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TALKING POINT : STARVING TO DEATH WHILE THE WORLD WATCHES

TALKING POINT BY
M.M. AFRAH
Toronto (Canada)

10, Jan. 2004

STARVING TO DEATH WHILE THE WORLD WATCHES

Email: afrah95@hotmail.com
M. M. Afrah

An estimated 4.5 million Somalis were starving to death from the effects of the war and famine and no one, not the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity, the Arab League or Organization of Islamic Conference stepped in time to prevent the human tragedy.

Specialists said that had international or regional organizations stepped in as soon as the former dictator was ousted the tragedy could have been averted, because the clan militia were fighting over food (common in war-torn countries) rather than power, which means they turned their guns on the ships that brought in emergency food aid and on each other

"Flood the country with food and let's talk about other things later," Rakhiya Omaar formerly of the London-based human rights organization Africa Watch told Reuters news agency.

She suggested a massive sealift rather than a far costly, but headline- catching airlift apparently favoured by many officials. "Almost every Somali is within reach of the sea," she said.

THE AMERICANS ARE COMING!

Against this backdrop, rival militiamen tightened their hold ahead of massive American landing to provide protection for famine relief operations, code named Operation Restore Hope.

After reading his situation papers in the Oval Office of the White House, President George Bush senior, whose term of office was to end in three months, said: "What I don't understand is why these warlords want their own people to starve to death."

His National Security Adviser had the answer to that. Most African leaders had nervous ailments known in medical science as hysteria; and in his view, the warlords in Somalia, like their former dictator, suffered from this disease.

At the cabinet meeting that morning, the American economy, the Middle East, Bosnia and the Presidential Campaign in which a young Governor from Arkansas has won, took second place in the gruesome situation in Somalia. Clearly, the President wanted to do something dramatic and memorable after watching on TV babies with matchstick legs and their skeleton-looking mothers waiting for a death to come in a place the international media called The City of Death.

He watched Italian super star Sophia Loren moved to tears at the tragedy during her visits to camps in Kenya for Somali refugees and feeding centers in Mogadishu and Baidoa. He watched drug-crazed young gunmen on Mad Max like customized armoured vehicles race about the rubble strewn streets, shooting at food convoys and demanding extortionate money at makeshift barricades.
The youngsters continued to shoot for hours non-stop. They seemed to be of the opinion that ammunitions grow on trees.
"It is hell on earth. They are devouring themselves in an orgy of violence," the President told his aides. "We must put an end to it," he added with finality.

He knew that only the United States, as the richest and the only superpower in the World today, has the means to break the supply logjam in Somalia and at the same time would boast the high ideals of his World Order's Humanitarian Intervention.

"That mother with the empty bowl hoping to get a handful of rice for her emaciated children is too gruesome to watch, but the United States must restore her hope," Mr. Bush declared.

Thus, Operation Restore Hope was conceived at State Department and the Pentagon.

 

And in less than half an hour a swift plan of action was in place at the Pentagon to launch not a war of invasion, but the world's first massive military intervention for "purely humanitarian reasons." State Department officials said an operation involving airborne, light infantry and mechanized forces would begin securing ports. After that roads and distribution points would be protected by heavily armed Marines and that orders are given to shoot anyone obstructing the distribution of food.

Initially, it seemed to work, but not the way expected by every body, including the Americans.


THE US PLAN OF ACTION

a) Show of force with thousands of armed troops to break the logjam;
b) Replace of the US troops with UN forces exclusively;
c) Turning over the job to locally hired guards and reconstructed Somalia Police Force;
d) US amphibious force of some 2,000 marines and SEALs (the Navy's Sea, Air and Land) would remain offshore providing logistical support to the operation and perhaps would stay on after the withdrawal of the bulk of the US forces.

In New York, acting Secretary of State, Lawrence Eagleberger, has offered to commit up to 30,000 American troops to a multinational United Nations forces in response to a plea by the then UN Secretary-General Butros-Ghali for more help.

The White House said President Bush hoped US troops could be home by the time he hands power to President-elect Bill Clinton on January 20. State Department officials said American troops in Somalia would not fly the UN flag or wear traditional Blue Helmets.

As the moon shimmered across the midnight sky, washing up on a sandy beach in front of Mogadishu's old town and the port, US commandos with faces blackened and automatic weapons stored in waterproof kitbags, stormed into Mogadishu on December 9, 1992. But instead of resistances from Somali gunmen as predicted in a CIA report, some 200 foreign reporters with portable camera arc lights lay in waiting. It was the worst kept secret in US military history.

Marines arrived by scores of helicopter gunships at the port and fired over the heads of dozens of waiting journalists. Then they confiscated arms from the gunmen who tried to hide their weapons in scores of battered containers on the quayside, many with bullet holes from previous gun-battles.

At daybreak hundreds of gunmen who kept the inhabitants as hostages melted away to avoid clashes with the advancing American and French troops sent to end their piracy of relief aid.

Forces from Belgium, Canada, Italy, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Australia, Malaysia, and a number from African and Arab countries were immediately integrated into the overall operation.

Image-conscious CNN reporters instantly sent live coverage of the landing to anxious audience in the United States, showing Somali gunmen found sleeping in an airport hanger being unarmed and dragged out into the open and forced them to lie face down while their hands were tied with plastic handcuffs. These are the gunmen who controlled the main airport and exhorted many from aircraft flying in emergency food aid.

Thousands of cheering Somalis waving green branches (Somalia's olive branch) welcomed the US Marines, Army Rangers, SEALs and Delta Force, as dozens of helicopters hovered over their heads, and second batch of US troops from a force, which will eventually number about 35,000 men swept ashore aboard hovercrafts from the US aircraft carrier, SS Ranger, anchored off the Somali Coast.

As F-14 and Tomcats swooped over Mogadishu on an apparent reconnaissance mission for the US-led multi-national task force, key clan leaders, General Mohamed Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi Mohamed announced in their separate radio stations they would welcome and cooperate with the intervention forces.

But in mosques around the strife-torn city, well fed Sheikhs and Imams warned their congregations in Friday sermons that the American troop deployment is part of anti-Islam campaign, omitting the fact that oil-rich Muslim countries (read: Arab countries) have completely ignored the civil strife in Somalia, a Muslim country, for over two years. One of the Gulf Sultans was even reported to have donated hundreds of thousands of US dollars to a British woman in order for her to have a heart transplant while his fellow Muslims were dying of hunger and starvation in Somalia like flies.

Then what went wrong and why the Americans, with their hit-tech weaponry, night vision goggles, helicopter gunships, state-of-the-art human intelligence network and their green backs, failed to clamp down the hated Mooryaan once and for all? "HELPLESSNESS!" The New York Times exclaimed in a front-page banner. "CHAIN OF COMMAND ERODES IN SOMALIA," Washington Post also screamed in a front-page banner. On the other hand the CNN continued to send glowing reports about the "success of the humanitarian intervention in Somalia". But some of us covering the "Big Profile" new something was wrong, and I would try to highlight what went wrong next week in my own perspective.

To be continued…
By M. M. Afrah©2003,
Email: afrah95@hotmail.com


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