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Bush Names Somalis "Terrorists"

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    Painting terrorists in Somalia by Bill Fletcher Jr. (FinalCall) 2008/04/29 http://www.mathaba.net/0_mail.shtml?x=590547 The Bush administration, as it has done
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2 9:29 AM
      Painting terrorists in Somalia
      by Bill Fletcher Jr. (FinalCall)
      2008/04/29
      http://www.mathaba.net/0_mail.shtml?x=590547


      The Bush administration, as it has done in other parts of the world
      selectively chooses when to classify an insurgency or resistance as
      terrorist-based almost solely according to whether the target of the
      insurgency/ resistance is a friend of the Bush administration.

      Bush's so-called war against terrorism entered a further, cynical
      stage with the recent classification of a Somali group as alleged
      "terrorists." Al Shabab, the military wing of the Union of Islamic
      Courts, was declared by the State Department to be a terrorist
      organization. The Bush administration claims that some members of Al
      Shabab are affiliated with al-Qaeda.

      In order to understand the cynicism of this move it is important to
      remember that Somalia was a basket case for over a decade after the
      overthrow of dictator Siad Barre. Filled with clan-based warlords, the
      country had no stable government. An international attempt to forge a
      transitional national government resulted in no further stability or
      end to the violence.

      The rise of a right-wing Islamist group known as the Union of Islamic
      Courts, however, brought about a period of relative stability and
      internal peace. While the group was and is ultra-conservative in many
      of its tenets, it was successful in crushing or co-opting many of the
      warlords. Further, it was an indigenous group to Somalia and not an
      arm of another country or an external social movement.

      Using the pretext of an alleged, and unproven, connection between the
      Union of Islamic Courts and Al Qaeda, Ethiopian troops—encouraged and
      backed by the Bush administration—invaded Somalia in 2006 with the
      stated objective of supporting the Transitional National Government,
      an institution that was on its last legs, and had little support
      within the population. Though the Ethiopians defeated the Union of
      Islamic Courts in formal battle, the situation in Somalia devolved
      into guerrilla war and chaos. The situation has been going downhill
      ever since.

      Al Shabab, whether one supports it or not, is an armed resistance
      movement. It has been carrying out military actions against troops of
      the country that invaded Somalia. One does not have to support the
      Union of Islamic Courts or the actions of Al Shabab to recognize that
      a people have a right to oust those who invade their land.

      The Bush administration's action in classifying Al Shabab as
      "terrorists" further complicates an already difficult situation. As
      opposed to recognizing that Al Shabab is the military wing of a
      legitimate movement, classifying them as alleged terrorists makes
      efforts towards a political resolution of the conflict unlikely, if
      not nearly impossible, just as has happened in Iraq. One does not have
      to like Al Shabab, or agree with its objectives, as long as it can be
      demonstrated on the ground that this is a movement that has a real
      constituency and is militarily confronting an occupying army.

      The Bush administration, as it has done in other parts of the world,
      e.g., in Turkey with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), in the
      Philippines with the Communist Party of the Philippines (and their New
      People's Army), selectively chooses when to classify an insurgency or
      resistance as terrorist-based almost solely according to whether the
      target of the insurgency/resistance is a friend of the Bush
      administration. In the case of Somalia, the Ethiopians are doing the
      bidding of the Bush administration as well as serving their own
      regional ambitions.

      There is another piece to this which is worth noting. Throwing around
      the label of 'terrorist' is also aimed at suppressing dissent here at
      home in the USA. Whether one is a Somali, Somali American, or simply
      someone who supports Somalia's right to national self-determination,
      the label of terrorist has a chilling effect on one's willingness to
      speak out. As witnessed during the Cold War with the manner in which
      the charge of "communist sympathizer" was used to suppress dissent,
      the suggestion that someone is either soft on terrorism or, worse,
      aiding and abetting an alleged terrorist group shuts down all
      reasonable discussion.

      So, let's be clear: the Bush administration is not interested in
      reasonable discussion. We, however, should be, so we need to push back
      against this latest outrage.


      --Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy
      Studies and the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum. He can
      be reached at papaq54 @ hotmail.com. This column was distributed by
      NNPA.

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