A City Under Siege
May 12, 2009 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Mogadishu: A City Under Siege. Photos from inside the city taken in November 2008.
posted by lullaby (14 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I know the watermarks are kind of annoying, but I've never seen pictures like these from inside Mogadishu, so I thought they were worth sharing.
posted by lullaby at 8:55 AM on May 12, 2009

Somalia is the invisible third front of the Terror War, an American-backed "regime change" operation launched by the invading army of Ethiopia and local warlords in December 2006. In addition to helping arm, fund and train the army of the Ethiopian dictatorship, the United States has intervened directly into the conflict, carrying out bombing raids on fleeing refugees and nomads, firing missiles into villages, sending in death squads to clean up after covert operations, and, as we reported here long ago, assisting in the "rendition" of refugees, including American citizens, into the hands of Ethiopia's notorious torturers. ...

The United States is not only backing the Ethiopians and the Somali transitional government (TGF) propped up by the occupation; Washington has also provided "robust financial and logistical support to armed paramilitaries resisting the command and control of the TGF," according to a major new study of the conflict by the human rights organization, Enough. ...

In other words, the United States is sponsoring a hydra-headed conflict that spews fire and destruction in every direction, and is trampling an already ravaged people deeper into the dirt. It is by any measure -- even the mass-murdering standards of our day -- a sickening abomination, a war crime of staggering proportions. Yet it goes on, day after day, without the slightest comment, much less criticism, from the entire bipartisan political establishment, and almost all of the media -- including most of the "dissident" blogosphere. The Somalis are simply non-people, a nation of ghosts, unseen and unseeable.
- Chris Floyd
posted by Joe Beese at 9:00 AM on May 12, 2009

Well, there's my first real downer of the morning. Not the pictures themselves, but my reaction to them. "Ho hum, looks like every other set of photos from war-torn regions that I've seen in the past 8 years."

And that's really sad for two reasons: One, it just doesn't make much of an impression on me anymore (although to be fair, that could be because these series of photos share the same general artistic style). And two, there are so dreadfully many of these situations over there, in that part of the world.

I'm going to just sit here and be grateful for a while.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:22 AM on May 12, 2009

Yeah, pretty rare that you get photography like this out of Mog. Its a frustrating and sad situation - I work for one of the major NGO's that operates there but we can't even house our National Office in-country for safety reasons - its currently still "temporarily" located here in Nairobi - has been for years now.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:22 AM on May 12, 2009

I just KNEW this was America's fault! Thanks, Joe!
posted by billysumday at 9:34 AM on May 12, 2009

billysumday: "I just KNEW this was America's fault!"

I'd like to award you points for figuring it out - but I'm afraid it was very predictable.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:00 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

VII is a pretty amazing photo agency. (Ron Haviv is one of the founding members, and his set of photos from Yugoslavia are amazing.)
posted by chunking express at 10:19 AM on May 12, 2009

isn't this some sort of libertarian paradise?
posted by TrialByMedia at 4:03 PM on May 12, 2009 [4 favorites]

These are incredible photos. I've always wanted to see what Mogadishu looks like at ground level as I've often hovered over it in Google Earth. Thanks for posting.
posted by pravit at 4:55 PM on May 12, 2009

I, too, was struck by these photos when I first saw the essay a few months ago. Sure the usual tropes of war-torn-region photography are there (people cowering in bullet-riddled buildings, menacing guys with guns) but the little details of daily life (rainbows, markets, playing on the beach, walking down the street, a barber on the street, a soccer game) show so much more--a broader picture--than most conflict photography. Pagetti's a new addition to the VII roster (he wasn't there when I interned at the agency), but he's rapidly becoming one of my favorites at the agency.
posted by msbrauer at 6:43 PM on May 12, 2009

Until Google Street Views Mogadishu, this is about the closest we're going to get.
Parts of it are still rather beautiful.
posted by Flashman at 9:05 PM on May 12, 2009

posted by rifflesby at 12:46 AM on May 13, 2009

I object to the (over)use of the term "skeletal remains" as they apply it to ruined buildings.
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 3:50 AM on May 13, 2009

looks like every other set of photos from war-torn regions that I've seen in the past 8 years

In some respects, I agree. Bullet-riddled buildings, almost empty markets, refugee camps.

But there's something about these pictures that is also quite different. There used to be nice buildings there. Not palacial, but functional and well constructed. The polytechnic school looked very serviceable, and I can almost picture kids in school uniforms playing in the yard. But that building has not served as a school for many years. Now it is filled with incredibly makeshift looking tents, not built by an NGO like you might see in a lot of war refugee camps, but built out of rubbish found in the streets.

And the walls are just so dirty. They have been dirty for years. People do not often live in filth if they can help it, which leads me to imagine that they don't have the resources for cleaning the walls. Don't have any soap, have just enough water for drinking (if lucky). They have not had these basic resources for years. These pictures show a state of disrepair that has not happened from one or two bombing raids, but from more than a decade of complete chaos and lack of any kind of normal infrastructure.
posted by mosessis at 5:58 PM on May 15, 2009

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