An alarming report in the English Independent newspaper of 14th July (but unreported in the Irish media as far as I can tell) indicates that at least one Irish army officer is involved in an EU mission training Somali soldiers in Uganda for action against the al-Shabaab movement inside Somalia. Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the recent bomb blasts in Kampala that killed 76 innocent civilians.
But the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia, under which the EU-trained troops are intended to serve, has committed its own atrocities since it was installed through the invasion of Somalia by Ethiopian troops in 2006, backed up by the US. The US has also directly launched missile attacks against claimed Islamic militants in Somalia and caused many civilian casualties as a result. John Goekler, writing on the Foreign Policy in Focus website, describes the situation thus:
“Despite Western claims, there is no legitimate government in Somalia. The… TFG has no writ beyond a few square blocks in Mogadishu, and would quickly disappear were it not protected by Ugandan and Burundian troops under the auspices of the African Mission on Somalia (AMISOM). The TFG… is largely seen by locals as a shill for Ethiopia and the US, and has been accused by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch of chronic rape, murder, looting and theft. Backing it lends no credence to Western claims of promoting human rights and democracy”.
(The AMISOM forces have themselves been credited with attacks on residential neighbourhoods and the killing of innocent civilians).
An Amnesty International report in January of this year condemned arms transfers being made to the TFG despite evidence that such weapons could be used in human rights abuses by TFG forces. Why then is the EU (with US support) backing the TFG? And why is Ireland participating in this mission? During the Lisbon Treaty referendum debates in Ireland, Afri drew attention to provisions of the Treaty that allowed EU troops to be deployed abroad to assist other countries in combating ‘terrorism’ in their territories.
At the time we pointed out that such a provision could be invoked to justify support for non-democratic regimes oppressing their own peoples. Many of those supporting the Treaty rejected our contentions and yet, is this not what we are now seeing in Somalia and Uganda?
No doubt the argument may be made that Irish/EU intervention is justified to protect Western shipping from Somali ‘pirates’. But the simplest way to stop ‘piracy’ is to stop the theft of Somali fishing stocks by foreign boats – an estimated $300 million of tuna, shrimp and lobster are stolen from Somali waters every year. And it would also be a good idea to stop European companies dumping toxic waste in those same waters. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, confirms that nuclear material, lead, cadmium, mercury and other carcinogens are all being dumped off the Somali coast. Tackling these problems would be a better long-term guarantor of peace and stability in the region than training the troops of an illegitimate government that has a track record of abuses and atrocities.
Photo taken from the 14th of July report in the Independent (UK)
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