Beware of B-52 bombers.

Author:Boaleng, Osei
Position:Around Africa - Somalia

America's attempt to extend its "war for enduring freedom" beyond Afghanistan appears to have two African nations, "the old enemy" Sudan and "the old irritant" Somalia, firmly in its sights.

On 23 November, America gave teeth to its threats by cutting Somalia's only internet and telecoms links to the outside world. It came barely two weeks after Washington had put two Somali companies on its list of organisations suspected of supporting Osama bin Laden's al-Quida network.

Washington accused the two companies -- Somalia Internet Company and al-Barakaat Telecommunications (a banking and postal services company) of handling money on behalf of al-Quida.

Despite the companies' vehement denials, AT&T and British Telecom immediately cut off Somalia's only international telephone link to the outside world, depriving the 80% of Somalis who depend on remittances from relatives and friends abroad for survival.

Since the collapse of the central government so 1991 after the overthrow of the Siad Barre government, Somalia has had no traditional banking services. Al-Barakaat stepped into the void and provided the long-suffering Somalis with what amounted to a highly valued banking and postal service.

With 600 domestic shareholders, and because of its own efficiency and the goodwill and trust from its customers, the company soon grew to become the largest employer in the country. Al- Bakaat proved too good at the job that Somalis abroad sending remittances home depended heavily on its services, and those of the Somali Internet Company.

The two companies, in effect, became the lifeblood of the country. But Washington would not hear it. On 7 November, it put the two companies on the "hit" list and froze their international assets.

Some Somalis countered by saying Washington was out to seek vengeance for the 18 American soldiers killed in Somalia in 1993 by Mohammed Aideed's militiamen who dragged the bodies of the slain Americans through the streets of Mogadishu.

That incident led to the evacuation of American troops from Somalia, and caused a lot of domestic troubles for the government of President Bush, The Father. Naturally, Bush The Son might want to avenge the humiliation of his Either under the current war mandate.

Imminent attack?

"It is just a prelude to an attack, otherwise what reason would America have to cut off our only communication lifeline," asked Somalis who took to the streets of Mogadishu on 23 November to demonstrate their anger against...

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