23 Jan 2007

Gunship Hash Fry-Up

The January 13th issue of The East African editorializes; “US Makes A Hash Of It Again referring to Somalia. Claiming the "US adventure is Somali is going off the rails, raising fears of another Iraq being enacted right here in East Africa", it minimizes the Islamist support o'f Eritrean and foreign mercenaries, the long history of Somali-Ethiopian wars, the massive influx of arms into Mogadishu from mischievous countries and Kenya’s own interests in eradicating terrorists. It’s all Uncle Sam’s blunder, again.

Facts are abandoned. There are no reports, as the editor would have it, of US fighter jets” or Blackhawk helicopters” operating in Somalia. There was a solitary AC-130 gunship that could have done many favours if it had eradicated the Al-Qaeda cell leaders. Their attacks killed hundreds and wounded thousands in Kenya. This nearly bankrupted our tourist industry and entire economy twice. There are a few Special Forces boots on the ground and these, plus the British SAS , have been welcomed by all parties except the Islamists and their allies and dupes in the Kenyan media.

Also, since it does not fit The East African’s favoured anti-American narrative, the paper fails no mention the ICU attacked Baidoa and the TNG on December 16th despite endless international warnings and thus sealed their own fate.

The US has publicly stated it is willing to work with non-Al Qaeda Islami c Courts Unionparties in Somalia – a big shift in policy. It strongly backs an AU force and stays as much in the background as possible – unlike for example Eritrea or Al-Qaeda itself, which called for global terrorists to come to the ICU’s aid. The US has kept it’s military footprint very small. No doubt most regional countries would like to see the irredentist ICU dismantled. Moderate Somalis in Hargeisha and Puntland are whooping with delight.

Rather than “hashing” the job, it is more likely the US has learned valuable past lessons and kept the problem at arm’s length. One is not sure why The East African would want to inflame jihadi passions by asserting otherwise.
Somalia is both an inter-African and regional failure. America is justifiably interested in the capture or death of a limited group of Al-Qaeda terrorists. The US left Somali alone for a dozen years after “Blackhawk Down”. During this time did Africans solve their own problems? Did the EU or UN come to rescue the country? Not at all.

The result was the ICU and more civil war, with the possibility of an Afghanistan- in Africa. This was intolerable to all in Kenya except a handful of Islamists and their mouthpieces like jihadi supporter Salim Lone of The Daily Nation. In truth there is no simple solution in Somalia and making people believe that the American bogeyman is behind all the woe implies it will vanish should the US ignore Somalia for another decade. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A week after this "editorial", which reads more like a shill for the ICU, the moderate leader of the ICU surrendered peacefully to Kenyan authorities and was reported headed for Nairobi for talks with US State Department officials. The real question is, why do Kenyans have to read over and again these hopelessly biased and innacurate anti-American rants, in the guise of "editorials"?

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