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  The troops were withdrawn after their presence became an al-Shabab recruiting tool.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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Leaderless, Rudderless, Britain Drifts

    Experts predicted chaos would follow, if Britain decided to vote for Brexit, and chaos has

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora