When the rapacious European empires divided (or re-divided) Africa at the beginning of the 20th century, the British empire grabbed Somalia proper and the Italian empire grabbed Somaliland (north Somalia) to add to its holdings in Eritrea and later Ethiopia.
Independence came in 1960, and of course Somalia became ensnared in the Cold War maneuvers of the American empire and the Russian (Soviet) empire. In a military coup Mohamed Siad Barre set up a socialist government in 1969. The American empire stirred up a rebellion against Barre as the old Russian empire collapsed. Barre went into exile in 1991.
Barre was a member of the Marehan Darod clan, and relied heavily on the clan for support towards the end of his reign despite his Marxist-Leninist ideology. Somalia divided up into areas controlled by clans, often headed by warlords. The second-most powerful clan in Somalia were the Habr Gidr, who led the rebellion against Barre. They were led by General Mohamed Farrah Aidid who had earlier served in Barre's cabinet and who had received military training in the Soviet Union.
The U.S. and its allies thought that the Somalia should become another U.S. franchise, complete with free-market capitalism. General Aidid was not interested in being a U.S. puppet, and the Darod clan and other clans were not interested in subordinating themselves to Aidid, and the country was already shot to hell from the rebellion against Barre.
To enforce U.S. rule President Bill Clinton sent in the stormtroopers. Under the fig leaf of the United Nations, forces attacked Aidid and the Habr Gidr. The clan had the audacity to fight back, with some success. Clinton also sent in a peace negotiator, Jonathan Howe, a former admiral who, like Clinton and all U.S. Presidents, believed in negotiations backed by plenty of firepower.
Responding the the peace offer from Howe, the Habr Gidr decided to call a meeting to talk it over. They would meet on July 12, 2013 at the house of Abdi Hassan Awale in Mogadishu. Almost every important civilian in the clan attended, along with militia leaders. This included businessmen, lawyers and other college educated men, religious leaders, traditional elders and even the clan's best-known poet. Many supported the peace initiative, or were ready to abandon General Aidid.
We'll never know the outcome of the meeting. Learning that the leadership of the clan would meet in one place, the U.S. security apparatus decided to go for decapitation. Eventually Bill Clinton and Admiral Howe signed off on the plan.
TOW anti-tank missiles slammed into the house. Sixteen missiles in all blew up, delivered from helicopters. Then Cobra and Black Hawk helicopters poured machine-gun fire on the survivors. Casualty estimates vary, but mostly likely 73 died and another 175 were wounded. The casualties were mostly civilians, and mostly adult men, but included women and children.
If Americans had not done it, the act would be labeled a war crime. In any case it was incredibly stupid, even from the point of view of furthering U.S. imperial dominance of the globe. The entire Habr Gidr clan rallied around Aidid, and even rival clans were shocked. Who could trust a nation that would do such a thing?
So when stormtroopers went to grab two Aidid senior officials (or Somali government officials, if you can look at it that way) on October 3, 1993, it is really not that surprising that half the city of Mogadishu rose up to fight the Americans. That battle (in which tactics used by Afghanistan veterans to fight the Russians were used by the Somalis ...) is generally known as Black Hawk Down.
Neither Bill Clinton, nor George W. Bush, nor Barack Obama has shown any real learning curve. With Afghanistan winding down (and moving towards a restoration of the Taliban, or of another warlord regime), Africa is an increasing American focus, with Somalia still a center of attention. Every nation in Africa has or is scheduled to soon have an American military presence.
The tactical change is the U.S. is now paying Africans to fight Africans. U.S. troops are still so universally hated in Somalia that they are very rarely used, and only for brief raids. Instead Obama pays a variety of African nations to try to put chains on the people in Somalia.
Note that it has nothing to do with brutality, or the usual propaganda about women (in which we hate the Taliban but love the Saudis, even though they treat women exactly the same.) Obama & crew have no problem with brutality as long as the leader practicing it is pro-American. History has shown the U.S. corporate security state will not put up with the most kindly of governments, if they are not pro-American.
Look at our ally Kenya. It has troops in Somalia, trying to prop up the latest in a series of U.S.-appointed puppet governments. Meanwhile Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. President Obama, ever polishing his image while seething with inner corrosion, has refused to meet with Kenyatta in public, but has no problems with training and funding the Kenyan military.
My prediction: more of the same. Hillary Clinton may not have joined Bill Clinton in ordering the Mogadishu Massacre (though she might have whispered in his ear), but she's been around the imperialist block plenty of times, including during her 4 years as Secretary of State. Since most Republican voters always support American war crimes, and since most Democratic Party voters support war crimes if committed by a Democratic President and Congress, you can bet who the imperialist security czars will be backing in 2016.
The only thing that will stop the madness is the national debt, and only if interest rates rise enough. Strangely a strong economy could sink the entire ship, since interest payments would increase faster than tax revenues, leading to a death spiral. Only then will the troops come home and leave the various peoples of the world to sort out their own societies without the threat of U.S. military intervention.
[Much thanks to Black Hawk Down
by Mark Bowden, particularly pages 71-74 and 94-95]