U.S. Secretly Supporting Somali Warlords
Posted on May 17, 2006
Some of the warlords we are supporting—purportedly to keep Al Qaeda from establishing a beachhead in the African nation—were the same ones who helped to bring down American Blackhawk helicopters in 1993.
More than a decade after U.S. troops withdrew from Somalia following a disastrous military intervention, officials of Somalia’s interim government and some U.S. analysts of Africa policy say the United States has returned to the African country, secretly supporting secular warlords who have been waging fierce battles against Islamic groups for control of the capital, Mogadishu.
The latest clashes, last week and over the weekend, were some of the most violent in Mogadishu since the end of the American intervention in 1994, and left 150 dead and hundreds more wounded. Leaders of the interim government blamed U.S. support of the militias for provoking the clashes.
U.S. officials have declined to directly address on the record the question of backing Somali warlords, who have styled themselves as a counterterrorism coalition in an open bid for American support. Speaking to reporters recently, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States would “work with responsible individuals . . . in fighting terror. It’s a real concern of ours—terror taking root in the Horn of Africa. We don’t want to see another safe haven for terrorists created. Our interest is purely in seeing Somalia achieve a better day.”