There’s been a lot written about Somalia, Muslims, piracy, and terrorism and most likely most of it like all the rest of the news on those subjects is hyperbole. In order to combat even that, however, a group of Somalis in Washington state came out in strong denouncement of piracy and terrorism.
“We, the Somali-Americans in Washington State, are denouncing our youth to participate in any kind of violence here and back home. We see this as an opportunity to clarify our perspective, as a community and United States citizens, and we (are denouncing) the piracy act in Somali shores.”
I applaud their unequivocal stand on the issues at hand which affect their community, even though they like most other Americans are not as informed about them as we should be. In typical western arrogance we have ascribed bad motives to a group of people who take over ships on the high seas, even though the idea based on what we know about Somalia is rather preposterous, and we never once considered that perhaps these people are acting in the best interests of their country with noble intentions. So it is that a reporter raises that possibility by suggesting these “pirates” are themselves trying to stop illegal activity on the part of shippers in Somali waters. It seems the international community has taken advantage of the absence of a controlling legal authority in Somalia and decided to dump its waste, toxic, nuclear and otherwise in Somali waters, wrecking havoc on fishing for Somalis and endangering the lives of Somalis.
As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: “Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it.” Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to”dispose” of cheaply.
It’s really the typical imperial trick of using or abusing the natural resources of a hapless nation state and then waging war on that country when it decides to mount even a minimal protest at being raped and plundered. Which is why we see this sudden interest in east Africa and the presence of a couple dozen Taliban/al-Qaida types infiltrating the area and causing widespread panic and concern in the halls of this once great republic, America; justification for intervention when all that is needed is adherence to the rule of law. Then there’s this:
At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia’s seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: “If nothing is done, there soon won’t be much fish left in our coastal waters.”
In the past, American heroes would wax poetic about the importance of liberty and how insignificant death is in comparison, but such sentiments are not allowed for an agrarian society whose only importance, it seems, to imperial designs is as either an international garbage dump or a source for fish. Instead of taking advantage of a lawless vacuum, western powers should start negotiating with the government, any government is better than no government, to define territorial integrity and fishing/dumping rights off the Somali coast. We know however why they don’t do that; caught up in the grips of Islamophobia and unable to seat a government to their liking, western powers are pillaging the coast of Somali for every industrial advantage available to them and labelling any resistance to this policy piracy. Change anyone?