(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
This is not the story of Robin Hood. This is not a clinical case study, nor a predictive model.
It does however seem to be a History Repeats story. A story of many Nations who never got to grow unto themselves. A story written for them, not by them, just as their very lives were by conquerers and outsiders bent on controlling and exploiting them.
It is a tragedy. It is what humans, even ones perhaps trying to do the right thing at first, do when collapse of modern*society happens. We turn into something else.
(*I say modern, because peoples untainted by Western culture rarely devolve into this: a philosophical discussion for another day)
So, people, do you ever wonder how a mostly English or Italian speaking country, that at one time was the envy of the ancient trading world; and one of the only Muslim African Countries that allowed women equal vote when they gained their independence, came to War Lords, Pirates, and poverty in a lawless International Toxic Waste Dump?
I sure did. I am still trying to figure it out.
I am sure everyone here knows the very real dangers of sailing around the Horn of Africa; its cruel waters are legendary. Far fewer know that the Suez Canal didn’t begin after being dug in the 1800’s by forced 3000 man Egyptian Labour, culminating in its opening in 1869 by the French.
No, there is evidence that it had predecessors as far back as 1800’s BC that man made canals joined higher, more navigable waters in the area together. Of course, we never are taught that Peoples had technology before we supposedly gave it to them. White washed histories, indeed.
This new trading route is much the bane of Somali existence, as well as the cause of much bloodshed of the Egyptian peoples. You see, when European Colonialism came, shipping by sea was the only alternative, and control of coastal waters was of utmost importance to their Profit and greed.
To find out what the people’s history was like prior to the European invasion is much more difficult. Like most of our history, a short paragraph naming the area “Punt” or the “Berber Coast” is all the usual Encyclopedias publish, for their version of history always begins with white conquest. At the very least, Wiki does make a point talking about it being a rich place of trade, with the commodities of frankincense and myrrh.
Between the 13th and 14th centuries, Somalia was visited by two famous explorers, Ibn Battuta and Zheng He. During his visit to Mogadishu in 1331, Ibn Battuta had this to say about the city and its people:
“It is a town endless in its size. Its people have many camels, of which they slaughter hundreds every day, and they have many sheep. Its people are powerful merchants. In it are manufactured the clothes named after the city, which have no rival, and which are transported as far as Egypt and elsewhere.”
On his fourth (1413-15) and fifth voyage (1416-19), Zheng He visited several city states on the Somali coast including Mogadishu.
It was a highly prosperous nation. This is not to say it did not have its own disputes with the neighboring christian country of Ethiopia, have to deal with Portuguese invasions or did not fall under the ax of the Ottoman Empire. But it was culturally distinct, and its African influence and Muslim influence still stayed relatively peaceful and prosperous under its series of “Gerads,” a term that later became known as “Sultans.”
Human histories are all written under the guise of exploitation and the stealing of other’s resources. It is written in blood and greed.
I cannot possibly uncover the whole history of Somalia. I will tell you that the beginning of the end of its days of plenty came with the British’s land grab of Somalia and its surrounding environs, and then Mussolini taking over the area in a campaign of over 10 years. They had it about 5 years, and the British retook it in 41.
All these simple terms “took it” does not do justice to the fact how much Somali blood was spilled in the process, nor reflect that they often lived under Martial Law. Their hard earned historical wealth now was taken, taken into white brutal hands.
As usual, post WWII, when Europe was reluctantly relinquishing their Empires to UN decisions of Independence, they carved it up wrong, giving the highly protested region of Ogaden to Ethiopia. (see a pattern there? Israel, et al)
The newly independent Somalians were highly political, and committed to being involved in the process. Rumors are that even Nomadic peoples had radios to listen to political speeches during the late 40’s and 50’s.
Another amazing fact is, that for an African Muslim Country of that time; women were active politically, and allowed to vote. Hardly what we would think of their history, especially in these times of anti-muslim propaganda.
By 1969, the Country’s political parties were split widely over the Ethiopian holding of the disputed Ogaden region, and whether or not military force should be used. Another coup, more violence, the result of European interference in land disputes and assets.
An attempt to quash Tribal affiliation for the sake of National Unity was attempted, and strongly opposed. Siad Barre came to power, and tried to introduce a type of socialism based on some Marxist principles, self-reliance and Islam. Neither the Soviet Union, who saw it as not Communist enough, nor the reactionary Western World took lightly to that platform. He tried to unify Somalia under their own language, overriding the English and Italian influences that had his country speaking two different tongues. He introduced a hard push for Literacy, raising it from 4% to 24% in a few short years.
The World outside started to squirm.
(I would offer that “Self Determination” has never been a tenet of the modern world. We want to control what process every so-called Sovereign Nation has, and make sure it is conducive to a Profitable Relationship with them.)
By 77, a War exploded over the Ogaden region, and the Soviets backed Ethiopia, who they saw as more fertile ground, and a truer Communist nation. By outside influence, once again Somali losses were great. This created huge resentment among the Somalis themselves, who had begun to resent Barre for both the War and its loss, and his oppression toward Tribal identity. Civil War ensued by 1991.
The northern portion declared themselves Somaliland, and the Southern Portion degraded into violent fighting between factions.
By 1993, US and UN feet were on the ground there, after Bush trying to get concessions of Oil exploration as reward for his “Peacekeeping Efforts” there in 1991.
Critics of US involvement pointed out that “just before pro-U.S. President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991, nearly two-thirds of the country’s territory had been granted as oil concessions to Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips. Conoco even lent its Mogadishu corporate compound to the U.S. embassy a few days before the Marines landed, with the first Bush administration’s special envoy using it as his temporary headquarters.”
^ Kretzman, Steve (Jan/Feb 2003). “Oil, Security, War The geopolitics of U.S. energy planning”. Multinational Monitor magazine. http://www.thirdworldtraveler….
^ Fineman, Mark (January 18 1993). “Column One; The Oil Factor In Somalia;Four American Petroleum Giants Had Agreements With The African Nation Before Its Civil War Began. They Could Reap Big Rewards If Peace Is Restored.”. Los Angeles Times: p. 1. http://bailey83221.livejournal…
^ George, Dev (1995). “Will the majors return to Somalia?”. Offshore: p. 8. http://bailey83221.livejournal…
Popularized by “Black Hawk Down” the Somalian intervention was widely seen as a failure and the UN stepped out by 1995.
US involvement there continues with the CIA squarely opposing the creation of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) who wishes to unite these factions, and organizing our 2007 use of airstrikes to supposedly go after “Al Qaeda.”
There has been warfare there since 1991, and since 1999, there has been no real government there. At all. It is now one of the poorest countries in the World.
It was devastated by a tsunami in 2004 and a prolongued and horrifying drought starting in 2004.
Now, with all that in mind, what do Western influences do to help the people regain autonomy (other than interfere and arm factions ala CIA) regain peace and prosperity?
Use their coastal waters and shores as a Dumping Ground for Toxic Waste, including Nuclear Waste. Then over-fish what is left of their sea.
in the northern autonomous region, Puntland, in Somalia, there was already a widespread fear that foreign ships were taking advantage of the collapse of the Somalian state by using the nation’s waters as a refuse dump.
When the tsunami of 2004 hit the country, the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) reported that many waste containers washed up on the the coast of Puntland. It is now widely understood that European companies are systematically dumping toxic waste in these waters.
The UN special envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, has in the past few months repeatedly sounded the alarm about illegal fishing and toxic dumping off Somalia by European firms.
Mr Abdullah said that his organisation has “reliable information” that European and Asian companies are dumping the waste – including nuclear waste, – in this region.
The European Union has responded to these allegations with silence.
For a HUGE eye opener, please read this archived link, of which for brevity’s sake I will only export small portions:
March 04, 2005
THE huge waves which battered northern Somalia after the tsunami in December are believed to have stirred up tonnes of nuclear and toxic waste illegally dumped in the war-racked country during the early 1990s.
Apart from killing about 300 people and destroying thousands of homes, the waves broke up rusting barrels and other containers and hazardous waste dumped along the long, remote shoreline, a spokesman for the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) said.
“Initial reports indicate that the tsunami waves broke open containers full of toxic waste and scattered the contents. We are talking about everything from medical waste to chemical waste products,” Nick Nuttal, the Unep spokesman, told The Times.
“We know this material is on the land and is now being blown around and possibly carried to villages. What we do not know is the full extent of the problem.”
Mr Nuttall said that a UN assessment mission that recently returned from the lawless African country, which has had no government since 1991, reported that several Somalis in the northern areas were ill with diseases consistent with radiation sickness. “We need more information. We need to find out what has been going on there, but there is real cause for concern,” he added. “We now need to urgently send in a multi-agency expert mission, led by Unep, for a full investigation.”
An initial UN report says that many people in the areas around the northeastern towns of Hobbio and Benadir, on the Indian Ocean coast, are suffering from far higher than normal cases of respiratory infections, mouth ulcers and bleeding, abdominal haemorrhages and unusual skin infections.
“The current situation along the Somali coastline poses a very serious environmental hazard not only in Somalia but also in the eastern Africa sub-region,” the report says. Toxic waste was first dumped in Somalia in the late 1980s, but accelerated sharply during the civil war which followed the 1991 overthrow of the late dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
Somali sources close to the trade say that the dumped materials included radioactive uranium, lead, cadmium, mercury and industrial, hospital, chemical and various other toxic wastes. In 1992, Unep said that European firms were involved in the trade, but because of the high level of insecurity in the country there were never any accurate assessments of the extent of the problem.
In 1997 and 1998, the Italian newspaper Famiglia Cristiana, which jointly investigated the allegations with the Italian branch of Greenpeace, published a series of articles detailing the extent of illegal dumping by a Swiss firm, Achair Partners, and an Italian waste broker, Progresso.
Rome, 9 September 1992 —- Greenpeace today revealed that the Italian company PROGRESSO s.r.l. is the waste trader behind the illegal trafficking of toxic waste to Somalia.
Greenpeace said the agreement for the scandalous deal was signed in Rome, on 5 December 1991 , and authorizes the Swiss company ACHAIR and PARTNERS to annnually export 500,000 tonnes of hospital and industrial waste from Italy to Somalia over the next twenty years. The waste is to go to a 10 million ton disposal site.
Not only waste dumping, but illegal fishing devastating the last vestiges of this drought and war-torn country’s substance in the seas:
( more recent source http://www.somaliuk.com/Indept…
As late as 2006, Somali fishermen complained 700 foreign ships were casting their nets along the country’s roughly 3,300 kilometres of coastline, essentially vacuuming up one of its few means of subsistence, an industry worth at least $100-million to which they had shrinking access.
“There is illegal fishing going on, and these are legitimate grievances” said Ken Menkhaus, a former special advisor to the UN operation in Somalia who teaches at North Carolina’s Davidson College.
“But this ceased being an issue about fishermen long ago. It’s essentially a Mafiosi activity.”
In 2006, militias from the short-lived government of the Union of Islamic Courts helped curtail piracy, a crime it made punishable by execution. But after the UIC fell to Ethiopian forces, the pirates returned to sea.
So did the polluters.
The coast remains an easy dumping ground for toxic and nuclear waste.
“It’s a real problem,” said Roger Middleton, a Somalia expert and researcher for the London-based think tank, Chatham House.
The force of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami pulled up dozens of toxic-waste containers, leaving a lethal trail along the Somali coast.
A UN report found as a result many residents suffered “acute respiratory infections, heavy coughing, bleeding gums and mouth, abdominal haemorrhages, unusual skin rashes, and even death.”
Two years later, a team of specialists discovered nine toxic waste sites along 700 km of coastline in southern Somalia.
“Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there,” Nick Nuttall of the UN’s Environment Program told the television channel Al-Jazeera, echoing similar findings from other reports.
“And the waste is many different kinds. There is uranium radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. There is also industrial waste, and there are hospital wastes, chemical wastes – you name it.”
The waste came from European companies, which paid shady intermediaries as little as $2.50 a tonne to dispose of it, compared with about $1,000 a tonne in Europe.
Claims are being made that the Pirates started as an ad-hoc group of men out to stop the toxic dumping, angered over the 300 deaths after the tsunami, and the many illness that transpired in its aftermath of washing the toxins up to the shore.
Claims are being made that it started as a citizen’s militia to protect their fishing rights and food source.
Claims are being made that these pirates are nothing but thieves and war lords, out for their own profit.
Claims are being made that the incoming monies have generated a coastal business boom, while others claim it has generated more violence against the citizens who may oppose their actions.
Whether or not their original intent was malicious or lofty; their actions have turned decidedly self-serving. They have not, up until this point killed a single person while ransoming or pirating ships in their waters. Now they say they are going to start.
The fact remains, this is a destitute and wrongly exploited country, undergoing horrid wrongdoings by the World Community in the way of dumping and theft.
The fact remains that people that are poor and hopeless factionalize to try and compete for diminishing resources against other groups who wish to procure these same resources for themselves.
The fact remains that outside intervention had blocked, rather than helped create a centralized government that could self-determine. This was done for purely exploitative purposes by both Western and Eastern influences.
The fact remains that people under these conditions always devolve into War Lord sectarian violence.
The fact remains striking back with extreme violence only make an area more, not less volatile and creates enemies.
The fact remains that recent Somalian History was the result of outside Empirialism, making a destitute country out of a prosperous one.
I would offer that more would be gained by the US and Europe committing to stop the dumping, clean up waste sites; and secure their fishing rights. Make sure any boat in the area is truly there for shipping reasons, and stop any boat there for nefarious ones.
I would counter that the Somalians themselves do not want to be under control of these Pirates and gun-gangs.
For David will always seek to slay a Goliath with that enormous foot on his neck.
Do something about the poverty, do something about allowing the people to have real self-determination and they themselves will clean up their pirates.
In the meantime, the whole story is sad. We easily forget how many Somalians died at the hands of Europeans and Americans trying to obtain their assets; yet scream bloody murder when they try and get some of ours.
Humans are selfish creatures with short and tunnel visioned memories.
Look around you America. How far are we from a collapse, and how much would it take for us to fall into our meanest, basest natures?
We already torture.
We already drone bomb indiscriminately.
We already steal, pirate the entire economy into the hands of the few.
We are not yet starving, yet our own violence has increased greatly.
I have no answers but humanity is humanity, and we are not so different than those we judge.
The faces above are not the only faces of Somalia. These are too.
I hate what the Pirates are doing. How much does it take to really become “Lord of the Flies?”
As above, so below; and Jesus wept. So do I.