US Threatens Sanctions on Dissidents in Somalia

Anyone who opposes the UN-backed political process will be sanctioned

The United States has threatened to impose sanctions on Somalis who try to obstruct the UN-backed political transition now under way, in a familiar blanket threat to anyone they deem a dissident.

“The kind of action we must take against spoilers range from visa sanctions to travel sanctions to asset freezes,” said Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson. “There is a level of vulnerability for all of those who might be spoilers.”

Mr Carson also threatened to station more troops in the capital, Mogadishu, on a permanent basis “when we believe that it is both appropriate and safe.”

The U.S. threat is very similar to the Executive Order President Obama signed last month threatening to sanction any person or group in Yemen who the administration decides is “obstructing” implementation of the U.S.-backed political transition in Yemen. That decree, though, included those in the United States that the administration viewed as standing in the way.

The order was viewed by many as a warning against speaking out against the Yemeni government and a considerable threat to free speech.

In truth, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued the same threats of sanctions for Somalis “obstructing” the political status quo back in February. In an international gathering in London she threatened more international troops and sanctions against anyone in Somalia that attempts to block so-called “reforms” which the U.S. and its allies are claiming intend to end conflict in the country.

“The position of the United States is straightforward,” Clinton said, “attempts to obstruct progress and maintain the broken status quo will not be tolerated.”

But “progress” certainly doesn’t refer to anything the U.S. has been pushing in Somalia. The U.S. is giving weapons, intelligence, and legitimacy to thugs and murderous warlords in Somalia, some of whom used to be fighters for the very militants the U.S. now has them fighting against. The U.S. has also backed African Union troops and the Kenyan military in their fight against al-Shabab.

In Foreign Affairs published only a matter of days before al-Qaeda officially announced a merger with al-Shabab, professor of international affairs at Qatar University Afyare Abdi Elmi and journalist Abdi Aynte argued “military involvement in Somalia has been counterproductive.”

Still, U.S. proxies in the form of Somali thugs, African Union troops, and the Kenyan military continue to make Somalia a war zone and provide recruiting devices for anti-American militants, weak though they may be.

The Obama administration has admitted that al-Shabab is merely “a regional menace” that does not pose a direct threat to the United States. It is also explicitly acknowledged that warring against the group is likely to promote them into an international terrorist group “determined to carry out attacks on U.S. soil.”

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.