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US military expands into Africa

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    The American military-industrial complex makes China s business- oriented People s Liberation Army look like a corner shop. US military expands into Africa By
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2007
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      The American military-industrial complex makes China's business-
      oriented People's Liberation Army look like a corner shop.

      US military expands into Africa
      By Simon Tisdall
      February 12, 2007
      Guardian UK

      The American military-industrial complex that so troubled Dwight
      Eisenhower in 1961 has morphed into a boom business with truly global
      reach. It makes China's business-oriented People's Liberation Army
      look like a corner shop. This week's US decision to create a new
      Pentagon command covering Africa, known as Africom, has a certain
      unlovely military logic. Like Roman emperors of old, Washington's
      Caesars arbitrarily divide much of the world into Middle Eastern,
      European and Pacific domains. Now it is Africa's turn. Practical more
      than imperial considerations dictated the White House move. With Gulf
      of Guinea countries including Nigeria and Angola projected to provide
      a quarter of US oil imports within a decade, with Islamist terrorism
      worries in the Sahel and Horn of Africa, and with China prowling for
      resources and markets, the US plainly feels a second wind of change is
      blowing, necessitating increased leverage.

      Africom's advent also follows a pattern of extraordinary military
      expansion under President George Bush, not all of which is explained
      by 9/11. The American military-industrial complex that so troubled
      Dwight Eisenhower in 1961 has morphed into a boom business with truly
      global reach. It makes China's business-oriented People's Liberation
      Army look like a corner shop. The Pentagon's total budget requests for
      the fiscal year ending September 2008 have swollen to $716.5bn. That
      is more than double Clinton-era spending. In contrast, Russia will
      spend $31bn on defence this year and China, according to the
      International Institute for Strategic Studies, an estimated $87bn.

      With Bush as head of the police academy, the US is becoming, de facto,
      the self-appointed global policeman it said it never wanted to be. In
      Africa as elsewhere, this could have the unintended effect of creating
      US-secured regions that are safe for rival countries to do business in
      - and exploit. Beijing, for example, has cause to be thankful.
      Sino-African trade, boosted by the grand continental progress of
      President Hu Jintao this week, has risen from about $3bn in 1995 to
      $55.5bn last year, according to the independent Power and Interest
      News Report. And Chinese political cooperation is also growing, not
      only with "rogue regimes" such as Sudan and Zimbabwe but with more
      mainstream governments, potentially undercutting US- promoted
      governance and democracy standards.

      At the same time, there are arguably too strict limits on what the new
      command will actually do. Africom will advance "our common goals of
      peace, security, development, health, education, democracy and
      economic growth", Mr Bush said. But officials say that will not
      involve the stationing of extra combat troops. Nor will it mean US
      soldiers reinforcing stretched UN and African Union peacekeeping
      forces in Congo, Somalia or Darfur. In practice much of Africom's work
      is likely to involve oversight of already extensive, US-funded African
      capacity-building programmes, including good governance-related
      assistance schemes and training of security forces. In many ways it
      may be modelled on the Horn of Africa taskforce set up in Djibouti
      after 9/11.

      Like smaller US military units working in Rwanda, Botswana and
      Liberia, the taskforce undertakes humanitarian and infrastructure
      projects including, recently, the collation of Somali folk tales. But
      like Africom, the Djibouti base's raison d'etre remains American
      security and counter-terrorism, as seen in its training of Ethiopian
      troops and its air and sea support for the recent Ethiopian
      intervention in Somalia against Islamist militants. By coordinating
      and expanding similar operations, such as US special forces in Algeria
      and the 10-country Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Partnership,
      Africom marks the official arrival of America's "global war on terror"
      on the African continent. It is a wonder it took so long.


      Somalian government troops fire into crowd, at least five killed:
      Nasteex Dahir Farah, Associated Press
      Sunday, February 11, 2007

      KISMAYO, Somalia — A march that drew thousands in support of
      peacekeepers ended in violence Sunday when an explosion went off as
      the army chief prepared to address the rally and government troops
      fired into the crowd in response. At least five people were killed.

      Thousands had marched through Kismayo, 400 kilometres southwest of the
      capital, Mogadishu, to support a proposed peacekeeping mission for
      Somalia. "Somali people need the help of Africans," they chanted.
      "Somalia's stability needs to be restored."

      It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, which happened
      as the army chief, Gen. Abdi Mahdi, was to address the rally at the
      city's Freedom Park.

      Somali government soldiers patrol the streets of Mogadishu, Monday,
      Feb. 5, 2007. Somalia's capital has seen spiraling violence since
      government forces and their Ethiopian backers took it over from an
      ousted Islamic movement.

      Mohamed Sheikh Nor/AP Photo

      Government troops fired into the crowd and then opened fire on the
      streets of Kismayo, but it was not clear just who they were targeting.
      Ethiopian and Somali government troops sealed off the park after the

      An Associated Press reporter saw two dead at Freedom Park, but it was
      not clear whether they died in the explosion or from gunfire. An
      Associated Press reporter counted at least 22 wounded at Kismayo's
      general hospital.

      Col. Abdirazaq Af Gudud, a senior army official who did not take part
      in the rally, said three soldiers died in the explosion.

      The army chief was among the wounded, said Gudud. Five other officials
      also were injured, including the commander of the Somali national
      army's 3rd Battalion and the police chief for southwestern Somalia.

      Kismayo, Somalia's third-largest city, was the last major city held by
      the radical Islamic movement that took over much of the country's
      south last year before being forced out by Somali government troops
      and Ethiopian forces in December and January.

      The African Union has proposed a peacekeeping mission to help
      Somalia's struggling transitional government stabilize Somalia,
      particularly after Ethiopia withdraws its forces.

      The Islamic movement, which still has support in Mogadishu, has vowed
      to wage an Iraq-style insurgency, and attacks in the capital have
      occurred almost daily over the last month.

      Late Saturday, troops fought gunmen at a key government building in
      Mogadishu, said Mohamed Iyow Gedi, a witness to the fighting. Five
      people were wounded, staff at Medina Hospital said.

      Hours after the gunbattle at Villa Baidoa, government soldiers sealed
      off the area around the building and went house to house Sunday
      searching for suspects, witnesses said.

      Earlier Saturday, two areas of Mogadishu were hit by mortar attacks
      that killed at least five people and wounded 10, witnesses said.

      Deputy Defence Minister Salad Ali Jelle said the attacks was the work
      of remnants of the Islamic movement.

      During a pro-Islamist rally Friday, a masked man who gave his name
      only as Abdirisaq said his group, the Popular Resistance Movement in
      the Land of the Two Migrations, was responsible for attacks on
      government buildings and Ethiopian troops.

      Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991, when
      warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on one
      another, throwing the country into anarchy.

      The transitional government was formed with UN help in 2004 amid the
      general chaos, but had been largely ignored by all sides until the
      western-backed Ethiopian invasion brought its leaders to power.


      Mogadishu residents flee city:
      Mustafa Haji Abdinur
      Mon, 12 Feb 2007

      Hundreds of people fled the Somali capital Mogadishu on Monday after
      two people were killed in the latest barrage of rebel rocket attacks
      and guerrilla-style raids.

      There was heavy shelling near the Villa Somalia residence of President
      Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed in southern Mogadishu, where artillery fire lit
      up the night sky.

      At least two people were killed in the attacks that demolished
      residential houses.

      People fled the southern Mogadishu suburbs that came under attack with
      many leaving the capital altogether.

      "We have been expecting peace and prosperity after the past 16 years
      but not flames of gunfire and fresh bloodshed," said southern
      Mogadishu resident, Abdullahi Sheikh Hassan.

      "We have to look for safety for ourselves and for our children," he added.

      Traumatised residents

      Other battle-weary residents echoed similar views after the shelling.

      "A family was sleeping when a house was blown up by a heavy shell, I
      cannot tell what kind of weapon it was but it destroyed the house,
      killing a father and his son," said Jeri Hassan, a neighbour of one of
      the houses attacked.

      Witnesses said gunmen also fired grenades into Madina police station
      in the capital, triggering a gun battle.

      Attacks have steadily intensified since joint Somali-Ethiopian forces
      ousted an Islamist movement from the capital last month.

      The new assault came hours after a bomb exploded in the southern port
      of Kismayo on Sunday, about 500 kilometres south of Mogadishu, killing
      four people and injuring several others.

      Among the injured was the recently appointed Somali military chief
      General Adbi Mohamed, who was addressing scores of residents.

      Country threatening to slide back to war

      With Somalia dangerously teetering between a slide back to war or
      limping forward towards efforts to build a functioning state after
      more than a decade of chaos, the international community is struggling
      to raise funds and troops for a peacekeeping force.

      The African Union has managed to raise half of the required 8000
      peacekeepers expected to be deployed to bolster the Yusuf's feeble

      The AU Commission met in Addis Ababa on Monday to discuss the "speedy"
      deployment of the badly needed force.

      The Somali government is based in the backwater town of Baidoa, about
      250 kilometres (155 miles) north of Mogadishu.

      Yusuf, a former warlord, and Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi have
      failed to make good their pledge of relocating to the capital, one of
      the most dangerous cities in the world.

      The defeated Islamists have vowed to attack and kill peacekeepers, a
      spectre that dampens hopes of an international deployment, which has
      been delayed since 2005 for fear of further confrontation and
      insufficient funds.

      Patchwork of fiefdoms

      A previous 1993-1995 peace mission ended disastrously after UN and US
      troops fled the country, paving the way for the rise of warlords who
      sub-divided the nation into a patchwork of fiefdoms.

      Though the warlords were defeated by the Islamists in June, they have
      been regrouping in the capital while maintaining a low profile.

      In addition, the surging violence calls into question Yusuf's pledge
      to convene a national reconciliation conference in a bid to end the

      Somalia, home to 10 million people, has had no effective central
      authority since the 1991 ousting of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

      Since then, more than 14 internationally-backed attempts to restore a
      functional government have failed, compounding the misery caused by
      numerous natural disasters.


      Somalia: Food shortages in the south as insecurity increases :

      NAIROBI, 12 February 2007 (IRIN) - Families in Somalia's Middle Juba
      region in the south are consuming seeds meant for planting because of
      food shortages, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of
      Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Somalia reports.

      A recent trip to the region by a team from the International Committee
      of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported a "highly alarming humanitarian and
      livelihood situation", said OCHA Somalia. The report estimated that
      "20,000 families need urgent assistance" in the districts of Jamaame,
      Lower Juba region, and in Jilib, Middle Juba.

      Many "families reported that due to lack of food they had eaten seeds
      distributed for post-flood recessional planting … There is evidence to
      suggest that the region, including Buale and Jilib [Middle Juba] to
      Jamaame [Lower Juba], is in a similar humanitarian and livelihood
      situation," the agency said. An inter-agency response, it added, was
      under way.

      In Badhade District in Lower Juba, an estimated 2,000 households have
      been reported to need aid urgently. "The families were affected by the
      recent conflict in the region, and have either been displaced or have
      become more vulnerable as a result," said OCHA.

      Badhade is close to the area where fighting continues between Union of
      Islamic Courts (UIC) remnants and Ethiopian-supported government
      soldiers, who have been pursuing them since the UIC was forced out of
      the capital, Mogadishu, and much of southern Somalia in late December
      2006. It is also close to an area that has been bombed by American jets.

      An estimated 1.1 million people are already facing a humanitarian
      crisis in southern Somalia, which has recently been ravaged by
      drought, floods and conflict.

      Meanwhile, in Mogadishu, a father and his six-year-old son were killed
      when an artillery shell hit their house on Sunday in the Huriwa
      district, a local resident said. A civil society source told IRIN that
      "the security situation is so bad many neighbourhoods in the city have
      begun to set up their own security".

      In the southern port city of Kismayo, five people were killed and at
      least 21 wounded when a bomb was thrown into a pro-government rally.

      "Most of the dead were civilians but at least six senior government
      officials, including the deputy chief of the army, Gen Abdi Mahad, and
      Gen Ahmed Mahamud, the chief of police for southern Somalia, were
      injured," said a local resident, who was at the rally.

      He said the attack had "heightened tensions in Kismayo", which had
      been peaceful and so far escaped the increasingly frequent attacks in

      Isma'il Muhammad Qalinle, a Kismayo businessman, told IRIN that
      government forces were arresting scores of people, "but they are
      arresting innocent people. They know who did this. They know the clan
      that was behind it and it should be named, instead of going after
      innocent people," he added.

      Qalinle said Kismayo was in the grip of inter-clan tension "that has
      been building up since the government started to allocate positions,
      which some clans have seen as unfair", he added.

      However, Salad Ali Jeele, the Somali Deputy Minister of Defence, told
      IRIN the government was investigating the incident in Kismayo, "and
      anyone found to have been involved would be brought to justice, no
      matter what".



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