News 2008


US Congress: Bush strategy in Somalia is failing




Special Correspondent

The Bush administration has been faulted for failing to stabilise Somalia after a March 3 American missile strike on the horn of Africa country, a congress report says.

The US is aiming to bring order to Somalia mainly by funding an African Union peacekeeping operation, but that force is grossly undermanned, according to Congress’ auditing arm.

“Given the operation’s shortage of troops, it has not been able to fulfil its mandate to improve security, support reconciliation, protect the transitional government, and facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid.”

In addition, the US-supported Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is said to be failing to deliver “much-needed services” to Somalis.

The report by the Government Accountability Office of congress cites complaints by United Nations officials about the difficulty of working with the TFG because “Most of its ministries exist in name only, with no support staff.”

An effective peacekeeping force would require at least 20,000 troops as well as a ceasefire agreement and the co-operation of all parties in Somalia, the report states. But none of those conditions are being met.

Uganda’s Amisom contingent is limited to protecting only the airport, seaport and presidential compound in Mogadishu, the report notes.

Amison currently consists of 2,400 troops- 1,600 troops from Uganda and 800 from Burundi. The total is less than a third that of AU.

The United States has spent some $60 million to train, equip and transport soldiers assigned to Amisom, according to the auditors.

US officials have been working for months to persuade other African countries to commit troops to Amisom, but such assistance has not been forthcoming due to concerns about “Somalia’s rapidly deteriorating security situation,” the report observes.

Overall, the United States has provided Somalia with $362 million’s worth of humanitarian and development aid since 2001.

That amount qualifies the US as the leading donor to Somalia during the past seven years, the report points out.

But the UN’s chief representative for Somalia said last week that the international community is engaging in “collective punishment” of Somalis by neglecting their needs.

While acknowledging that Somalis themselves have “destroyed their country,” Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah told the press that this is not sufficient reason for “collective punishment, which I think the international community is doing by ignoring their plight.”

On its part, the Bush administration has reaffirmed its intention of launching military attacks against alleged Al Qaeda operatives in Somalia and elsewhere.

“They are planning to destabilise the world, to inflict terror, and where we find them, we will go after them,” White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe told reporters last week.

He was speaking in response to questions about a US missile strike on a town in Somalia five miles from the Kenya border.

A US Navy submarine in the Indian Ocean was targeting a Kenyan citizen, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, when it fired at least two cruise missiles into the town of Dobley, Pentagon and FBI officials said.

He is wanted for questioning by the FBI in connection with the bombing of the Paradise Hotel in Kikambala in 2002 and the nearly simultaneous attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner taking off from Moi Airport in Mombasa.

(N.B.: And Oliver North, himself not without a shady history, claims that he actually was killed.)