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BY M.M. Afrah,
Toronto (Canada)
Dec. 29, 2001

So we are once again in the limelight for good or for worse and once again the Americans are paying us another visit, this time for different reasons. The 1993 visit was supposed to be a humanitarian one that ended in an impotent rage after 18 American soldiers, not to mention the 24 Pakistanis, ended up in body bags. Thousands of non-combatants died in the process. It was a jungle of hatred between visitors and vocal minorities led by an elusive warlord who strongly believed in the Kalanishkov Culture.

An old Russian proverb says: "Hope is the last to die." Our hope for a new life died with the AK-47 culture. We have been bombed, blasted and squeezed by warlords, by Black Hawks, by clan elders, by freelancers, by religious nuts and by the new kids on the block until we don't know who the hell owns that country called Somalia.

Many of us voted with our own feet to flee the inferno. And in the Diaspora we are called the Gypsies of Africa. Never mind the epithet, because all newcomers have been ostracized since the "discovery" of the new world (North America) by old man Chris Colombo who wrongly called the natives Indians, because he though he was in India!

Centuries later white Americans classified immigrants and refugees from Europe as Daggoes (the Italians) Frogs (the French) Sauerkrauts (the Germans) and Limeys (the British), forgetting the fact that they themselves had roots in those countries.

"The only difference is that they came earlier than us," a Somali woman once told a gathering of immigrants and refugees in Toronto (Canada).

Now back to America's second visit to Somalia. News agencies say that the warlords have been soliciting the Americans to give them a helping hand (Afghanistan's Northern Alliance-style) "to smoke out" what they described Al-Qaeda terrorist cells in Somalia. Reuters news agency and the BBC described the warlords' exercises as a bid to return to power and destroy the Arta group with the help of the 52s and helicopter gunships, giving the dying country a final shove with no one in the world to witness its last gasp -- a country where every mother's first thought on rising is: How would I feed my children today?

The warlords must be shivering with delicious anticipation as they waited for the US President to give the green light to his death machines. One of the new kids on the block (the Arta Group) was quoted as saying that if Aideed junior comes to power he would swear to God that there had never been Al-Qaeda training camps or cells in Somalia. He would also swear that Osama bin Laden had never visited Somalia to train his father's militia how to kill Americans during the heydays of Aideed Senior, as alleged by US intelligence. A reader in Sweden said in his email: "Yes, there are terrorists in all regions of Dear Somalia, namely the Somali warlords, at least against our own people, but they are so cowardly that they cannot threaten even a non-Somali rabbit!"

General Gabyow, a lesser known warlord and General Barre's faithful told a press conference in Addis Abeba the other day: "I myself can mobilize up to 50,000 of my militia and fight alongside international force (translation: American forces) which would come to Somalia to help eradicate several terrorist groups who destroyed our country." I WONDER WHO ARE THESE TERRORISTS WHO DESTROYED OUR COUNTRY?

Ironically, President Bush never mentioned Somalia in his various speeches and press conferences. Probably he is reluctant to jump the smoking gun, Texas-style, at least for the moment. As a teenager, he must have been watching cowboy movies, like Shane, The Man from Laramie and High Noon or OK Coral.

Somalia as the next target is one thing Newsweek didn't mention either, but the media giants, like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The USA-TODAY are having their field days playing the "Somalia card". Seasoned politicians who knew Somalia are wondering who is behind the hullabaloo. The arms industry? The Ethiopians? The warlords? The Pentagon out to settle a score?

Retroactively, the United Nations should have stayed put instead of pulling out prematurely, leaving behind the people to fend for themselves. After all, they were there to keep the peace in the first place. It is the duty of the Blue Helmets to defend the civilians in compliance with Chapter Seven of the UN Security Council mandate.

M.M. Afrah 2001

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