Islamist guerrillas who control swaths of Somalia are banning food aid from foreigners – a posture that observers predict might cost millions of lives.
“This is yet another heinous crime – starving people to death in the name of religion,” Omar Jamal, a New York-based official with Somalia’s vestigial government, said in an interview.
Somalia’s al-Shabab militants, already globally notorious for suicide bombings and sharia courts that kill and maim alleged heretics, may well now be set to facilitate famine on an epic scale.
Al-Shabab has gained ground by targeting Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, the largely powerless local authority whose ministers face widespread intimidation and possible death if they remain in the country.
This week, al-Shabab militants kidnapped a newly appointed female cabinet minister who they let go only after extracting promises she no longer work for the TFG. Last month, the country’s interior minister was killed in a suicide bombing by a female who was reportedly his niece.
In a country beset by two decades of anarchy and warlordism, these al-Qaeda-linked fighters continue to make gains as a relatively cohesive fighting force.
A spokesman for al-Shabab, which controls the bulk of Somalia’s south, recently told reporters its territories remained off-limits to groups such as the United Nations. This statement reversed a pledge to open the lands up for famine relief, a promise that had made the international aid organizations cautiously optimistic that widespread famine might be averted.
“We are not guaranteeing safety for any agency that was previously banned from working in areas under our control,” Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage of al-Shabab told the Daily Telegraph. “We shall also expel any agency that causes problems for Muslim society.”
He said al-Shabab leaders were “mistranslated” when they were quoted saying that they would let in foreign agencies.
Somali has 3.7 million people who are starving because of the drought, according to the UN. Because most live in the south, the UN says its food aid is reaching only about a third of those who need it. The UN World Food Program hasn’t been present in south Somalia since January, 2010.
While this story is currently a "famine and food story," it seems to be more of another story of terrorism. Like the new microbes that are resistant to antibiotics, the terrorists seem resistant to the forms of military and intelligence offensives we have used agaisnt them. Also, like the microbes, they are emminently capable of mutating, of changing the colours and the designs of their evil madness and, as a single, untrained, and completely inexperienced professional in military, legal or intelligence studies, I have to wonder if we have found the most appropriate collaborative, invasive and effective remedy for their "crimes against humanity."
"Crimes against humanity" is a phrase we hear in reference to those dictators who can be proven to have carried out mass killings, 'ethnic cleansings' as they're called. So we have a legal system capable of addressing individuals, who have to be caught, held, tried and convicted and then sentenced for their crimes. Terrorists, probably in "Terrorism 101" learned that the west has not been very effective against groups, only against individuals, and our court libraries are filled with cases, including those of the Nuremburg trials.
War, as indicated by the wars in both Iraq and Afthanistan, with both large batallions of foot soldiers and huge arsenals of planes, ships, bombs and missiles, seems also less than effective, and extremely costly against the latest 'insurgents' of which there seem to be caves full of waves, waiting for their turn to attack. Small groups took over four planes on 9-11 and killed thousands killing themselve in the process. Never have we faced an enemy so willing to sacrifice their own lives, in the pursuit of what is really a cultural-religious-conversion-domination campaign to 'rule the world.'
So we face a force without money, without physical weapons except those fashioned from hardware store purchases, without ships, planes, bombs or missiles...but who are intimately and permanently committed to their cause and they take the form of pirates on the high seas taking over millions if not billions of dollars in cargo and hundreds of prisoners and pilots, and suicide bomb conveyors and detonators, and lone wolf self-styled heroes to the cause...and yet, with our truckloads of cash, and our bombers and nuclear aircraft carriers, and guided missiles and drones operated by joy-sticks in Nevada, and our CIA and FBI and M5 in Britain, and hopefully the KGB in Russia, and Interpol and (lol) the Canadian CSIS, we are still in danger. Just this week, Homeland Security issued another warning focused on a home-grown terror attack from with the staff groups of hundreds of American facilities in nuclear energy, electric power, military production facilites, electric power grids...all with the purpose of disabling the U.S. as a gift to celebrate the tenth anniversary of 9-11.
- We have not eradicated the Taliban in Afghanistan, just as Russia could not do after ten years;
- we have not removed the terror-training operations in Yemen and presumably in Pakistan;
- we have not removed the "internal threat" from the brain-washing of radical imams in Britain, and other countries;
- we have not stopped the Iranian and Syrian support for Hezbollah and Hamas in the Middle East;
- we have not stopped or forestalled the nuclear weapons development scheme of the Iranians;
- we have not discontinued the nuclear armament development program of North Korea;
- we have not secured the unequivocal and trustworthy commitment of the Pakistani's to support the removal of the Taliban from their borders;
- we have sacrificed hundreds, if not thousands, of lives in our attempt to control the forces of terror, particularly those attached to the Islamic, fundamentalist jihad that seeks, and openly admits it seeks, world domination, and while there has not been a second 9-11 of similar proportions, who knows what creative impulse with spark a new and different method of terror
With General Petraeus, now head of the C.I.A., literally changing offices with the new Secretary of Defence, Leon Panetta, will there be a blending of the lines of both responsibility and jurisdiction, with the aim of converging the two forces in a single-minded effort to combat these demons?
- Will the military and the intelligence-gathering efforts be more co-ordinated?
- Will the forces of the military be more open to and more warmly received by the forces of the other in joint actions and in joint planning?
- Will the military training capabilities be enhanced by the intensive training potential of the C.I.A.?
- Will the military capabilities become more familiar to the agents of the C.I.A., now that the training and the professionalism of each is exchanged with the other?
- Without creating a new bureaucracy, will the U.S. now move to a hybrid force that seeks to reduce the capacity of the enemy and to provide the kind of long-term security that all those living in the U.S. can only hope will be a reality?
- And does this new development signal a potential third arm in the mix, the Attorney General's department, for the purpose of the appplication of law to the international situation, as far as its current development will permit?
- And when, because it is long past due, does the U.S. sign on to the International Court of Justice at the Hague, as an indication that this fight requires the best and the brightest brains from all countries to combat what is now clearly a global threat, just as significant as global warming?
crimes against humanity, and such an initiative requires the U.S. membership in the Court at the Hague.
Clearly the starving people in Somalia do not have the strength to accomplish such a mission.
Clearly, the various governments of Africa, including the OAU (Organization of African Union) do not have sufficient resources, or political will to accomplish such a mission.
The U.N. does not appear to have either the will, or the power to accomplish such a mission.
Does the U.S., inconcert with other international partners, in coalition, have the power and the political will to accomplish such a mission? Who knows?
Does the Court, itself, have the needed resources to bring to justice such a large and disjointed group of people and charge and convict them of a single crime against humanity?
Or are we left wondering when our capacity to confront the enemy will grow to match the capacity of the enemy to escape our tentacles of justice, under the rule of law?