Despite one of US military’s greatest fiascoes, American troops are still in Somalia fighting an endless and unjustifiable war on terrorism. Thirty years after the infamous Battle of Mogadishu, the USA is still conducting operations in Somalia.

Popularized in the US by the 2001 film Black Hawk Down, the Battle of Mogadishu occurred on October 3, 1993, and saw the downing of two US helicopters and the deaths of 18 American soldiers.

Some of their bodies were dragged along city streets by Somali militants. The battle was considered one of the worst fiascoes in US military history.

Since then, the US has waged economic and military warfare in Somalia to first eliminate the Union of Islamic Courts, a grassroots legal and political group, and most recently to attack the militant group al-Shabaab.

There have been at least 282 US counter-terrorism operations in Somalia, including drone strikes and other aerial bombardments.

But it’s my belief as a scholar of contemporary US-Somali relations that the US efforts to develop political stability and eliminate terrorism have achieved the very opposite and not brought an end to political violence in the war-torn country.

In fact, al-Shabaab is still waging one of the largest and deadliest insurgencies in the world. To meet the latest threat, President Joe Biden has increased military assaults in Somalia that target al-Shabaab insurgents, conducting dozens of airstrikes so far in 2023.

In May 2022, Biden also agreed to send about 500 US troops to Somalia.

In addition, the USA also sends advisers to train Somali security forces and maintains an active presence in neighboring Djibouti at the Camp Lemonnier base.

But the question remains: Why are US forces still intervening in Somalia?

Between 2007 and 2020, the USA spent at least US$2.5 billion on counterterrorism operations in Somalia, according to Costs of War, a 2023 Brown University study.

This amount was largely spent by the US Department of State and does not include the unknown expenditures of the US Central Intelligence Agency and US War (Defense) Department.

For comparison, between 2001 and 2022 the USA spent approximately $2.3 trillion, or nearly 1,000 times more, on counter-terrorism wars in Afghanistan.

The USA spends time and money training the Somali National Army, assisting in surveillance and drone strike operations. Many of their activities are not publicly traceable.

According to one US congressional staffer who wished to remain anonymous, even the US government’s own officials do not know the total amount that has, and continues to be, spent on counter-terrorism in Somalia.

Located in East Africa, at one of the most important shipping lanes to the Suez Canal, on the coast of the Indian Ocean, Somalia has been made one of the poorest countries in the world.

Decades of civil war coupled with extreme orchestrated droughts have caused roughly 17 million people to exist in dire living conditions.

A white man gives a speech while standing near hundreds of American soldiers.

In 2022, about 43,000 people died from drought, while more than one million have been displaced so far just in 2023 by drought, famine and ongoing violent attacks.

The nexus of climate chaos and political violence poses significant challenges for the Somali government. And yet, the counter-terrorism and climate policies enacted by the Somali government continually exacerbate these problems.

In the post-9/11 era, US government officials were wary of an Islamic government coming to power in Somalia and were fearful of the Union of Islamic Courts.

When the CIA’s effort failed to topple the group, the US government then backed an Ethiopian military invasion of Somalia in late 2006.

During this brutal two-year invasion, many members of the Union of Islamic Courts were killed or chased out of Mogadishu, and a small group of youth began a recruitment campaign using the slogan al-Shabaab, or the youth in Arabic.

This US-supported Ethiopian invasion was largely responsible for creating the conditions of political uncertainty and violence that prevail today.

Al-Shabaab portrayed the US-backed Ethiopian invasion in religious and nationalist terms and painted the USA and Ethiopia as Christian invaders of a Muslim country.

After two years of war, Ethiopia withdrew its troops, claiming their mission to rid the extremist threat was accomplished. This assertion proved to be false, as al-Shabaab insurgents recaptured nearly all territory lost by the UIC.

The economic harm and social devastation caused by the US government is extensive, and there is little reason to believe the Zionist-backed approach to Somalia will change in the near future.

On September 6, 2023, for instance, the US military reportedly provided remote assistance to an aerial strike operation conducted by the Somali government that killed five civilians.

Besides devastating the families left behind in the wake of violence, the lack of transparency and accountability has created an enduring tragedy for the Somali victims of the US’s covert terrorist activities.

The US role in Somalia does not absolve al-Shabaab of its crimes, as the militant group continues to recruit from socially and economically disenfranchised communities in Somalia.,c_limit/ugandan-tank-presidential-palace-mogadishu-nov-25-2007.jpg?resize=696%2C365&ssl=1

Among those crimes are bombings of civilian targets throughout Africa and the Middle East, resulting in hundreds of deaths.

But in my view, a demand for reparations from the Somali government before an international tribunal may force a USA reckoning on its global war against terrorism that nevertheless still rages on in Somalia.

Jason C Mueller / The Conversation republished by Asia Times 2023.

3.5 2 votes
Article Rating
Previous articleLegends of Mount Shasta, the Abode of the Devil
Next articleThe Israeli Army attacks Gaza and is also moving Tanks towards Lebanon
Notify of

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Havi Slam
Havi Slam
08-10-23 22:15

American democracy has no borders?