Conflict in Somalia

The United States launched a special operations attack in Somalia in attempt to kill three al Qaeda operatives Jan. 8. None of the operatives were killed, and it seems the U.S. has only succeeded in throwing gasoline on the fire. The three targets were Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Abu Talha al-Sudani, and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan. Mohammed is wanted for planning the attacks against two U.S. embassies in Africa nine years ago, Al-Sudani has been the head of operations for al Qaeda in Africa since the early 1990s, and Nabhan is wanted for attacking several Israeli tourists. After Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in late December, these three targets, along with several other Islamic extremists, were forced to flee to the southern tip of the country. By using satellites and planes, the U.S. military tracked these targets until they were well within range. Instead of killing the three significant figures in al Qaeda, however, the military killed as many as 70 nomadic herders. The U.S. administration has tried to rectify the botched situation by claiming that ten members of al Qaeda were killed, although none of these deaths have been confirmed. In addition, all members that are said to have been killed are only a small part of Al Qaeda operations. What makes this situation worse is that Somalia has been struggling to restore peace for over a decade. The United States attempted a peacekeeping mission back in 1994, but it went awry and the American troops were forced to leave. Since that time, Somalia has effectively been in a constant civil war. Many people have voiced their opinions on this conflict since the U.S. strikes. Although the Somali government has supported the attacks, they are not supported by a large portion of the country. The new UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has expressed concerns about the civilian deaths and how they might affect peace in the region. In addition, Pope Benedict XVI has called for an end to the violence. Many Ames High students feel similarly. “I am strictly anti-imperialism,” junior Will Rundle said. “And this constant use of militaristic force makes the U.S. appear increasingly imperialist.” There have been many international incidents that the U.S. has involved itself in over the past several years. As shown by the mid-term elections back in November, the citizens are unhappy with the direction the U.S. is heading in. One of the biggest contributing factors of the election was the country’s foreign policy. Junior Dan Alexander was one of those citizens. “I think it is time that the government listens to its citizens and reverses this policy that is helping no one.”