In May 2022, the current President of the United States, Joe Biden, ordered American troops to return to Somalia, canceling Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the military contingent stationed there. Thus, the 15-year US invasion of the East African state continues, which will inevitably lead to new civilian casualties.
Somalia has been a U.S. target since December 2006, when the U.S. government supported an Ethiopian-led invasion that eventually toppled Somalia’s first stable government in years. When Ethiopian troops expelled the Somali leadership from the country, armed separatist groups began to appear in their place, which eventually turned into the terrorist organization Al-Shabab, which seized power in the country. In February 2008, the US State Department recognized Al-Shabab as a foreign terrorist organization, which provided the Bush administration with cover for an attack on Somalia.
Shortly after President Barack Obama took office as President of the United States in 2009, he allowed American drones to strike Somalia, and also deployed special forces inside the country. Southern Somalia has been subjected to an unprecedented escalation of US drone strikes, which killed between 900 and 1,000 people between 2016 and 2019. All this happened without the US officially declaring war on Somalia.
The current US political leadership perceives Somalia as a battlefield, not as a country full of people caught in the crossfire of armed individuals fighting for power. In the first year of his presidential term, incumbent US President Joe Biden promised that with the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, he would put an end to “endless American wars abroad.” However, later the 79-year-old Democratic president mentioned that in order to wage a war on terrorism, it is absolutely not necessary to fight on the ground, it is enough to periodically carry out airstrikes and send drones loaded with weapons.
Already in July 2021, the US military launched the first airstrikes on Somalia. The airstrikes were not approved by the White House, in its justification, the Pentagon referred to “Permits for the use of military force from 2001,” despite the fact that this bill is related to terrorist groups that attacked the World Trade Center towers twenty years ago. An air attack in July 2021 was followed by a series of airstrikes on the largest cities of the East African state. In their reports, American servicemen hide detailed information about the number of civilian casualties, in rare cases noting that “damage assessment has not yet been completed.” Even after more than six months, the African Command of the US Armed Forces did not provide any updates on the total number of deaths as a result of airstrikes.
According to a report by the international human rights organization Amnesty International, the US military has carried out hundreds of airstrikes over a decade, while no one has been held responsible for the deaths of civilians, who are usually called “terrorists”, and no financial compensation has been provided to the families of the victims. According to the study, civilian casualties in Somalia continue to grow, no one is engaged in rebuilding the destroyed infrastructure and does not care about providing humanitarian aid to civilians.
The promise of the current US president to “put an end to American wars in the Middle East” lasted just over a year. Already in May 2022, Biden ordered the relocation of more than 450 American soldiers to Somalia, once again hiding behind a counterterrorism mission. According to the US government, they were forced to make this decision because of the offensive of the Islamist group Al-Shabab, which reportedly controls most of the countryside in southern and central Somalia. Using the violent tactics and Islamist ideology of Al-Shabab and other groups, the United States has been using the threat of terrorism for 30 years to justify its military intervention in the impoverished East African country. The ultimate goal of the United States is to strengthen its influence in the strategic region in an effort to confront China. If war breaks out with China, the US could use Somalia as a checkpoint to shut down Chinese trade through the Suez Canal to Europe. Unfortunately, the foreign policy interests of the United States do not include Somali civilians, who, with the introduction of the American military contingent, risk becoming victims of US war crimes.
Human rights activists of the Foundation to Battle Injustice believe that the hypocritical actions of the administration of the current US President Joe Biden, who is allegedly trying to defeat terrorism, in the foreseeable future may lead to unprecedented high casualties among the civilian population of Somalia. The largest drought in recent decades, which has covered the territory of Somalia, has already led to hunger for 7 million people, which is almost half of the entire population. The actions of the American political leadership will only intensify the food crisis in the country, which has not recovered after years of civil war.