In another major expansion of imperialist militarism in Europe, Sweden and Finland formally submitted their applications to join the Nato alliance on Wednesday. Finland shares a 1,300 kilometre border with Russia.
Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said the move was a “historic step”. He is rejoicing at the opportunity to extend Nato’s imperialist power under the guise of defending Ukrainians.
Until very recently, most people in Sweden opposed Nato membership. And support for it was only 53 percent in Finland in February. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shifted that, and played into Nato leaders’ hands.
The greatest obstacle to membership could be Turkey’s opposition. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described Sweden and Finland as “incubators” for terrorist groups—by which he means the Kurdish groups fighting against Turkish oppression.
Erdogan will want some grubby payoff over arms and diplomatic support from the US and Nato before he agrees.
Meanwhile US president Joe Biden is reigniting one of the “forever wars” he pledged to end. It is another sign of the resurgence of imperialist militarism linked to the war in Ukraine. On Monday he signed an order authorising the generals to again send hundreds of special operations forces to Somalia.
This reversed former president Donald Trump’s move to withdraw nearly all ground troops from the east African country. And Biden is backing it up with assassinations and death squads. He has approved a Pentagon request for authority to target about a dozen suspected leaders of the Al Shabaab group.
The New York Times comments, “Together, the decisions will revive an open-ended American counterterrorism operation that has amounted to a slow-burn war through three administrations. The move stands in contrast to his decision last year to pull American forces from Afghanistan, saying, ‘It is time to end the forever war’.”
The announcement came a day after the selection of a new president in Somalia following a protracted election process. It was 16 months overdue and restricted to voting by 328 members of parliament. The situation was considered too unstable to carry out a more democratic vote.
Somalia has been a target of the great powers ever since its independence in 1960. It has a strategic position with close access to the oil lanes of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. This made it a prize during the Cold War between Russia and the US.
In 1992 the US invaded Somalia, using famine as a pretext. Initially welcomed, the US soon became hated. Massacres and torture by the US-led forces made them deeply resented and eventually resistance forced a humiliating US withdrawal.
Amid the chaos and poverty caused by the US intervention, various Islamist groups emerged offering stability. Although harsh, they won widespread popularity compared to what had gone before. They were pushed out by a Western-backed invasion led by Ethiopian forces.
The present government in Somalia survives only because it is backed by 20,000 African Union (AU) troops and the political support of the US.
The AU troops became widely unpopular because of their heavy-handed and brutal treatment of local people. This is the climate in which Al Shabaab has grown. Its soldiers have repeatedly seized territory from the government. Imperialism is no solution in any part of the world.
Oladeji Adeyemi Omishore died on 4 June
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