By John Vibes
While normal life is on hold for many people around the world, the war machine is showing no signs of slowing down. In Somalia, where most Americans don’t even realize that military operations are taking place, U.S.-led airstrikes have hit an all-time high in the country since the start of the year.
AFRICOM, the U.S. military branch in charge of operations in Africa, has formally admitted to 39 airstrikes in Somalia this year, which is the most intense streak of bombings that the region has seen since the US military began its attacks on the region over ten years ago.
Despite his campaign promises to scale back undeclared wars, airstrikes in Somalia have significantly increased under the leadership of Donald Trump. Barack Obama, who greatly expanded on the Bush “war on terror” oversaw 36 airstrikes between 2009 and 2017. Last year alone there were record 63 airstrikes in the country, and the U.S. military is set to surpass that number very quickly this year.
It is not just airstrikes in Somalia either, there are hundreds of U.S. troops stationed in the country, carrying out attacks from the five American military bases that are operational in the country. According to a report from the Intercept last week, the U.S. military plans to expand the number of bases that they have in the region.
These attacks come during a time when the United Nations has called for a global ceasefire because the ongoing pandemic and subsequent food shortages already have many societies on the brink of collapse.
In a statement earlier this month, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said, “There should be only one fight in our world today, our shared battle against COVID-19. We must mobilize every ounce of energy to defeat it.”
Also, the director of the United Nations World Food Program, David Beasley, warned this month that global conflicts will compound the dangers of the pandemic, especially in areas like Africa and the Middle East, leading to “food shortages of biblical proportions.”
The U.S. State Department recognized the U.N. ceasefire recommendation in a recent comment to Foreign Policy magazine, but essentially said that they were going to go forward with their military conquests anyway.
“The United States supports the secretary-general’s call for a global ceasefire, but have noted that we will continue to fulfill our legitimate counter-terrorism mission,” a State Department representative told Foreign Policy.
Representatives for the U.S. military insist that they are only targeting terrorists. However, regardless of who the intended targets may be, civilians continue to die and lose their homes in these airstrikes. In fact, just this week AFRICOM admitted that civilians were killed in Somalia during airstrikes last year.
This is a rare admission on the part of the U.S. military, who makes little mention of the civilian deaths they are responsible for overseas.
It is not clear whether or not any civilians were hurt in the airstrikes this year, but whatever civilian casualty numbers are revealed to the public are likely to be an underestimation of the real numbers.
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