US Military Confirms Washington's Secret New War in Somalia Despite Official Denials
by Finian Cunningham
US military sources have confirmed that the Obama administration is
engaged in a new war in the famine-hit Horn of Africa region.
disclosure in the Washington Post  comes only days after other
prominent Western media outlets, including the New York Times and the
Financial Times, carried denials from the US government that it was
involved in directly supporting Kenyan forces that invaded Somalia on 16
Global Research first reported on 19 October  the
lethal use of US drones in attacks on various locations across southern
Somalia in a coordinated air campaign to assist the advance of Kenyan
ground troops deep into Somali territory held by Islamic insurgents. We
reported that US drones began attacking Somali targets days before the
Kenyan army began its incursion, and have continued in a pattern that
indicates American air power is being used to pave the way for ground
forces as they advance towards the southern port city of Kismayu – the
main stronghold of the Al Shabab insurgents, which the US government
accuses of having links with Al Qaeda.
It is believed that scores
of Somali fighters and civilians have been killed over the past two
weeks by US unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that have attacked several
cities and towns, including Qoqani, Afmadow and Kismayu. Global Research
also reported on 26 October  that French naval forces had joined the
bombing campaign – again despite official French denials carried in
Western media – and that the conclusion from these military developments
was clear: Washington and Paris are now engaging in a secret new war in
East Africa ¬– a region where up to 12 million people are at risk of
starvation from years of drought and Western-induced conflict.
27 October, the Washington Post cited US military officials confirming
the deployment of attack and surveillance drones in "a rapidly expanding
US-led proxy war against an al Qaeda affiliate in East Africa". The
UAVs – also known as Reapers or Hunter Killers – are believed to be
operated from a site in southern Ethiopia, Arba Minch, as well as from
US bases in Djibouti and the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.
WP report states: "The [US] Air Force has invested millions of dollars
to upgrade an airfield in Arba Minch, Ethiopia, where it has built a
small annex to house a fleet of drones that can be equipped with
Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs. The Reapers began flying
missions earlier this year over neighboring Somalia… The location of the
Ethiopian base and the fact that it became operational this year,
however, have not been previously disclosed."
This disclosure of
US military operations in Somalia amounts to an admission that
Washington is at war. However, the Washington Post, while stating
"rapidly expanding US-led proxy war", does not highlight the legal
implications of that startling admission, concentrating its reportage on
technical and logistical issues that are providing "support for [US]
security assistance programs".
Iranian news channel Press TV –
citing civilian eyewitnesses and Kenyan and Somali military officials –
has been one of the few media outlets that has consistently reported the
almost daily lethal US drone attacks in southern Somalia since the
Kenyan invasion. However, even Press TV has not drawn the explicit
conclusion that this amounts to war.
While the other Western news
media, including the BBC, Reuters and the New York Times, had earlier
reported increased US drone activity in Somalia between June and
September, these outlets appeared to have dropped coverage of the deadly
attacks being reported since and just before 16 October.
the disclosure in the Washington Post, the BBC on 28 October seemed to
resume its coverage, with the headline: "US flies drones from Ethiopia
to fight Somali militants". The BBC, as with the WP, does not view this
as an act of war, and stressed that the "remotely-piloted drones were
being used only for surveillance" – contrary to evidence on the ground.
well as playing down the fact of US-led war in Somalia, the mainstream
media now seem to be crafting a new narrative for the military
offensive. The initial pretext for the Kenyan ground invasion faithfully
repeated in the Western media was the "hot pursuit" of kidnap gangs
allegedly belonging to Al Shabab. It is true that there has been a spate
of kidnappings of Western holidaymakers and aid workers from Kenyan
territory by gangs suspected to originate inside Somalia. However, there
is no proof that Al Shabab has been involved and indeed the militant
group has denied any involvement.
Now it seems that the
rationale being given for the Kenyan invasion and Western "technical
support" has subtly morphed into an extension of the "war on terror".
Al Shabab has been waging an insurgency against the Transitional Federal
Government in Mogadishu, which was installed in 2009 with the support
of US and other Western governments as a bulwark against the Islamists.
The TFG has only managed to maintain a tenuous grip on power thanks in
part to Washington's military and economic support and to the presence
of thousands of African Union troops from Uganda and Burundi.
Shabab is on Washington's terror list and is accused of having links to
Al Qaeda. However, many Western analysts do not consider Al Shabab to
be a regional threat. The Council on Foreign Relations, the
Washington-aligned think-tank, estimates that the group has only a few
hundred hardcore combatants and that its alleged links to Al Qaeda may
be no more than rhetorical. Nevertheless, the militants have prevented
the pro-Western TFG from gaining control of the country. In that way,
the group has thwarted Washington and Western geopolitical dominance of
the strategically important East African maritime territory.
would seem to be a more plausible explanation for the US/French/Kenyan
war in Somalia. Namely, the assertion of Western geopolitical control,
rather than "war on terror" and certainly not the hot pursuit of kidnap
gangs. That gives the real meaning behind the "constellation of US drone
bases" being operated in the region – to strike any African country
when and where required. Currently, Somalia (and Yemen) is in the firing
line. But the entire region appears being turned into a "drone alley".
It is perhaps only a matter of time before reports emerge of drone
activity in Sudan, Eritrea, Uganda and elsewhere. The recent deployment
of US Special Forces in Uganda and other Central African countries is
also a harbinger of this strategic force projection.
picture to this is, as John Pilger noted previously in Global Research, a
"modern scramble for African resources" by Western powers, which have
in recent years watched enviously the growing influence of China in the
region. This neo-imperialist scramble for Africa is consistent with
NATO's conquest of Libya. The close collaboration between the US and
France in the bombing of North Africa is now being rolled out in East
It also marks a new era of lawlessness by Western powers.
Not only can President Barack Obama personally order the assassination
of individuals with his penchant for "hunter killer" drones. Evidently
from developments in Somalia, Commander-in-Chief Obama is no longer
obliged to notify the US Congress or the American people of their
country's engagement in new wars. Nor is he obliged to even seek a phony
UN mandate. Not so long ago such abuse of power would be sure grounds
Finian Cunningham is Global Research's Middle East and East Africa correspondent