Secretary of State Clinton met Thursday
with Somali President Sharif Sheik Ahmed, expressing support for his embattled
Transitional Federal Government, the TFG.
TFG is fighting Islamist militias, who control more of the country than the
government does. The ongoing conflict
has created one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters with hundreds of
thousands of people displaced and millions in need of food aid and other
Shinn, adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George
Washington University and a former ambassador to Ethiopia, considers the
the highest level meeting that any American official has ever given to President
Ahmed. So that's important. It clearly underscores the interest that the
United States has in reaching some sort of satisfactory resolution to the
conflict in Somalia," he says.
says the amount of US moral and material support for the TFG "is greater than
on any previous occasion in recent years."
Expand and extend
Clinton Thursday pledged that the US would "expand and extend" its support.
says, "Expand could simply mean increasing the amounts of…humanitarian
assistance, or even semi-development aid….
That's been going on for many years, including under the Bush
Administration. And it's been
may also mean greater support for the African Union, which has peacekeepers in
new part of the equation or relatively new part is the military assistance that
was announced more than a month ago, which my understanding is, contrary to the
press reports…amounted to about $5 million and 80 tons of largely ammunition
and small arms," he says.
reports often put the figures at $10 million and 40 tons in supplies.
says it appears the ammunition and small arms were passed through the AU forces
to TFG security forces.
may mean an increase in that military assistance. Although she clearly did not specify that and
there are no details as to whether there will be any increase," he says.
also says the US is involved in the training of TFG security forces in
Djibouti, something other countries and the UN have been doing in regards to
Pentagon vs. State Department?
the previous Bush administration, critics said the State Department had been
weakened in favor of the Pentagon. In
other words, that the Bush administration preferred a military approach to
Somalia rather than a diplomatic one.
Critics also said ,as a result, the new Obama administration is forced
to rely more heavily on the military option.
not sure I accept that. I'm not sure I
accept the criticism for either the Bush or the Obama administrations. There are significant limits to what you can
do in Somalia," he says.
had been critical of US aerial attacks in Somalia against suspected terrorist
sites. He says they created a major
backlash among the Somali people. So
far, there have not been similar attacks under President Obama.
the other hand the Obama administration has started providing military
assistance, which was not being done during the Bush administration, which
would suggest a strong Pentagon role," he says.
he adds, "If that's what is required to keep the Transitional Federal
Government up and functioning, then I think it's hard to criticize it."
Warning to Eritrea
Clinton also warned Eritrea not to support Somali extremists, saying it could
face penalties. It's a warning that also was made by the Bush administration.
says this could mean seeking UN sanctions, rather than putting Eritrea on the
US list of state sponsors of terrorism.
"No one has really tipped their hand
as to which direction this might go,' he says.