In the first four months of this year, the US Army carried out more airstrikes in Somalia than during Obama’s entire reign, reports The “Intercept”. The call by UN Secretary-General António Guterres for a global ceasefire went unheeded. Since the beginning of the year, the African Command of the United States (Africom) has confirmed 39 airstrikes in Somalia. Between 2009 and 2017, there were only 36.
Since 2007, the US has been fighting in Somalia against the terrorist organizations Al Shabaab and the so-called Islamic State. Above all, the US wants to prevent the rise of Islamist terrorist organizations, which could spread to other continents. The US Army uses drones as well as the conventional air force and ground forces. Civilians are also killed in their attacks. However, they are not formally at war.
The endless civil war in Somalia
The situation in Somalia is, to put it mildly, difficult. The country has been in civil war for three decades. There is a government elected in 2016 that has confirmed President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who was elected in 2017. But there is no functioning state. Clan rivalries, corruption, extremist organisations and criminal gangs prevent a functioning administration.
In addition to Covid-19, Somalia is currently suffering from the second wave of an exceptionally strong locust plague.
Extremists use the pandemic for their own purposes
The terrorist organization Al Shabaab, which controls about a fifth of Somalia, wants to establish a state of God there. The terrorist militia is also attacking US bases. There are always terrorist attacks, most recently a suicide bombing at the end of January 2020. Islamic extremists see the Corona Virus as God’s punishment for the decadent West and trying to use the pandemic for their own purposes.
Hundreds of thousands of Somalis are on the run, most of them in neighbouring countries. With the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the African Union deployed up to 22,000 soldiers as peacekeepers, the number of whom has now fallen to less than 20,000. Its current mandate expires at the end of May 2020.
Identifying civilian victims is costly
The investigation of civilian victims of US operations is complex. The US Army often initially counts the dead as “enemy combatants”, which Infosperber has repeatedly reported on.
The actual number of all US attacks is questionable, since Africom confirms many but not all attacks. The “Bureau of Investigative Journalism” (TBIJ), which maintains a database on drone strikes for the” Shadow Wars " project, had a total of 63 US airstrikes in Somalia in 2019. In the first two months of 2020, there were twelve attacks with at least 14 dead.
Since March 2020 the Organisation “Airwars” continues the research. “Airwars” follows the air war in conflict zones on the basis of publicly available sources and tries to understand which party of the conflict flies attacks. On an overview page on the US war in Somalia, the organization presents data and figures clearly visualized.
By May 11, 2020, the organization listed 47 U.S. attacks this year, 39 of which were confirmed by the U.S. military. So far this year, according to"Airwars” research, there have been between six and eleven civilian deaths confirmed by at least two sources, and two civilian deaths attributed to only one source.
In the entire year 2019, 13 deaths were probably attributable to US air strikes, there are four to eleven confirmed victims. The US Army has officially claimed responsibility for two more civilian deaths.
“Airwars” points out that the recorded figures may change continuously according to the status of the search.