When Barack Obama visits Kenya in July, he will no doubt mention Garissa and condemn Al-Shabaab as evil cowards who have no regard for human life. But he won’t mention how the United States has helped to kill up to 1 million people in Somalia through war and starvation – with the help of Kenya.
There is so much killing committed by so many nations, groups, and individuals that it is hard to know where to begin in condemning it all. Of course the biggest mass killers are and always have been governments. As time passes, states around the world have ever more horrifying capabilities of taking human life. In the process they create resentments, hatred, and ultimately the desire for revenge. The Somali group Al-Shabaab is an example of this predictable and horrifying phenomenon.
On April 2, 2015, Al-Shabaab fighters stormed a university located in Garissa, Kenya, and killed 147 people. Survivors report that Muslims were separated from non-Muslims, and non-Muslim students and staff were summarily executed. In 2013 Al-Shabaab attacked a shopping mall in Nairobi under the same circumstances and killed 67 people. In 2015 as in 2013, the group immediately claimed responsibility and made their rationale clear. In an online statement Al-Shabaab repeated that it seeks revenge for the destruction of Somalia by the United States and its allies.
“In Somalia, the Kenyan military has committed a countless number of atrocities against the Muslim population. With their government’s approval, the Kenyan military embarked on a series of mass killings, torture and systematic rape of the Muslim women in Somalia. Tens of thousands of Muslims were displaced from their homes, hundreds more were killed and thousands injured as a direct result of the Kenyan invasion. Kenyan jets shelled refugee camps and hospitals, killing dozens. They strafed entire villages from the air, killed livestock and bombarded Madrassas and educational institutions, crushing, with such malice, the dreams and hopes of an entire generation.”
Somalia is a nation long torn apart by civil war aided and abetted by neighboring states Ethiopia and Kenya who work in league with the United States. When Somalia began to emerge as a stable nation the United States and Ethiopia acted quickly to make sure that it remained weak and vulnerable. Ethiopia invaded Somalia at America’s urging and was later joined in the aggressions by Kenya and other African puppet governments who remain in that country.
No one wants to live in an occupied country with foreign armies, starvation, and death, and Somalis are no exception. The United States continues drone strikes which claim to kill a particular “Al-Shabaab leader” and in so doing keep Somalia in a state of failure. No stone is left unturned in the effort to keep Somalia from becoming a thriving nation with its sovereignty intact.
In February of this year the United States government ended the ability of any American bank to transfer funds to Somalia. Remittances from Somalis living abroad account for some 50% of that country’s gross national income and total over $1 billion. The rationale for this latest destruction was keeping funds out of the hands of Al-Shabaab. Of course ordinary citizens will suffer far more. In the past the United States even withheld food aid for the same stated reasons and suffering still falls largely on a vulnerable population.
Al-Shabaab fighters can’t reach the United States, but they can reach Kenya, with which it shares a border. Kenyans shopping in a mall or attending university run the risk of being victimized too. That is the point which Al-Shabaab makes implicitly and explicitly with each attack. If their people can be killed, then the citizens of an occupying nation can be killed too.
Once again we see painful and heart rending images of victims and grieving families. The corporate media tells Americans little if anything about Somalia’s road to ruin which the United States directed. They don’t reveal the American violence directed at Somalis or present images of starving people or bodies left by war and drone strikes.
In the American mind Al-Shabaab is just another group of crazed foreigners who have bizarre grievances. In fact their grievances are justly held and if there were true justice in this world the United States and its puppets would not only have to leave that country but make restitution as well.
When Barack Obama makes his official visit to Kenya later this year he will no doubt make mention of Garissa. He will say that Al-Shabaab is made up of evil cowards who have no regard for human life but he won’t mention how the United States helped to kill up to 1 million people in neighboring Somalia through war and starvation. Every president since George H.W. Bush has either sent United States troops to conduct “humanity missions” or killer drones to “fight terrorism.” Somalia suffers from an unfortunate geography. It is too close to the Persian Gulf and access to oil. It also suffers because America has reached the apex of imperialism and looks for new places to bring under its influence, even when that means a great loss of human life.
Al-Shabaab may well have the last word. In their statement they warned that Garissa would not be the end of their violence perpetrated against Kenyans. “For as long as your government persists in its path of oppression, implements repressive policies and continues with the systematic persecution against innocent Muslims, our attacks will also continue. No amount of precaution or safety measures will be able to guarantee your safety, thwart another attack or prevent another bloodbath from occurring in your cities.”
Those words could have been written by the United States. In Somalia, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, and Syria there is no escape from American aggression either. Al-Shabaab has learned a lot about how to kill.
* Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in Black Agenda Report, from where this article was taken.
* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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