Al-Shabaab repels Navy Seals while Libyan kidnapping sparks protest
On October 5 the United States military forces intervened in the African states of Libya and Somalia under the guise of waging its “war on terrorism.”
In Libya, a national, Abu Anas al-Liby, was kidnapped and taken to a warship in the Mediterranean where he is being interrogated for his suspected involvement in the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya during August of 1998.
The southern Somalian city of Baraawe was targeted by the Navy Seals Team 6 where this elite assassination squad was sent in to capture or kill a leading Al-Shabaab commander, Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, a Kenyan national of Somali origin, who is wanted by Washington for his alleged participation in the siege of the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi where 67 people were reportedly left dead.
Both incidents represent the escalation of Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) intervention in Africa. During the Westgate mall standoff, September 21-24, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Israeli Defense Forces were said to have fought alongside Kenyan military and police.
These operations by the Obama administration are the direct result of a stated policy of enhanced military intervention on the continent. In December 2012, the administration announced that it would be deploying 3,500 Special Forces and military trainers to various African countries.
The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has partnerships with numerous governments within the region where training programs and joint military exercises are occurring with frequency. Washington’s military programs in Mali and Somalia are closely linked to the instability prevalent in these nations.
In Mali, the military officer who staged a coup in March 2012, Capt. Amadou Sanogo, was trained in Pentagon facilities in the U.S. Despite this training and arming of Malian soldiers, the separatists and Islamic forces in the north of the country were still able to take control of various cities and towns prompting a French invasion in January 2013.
In addition to the instability created in Mali due to Pentagon intervention, the Horn of Africa state of Somalia is the location of a U.S.-financed 17,500-person military force known as the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) which has failed to defeat the Al-Shabaab Islamic organization, the target of the occupation by African militaries allied with Washington.
Libya Kidnapping Escalates Tensions
Alleged Al-Qaeda operative Anas al-Liby was taken off the streets of the capital of Tripoli on October 5. Eyewitnesses said that his abductors spoke with Libyan accents even though al-Liby was turned over to the U.S. military for questioning.
The abduction drew protests within Libya where demonstrators burned U.S. flags and denounced the actions of both the Pentagon and the General National Congress (GNC) government that is backed by the Obama administration. These demonstrations prompted the government of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan to make a formal objection to the capture of al-Liby.
“The Libyan government has been following the reports of the kidnap of one of the Libyan citizens wanted by the authorities in the United States. As soon as it heard the reports, the Libyan government contacted the U.S. authorities to demand an explanation,” the regime in Tripoli said in a statement. (The Nation, Pakistan, October 7)
Yet, not to be overtaken by events, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated that the kidnapping of Al-Liby was done with the approval of the GNC regime. Kerry went further to justify the detention on the grounds that it is line with the “war on terrorism.”
Kerry said “The United States of America is going to do everything in its power that is legal and appropriate in order to enforce the law and protect our security. With respect to Abu Anas al-Liby, he is a key Al-Qaeda figure, and he is a legal and an appropriate target for the US military.” (AFP, October 7)
A few days after the kidnapping of Al-Liby, the Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was taken and held in custody of a militia for several hours. He later said that the incident was an attempted coup against his government.
Libya has been destroyed as a nation since the U.S. and NATO, along with their allies, waged a war of regime-change between February and October 2011. Systems of governance, economic relations and the distribution of national resources were shattered during the war which resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people including leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi and members of his family.
With the country being the largest known source of oil in Africa, the imperialist states were seeking to dominate the industry and to open the country up to the super-exploitation that is typical in other post-colonial states. Nonetheless, the resistance of the Libyan people, the internecine conflict between various militias and criminal elements has created instability throughout Libya and the region.
Efforts to jump start the production of oil has been slowed due to the ongoing unrest in various regions of the nation. Sectional clashes and labor unrest had virtually shut down the oil industry which prior to the war of 2011, was producing 1.6 million barrels per day.
Somalia Raid Rebuffed in Baraawe
Also on October 5, the Navy Seals Team 6 conducted a raid against a home designated as a high-level Al-Shabaab hideout in the early morning hours. Baraawe, a city on the Indian Ocean of 200,000, is considered a strong base for the Islamic organization that is resisting the Washington-backed Somalia Federal Government based in the capital of Mogadishu.
Eyewitness accounts of the raid coupled with official statements issued by the Pentagon indicates that the operation was met by formidable resistance and that the capture of Abdulkadir, also known as Ikrima, did not take place. Although there was a fierce firefight in Baraawe between Al-Shabaab guerrillas and the Navy Seals, the U.S. claims that it suffered no casualties.
According to an account of the incident published by the Guardian newspaper which was based upon interviews of witnesses that live in the Baraawe neighborhood where the U.S. assault took place, “The element of surprise had been lost and Al-Shabaab’s fighters unleashed gunfire and grenades in a cacophony that rang out across the town, murdering sleep before dawn prayers. But the Americans continued on the offensive, according to an elder who did not wish to be named.” (Guardian, UK, October 9)
“The attackers from the US divided into two groups,” this same man said. “Group one, comprising six men, stormed the house and began shooting the people inside it, while group two, also of at least six men, were staying outside the house. The worst shooting took place inside where one Al-Shabaab fighter was killed. Al-Shabaab had more fighters inside and they fought extremely hard against the Americans.”
Another person in the area said that U.S. military equipment was discarded near the sight of a pool of blood. The Seals fled and were seen retreating by the locals in Baraawe.
One young woman, called Sheikh by the Guardian, was quoted as saying “There were more fighters and supporters of Al-Shabaab coming to the house in the morning; they were vowing that they will kill anyone who is found working with the non-believers.”
This same woman, a mother of young children, went on to note that “On the beach, the residents were looking at items left by U.S. forces. I saw a grey military bullet-proof jacket. There was also blood scattered on the ground. There were military boots on the ground which we suspect were those of the Americans.”
Resistance to Imperialist Intervention Will Escalate
As the Pentagon and the CIA continues its interventionist projects in Africa, the people of the continent will resist these murderous operations. Even in states where the governments have been installed and supported by Washington, the people who are the principal victims of the imperialist policies of resource extraction and labor exploitation will demonstrate their opposition to imperialism.
In both Libya and Somalia the U.S. ruling class is seeking to take total control of the oil, natural gas and strategic waterways of these states. Nonetheless, these rapacious efforts on the part of successive administrations can in no way satisfy the aspirations of the majority of people within these occupied nations.
Military adventures in these states can only exacerbate the contradictions between the people and the imperialist nations as well as exposing the collaborationist posture of the client regimes. Consequently, U.S. militarism bolstered by its NATO allies and subservient elites within these countries can only enhance instability and create the conditions for genuine revolutionary and anti-imperialist movements to develop and eventually take power.
Mr. Abayomi Azikiwe who is Editor for the Pan-African News Wire is also one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media.