Escobar’s Reading of the Situation

Surging toward the holy oil grail
By Pepe Escobar

“I see the imminent death of 20,000 men,
That, for a fantasy and trick of fame,
Go to their graves like beds …
O, from this time forth,
My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth.”
Hamlet, Act IV; according to White House spin part of reading-adverse President George W Bush’s book list during the summer of 2006.

And so, after a tsunami surge of spin, US President George W Bush is heading toward escalation, summoning his 21,500 men, supported by barely 11% of Americans. Escalation in Iraq is the name of the president’s game, and that also applies to Somalia – the new Afghanistan.

In far from accidental timing, the good old “war on terror” is back from the grave (nobody really related to the “long war” newspeak). After all, the galleries had to be reminded that there’s a Pentagon-concocted “arc of instability” running from the Horn of Africa to the Middle East and then to the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Himalayas. The “war on terror” has expanded to the business of killing Africans, now afforded membership of the ever-expanding “axis of evil”.

Bush, in front of a stack of books he never reads, blamed al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunni Arab resistance and “Shi’ites supported by Iran” for his failures; committed five more brigades to Baghdad and 4,000 extra troops to guerrilla and al-Qaeda-controlled al-Anbar province. As if these shock troops will be enough to pursue the “fight against terror”. Bush’s plan ultimately breaks down to a slightly bulkier US militia in Iraq capable of killing more Arabs.

Taking the bull by the Horn

With some aplomb, the White House/Pentagon axis has managed to turn Somalia into the new Afghanistan, in more ways than one and just in time for Bush’s announcement of his escalation-tainted “new way forward”. The Pentagon maintained it had “credible” intelligence before it decided to strike alleged al-Qaeda-infested villages in southern Somalia. This is highly suspect.

The intelligence was provided by unsavory, corrupt Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi – who came up with the clever plot of concocting a fictitious jihad conducted by “neo-Taliban” in Somalia and selling it handsomely to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Pentagon. He’s now posing as a prime US ally in the “war on terror”, just as Uzbekistan’s Islam Karimov did in the autumn of 2001.

Zenawi’s US-trained Ethiopian troops, the ones who invaded Somalia, are infested with CIA operatives and Special Forces – all of them flown in from the strategic US-controlled (since September 11, 2003) Camp Le Monier in Djibouti.

Arab media are having a field day reporting that Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf, a reconverted warlord “elected” by fellow warlords (all armed by the US) and then legitimized by the United Nations, told African journalists in Mogadishu that the US had the right to bomb “anywhere in the world”. According to the Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation, this new US campaign of targeted assassinations has in fact killed scores of civilians.

But with the help of Ethiopia’s dictatorship – whose soldiers it trained – Washington is being rewarded with one more client regime, and a crucial foothold in the Horn of Africa, right on the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea, very close to the Red Sea and literally next door to Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

[snip]

The basic fact remains that Bush’s escalation is designed to smash Muqtada’s Mehdi Army. That can only mean, in practice, a mini-genocide of vast masses of unruly, extremely dispossessed Shi’ites: the coming battle of Sadr City, which the Pentagon has been itching to launch since the spring of 2004. The Pentagon is actually declaring war on no fewer than 2.2 million (poor) people. A sinister symmetry still applies: the Pentagon will attack dispossessed Shi’ite masses – just as the Israeli Defense Forces attacked dispossessed Shi’ite masses in southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

There’s more. Bush’s escalation, according to his own speech, will ensure there will actually be two major battles on two different fronts: the battle of Sadr City, against Shi’ites, and the Great Battle of Baghdad, as the Sunni Arab muqawama (resistance) has been dubbing it. A tangential taste of this second front was provided this week by the day-long fight in Haifa Street between coalition and Iraqi forces against militants.

Read the entire column here.

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