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Britain and America linked to Somali pirates, Somalia still suffers

By Tim Coles

Redress, Al-Jazeerah,, April 5, 2010

Tim Coles argues that British and US policies in Somalia, and London’s and Washington’s support for warlord Abdullahi Yusuf’s Transitional Federal Government, belie their opposition to the Somali pirates.

Britain’s former chief of the General Staff, Richard Dannatt, has clarified the role of British institutions in world affairs. “[S]uccess can only be achieved if our actions are fully integrated with our government partners in the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office], DFID [Department for International Development] and all the other instruments of national power” (2009).

According to DFID, one of the instruments of national power, “[a]cross the country [Somalia], as fighting cuts off the delivery of essential services and a prolonged drought causes widespread crop failure, an estimated 3.76 million people – close to 40 per cent of the population – are thought to require emergency help. In no other country in the world is so large a proportion of the population in need of relief assistance” (2009).

The "Department for International Development boasts of its millions of pounds in aid donations, but it omits the fact that Britain has helped to plunge Somalia into disaster by destroying the Union of Islamic Courts which were recognized under UN Resolution 1725."

DFID boasts of its millions of pounds in aid donations, but it omits the fact that Britain has helped to plunge Somalia into disaster by destroying the Union of Islamic Courts which were recognized under UN Resolution 1725. Britain and America supported the warlords of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) which Ethiopia, under US auspices, sought to establish in Somalia in December 2006.

The TFG was led by warlord Abdullahi Yusuf, whom the Blair government supported with a house, an NHS liver transplant and finance for his militia (Hartley 2008; Campbell 2005).

By 2009, the situation had not improved: Human Rights Watch reported that “[m]ore than 100,000 people  almost all of them from Somalia and Ethiopia  have arrived by boat along Yemen's coast during the past two years. Most are fleeing war or persecution at home or are in search of work” (HRW 2009). In line with the standard, and breathtaking, hypocrisy of the British rulers, Yemen is now called a terrorist hotbed.

Despite this horror, the media, following the demands of the government, still likes to condemn pirates. Royal Institute of International Affairs analyst Roger Middleton found that “[t]he only period during which piracy virtually vanished around Somalia was during the six months of rule by the Islamic Courts Union in the second half of 2006. This indicates that a functioning government in Somalia is capable of controlling piracy” (Middleton 2008, 3). In that case, if Britain and America really want to end piracy they wouldn’t have destroyed the Union of Islamic Courts. Not surprisingly, Britain and America are linked to the pirates who funded none other than Abdullahi Yusuf.

Middleton confirmed:

Puntland, the semi-autonomous region in the northeast of the country, appears to be the base for most pirates in Somalia… The fact that the pirates originate from Puntland is significant as this is also the home region of President Abdullahi Yusuf. As one expert said, “money will go to Yusuf as a gesture of goodwill to a regional leader” – so even if the higher echelons of Somali government and clan structure are not directly involved in organizing piracy, they probably do benefit... Puntland is one of the poorest areas of Somalia, so the financial attraction of piracy is strong. Somalia’s fishing industry has collapsed in the last 15 years and its waters are being heavily fished by European, Asian and African ships (2008, 4-5).

This another example of the West’s benevolence.

The “Somalia has links with al-Qaeda” thread on which the US is hanging its Somalia ambitions is, at times, embarrassingly thin. In 2010 BBC Africa reported that the TFG “confirmed to the BBC that an Al-Qaeda fighter had been killed, but did not name him and said the government ‘would provide evidence later’” (BBC Africa 2010).


BBC Africa, “Somali forces kill al-Qaeda man'’, 9 February 2010

Campbell, D., “Briton’s widow seeks arrest of Somali president”, Guardian, 27 May 2005

Dannatt, R., “A Perspective on the nature of future conflict”, transcript, Friday 15 May 2009, Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House)

Department for International Development, “Fighting the threat of starvation in Somalia”, 16 October 2009

Hartley, A., “The terror of Tesco’s finest...”, Daily Mail online, 23 May 2008b

Human Rights Watch, “Yemen: asylum seekers run gauntlet of abuses. Tens of thousands face murderous smugglers at sea, abusive policies on land”, December 20 2009a

------------ 2009b, “From horror to hopelessness: Kenya’s forgotten Somali refugee crisis, NY: HRW

------------ 2008, “So much to fear”: war crimes and the devastation of Somalia, NY: HRW

Middleton, R., “Piracy in Somalia: threatening global trade, feeding local wars”, Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), Briefing paper, October 2008

Tim Coles is a filmmaker who posts on His latest film is "War crimes in Fallujah: what the media oesn't report" and "Behind the wall: a film for Suaad and the people of Palestine"




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