslims by confirming the widely held view that the US and its allies are at war with Islam because they see it as a threat to the de facto colonisation, which continues to keep them oppressed and their resources exploited after the strategic withdrawal of the direct colonial rule.

If there’s one thread that seems to endure in U.S. foreign policy it is that the will of the people, both at home and abroad, is the least thing among Washington’s considerations. When masses of people around the world are led to believe that America views their aspirations with contempt, this is what fuels anti-Americanism and intensify the struggle for real freedom and self-determination.