News / Africa

Ethiopia May Join Alliance Against Somalia's Al-Shabab

A Kenyan soldier stands guard an airstrip in an area near the Somali-Kenyan border where al-Shabab militants are active (file photo).
A Kenyan soldier stands guard an airstrip in an area near the Somali-Kenyan border where al-Shabab militants are active (file photo).

Multimedia

Audio

An alliance of mostly East African nations is preparing a coordinated military campaign in Somalia to finish off the embattled al-Shabab extremist group.  The al-Qaida-inspired extremists were driven out of the Somali capital, Mogadishu by African Union troops in August, and have recently lost ground to advancing Kenyan forces in the south.  The plan includes possibly sending Ethiopian troops back to Somalia.

The ongoing Kenyan operation in southern Somalia, and al-Shabab's recent collapse in Mogadishu, are raising hopes that the militants' stranglehold on Somalia can be broken.

Toward that end, heads of state from the six-nation Horn of Africa regional bloc known as IGAD will meet next Friday to discuss a military strategy aimed at greatly expanding the control of Somalia's weak Transitional Federal Government.

Planners say the Addis Ababa summit will encourage all IGAD countries, including Ethiopia, to contribute to the effort.

Ethiopian officials say no formal decision has been made on joining the list of troop contributing countries.  But foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti says Addis Ababa will help the campaign in any way possible.

"You can simply guess Ethiopia is going to be part and parcel of this process," said Dina.  "The decision is not made as to sending the army, but per the IGAD council's resolutions of the past months, all IGAD member countries, the African Union and others also will be summoned, will be called, will be expected to somehow contribute something to strengthening the operations in Somalia."

Dina said a decision on Ethiopia's role in the offensive would probably be announced at next Friday's summit.

Ethiopian troops are regarded unfavorably by many Somalis, who remember them for brutality during a previous incursion from 2006 to 2009, made to support the Somali government.  The troops were withdrawn after their presence became an al-Shabab recruiting tool.

Dina says conditions are different now.  He says this time Ethiopia is part of a broad alliance of countries that recognize al-Shabab as a threat to regional stability.

"It's not only Ethiopia that's interested in crushing al-Shabab, it's in the interest of the IGAD countries, the African countries, even the international community to get rid of al-Shabab, which is actually quite a menace to the region," added Dina.

Besides controlling large portions of central Somalia, al-Shabab claimed responsibility for a bombing in Uganda's capital last year that killed 76 people.  Kenya blames the group for a series of recent cross-border kidnappings of foreigners, an allegation al-Shabab has denied.

Two senior United Nations peacekeeping officials were at African Union headquarters this week for a briefing on the Somalia strategy, which includes asking for U.N. authorization to double the size of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to 20,000 troops.  Diplomats say the plan calls for Kenyan troops to be brought under the AMISOM command, but not Ethiopian troops.

AU Peace and Security Director El-Ghassim Wane says U.N. and wider international support is needed to capitalize on the gains made by AMISOM and the Kenyan offensive.

"We believe the Kenyan operation is further contributing to weakening al-Shabab and creating space for the political process to take hold and lead to the conclusion of the transition next August... It's a challenging task, and we are fully aware of it, and that's why we are calling for further and enhanced support from the United Nations and the larger international community," said Wane.

Uganda and Burundi currently contribute the bulk of the nearly 10,000 AMISOM troops, with tiny Djibouti adding a small contingent.  Kenya is said to be ready to contribute several thousand, and AU officials say Sierra Leone is preparing a few battalions that could be ready to join the operation within months.

The United Nations, which funds a large portion of AMISOM, and several other countries are said to be ready to provide what are called "force enablers," such as helicopters and other equipment to support the mission.

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid