Thursday, October 09, 2008

Hiding US Crime:

Mogadishu Empty and in Ruins

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Human Rights Watch says 'the world would be shocked' at the devastation and the plight of Somalia's people."

Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, has ceased to exist as a city. Inhabited by nearly three million people less than two years ago, and still home to more than a million nine months ago, Mogadishu has been virtually emptied of civilians. Whole sections have been leveled, according to the BBC, in what Human Rights Watch calls "the most ignored tragedy in the world" today. Ignored, that is, by the American and most of the world's media.

A lone reporter for the BBC described neighborhoods as having been "systematically leveled" in desperate battles between resistance fighters and Ethiopian occupation soldiers and their allies. Human Rights Watch says "the world would be shocked" at the devastation and the plight of Somalia's people, millions of whom are now refugees stalked, bombed and besieged in the desolate southern Somali countryside. A year ago, United Nations officials declared that Somalia was the "worst humanitarian crisis in Africa" - more dire than Darfur - and in May Amnesty International released a report charging Somali civilians were routinely targeted for attack, mainly by the Ethiopian occupiers and soldiers of the rump Somali government imposed by the Ethiopians.

Why have the world media all but ignored the destruction of a capital city and the death and dispersal of its people? Racism is, of course, the paramount reason. Europeans and Americans absolve themselves of guilt for their centuries of rapacious exploitation of the African continent, by turning the historical crime upside down. Africans, they say, are savages who cannot help but kill each other; therefore, that's not news. But the carnage in Somalia that has emptied Mogadishu is a direct consequence of American policy: Washington's so-called War on Terror, which is really an endless war against peace.

"Washington prefers the victim die in silence."

In December of 2006, the U.S. encouraged its ally, the Ethiopian dictatorship to stamp out peace in neighboring Somalia, where Muslim Courts had established relative stability for the first time since Somalia fell into chaos 1991. The U.S. lavished weapons on the Ethiopian army, placing American "advisors" down to the company level. When the U.S. gave the word, the Ethiopians attacked, backed by American air and naval power. Washington claimed the Somalis had been infiltrated by Al Qaida and, with Ethiopia, installed a Somali government to their own liking. It is a puny regime that could not last a week without Ethiopian and U.S. support, and which has presided over the demise of Somalia's great and once beautiful city, Mogadishu.

The world media ignore the leveling of Mogadishu because it is an American crime, and Washington prefers the victim die in silence. Certainly, the U.S. State Department, which leads the corporate press corps around by the nose, is not encouraging anyone to visit what's left of Mogadishu - although they are eager to facilitate visits to Darfur.

Black America's celebrated "son of Africa," Barack Obama, has had nothing to say about the nightmare that the Bush regime has inflicted on Somalia, and which he will inherit if elected in November. Or, maybe his silence speaks for itself.

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