Somali Government Set to Take Back the Capital
The Somali government is preparing to launch a major offensive to take back Mogadishu and Somalia’s military chief says that America will help. The United States has been increasingly concerned with Somali links to organizations like al-Qaeda through al-Shabab and other extremists that have found a safe haven amidst the instability of the coastal nation. The assistant secretary of state for Africa, Johnnie Carson, stated that this will not be an “American offensive.” Carson made it clear that the Somali offensive will be advanced by the Somali military, without US troop support.
American military assistance for Somalia has been focused on training, providing logistical support and surveillance information. One unnamed US official said that if al-Qaeda terrorists were to be dislodged, American covert forces would get involved. Despite past failures by the Somali government, hopeful officials have said that this offensive might actually work. The government is better armed, has new military leadership, will advance 10,000 solders compared to the 5,000 al-Shabab troops, and has the aid of nearly 5,000 Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers, with 1,700 more on the way. Many observers suspect that the Somali government will take back the capital; maintaining law and order after the offensive will be the challenge.
Read more at the NY Times.