Friday, December 28, 2007

Imperialist hypocrisy and Ethiopian crimes in Ogaden

By: Crystal Kim
There is nothing humanitarian about imperialism
Democrat and Republican politicians continue to claim that there is “genocide” in the Darfur region of Sudan. They claim that U.S. military intervention in Sudan is a “humanitarian” necessity, not part of an imperialist agenda to secure access to raw materials and markets in the oil-rich region. Is this true?

A look at the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia’s Somali region of Ogaden unveils the true imperialist motives behind U.S. intervention in Sudan and Africa in general.

Although virtually unmentioned in the bourgeois media, people in the Ogaden region are suffering from a violent counter-insurgency war and severe humanitarian crisis at the hands of the pro-imperialist, puppet regime of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
The roots of the current crisis in Ogaden date back to imperialist land grabbing in the late 19th and 20th century. During this period, Ogaden was incorporated into, partitioned from and then re-incorporated into Ethiopia by European colonists.
While Ethiopian authorities control Ogaden, the region is populated almost entirely by ethnic Somali pastoralists who speak a different language and have a different culture than highland Ethiopians. The Ogadeni people feel culturally and socially closer to their kin in Somalia and northern Kenya. Trade with Somalia is much greater than trade with Ethiopia. According to the BBC, the Somali shilling is the main currency in some areas in the region.
Due to discrimination and economic hardships that the people in Ogaden suffer at the hands of the Ethiopian government, an independence movement began to flourish. The Ogaden National Liberation Front leads this movement.
While historically ignored and neglected by the Ethiopian government, the Zenawi regime is now waging a violent and relentless war in Ogaden to silence the independence movement. This began after Zenawi realized that the region may be sitting above valuable oil deposits.
Humanitarian crisis
In June 2007, Ethiopian authorities imposed a trade blockade on large parts of the region, preventing commercial traffic and emergency food aid from entering. The blockade, coupled with droughts over the past two years, has created a severe food crisis in Ogaden. Thousands of residents have fled to survive. Many people have been reduced to eating grass.
A survey conducted by Save the Children U.K. reported that 21 percent of children in Ogaden are acutely malnourished, compared to 19 percent in parts of Somalia and 13 percent in Darfur. The United Nations considers 15 percent the emergency threshold.
Yet, Nur Abdi Mohammed, a spokesman for the Zenawi government, claims, “There is no food aid problem. There is no malnutrition problem.”
The Ethiopian government also is forcefully conscripting untrained civilians to fight in Ogaden. Anybody who works for the government—including doctors, teachers, office clerks and employees of programs financed by the World Bank and United Nations—is in danger of conscription. Many government workers have fled to neighboring countries.
There are accounts of soldiers barging into hospitals and threatening to jail health workers unless they comply with conscription. There are also accounts of firing, jailing and torturing people who refuse. The civilians are sent to fight in Ogaden with little or no training. Some have even had to buy their own rifles. (New York Times, Dec. 14, 2007)
A Human Rights Watch report documented dozens human rights violations by Ethiopian troops, including gang rapes, burning villages, confiscating livestock and forcing civilian relocations. The report also documents “demonstration killings,” such as public hangings and beheadings, meant to terrorize the people of Ogaden.
In response, government spokesman Mohammed said, “There is not a single soldier who is abusing human rights.”

Darfur vs. Ogaden: the hypocrisy of imperialism

Why is there no “Save Ogaden” movement propped up by the U.S. government? Why aren’t U.S. politicians calling for military intervention in Ethiopia?

The disparity in response between Darfur and Ogaden is due to the fact that Darfur is being used as a pretext to control oil-rich Sudan. Sudan is led by a government resisting imperialism. It has denounced the U.S. occupation of Iraq, championed the cause of the Palestinian people and strengthened economic ties to China. The U.S. government could not care less about the actual humanitarian crisis facing the Sudanese people.

Ethiopia’s Zenawi is the U.S. government’s top ally in the Horn of Africa. He and his followers—armed and funded by U.S. imperialism and African client states—overthrew the communist-inspired Derg government in 1991.

As the U.S. government’s main stooge in this geopolitically critical area, the Zenawi government has been doing the bidding of U.S. imperialism. The U.S. government funds Zenawi’s brutal regime to the tune of $500 million each year.

In December 2006, Zenawi oversaw the invasion of Somalia by the Ethiopian military. It was a proxy invasion initiated, directed and funded by the United States to displace a popular and potentially anti-imperialist government in formation. Thousands of Ethiopian troops still occupy Somalia.

When it comes to Ogaden, since the U.S. government already exercises control over Ethiopia, there is no need to feign concern about the humanitarian crisis in the region. In fact, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice stated on Ethiopian television that the Bush administration was against a bill that would restrict U.S. military assistance to Ethiopia until it improved its human rights record.

If Ogaden turns out to be sitting on top of valuable oil deposits, it is in the interests of U.S. imperialism for the independence movement in the region to be crushed and for Ogaden to remain under Zenawi’s control.

The differential response by the U.S. government to Darfur versus Ogaden reveals the hypocrisy of U.S. imperialism. This hypocrisy allows the U.S. government to preach about “genocide” in Darfur, but then but look away when Zenawi’s government intentionally starves and pillages people in Ogaden.

It is this same hypocrisy that demonizes Robert Mugabe as a dictator for working to free Zimbabwe from the iron grip of imperialism, but turns a blind eye when the Zenawi government kills hundreds of anti-government protesters, as it did in 2005. There are endless examples of such hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is an inherent element of U.S. imperialism because imperialism is motivated by the unfettered flow of U.S. capital, not solidarity and cooperation.

In Africa, there are humanitarian crises across the continent due to imperialist interventions and severe economic underdevelopment. Centuries of colonialism and neo-colonial rule have taken their toll on Africa’s oppressed people. U.S. imperialism and the bourgeois media shine a light on select issues to facilitate the continued neo-colonial subjugation of the African continent.
Revolutionaries and progressive people should not be fooled when U.S. politicians talk about people’s needs in Africa.

Source: PSL

1 comment:

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