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).



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  The troops were withdrawn after their presence became an al-Shabab recruiting tool.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 Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs