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Pre-2008 Posts

Somalia: The CIA, Warlords and Women

Somali Women Voting

Yesterday and today the American and international media have been reporting that the CIA has been supporting warlords in Somalia.  You can read about it here and here and here.  This is nothing new;  in this, the U.S. is behaving the way we always behave:  we find terrorists in a country who will advance our agenda to fight the terrorists in a country who won't.  We give them guns, money and drugs, and we teach them how to torture people.  Here are a few of so many examples I could list, I would not dare to list them, because it would be too costly to me emotionally and spiritually and I am at work and can't afford it right now, but for those who do not know:

Iran

In the 1950s the U.S., via the CIA, supported the Shah of Iran in the deposing of a popular leader who nationalized the one Iranian oil company, British Petroleum.  The Shah's security forces then relentlessly brutalized Iranians with torture techniques they had learned from the CIA.  Amnesty International described Iran, in 1979, as the nation with the worst human rights record on the planet.  Finally, the Iranian people, bitterly hating the U.S. for its ongoing support of the Shah, overthrew him and installed a fundamentalist Islamic leader, meaning the U.S. is largely responsible for igniting Islamic revolution in the Middle East, and with it the expansion of Islamic fundamentalist Sharia laws and the repression of a burgeoning feminist resistance and movement.  Source

Chile

In the 1970s, disgraced and eventually all-but-impeached Republican President Richard Nixon freaked out over the election of the beloved socialist physician, Salvador Allende,and ordered the CIA to create a "coup environment" in Chile, which it did, funding terrorists and fascists who eventually assassinated Allende and replaced him with the brutal dictator Pinochet, under whose regime torture of "dissidents" was an everyday event, Chile became a haven for expatriated Nazis, and the U.S. became responsible for destroying what had been the oldest functioning democracy in South America.  In the course of that destruction, Pinochet criminalized abortionnormalized domestic violence as a family value (a common saying during his regime was, "He who loves you, beats you,") and used rape and sexual violence as torture against thousands and thousands of Chilean women and girls.

Afghanistan

In the 1970s, the CIA funneled $5-6 billion dollars to Islamic groups in Afghanistan, including a group led by Osama bin Laden to support resistance to Soviet invasion.  This support included providing sensitive weapons technology to Islamic extremists which was eventually used in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.  Today the Soviet Union no longer exists, more than one million Afghan people are dead, the warlords the CIA funded are fighting violent turf wars, and the country is ruled by Islamic fundamentalists.  For Afghan women, this has meant being "denied educations (all girls’ schools were closed down), the right to work (all women were ordered to remain in their houses and employers were threatened with dire consequences for taking up female employees), the right to travel (no woman could venture out of the house alone and unaccompanied by a prescribed male member of the woman’s immediate family), the right to health (no woman could see a male doctor, family planning was outlawed, women could not be operated upon by a surgical team containing a male member), the right to legal recourse (a woman’s testimony was worth half a man’s testimony; a woman could not petition the court directly – this had to be done through a prescribed male member of her immediate family), the right to recreation (all women’s recreational and sporting facilities had been banned, women singers could not sing least their female voices ‘corrupt’ males, etc.), the right to being human (they could not show their faces in public to male strangers, they could not wear bright colored clothing, they could not wear make up, they could only appear outside their houses clad head to foot in shapeless bags called burqas, they could not wear shoes with heels that click  (lest the clicking sound of their feet corrupt males), they could not travel in private vehicles with male passengers, they did not have the right to raise their voices when talking in public, they could not laugh loud as it lures males into corruption, etc."  Source

So now we are all hearing that the CIA has been providing support to Somali warlords using the excuse that Al Qaeda terrorists might be lurking in Somalia.  According to reports, however, to date no Al Qaeda operatives have been found.  But this week, Islamic fundamentalists took control of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.  Meaning again, resentment and hatred of the U.S. for its ongoing support of brutal warlords who have used rape, sexual violence, torture and brutality as weapons is resulting in support for Islamic fundamentalist militia who might at least drive out the U.S.   I predict that the U.S. will now justify stepping up its intervention and support of the warlords as part of its ongoing  "war on terror," even though it is America's own support of terrorists which has provoked Somali resistance and support of fundamentalist militia!  According to the Christian Science Monitor, via Sokari, 5,000 people demonstrated against the U.S.-funded warlord militia last Friday in Mogadishu.

According to a report entitled Highlighting Violence Against Women in Somalia:

Somalia is a prime example of how women become the main victims of violence in conflict- ridden areas. Violence against women in the form of rape, torture, looting and forced displacement are tools of war for the humiliation and control of communities living in certain areas.

The governmental instability has ensured that Somalia continually fails to interact with the African Commission regarding political, social or economical affairs. To date, Somalia remains one of the countries refusing to sign the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Male dominance is an accepted norm in Somalia, and women are consistently undermined within society. The patriarchal Somali culture regards violence against women (VAW) on a family basis to be a private matter. Research conducted by UNICEF highlights the alarming reality that the physical punishment of women within family homes is not considered to be a violation by Somali communities…

Rape is common, and fear is widespread, but due to the impunity created by male dominance, perpetrators of sexual harassment are rarely punished. To safeguard the family's honour, some girls are forced to marry the men who raped them. In other cases, 'blood compensation' is given to the family of the victim (usually in the form of livestock or money). This never reaches the girl, but instead is handed to the male elders of the family, most commonly the father…

Official authorities, regardless of their responsibilities, constantly abuse the rights of women, and women in detention centres are often raped by custodians.

Of a total 694 cases of violations of women's rights carried out in the past 6 months, 36 cases have been fully investigated. All the rest remain pending and no investigation has been done. Research was conducted into the victims of sexual assault in Somalia, and of those involved in the research, 60% were physically harmed, 20% died as a result of the assault, and a further 10% committed suicide. More than half of the perpetrators were never found, and of those charged, many suffered no consequences. Even though many cases of rape are confirmed, the majority of the population still deny its existence…

98% of Somali women continue to be circumcised, with 90% of those being subjected to the Pharaonic (also called Infibulation) method.

Women Newly Elected to Somalia's Interim Parliament 

But according to Sokari, in December 2004, 20 Somali women's organizations for and on behalf of the women of Somalia issued a Statement of Appeal  as follows:

Statement and Appeal of Somali Women December 2004: Appeal of the Somali Women contrary to being denied their rights on the decisions of the future of their nation

The Somali Women, who before and after the years of Independence have taken an active participation in the construction of their nation; who have demonstrated a concrete capability in the last 14 years of war and inter-clan conflict; have alone carried a great burden previously shared with men.

Even though they have taken responsibility and participated in saving the Somali people throughout such a difficult period, they have been denied those rights of political participation, because these have been based on Clan structure.

As is well known, the Charter forming the institutional building process prescribed a minimum 12% of Parliamentary Members to be allotted to women. This position did not satisfy the initial demands of women which were for the 25% but was accepted because of the desire of the Somali Women who wanted a government after so many years of crisis and bloodshed. …

… It is, however, sad how all important responsibilities have fallen on the shoulders of women during the years of conflict only to be denied political rights during the creation of the political decision making process. We send an appeal to heed the discourse of President Abdullahi Yusuf, who has said Somali Women will cover important positions of Minister and Vice-minister, and will see these applied irrespective of clans saying. 

We the Women organizations of IIDA (Women’s Development Organization), SBWA (Shabelle Business Women Association), HINNA, DALLAALO, WARDO, ALLAMAGAN, KALSAN, DIJHRO, COGWO,

The Women who have struggled for peace, appeal to the President and the Prime Minister of the Transitional Federal Government to:

1.      Assign significant Ministries, as well as important coffers in the Government to responsible women so as to reflect the important positions  of women in Somali society

2.      Apply the article of the charter concerning the minimum representation (12%) to which the Somali Woman has a Right;

3.      Consult Women for everything which concerns them, not their clan, since the clans do not permit women representatives;

4.      Apply Women representation in the Government off not less than 25%, in view of the fact that the minimum representation of the Women in the Parliament was meant to be 12%, which was reduced to only 8% in the end and this 8% now represents their respective clans;

5.      Allow CMC ( Coordination and Monitoring Committee)  Commission include representatives of the Somali Civil Society, especially Women, because the Members of Civil Society who have been invited to Eldoret on the basis of their clans, now act as representative of their clans in the Parliament.

We conclude urging the Somali Transitional Federal Government and the International Community, especially IGAD and those friends of the Somali Nation and Peoples, that one must not put aside such an important constituent part of society (approximately estimated at 60%), which has, in addition demonstrated of being capable to run the country’s economy. 

Source: Marian's Blog via Sokari

What will happen to these women now?  Will their brutalization by U.S.-CIA-backed warlords be replaced by the brutalization of Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law?  Who is listening to the women?  Who is publicizing their appeal or their plight?  The CIA support for the warlords is not about a "war on terror," and the response of the Somalian people is not a defense of terrorism.  It is a resistance to the kind of U.S. involvement which  invariably and relentlessly regards the lives and bodies of women as the necessary sacrifices in the advance of agendas which have given us Pinochet, Osama bin Laden, the Shah of Iran, Gen. Joseph Mobutu of Zaire,  Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, and Papa and Baby Doc Duvalier of Haiti, among many others, and with them, endless brutality, torture, and sexual violence against women.

I demand that the U.S. withdraw its support of warlords in Somalia.  I demand that instead of sending money to warlords, the U.S. send money to the 20 women's organizations which signed that appeal.  I demand that the U.S. media stop acting as a propaganda tool for the Bush regime.  I demand, for god's sake, that somebody listen to the women.

Heart

For information on CIA covert activities throughout the world, see CIA Watch

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Somalia: The CIA, Warlords and Women

  1. Phew Heart…you don’t beat about the bush. do you? I can’t find words to describe the anger i feel. We all must demand….

    Posted by anna | June 10, 2006, 7:49 am
  2. Brilliant post.

    Posted by Professor Zero | June 11, 2006, 12:28 am

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