End War Everywhere: The USA’s Bombing of Somalia

Regardless of the harm inflicted by terrorists, who gets caught in the crossfire of anti-terror bombardments?


Getty Images

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), also known as Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).

On February 22nd, 2022, the USA launched a drone strike against al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, the respite between bombings having lasted only six months. Al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization with ties to al-Qaeda, has been the enemy of the American and Somali governments since its inception. However, these deadly attacks carried out by both the US and al-Shaabab have one thing in common: they both devastate Somali people and Somali infrastructure. 

The history of Somalia’s relations with the USA and Europe go back to the era of colonialism. The area where Somalia now is was once colonized by Italy and Britain in the 1880s, and the land remained colonized for over seventy years. On July 1st, 1960, Somalia declared independence, but was taken over by a military dictator within ten years. In the ensuing decades, civil war, tribalism and animosity between family groups has caused Somalia to become a hotbed of political discord. Since 1998, there have been two states in a state of secession from Somalia, but neither has been recognized as a sovereign state by any foreign body. These states are The Republic of Somaliland and the Puntland State of Somalia. The al-Shabaab insurgents currently being fought by the Somali and US governments are part of a radical splinter group which broke off the Islamic Courts Union following the Union’s defeat by the Somali government in 2007. Ever since, they have been committing terrorism against the Somali government– as well as foreign representatives– due to a belief that Shari’a laws should be enforced in Somalia. These religious terrorists are simply the latest threat to Somali stability, so if drone strikes are meant as a means of helping Somalia, why haven’t influencial foreign powers been interfering before now? Well, they have, unsuccessfully.

Somali has had a long history with the United Nations, starting back in 1991 during the Somali Civil War. The UN interfered for humanitarian reasons, helping to broker peace between the two factions. In 1992 and ‘93, however, the humanitarian nature of the UN’s operations in Somalia changed. Aid was distributed only to those who supported the UN’s mission, regardless of need. The mission was underfunded, and consent was not obtained from any of the Somali factions before deploying troops. Additionally, corruption and mismanagement within the UN caused the loss of millions of dollars in faulty goods and embezzlement. The UN left Somalia in 1994, failing to resolve any conflict. This failure set a precedent, and fear of political repercussions for future failures contributed to such infamous acts of callous inaction as the UN’s inadequate response to the Rwandan and Bosnian Genocides.

Somalia and the USA have had an historically good relationship, dating back to the USA’s declaration of independence. The governing body that would later become Somalia, the Geledi Sultanate, was the first African nation to recognize the USA as a sovereign country. During the Cold War, Somalia established an alliance with the USA after cutting ties with the Soviet Union. Only a decade later, during the Somali Civil War, the USA supported the failed UN task force UNITAF, and later the Transitional Federal Government once the war had ended. Since 2007, just after the formation of al-Shabaab, the USA has been carrying out airstrikes in Somalia from drones, planes, and ships. The number of these airstrikes currently totals over 200, with the total number of casualties in the thousands. This campaign of bombing is part of the legacy of the War on Terror and is reflective of the War’s horrific disregard for human suffering.

U.S. strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen from 2002 to 2020 killed between 10,000 and 17,000 people. Of these, between 800 and 1,750 are thought to have been civilians.

— The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

It has been
proven that the War on Terror and its methods (e.g. drone strikes, endless warfare, torture, unlawful arrest, etc) do not work to reduce terrorism and only cause more suffering to already injured and overexploited populations. Within US borders, domestic terrorism is not dealt with by raining bombs down from invisible planes overhead. Domestic terrorists are arrested by police, taken to court, and– more often than should be comfortable– acquitted. Kyle Rittenhouse, Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove, Jonathan Mattingly, Ryan McMahon– all have committed horrendous acts of violence against American citizens. However, none are dead, and none are jailed. The US government, it seems, has different standards for the apprehension of violent criminals and what constitutes ‘acceptable collateral damage’ depending on the country. 

The war in Ukraine, of course, is despicable. It is an imperialist act by Putin that will claim both the lives of civilians and those of soldiers. What sets it apart from other recent wars, however, seems to be the treatment of refugees. Poland freely opened its borders to fleeing Ukrainians (white ones, anyway), yet closed its borders to Afghan refugees just last year. Many countries in Africa and Southwestern Asia have been experiencing violence for years, and their refugees have been relegated to border camps, died in wilderness crossings, and been the victims of hate crimes even after managing to escape. However, they did not receive anywhere near the amount of compassion that Ukraine and its people have received. The aforementioned compassion is however, in all honestly, simple human decency.

Unfortunately, Somalia is not the only other non-Ukraine country currently being bombed. Yemen is currently being attacked by Saudi Arabia, and forty-seven children have been killed just this year. Syria is meanwhile under attack by Israel, another settler-colonialist state not unlike the United States. 

To support Somalia, donate to organizations which will actually help Somalians, and NEVER donate to the Salvation Army.

Links: Borgen Project, International Rescue Organization, Help Syria, Help Palestine Carrd.