Oct 1, 2010

Same old: US admin's 'new' strategy on Somalia

Last week at the UN Johnnie Carson presented United States new approach towards Somalia. He said "the new, "aggressive" engagement could help to head off the Islamist insurgents". The supposedly new strategy is that the administration will support the current government and cooperate closely the relatively stable regions of Puntland and Somaliland, and any other group or tribe not affiliated with Al-Shabab. 

The only problem with this new "aggressive" is that this is not new at all. The US government supported the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) from the beginning and help create it in 2004. They had for years also worked with Puntland and Somaliland on anti-terrorism and piracy for years. 

This is very disappointing. Since the attack in Uganda in July,  which Al-Shabab claimed, the US government understandably feels it has to show that it's doing something about the problem. But I'm sure the could have done better than to present what they were doing for years as a 'new' approach. No, it isn't.

 The fact is that the TFG is not an answer to Al-Shabab. It has failed since 2009 to gain any ground in Mogadishu against Al-Shabab or to build any government institutions. The UN accuses government ministers of corruption and the army is defecting or selling weapons to Al-Shabab. 

So, to what end is US supporting this government?

On the point of engaging with Puntland and Somalia, these two regions have been autonomous for more than a decade and it's obvious that you cannot fight piracy, terrorism or deliver aid there without working with them.

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