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默罕默德·哈桑:索马里:海盗国家的真相--殖民力量怎样摧毁一个国家

默罕默德·哈桑:索马里:海盗国家的真相--殖民力量怎样摧毁一个国家

Mohamed Hassan 穆罕穆德·哈桑

译文来自立报,附英文全文
索马里有优越地理条件、石油、矿产,国境内只有单一宗教与单一语言;这在非洲是少有的现象。它原本可成为区域内的强国,但实际上却完全不同:饥荒、内战、掳掠、海盗、炸弹攻击。这个国家是如何沈沦的?为什么索马利亚将近20年没有政府?这些劫持勒赎我们船只的海盗背后的丑闻有哪些?
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近年来,非洲索马利亚海盗猖獗,震惊国际,索马利亚被视为21世纪新型态的海盗国家。索马利亚原本很有机会发达起来的:它有优势的地理条件、石油、矿产,而且国境内只有单一宗教与单一语言;这在非洲是少有的现象。

索马利亚原本可成为区域内的强国,但实际上却完全不同:饥荒、内战、掳掠、海盗、炸弹攻击。这个国家是如何沈沦的?为什么索马利亚将近20年没有政府?这些劫持勒赎我们船只的海盗背后的丑闻有哪些?

在未来的「了解伊斯兰世界」系列中,穆罕默德.哈珊( Mohamed Hassan)在访谈中解释,帝国主义势力为何与如何在索马利亚运用混沌理论。

受访者介绍:

穆罕默德.哈珊是地缘政治学与阿拉伯世界专家。他生於阿迪斯阿贝巴(Addis Abeba,在衣索比亚境内),曾参与1974年社会主义革命中的学生运动。他先在布鲁赛尔专攻公共行政,后来到埃及研读政治。哈珊曾经出任衣索比亚的外交官,派驻华盛顿、北京与布鲁赛尔。他曾经在2003年出版《美军占领下的伊拉克》,对於阿拉伯民族主义、伊斯兰运动与弗兰芒民族运动也有不少相关论述,是当代关於阿拉伯与穆斯林世界最杰出的专家之一。

 

问:海盗在索马利亚是如何发展起来的?那些海盗是什么人?

答:从1990年起,索马利亚就没有政府存在。这个国家落到军阀手中。欧洲与亚洲船只趁著混乱到索马利亚沿海捕鱼,既不申请许可也不尊重基本法令。他们不遵守他们本国的保护物种的捕捞配额规定,而且他们使用的渔捞技术(甚至是炸药!)已对索马利亚海域资源造成巨大的损害。

不只如此!一些欧洲公司也引进黑道,在索马利亚海岸倾倒核能废料。然而,2005年的南亚海啸将许多废料冲到索马利亚的土地上,民众开始得到前所未见的怪病,这是海盗出现的背景。

索马利亚渔民的渔捞技术原始,因而更无法糊口。因此他们决定保护自己和他们的海洋。这正是美国在1756年到1763年内战期间对付英国的作法:没有海军的华盛顿总统找海盗保护美国海域。

培植虚弱而分裂的国家

问:索马利亚国家组织几乎20年不存在!怎么可能?

答:这是美国所采取的战略结果。在1990年,这个国家遭到武力冲突、饥荒与劫掠所蹂躏;国家崩溃了。对此状态,几年前在此发现石油的美国在1992年发起「恢复希望行动」。美国海军陆战队第一次干预非洲,想控制一个国家。这是头一遭以人道干预的名义发动军事入侵。

问:所谓「恢复希望行动」,让我们想起「无国界医师」创办人贝尔纳.库希内(Bernard Kouchner)在索马利亚海滩著名的米袋展示?

答:是的,大家都记得这些照片是如何被小心的展示出来。但是真正的理由是战略性质的。一份美国国务院的报告建议,在苏联集团瓦解之后,美国必须保持独霸全球的超级强权地位。为了达成此目标,这份报告倡议美国在非洲占有一个霸权位置,以取得其巨量的原物料。

问:不过,「恢复希望」即将失败。连好莱坞电影《黑鹰计画》里可怜的美国大兵都遭到「索马利亚坏蛋叛军攻击」......

答:美国士兵的确是被索马利亚一个民族反抗军打败了。从那时候起,美国的政策是让索马利亚处於无政府状态,甚至是巴尔干半岛化。这是以往英国的老招式,也运用在许多地方:培植虚弱而分裂的国家,以利於宰制它们。这就是索马利亚国家机器几乎20年不存在的原因。美国实行一种浑沌理论来阻止索马利亚任何一种和解,并维持国家的分裂。

问:在苏丹,内战的缘故,艾克森石油公司发现石油之后被迫撤离那个国家。所以,让索马利亚陷入混乱而无法掠夺已经发现的石油,这不是违背美国利益吗?

答:掠夺石油不是美国人的优先考量。美国知道石油蕴藏就在那里,但也不须立即开采。在它的战略里有两个更重要的因素。

第一是,防止竞争者和一个富裕而强大的索马利亚国家进行内部协商。你拿苏丹比较,是很有意思的。美国在苏丹发现石油是30年前的事,苏丹现在把石油卖给中国。同样的事也可能发生在索马利亚。阿不都拉.尤素夫( Abdullah Yusuf )还是过渡政府总统时去了中国,虽然他是美国支持的。美国传播媒体强烈地批评了那次访问。

事实上,美国对於那件事也没法担保:如果一个索马利亚政府明天建立起来,不管其政治色彩为何,它可能采取一个独立於美国之外的战略而和中国做生意。西方帝国主义者不希望看到一个强大而团结的索马利亚国家。

这个浑沌理论的第二个目的和索马利亚的地理位置有关,这对欧洲与美国帝国主义者是很有战略价值的。

殖民时代国境线的灾难

问:为什么很有战略价值?

答:议题在於控制印度洋。你可以看看地图。就像我前面说的,西方势力对於索马利亚海盗的发展占有重要的因素。但是他们不说实话,也不对他们的罪行做出救赎,西方势力一方面批评海盗现象,另一方面把他们在此地区军事部署的存在正当化。北大西洋公约组织就在在打击海盗的名义下,把海军部署到印度洋。

问:真正目的是什么?

答:控制崛起国家,主要是印度和中国的经济发展。世界上半数的货柜运输与70%的石油产品的总运输量都要经过印度洋。从那个战略观点看来,索马利亚占有非常重要的位置:这个国家有著非洲最长的海岸线(3,300公里),并且面临阿拉伯湾与荷姆兹海峡,这是此区域经济的关键项目。

而且,如果索马利亚问题取得某种和平解决方案,一方面非洲国家之间的关系,和另一方面印度和中国的关系,可以透过印度洋取得发展,那些美国的竞争者就可以在那个非洲地区发挥影响力,可以透过莫三比克、肯亚、马达加斯加、坦尚尼亚、桑吉巴(Zanzibar)、南非等等和印度洋有关的国家轻易就可进入亚洲市场,并发展出丰硕的经济关系。

曼德拉在担任南非总统期间,曾提及需要一种从新的经济关系出发的印度洋革命。美国和欧洲不要这个方案。那就是为何他们宁愿维持索马利亚的不稳定状态。

 

问:你说美国不希望看到索马利亚和解。但是索马利亚分崩离析的根源是什么?

答:为了了解这种混乱状态,我们必须探讨索马利亚的历史。

这个国家曾经遭受殖民强权的分割。索马利亚融合义大利殖民的南部和英国殖民的北部,在1959年独立。但是索马利亚人也居住於肯亚、衣索比亚和吉布提(Djibouti)的某些地区。新的索马利亚国在它的国旗上是一颗五角星星,五道尖芒代表索马利亚传统领域的一部分。这个图像背后的讯息是:「两个索马利亚已经合在一起,但有三个索马利亚仍然被殖民中。」

当时控制肯亚的大英帝国面对这些主张的适法性问题时,在索马利亚主张的肯亚地区举行一次公投。由索马利亚种族占多数的人口中有87%的人投票赞成与索马利亚统一。

公投结果发表后,一个肯亚的民族派领袖朱摩.肯亚塔(Jomo Kenyatta)威胁,如果他们把部分领土划给索马利亚的话,就要把英国殖民者赶出去。因此大英帝国决定不考虑公投结果,使得直到今天,有一大批索马利亚人族群还住在肯亚境内。你必须了解,对於索马利亚,这些殖民时代的国境线是很真实的灾难。国境划分的议题在非洲大陆是很重要的辩论主题。

社会主义理念散布开来

问:那个辩论的议题是什么?

答:在1960年代,随著许多非洲国家的独立,在我们称之为「蒙罗维亚集团」与「卡萨布兰加集团」之间有过一次大辩论。这后来包括摩洛哥、索马利亚与其他国家认为,从殖民时期遗留下来的国境线需要重新讨论。对他们来说,这些国境线没有合法性。多数非洲国家和它们的国境线是殖民主义的产物。

最后,现今「非洲联盟」的前身「非洲统一组织」(Organization of African Unity)明令,这些国境线是无可争议了:回头争论这些国境线,只会在非洲大陆各处引发内战。非洲统一组织的创建人之一,坦尚尼亚的朱力亚斯.尼雷尔(Julius Nyerere)日后坦承,这项决议是最好的结论,但是他很惋惜索马利亚国土的不完整。

▲非洲索马利亚海盗猖獗,被视为21世纪新型态的海盗国家。图为2009年11月,法国海军於索马利亚海岸拦截一艘疑似为海盗的船只。(图文/路透)

 

问:索马利亚遭到殖民势力瓜分,有什么冲击?

答:就是和邻近各国产生紧张关系。索马利亚主张重划国境那些年,衣索比亚变成美帝主义的一个堡垒。美国在肯亚与厄立垂亚也有军事基地。这时索马利亚还是个年轻的、牧歌般的民主国,想要建立自己的军队。目标是在已有武力的邻国面前不要显得文弱,并希望支持衣索比亚境内的索马利亚人运动,甚至必要时以武力重获某些领土。但是西方势力反对索马利亚建立军队。

 

问:因此索马利亚和邻国的关系紧张。反对索马利亚这项建军计画是不合理的吗?那会引发战争,不是吗?

答:西方才不在乎非洲人间的冲突,只在乎它自己的利益。美国和英国当时在衣索比亚、肯亚与厄立垂亚提供人力物力训练军队。这些国家还处於非常压迫人的封建制度下。但是它们也是扈从於西方利益的新殖民地政权。另一方面,索马利亚掌权的力量还是比较民主而独立的。因此,西方没兴趣对它们无法控制的国家提供协助。

结果,索马利亚决定求助於苏联。这使西方势力大为震惊,并担心苏联的影响力会深入非洲。那些担心在1969年的政变时变得更加重要。

 

问:你的意思是?

答:社会主义的理念在那个国家散布。有个重要的索马利亚族群的确住在南叶门的亚丁。然而,是英国把印度的共产党人、民族主义者等等它认为危险的人流放到此地。这些人通常是被捕后被送到亚丁,使亚丁的民族主义和革命的理念快速发展,后来并影响叶门人与索马利亚人。在具有马克思理念的公民影响下,一群军官在1969年发动政变,西亚德.巴雷取得索马利亚政权。

学生与群众自动地动员起来

问:那次政变的原因是什么?

答:索马利亚政府的腐败。不过它掌握了使索马利亚变成地区强权的关键:战略位置,单一语言和众多共同的文化元素。这在非洲很罕见。但是由於错失经济发展,这个政府制造出有利於族群分裂的环境。

索马利亚菁英为了从政而分裂。每个人都创立自己的政党,而无任何真实的党纲,并从现存的族群中徵召选民。这使得分裂加剧而一点作用都没有。自由主义类型的民主政治事实上不适用於索马利亚:3百万人口的国家竟然曾经有过至少63个政党!那个政府甚至於无法采行某种官方语言,而在行政系统制造出严重的困扰。

教育方面也很嬴弱。官僚系统、警察与军队倒是建立起来了。这将在日后的政变扮演要角。

 

问:「进步」!来自军方?

答:军队是索马利亚唯一有组织的机构。作为一种压迫工具,它本来是用来保护所谓的文人政府与菁英的。但是对於许多来自於不同家族与地区的索马利亚人来说,军队也是没有界限、没有部族主义、没有氏族分裂的一个交流场域。这是从亚丁来的马克思主义理念可以在军中流传的原因。因此那次政变是由民族主义的军官领导的。他们对於社会主义没有充分的知识,但是他们同情那些理念。而且他们知道越南的情况,反帝的感情也因此建立。熟悉马克思与列宁教诲的平民在索国缺少一个大型政党,就转而支持政变,并成为掌权的军官的顾问。

 

问:索马利亚政变带来什么改变?

答:带来一项重要的正面倾向:新政府很快的采用一种官方语言。同样的,苏联和中国也协助索马利亚。学生与群众自动地动员起来。教育与社会状况得到提升。政变后的几年是索马利亚人前所未见的好光景,直到1977年。

 

问:发生什么事?

答:被殖民势力分化的索马利亚为了夺回奥加登地区,出兵攻击衣索比亚。奥加登主要人口是索马利亚人。当时衣索比亚本身是社会主义国家,受到苏联支持。这个国家曾经长期处於帝王塞拉西的统治。但是在70年代,发生了一次重要的动员要推翻他。我本人亲身参与的学生运动提出四项要求。第一,非暴力的与民主的解决与厄立垂亚的紧张关系。第二,实行一个能把土地分配给农民的土地改革。第三,建立民族平等的政策;衣索比亚是一个被菁英统治的多民族的国家,菁英无法代表民族的多元性。第四,废除封建制度并建立民主国家。就像在索马利亚,军队是衣索比亚唯一有组织的机构,平民也和军官们携手,在1974年推翻塞拉西。

自由市场造成中产阶级混战

问:这两个受到苏联支持的社会主义国家是如何起冲突的?

答:衣索比亚革命后,为了解决两国的矛盾,包括苏联、古巴与南叶门在内的代表团,和衣索比亚与索马利亚举行圆桌会议。卡斯楚来到阿迪斯阿贝巴和摩加迪休。对他而言,索马利亚的要求是合理的。最后,衣索比亚代表团同意索马利亚的要求。两国签署协议,同意在做出决议前不做挑衅动作。事态似乎有了好的开始,但是索马利亚没有遵守协议......

衣索比亚代表团回到国家两天后,季辛吉,尼克森的前国务卿出现在摩加迪休。季辛吉代表一个非正式组织:「撒哈拉俱乐部」,由巴勒维国王的伊朗、摩布杜(Mobutu)的刚果、沙乌地阿拉伯、摩洛哥与法国与巴基斯坦情报机关组成。那个组织的目的在於反制苏联对於波斯湾与非洲的渗透。在撒哈拉俱乐部的威胁利诱下,西亚德.巴雷做出攻击衣索比亚的毁灭性的错误战略。

 

问:那场战争的后果是什么?

答:苏联撤离那个地区。仍在西亚德.巴雷领导下的索马利亚被纳入帝国主义势力的新殖民主义网络中。这个国家在军事冲突后损失惨重,世界银行和国际货币基金会负责「重建」。这又加剧索马利亚中产阶级的混战。各个地区的菁英都想获得自己的市场。他们在部族之间制造分裂,并且使得国家逐渐走上孤立,直到1990年西亚德.巴雷垮台为止。从那时候起,每一任国家领导都学他。

 

问:但奥加登战争的30年后,相反的场面发生了:衣索比亚在美国的支持下攻打索马利亚......

答:是的,就像我说的,「恢复希望」失败后,美国宁可让索马利亚继续乱下去。不过到2006年,有一个自发的运动在「伊斯兰法庭」这个武装组织的发展下,起来对抗地方军阀,以使国家恢复统一。那是一种群众起义(Intifada)。

美国为了阻止这个运动重建索马利亚,忽然决定支持它先前拒绝承认的「过渡性联邦政府」。事实上,美国人明白他们维持索马利亚一盘散沙的计画不再可行:有个运动--还是伊斯兰运动!--即将走上全国的大和解。为了破坏索马利亚的统一,美国决定支持「过渡性联邦政府」。但是后者毫无社会基础与军队。因此衣索比亚军队在华盛顿的指挥下攻击摩加迪休,准备推翻「伊斯兰法庭」。

「伊斯兰法庭」脆弱的一环

问:成功了吗?

答:没有,衣索比亚军队被击败而撤离索马利亚。伊斯兰法庭组织分散成几个运动组织,至今仍控制国家大部分地区。至於阿不都拉.尤素夫的过渡性政府,它垮台了,美国以伊斯兰法庭的前发言人谢赫.谢里夫( Sheik Sharif )取代之。

▲2009年5月索马利亚亚丁湾,美国海军组成的海上搜检队接到商船发出的求救信号后,出动海军接近一艘有嫌疑的海盗船。(图文/路透)

问:所以,谢赫.谢里夫(Sheik Sharif)已经转向「另一个阵营」?

答:他曾是伊斯兰法庭的发言人,因为他是一个不错的雄辩者(orator)。但是他没有政治知识。他搞不清楚帝国主义或民族主义。西方势力也因此扶持他。他是「伊斯兰法庭」脆弱的一环。他现在领导的虚假政府是在吉布提制作出来的。这个政府在索马利亚没有社会基础或权威。它只存在於国际关系上,因为帝国主义势力支持它。

问:在阿富汗,美国说他们要和塔利班协商。那他们为何不和索马利亚的伊斯兰团体寻求讨论空间?

答:因为那些团体要取代外国占领者,让索马利亚人民得到民族和解。结果,美国希望瓦解这些团体:透过伊斯兰运动或是「联邦过渡性政府」达成的民族和解不合乎帝国主义势力的利益。民族主义的反抗运动在当地萌芽,并对抗阿迪斯阿贝巴(Addis Ababa)的亲帝国主义政府。实际上美国的浑沌理论已经在整个区域制造出动乱。现在他们把动乱输出到厄立垂亚。

 

问:为什么?

答:这个小国家实行独立的民族政策。厄立垂亚对於整个区域有一个愿景:「非洲之角」(索马利亚、吉布提、厄立垂亚、衣索比亚)不需要外国势力的干预;在互相尊重的基础上,它的财富应该足以建立新的经济关系。厄立垂亚认为,这个区域必须联合起来,各国必须能够讨论它们的问题。当然这个政策吓死美国人,深怕其他国家跟进。所以他们指控厄立垂亚输送武器到索马利亚,还在衣索比亚煽动骚乱。

 

问:厄立垂亚没有输送武器到索马利亚吗?

答:连一颗子弹都没有!这纯粹是宣传伎俩,就像他们指责叙利亚军援伊拉克反抗军那样。厄立垂亚的愿景符合我们前面说的印度洋革命计画。西方势力不希望如此,并想把厄立垂亚弄回到他们控制的新殖民主义国家圈,例如肯亚、衣索比亚或是乌干达。

 

问:索马利亚境内没有恐怖份子吗?

答:帝国主义势力一直以来都将争取自身权利的人民标示为恐怖份子。爱尔兰人直到他们签署协议之前都是恐怖份子。阿巴斯(Abbas)曾是恐怖份子。现在他被视为朋友。

 

问:但是我们听说盖达组织出现在索马利亚?

答:盖达组织到处都有,从比利时到澳洲都有!隐形的盖达组织是一个标志,被美国设计来向大众说明并合理化军事行动。如果美国向美国人和大兵说:「我们要派兵到印度洋和中国打仗。」百姓当然都会害怕。但是如果你告诉他们,出兵只是为了攻击海盗和盖达组织,就没问题。然而真正的目的是不一样的。包括将势力伸入未来几年内将成为主要冲突舞台的印度洋区域。

编译■李文吉

Somalia had every reason to succeed: an advantageous geographical situation, oil, ores and only one religion and one language for the whole territory; a rare phenomenon in Africa. Somalia could have been a great power in the region. But the reality is completely different: famine, wars, lootings, piracy, bomb attacks. How did this country sink? Why has there been no Somali government for approximately twenty years? Which scandals stand behind those pirates who hijack our ships? In this new chapter of our series "Understanding the Muslim World", Mohamed Hassan explains for us why and how imperialist forces have applied in Somalia a chaos theory.

How did piracy develop in Somalia? Who are those pirates?

Since 1990, there has been no government in Somalia. The country is in the hands of warlords. European and Asiatic ships took advantage of this chaotic situation and fished along the Somali coast without a license or respect for elementary rules. They did not observe the quotas in force in their own country to protect the species and they used fishing techniques -even bombs!- that created huge damages to the wealth of the Somali seas.

That's not all! Taking also advantage of this lack of any political authority, European companies, with the help of the mafia, dumped nuclear wastes offshore Somali coasts. Europe knew of this but turned a blind eye as that solution presented a practical and economical advantage for the nuclear waste management. Yet, the 2005 Tsunami brought a big part of these wastes into the Somali lands. Unfamiliar diseases appeared for the first time among the population. This is the context in which the piracy mainly developed. Somali fishermen, who had primitive fishing techniques, were no more able to work. So they decided to protect themselves and their seas. This is exactly what the United States did during the civilian war against the British (1756-1763): with no naval forces, President George Washington made a deal with pirates to protect the wealth of the American seas.

No Somali state for almost twenty years! How is that possible?

This is the result of an American strategy. In 1990, the country was bruised by conflicts, famine and lootings; the state collapsed. Facing this situation, the United States, who discovered oil in Somalia a few years ago, launched Operation Restore Hope in 1992. For the first time, US marines intervened in Africa to take control of a country. It was also the first time that a military invasion was launched in the name of humanitarian interference.

The famous rice bag exhibited on a Somali beach by Bernard Kouchner?

Yes, everybody remembers those pictures carefully showcased. But the real reasons were strategic. An US State Department report recommended indeed that the United States must stay the lonely global superpower after the Soviet Bloc collapse. To reach that goal, the report advocated to occupy a hegemonic position in Africa, which enjoys a vast amount of raw materials.

However, Restore Hope will be a failure. There was even that Hollywood movie "Black Hawk Down", with those poor G.I.'s "attacked by the bad Somali rebels"...

US soldiers were indeed defeated by a Somali nationalist resistance. Since then, American policy was to keep Somalia without any real government, even to balkanize it. This is the old British strategy, already applied in many places: setting weak and divided states in order to better rule them. That is why there has been no Somali state for almost twenty years. The United States has implemented a chaos theory in order to stop any Somali reconciliation and keep the country divided.

In Sudan, due to the civilian war, Exxon has had to leave the country after having discovered oil. So isn't letting Somalia plunge into chaos contrary to American interests, which cannot exploit the discovered oil?

Oil exploitation is not their priority. The United States know that the reserves are there but doesn't need it immediately. Two elements are much more important in its strategy. First, prevent the competitors from negotiating with a rich and powerful Somali state. If you consider Sudan, the comparison is interesting. The oil that the American companies discovered there thirty years ago, Sudan is selling it today to China. The same thing could happen in Somalia. When he was president of the transition government, Abdullah Yusuf went to China although he was supported by the United States. US mass media had strongly criticized that visit. The fact is that United States have no guarantee on that point: if a Somali government is established tomorrow, whatever is its political color, it could probably adopt a strategy independent of United States and trade with China. Western imperialists do not want a strong and unified Somali state. The second goal pursued by this chaos theory is linked to the geographical location of Somalia, which is strategic for both European and American imperialists.

Why is it strategic?

The issue is the control of the Indian Ocean. Look at the map. As mentioned, western powers have an important share of the responsibility in the Somali piracy development. But instead of telling the truth and paying compensation for what they did, those powers criminalize the phenomena in order to justify their position in the region. Under the pretext of fighting the piracy, NATO is positioning its navy in the Indian Ocean.

What is the real goal?

To control the economic development of the emerging powers, mainly India and China. Half of the world's container traffic and 70% of the total traffic of petroleum products passes through the Indian Ocean. From that strategic point of view, Somalia is a very important place: the country has the longest coast of Africa (3.300 km) and faces the Arabian Gulf and the Straight of Hormuz, two key points of the region economy. Moreover, if a pacific response is brought to the Somali problem, relations between African in one hand, and India and China on the other hand, could develop through the Indian Ocean. Those American competitors could then have influence in that African area. Mozambique, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, Zanzibar, South Africa etc. All those countries connected to the Indian Ocean could gain easy access to the Asian market and develop fruitful economic relationship. Nelson Mandela, when he was president of South Africa, had mentioned the need of an Indian Ocean revolution, with new economic relationships. The United States and Europe do not want this project. That is why they prefer to keep Somalia unstable..

You say that the United States does not want Somali reconciliation. But what are the roots of the Somali divisions?

In order to understand this chaotic situation, we must delve into Somali history. This country had been divided by colonial powers. In 1959, Somalia gained independence through the fusion of the Italian colony in the South, and the British colony in the North. But Somalis were also living in some parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. The new Somali state adopted a star on its flag, each branch representing one part of the historical Somalia. The message behind that symbol: "Two Somalias have been united, but three are still colonized".

Facing the legitimacy of those claims, the British - who controlled Kenya-, organized a referendum in the Kenyan area claimed by Somalia. 87% of the population, composed mainly of Somali ethnics, voted for the Somali unity. When the results were published, Jomo Kenyatta, a Kenyan nationalist leader, threatened the British to throw the colonists out if they gave a part of the territory up to Somalia. So Great Britain decided not to take the referendum into account, and today an important Somali community is still living in Kenya. You must understand that those colonial borders were a real disaster in the Somali case. The border issue was besides the object of an important debate among the African continent.

What was the issue of that debate?

In the sixties, as many African countries became independent, there was a debate between what we called the Monrovia and the Casablanca groups. This later, including among others Morocco and Somalia, resolved that the borders inherited from colonialism be discussed. For them, those boundaries had no legitimacy. But most of the African countries and their borders are colonialism products. Finally, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the ancestor of the current African Union, closed the debate by decreeing that the borders were indisputable: going back over those boundaries would provoke civilian wars everywhere on the continent. Later, one of the OAU architects, the Tanzanian Julius Nyerere, confessed that this decision was the best but that he regretted the Somali outcome.

What will be the impact of the colonial divisions on Somalia?

They will create strains with neighboring countries. During those years when Somalia advocated for revising the borders, Ethiopia became a US imperialism bastion. The United States had also military bases in Kenya and Eritrea. At this moment, Somalia, a young pastoral democracy, wished to build its own army. The goal was to not appear weak in front of the armed neighbors, to support Somali movements in Ethiopia and even to regain by force, if necessary, some territories. But the western forces were opposed to the creation of a Somali army.

So Somalia had tense relations with its neighbors. Was it not reasonable to be opposed to this Somali army project? It would have provoked wars, wouldn't it?

The West did not care about conflicts between Africans but its own interests. The United States and Great Britain were providing and training militaries in Ethiopia, Kenya and Eritrea. Those countries were still under the yoke of very repressive feudal systems. But they were also neocolonial regimes devoted to Western interests. On the other hand, the power in place in Somalia was more democratic and independent. So the West had no interest in providing for a country that could escape its control.

As a consequence, Somalia decided to turn to the Soviet Union. This frightened the Western forces that feared Soviet influence stretching in to Africa. Those fears became more important with the 1969 putsch.

What do you mean?

Socialist ideas were spread in the country. An important Somali community was indeed living in Aden in South Yemen. However, this is where Britain used to exile persons it considered dangerous in India: communists, nationalists and so on. They used to be arrested and sent to Aden where nationalist and revolutionary ideas quickly developed and affected later both Yemenites and Somalis. Under the influence of civilians with Marxist ideas, a coup d'état was led by officers in 1969 and Siad Barre took power in Somalia.

What were the reasons of that coup d'état?

The Somali government was corrupted. He had however the cards in hand to erect the country to the great regional power rank: a strategic position, only one language, one religion and many common cultural elements. This is fairly rare in Africa. But, by missing the economical development of the country, this government has created a context favorable to divisions among clans. Under the pretext of doing politics, Somali elites become divided. Everyone created his own political party, without any real program, and recruited voters among the existing clans. This increased the divisions and turned out to be totally useless. A democracy in a liberal type was in fact unsuitable for Somalia: there were at once 63 political parties for a three million population country! And the government was even not able to adopt an official script, which was creating serious troubles in the administration. Education was weak. Bureaucracy, police and army were, however, established. This later will play a key role in the progressive coup d'état.

"Progressive"! With the army?

The army was the only organized institution in Somalia. As a repressive apparatus, it was supposed to protect the so-called civilian government and the elite. But for many Somalis coming from different families and areas, the army was also an exchange place where there were no borders, no tribalism, no clan divisions. This is how Marxist ideas from Aden circulated among the army. So the coup d'état was led by officers who were most of all nationalist. They did not have a good knowledge of socialism but they had sympathy for those ideas. Moreover, they knew what was happening in Vietnam, and that fed anti-imperialist feelings. The civilians, who knew Marx and Lenin's teachings lacked a mass political party, supported the coup d'état and become the advisers of the officers who took power.

What changes did the Somali coup d'état bring about?

One important positive aspect: the new government quickly adopted an official script. Likewise, the Soviet Union and China were helping Somalia. The students and the population mobilized themselves. Education and social conditions were enhanced. The years that followed the coup d'état were in fact the best ones that Somalia never knew. That is, until 1977.

What happened?

Somalia, which has been divided by colonial forces, attacked Ethiopia to get the territory of Ogaden back. Ogaden was mainly populated by Somalis. At this time however, Ethiopia was itself a socialist state supported by the Soviets. This country had been led for a long time by Emperor Selassie. But in the seventies, there was an important mobilization to overthrow him. The students' movement, in which I personally participated, made four major demands. First, to nonviolently and democratically resolve tensions with Eritrea. Secondly, to establish a land reform that would distribute the lands to the peasants. Thirdly, to establish the principle of equality among the nationalities; Ethiopia was a multinational country led by elite who did not represent the diversity. Fourthly, to abolish the feudal system and to establish a democratic state. As in Somalia, the army was the only organized institution in Ethiopia and the civilians joined the officers to overthrow Selassie in 1974.

How did two socialist states, each supported by the Soviet Union, enter conflict?

After the Ethiopian revolution, a delegation including Soviet Union, Cuba and South Yemen organized a round table with Ethiopia and Somalia in order to resolve their contradiction. Castro went to Addis Abeba and Mogadishu. To him, Somali claims were justified. Finally, the Ethiopian delegation agreed to seriously seriously its Somali neighbor's demands. The two countries made an agreement stipulating that no provocation should happen as long as no decision has been taken. Things seemed to start well but Somalia did not honor the agreement...

Two days after the Ethiopian delegation returned to its country, Henry Kissinger, a former Nixon Secretary of State, turned up to Mogadishu. Kissinger was representing an unofficial organization: the Safari Club that was among others including Shah's Iran, Mobutu's Congo, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and French and Pakistani intelligence services. The objective of that organization was to fight against the Soviet infiltration in the Gulf and in Africa. Under the Safari Club pressures and help promises, Siad Barre committed a disastrous strategic mistake of attacking Ethiopia.

What were the consequences of that war?

Soviets left the region. Somalia, still led by Siad Barre, integrated the neocolonial network of the imperialist forces. The country had been seriously damaged by the conflict and the World Bank and the IFM were in charge of "rebuilding" it. This has aggravated infighting among Somali bourgeoisie. Each regional elite wanted to have its own market. They made the divisions among the clans' worst and contributed to the progressive dislocation of their country up to Siad Barre's fall in 1990. Since that, any head of state succeeded to him.

But, thirty years after the Ogaden war, the opposite scenario happened: Ethiopia was supported by the United States to attack Somalia...

Yes, as I said, since the Restore Hope failure, United States has preferred to keep Somalia in chaos. However, in 2006, a spontaneous movement developed under the Islamic courts to fight against the local warlords and bring unity to the country. It was a kind of Intifada. In order to stop this movement from rebuilding Somalia, United States decided suddenly to support the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) after having refused to recognize it before. In fact, they realized that their project of a Somalia without effective state was no more possible: a movement - furthermore Islamic!- was about to lead to a national reconciliation. In order to sabotage the Somali unity, United States decided to support the TFG. But this later was lacking any social basis and an army. So the Ethiopian troops, commanded by Washington, attacked Mogadishu to overthrow the Islamic courts.

Did it work?

No, the Ethiopian army was defeated and had to leave Somalia. On their side, the Islamic courts were dispersed in several movements that still control a big part of the country today. As for Abdulla Yusuf's transitional government, he collapsed and United States replaced it by Sheik Sharif, the former Islamic Court spokesman.

So Sheik Sharif has passed to "the other camp"?

He used to be the Islamic courts spokesman because he is a good orator. But he has no political knowledge. He has no idea what imperialism or nationalism are. That is why western powers took him back. He was the Islamic court's weak link. Today he chairs a fake government, created in Djibouti. This government has no social base or authority in Somalia. It only exists on the international level because the imperialist forces support it.

In Afghanistan, the United States said they were ready to negotiate with Taliban. Why don't they look for discussing with the Islamic groups in Somalia?

Because those groups want to take the foreign occupier over and to allow a national reconciliation for the Somali people. As a result, the United States wants to break those groups: a reconciliation, through the Islamic movement or through the TFG, is not in the interests of the imperialist forces. They just want chaos. The problem is that today, this chaos reached Ethiopia too, which is very weak since the 2007 aggression. A nationalist resistance movement came to the light over there to fight against the pro-imperialist government of Addis Ababa. With their chaos theory, United States had in fact created troubles in the whole region. And now, they took it out on Eritrea.

Why?

This little country leads an independent national policy. Eritrea also has a vision for the whole region: the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia) do not need foreign powers' interference; its wealth should allow it to establish new economical relationship on the basis of mutual respect. According to Eritrea, the region must get it together and its members must be able to discuss about their problems. Of course, this policy frightens United States that fears that other countries follow that example. So they accuse Eritrea of sending weapons to Somalia and instigating troubles in Ethiopia.

Isn't Eritrea sending weapons in Somalia?

Not even a bullet! This is a pure propaganda as they did against Syria about the Iraqi resistance. Eritrea's vision catches up with the project of Indian Ocean revolution that we spoke about before. The western powers do not want of that and wish to bring Eritrea back to the circle of the neocolonial states under control, such as Kenya, Ethiopia or Uganda.

Are there no terrorist in Somalia?

Imperialist powers have always labeled as terrorists the people who fight for their right. Irishmen were terrorists until they signed an agreement. Abbas was a terrorist. Now, he is a friend.

But we heard about Al Qaeda in Somalia?

Al Qaeda is everywhere, from Belgium to Australia! That invisible Al Qaeda is a logo designed to justify to the public opinion military operations. If United States say to their citizens and soldiers: "We are going to send our troops into the Indian Ocean in order to probably fight against China", people would be afraid of course. But if you tell them that it is just about fighting piracy and Al Qaeda, it won't be a problem. The real goal is however different. It consists in setting forces in the Indian Ocean region that will be the theater of major conflicts in the coming years. This is what we will analyze in the next chapter...

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