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.
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
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
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,"
THE AMERICANS ARE COMING!
this backdrop, rival militiamen tightened their hold
ahead of massive American landing to provide protection
for famine relief operations, code named Operation
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Operation Restore Hope was conceived at State Department
and the Pentagon.
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
Initially, it seemed to work, but not the way expected
by every body, including the Americans.
THE US PLAN OF ACTION
Show of force with thousands of armed troops to break
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
from Belgium, Canada, Italy, India, Pakistan, Turkey,
Australia, Malaysia, and a number from African and
Arab countries were immediately integrated into the
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.