Friday, June 26, 2009

Business at usual at State Department: U.S. gives weapons to Somali goverment

Just when it seemed the new Democratic Party-led U.S. government was reversing the policies of the George W. Bush administration comes word from Washington that the United States has provided 40 tons of weapons to the embattled government of Somalia. The military aid, mostly small arms and ammunition, as well as payments to Uganda and Burundi to train Somali troops, is aimed at helping the embattled transitional federal government of the strategic East African nation defeat an Islamic insurgency linked to al-Qaida, according to the Reuters international news service. Aid delivered in the past six weeks totals less than $10 million, Reuters said, citing an unnamed U.S. State Department official. Al Shabaab fighters control most of southern Somalia and are battling for control of the capital, Mogadishu, Reuters said. "We've shipped probably in the neighborhood of 40 tons of arms and munitions into Somalia, the official told Reuters. "We remain concerned about an al Shabaab victory, and we want to do as much as we can to help the TFG." U.S. officials fear the insurgents want to impose a strict Islamic regime on the country, which shares borders with Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia, and is across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen. U.S. President Barack Obama apparently is stepping up efforts to counter al-Qaida influenced insurgencies around the world, like his recent moves to bolster U.S. and Afghani forces battling the Taliban in Afghanistan. Reuters said the United States had hoped that the election in January of a moderate Islamist to lead Somalia would lead to some type of reconciliation between the warring factions, but al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden -- who the United States blames for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington -- declared Somali President Sheik Sharif Ahmed an enemy in a March videotape and called on the insurgents to defeat the government.

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