18.05.2023 Author: Viktor Mikhin

US criminal activities in Asia and North Africa. Part 2

US criminal activities in Asia and North Africa

The US has also “left its mark” on Yemen, benefiting greatly from its participation in the continuing civil war. Its participation was to back the coalition led by Saudi Arabia to put an end to the rebellion. In this regard, Washington has made massive financial gains by selling weapons worth billions of dollars to Saudi Arabia and the UAE for deployment in Yemen. It also provided Riyadh with its training, fighter refueling and intelligence on where best to bomb Yemen. These airstrikes, together with the blockade for eight years beginning in 2015, have killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and caused what the UN says is the worst humanitarian crisis in history. The current US objective is to stop Yemen from becoming a sovereign state, despite the fact that the peace negotiations currently taking place between Yemeni officials and Saudi Arabia are promising and may eventually produce concrete results.

Using a “divide and conquer” strategy, the ruthless and unceremonious US-led NATO involvement in Libyan affairs in March 2011 was openly announced to be aimed at toppling longtime lawful ruler Muammar Gaddafi. It was successful because Libya saw a number of distinct regimes in charge of various regions battling for the right to kill everyone else while engaging in frequent fierce combat. NATO, with US help, actively resorted to airstrikes in Libya, and the result was a bloodbath.  It is difficult to calculate the death toll since the nation has been divided for so long by the various authorities in charge of the East and West of the country. Adding to the suffering of Libyans is the fact that the country, like everywhere else where the US has intervened, has seen the terror of ISIS (banned in Russia), whose activities did not exist in Libya before the US-led NATO intervention.

Since 2004, the USA has struck thousands of targets in northwest Pakistan using drones operated by the US Air Force under the operational control of the CIA Special Activities Division. The deadly operations have been dubbed “drone warfare.” Washington claims to be striking supposedly against terrorists, but again, civilians have taken the brunt of the so-called precision and pinpoint strikes. The mass murder of civilian families in response has radicalized Pakistanis to join terrorist groups.

It is not easy to obtain accurate data on the number of civilian deaths in this war zone. Monitoring groups say there are civilian death tolls in regions of Pakistan subject to US bombing that are underestimated mainly because of a lack of transparency on the part of the US about the number of attacks they are carrying out, not to mention the civilians they are killing. In addition, countries at war with the US as well as terrorism lack advanced resources to track casualties or identify actual terrorists among civilians.

For example, from 2004 to 2018, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that there were at least 430 confirmed US drone strikes in Pakistan. These attacks reportedly killed between 2,515 and 4,026 people, with between 424 and 969 of those people being civilians, and worse, 172 to 207 of those civilians being children. But these are rural areas where there is virtually no information, and the international community can be sure that many more civilians were killed, in the absence of an international investigation into exactly what was going on there.

Perhaps more importantly, when the significance of the drone war is assessed, studies show that it has had no impact on militants in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, yet US drones continue to kill scores of civilians with impunity and regularly. It is safe to conclude that the US drone war, apart from radicalizing a part of the Pakistani population, was nothing short of an absolute failure.

Mentioned by international human rights organizations as the “US Hidden War in Somalia,” the last round of US intervention began in 2007. The case of Somalia gets so little media attention, but is one of the main causes of regional instability. US senators have said that about 1,000 US troops are currently deployed in Somalia. But the White House did not disclose the actual figure in the unclassified part of the report it submitted to Congress, which means there are many more US soldiers there. The US falsely claims to be helping local authorities counter the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group Harakat al-Shabaab (banned in Russia), but most research shows the result is quite the opposite, and Washington’s policy only serves to strengthen the terrorist organization and increase its membership.

While US forces have been attacked and losses have been reported in the press, the prevailing belief is that their presence only worsens the security situation. The US Air Force took a fatal and leading part in the attacks, carrying out hundreds, if not thousands, of airstrikes across the country while claiming to be targeting Harakat al-Shabaab (banned in Russia). In January of this year alone, the US military said it had killed 30 militants, but local authorities claim they were just fellahs (peasants). Nevertheless, the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) has not received a shred of evidence that those killed on the ground were actually militants.

On the contrary, organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and Amnesty International have documented countless cases of civilians killed in airstrikes. In Somalia, AFRICOM was supplied with evidence of civilians being killed in the same cases when the US military claims to have killed militants. No one is responsible for Washington’s criminal actions in Somalia, as civilian casualties continue to mount as a result of the US military’s covert air warfare in the country, without justice or reparations for the victims.

Women, girls, and the elderly are among the many victims of these covert attacks. In one case, seven members of the same family were killed, including a newborn baby. There have been no investigations into the massacres, which means – the exact number of civilians killed is unknown. Some think tanks say there could be thousands or dozens of thousands. Monitoring teams have also documented widespread damage to agricultural infrastructure, significant damage to residential buildings, and the deaths of large numbers of livestock.

The rising number of civilian deaths has one serious implication for security in the Horn of Africa. More civilian deaths without investigation, accountability, or redress, as in Pakistan, have radicalized Somalis, who have more frequently joined Harakat al-Shabaab (banned in Russia) than before the US intervention, implying that terrorism is spreading and becoming more powerful as a result of these covert US airstrikes.

The US House of Representatives, considering the situation in Somalia, voted against a resolution that would have forced President Biden to withdraw all US troops from that African country. The US president reportedly authorized the return of about 500 US troops to Somalia last year after his predecessor, Donald Trump, ordered the withdrawal of 700 of them during his term. The question then becomes how many thousands of US troops have been deployed in Somalia?

In March 2022, The Wall Street Journal, citing a US intelligence official, reported that the Pentagon had asked Biden to send several hundred more special forces to Somalia. A devastating report by Brown University’s Watson Institute’s Cost of War Project found that Washington has spent more than $2.5 billion in Somalia since 2007. The project says this figure is “just the tip of the iceberg” because it does not include spending on US military and intelligence operations, which has yet to be disclosed by the relevant agencies. The study concluded that “sixteen years after the emergence of Harakat al-Shabaab (banned in Russia), the group is still on the rise.” It added that “US efforts not only exacerbate insecurity in Somalia, but also actively impede stability and resolution of the conflict, the US is positioning itself as an external actor playing a supporting role in helping Somalia in its efforts to resolve the conflict. But US policy makes conflict inevitable.”

It can be said with great certainty, and this is supported by numerous facts, that the US has repeatedly violated international humanitarian law in Somalia and its criminal activities should be investigated before the International Court of Justice. “The evidence is stacking up and it’s pretty damning. Not only does AFRICOM utterly fail at its mission to report civilian casualties in Somalia, but it doesn’t seem to care about the fate of the numerous families it has completely torn apart,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa. “AFRICOM thinks it can simply smear its civilian victims as ‘terrorists,’ no questions asked,” Muchena added.

A report by Brown University’s Cost of War Project found that the 20 years of wars after 9/11 in West Asia cost US taxpayers about $8 trillion. A tiny fraction of that could have helped the refugee crisis, with Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans and others drowning after climbing onto flimsy boats with their frightened children, fleeing the criminal wars the US waged against their countries. Many of them had never seen the sea before and will never see land again.

If the US defines mission accomplished as a staggering number of civilian deaths, widespread damage to residential infrastructure, a significant increase in terrorism, prolonging wars, plundering other countries’ oil or destroying countries’ hopes instead of bringing democracy, prosperity, freedom and human rights, etc., then it has accomplished that mission worthily. But the facts that the criminal US military has failed to crush the will of popular resistance on the battlefield show that no matter how advanced Washington’s weapons are, it has been totally defeated on the ground and in the air and will not win the war against nations now seeking to build a multipolar world.

Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.

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