OPINION | U.S. meddling in Somalia is divisive


What took place during the trial of the Somali women Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, who were convicted of aiding terrorists, was nothing short of U.S. cynicism and hypocrisy. While engaging in a campaign to intimidate the Somali community into silence about the goings-on in their home country, the U.S. has done everything in its power to undermine all efforts to stabilize the East African country.

The trial at bottom undermines some of the foundation of a democratic society. An individual should have the ability to be charitable to whomever they choose to be charitable to. U.S. Attorney Jeff Paulsen said that the fact that the women had done nothing against the U.S. was beyond the point. But I disagree — it is exactly the point.

The U.S. has bombed Somalia using drones. It has more recently invaded Somalia, using Ethiopia as its proxy, and interfered for years in its domestic affairs (as shabby as they are). These women did nothing to harm the U.S.; they are being punished for ideological reasons.

While the government pretends that this persecution has nothing to do with the culture or race of the Somalis, just the opposite is true. Let’s face it: What difference would a few thousand dollars raised to buy food for Al Shabaab loyalists really make in the stateless confusion that is modern-day Somalia?

No, this verdict and subsequent announcements about Somali involvement in terrorist acts are designed to further divide the Somali community from the rest of us. Notice that no Black folks of note have spoken out about the illegal phone tapping and search-and-seizures that have taken place in the Somali community.
The women are guilty of disagreeing with the United States, and for that they are going to prison for as many as 15 years. They raised a paltry few thousand dollars. The U.S. is in no position to judge, since they have spent billions over the last few decades propping up dictators and terrorists. Both Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were propped up by the U.S. and U.S. arms.

Friends of the women say they actually have a track record of charitable work in Somalia. They may have taken the wrong side in this conflict, but it is clear they were seeking to do what they saw was the right thing to do in defense of their country of origin.

The women’s defense in court was that they did not know that Al Shabaab was considered an official terrorist organization by the U.S. government. From their perspective, Al Shabaab had fought the Ethiopian aggressor and was a viable option to run the country.

In fact, the FBI press release does not explain that Al Shabaab is an Islamic opposition group in Somalia fighting to wrest control from the present government, which is supported by the U.S. government. It only says they are a “designated terrorist organization.”

The press release repeats that phrase “designated terrorist organization” a few times, and rightfully so, because what they are saying is that the almighty and all-powerful U.S. government has designated them as such. In other words, they are not saying that they have proof, but that we said it and that confirms it. The U.S. is one of the few countries that have applied that designation to Al Shabaab.

This is bullying pure and simple. The U.S. government can push folks around, so they are pushing around the Somali community that does not share its point of view on the conflict in Somalia. When people talk about political correctness, this is real political correctness backed by State power, or State-enforced political correctness.

If the U.S. had not meddled in Somalia doing all kinds of evil and dastardly things, then maybe they could act self-righteous. But that is not the case; in fact, its designation of Al Shabaab as a terrorist organization recently hindered badly needed food aid to Southern Somalia. At the beginning of the famine, many world food organizations were hindered from aiding the south for fear of being arrested and imprisoned by the U.S.

Let me be absolutely clear: Al Shabaab appears to be much like many of the insanely violent and so-called revolutionary groups that have sprung up in sub-Saharan Africa over the last few decades. Many of their actions are indefensible, but Somalis should have the right to choose which side they want to take in this dispute.

Black U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis gave one defendant a day in jail for each day that she refused to stand and acknowledge the court. It was a kind of piling on, it seems, from a judge who, when presiding over lower courts, displayed a modicum of scruples and fair play when handing out judgments. He should have used those traits to recuse himself from this “show trial.”

Ultimately, Amina Farah Ali was right when she said, “You guys think you are the most powerful people in the world.” Her implication was right; time is not on the side of the powerful, but on the side of the vanquished.

Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to mellaneous19@yahoo.com.