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24 June, 2017

America’s “shadow war” in Somalia gets a fresh start under Trump

U.S. airstrikes in Somalia have killed over 400 people in the last eight years as part of a quiet war on “terrorism.” Parts of the country have been designated as “active war zones,” allowing for more strikes to take place with little to no oversight.

by Roqayah Chamseddine

Not long before Donald Trump took his presidential oath, the Obama administration was taking care of unfinished business in a part of the world that many Americans likely never think much about. In Somalia, a nation forced into a state of emergency thanks in part to an ongoing famine that is being fueled by a covert U.S. war on terrorism.

Obama made some of his final foreign policy impressions by expanding the so-called war on terrorism there, even as he reached the final days of his last term in office. But it should be noted that the U.S.’ interest in Somalia has little to do with actually stopping terrorism and more to do with strengthening its grip on the country’s oil reserves.

In the early 1990s, U.S. petroleum companies Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips flocked to Somalia to exploit their natural resources for profit, just as many companies had done in Africa before them. With the expansion of U.S. bases across the continent, it’s no surprise that this exploitation has continued.

According to data from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between January 2008 and January 2017, there were at least 38 confirmed U.S. airstrikes in Somalia, killing upwards of 409 people, including three children. These numbers are based on available data, so they could be much higher.

Somalia is only one target of a much larger drone campaign that swelled in size under the Obama administration. Now it looks like Trump may take this campaign even further, especially in light of statements accusing Obama of not doing enough to stop extremist factions in the country, specifically Al Shabaab.

After relaxing restrictions in March that made it harder for the Pentagon to carry out airstrikes in Somalia, Trump’s first fatal salvo in the Somalian shadow war took place on June 11, with AFRICOM claiming that eight members of Al Shabaab were killed. Now that measures have been put in place designating parts of southern Somalia as “active war zones,” less vetting will be required for U.S. military strikes, which will undoubtedly result in more casualties.

Trump, who previously attempted to cloak his partisan opposition to the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton in loose anti-war rhetoric, has since become an even more hardened pro-war politician. It’s likely that the U.S. military will expand its grip on the world under his command, with greater casualties not far behind.

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