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Posted by on Jan 9, 2007 in Uncategorized | 5 comments

U.S. Carries out Strikes Against Al Qaeda in Somalia

As Holly noted earlier today, the U.S. has carried out strikes against the Islamists in southern Somalia. The target: Fazul Abdullah Mohammed.

CBS:

A U.S. airstrike hit targets in southern Somalia where Islamic militants were believed to be sheltering suspects in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies, Somali officials and witnesses said Tuesday. Many people were reported killed.

Monday’s attack was the first overt military action by the U.S. in Somalia since the 1990s and the legacy of a botched intervention — known as “Black Hawk Down” — that left 18 U.S. servicemen dead.

Helicopter gunships launched new attacks Tuesday near the scene of the U.S. air strike, although it was not clear if they were American or Ethiopian aircraft, and it was not known if there were any casualties.

Two helicopters “fired several rockets toward the road that leads to the Kenyan border,” said Ali Seed Yusuf, a resident of the town of Afmadow in southern Somalia.

Also:

The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower arrived off Somalia’s coast and launched intelligence-gathering missions over Somalia, the military said. Three other U.S. warships are conducting anti-terror operations off the Somali coast…

But a U.S. government official said at least one AC-130 gunship was used. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the operation’s sensitivity.

Ed Morrissey comments:

The Ethiopians did us a big favor by dislodging the Islamists from Mogadishu. Once on the run, the US could bring all of its technological assets on line to track them, and the Air Force waited long enough for all of them to run into the trap. The Navy positioned the USS Eisenhower in the waters nearby Somalia just in case it finds even more targets to strike.

That hasn’t stopped the Ethiopians, either. Their forces have surrounded an al-Qaeda base and may have overrun it by the time you read this post. Between the three forces, including those loyal to the Somalian transitional government, AQ in Africa is about to take a huge blow, perhaps even a fatal defeat.

Taylor Marsh:

The Ethiopians, evidently, chased an East African cell of Al Qaeda group out of Mogadishu. We have been working with the Ethiopians directly on Al Qaeda and other national security interests we have in common. AC-130 gunships, which are attached to Special Forces in the area, acting on information from a Predator drone, then let loose on this Al Qaeda cell today. Bodies have been found, but they have not been identified, so it’s not certain if Fazul was hit. Fazul has been active in east African and Kenya since his twenties. Fazul speaks four languages and is considered one of the best tacticians in Al Qaeda. If Special Forces and the U.S. military got Fazul in this attack, it would be considered a huge win, according to Bob Windrem of MSNBC.

Not just according to Bob Windrem of course. If the U.S. is able to take out Fazul, an important Al Qaeda figure has been killed by the U.S., just several weeks after Islamists / Al Qaeda thought that they could take over an entire country.

Ian Welsh begs to differ:

This is the beginning of a long and bloody guerilla war. Just as the American blitz to Baghdad was the beginning and not the end; just as Afghanistan is still not pacified – neither is Somalia and neither will it be.

Why, exactly, the US continues to insist on backing losers is beyond me. But the end result will be another nation in chaos where al-Qa’eda is very welcome. If the ICU had taken over Somalia they could have been dealt with as you deal with nations – pressure, sanctions, maybe even bombing runs – plus the carrot of aid and trade relations. As a guerilla movement there is nothing the US can do to them that it has not already done.

The ICU will win in the long run. A lot of people will die in the meantime. Al-Qa’eda will have another haven, and the US will be reviled for putting a bunch of bloodthirsty raping monsters back into power.

All in a day’s work in the Bush administration.

Obviously – as I have said on numerous occasions by now – the West should come in with money, knowledge and materials to rebuild Somalia ASAP. Besides that, Western countries should try to give political help to Somalia / the Somali government. Business as usual cannot be afforded.

That being said, it seems a bit early to declare defeat. Ian might well be on to something; namely that Ethiopia and the U.S. should not try to occupy Somalia for an extended period (on which I agree), but to declare defeat now, seems a bit of a stretch.

I have long argued that the West should focus on Africa. Let ‘us’ start now. The United States seems to understand what has to be done, Europe – sadly – not. At least, I do not hear anything substantial coming from Europe for now except for an occasional ‘we hope that casualties will be limited’, so to speak.

Let European countries and the America come together to talk about Africa, to make a plan, not just for Somalia, but for the development of Africa as a whole.

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