News / Africa

    U.S. Extends Reevaluation of Security Threats to Yemen and Somalia

    Multimedia

    Audio
    • President Obama Remarks After a White House National Security Meeting 5 January 2010

    • Interview with University of Minnesota Professor Abdi Samatar

    President Barack Obama acknowledged Tuesday that the United States has stepped up the fight against al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has also begun focusing on other countries, including Yemen and Somalia. 

    U.S. Extends Reevaluation of Security Threats to Yemen and Somalia
    U.S. Extends Reevaluation of Security Threats to Yemen and Somalia

       
    Somali-born geography professor Abdi Samatar of the University of Minnesota says that the intensification of fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the Christmas Day airline bombing attempt by Nigerian-born Umar Abdulmutallab have helped shift the focus of conflict to al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula, particularly to Yemen.  But he notes that reports of recent arms shipments from Yemeni rebels to Somalia’s Islamist al-Shabab fighters have so far had little impact on the rebel insurgency against Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

    Al-Shabab insurgents control much of southern Somalia, including the city of Kismayo.
    Al-Shabab insurgents control much of southern Somalia, including the city of Kismayo.

       
    “I don’t think that the amount of weapons that are going from Yemen through al-Qaida to al-Shabab is significant.  Shabab has many other sources of weapons, both in the domestic market, and, remember, Somalia has one of the largest small weapons markets in Mogadishu itself,” he said.
       
    Despite al-Shabab claims of sending fighters to help al-Qaida resist Yemeni and foreign-assisted efforts to quash its insurgency, Professor Samatar says a Somali presence in Yemen is limited to longtime refugees who have lived in northern Yemen for decades, but not a significant infusion of terrorists or resistance fighters.
       
    “Containing refugees and others in particular localities I don’t think is going to be a significant element in tackling the terror matter,” he noted.
       
    As for Yemenis operating in Somalia, Samatar says the security threat is also low. But he does acknowledge that the stepped up fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan have expanded the arena of doing battle with al-Qaida back to the Gulf region, where it was extremely active ten years ago.
       
    “The military pressures in Pakistan and Afghanistan are having a significant effect on al-Qaida’s ability to further decentralize itself so that they cannot be holed in one particular locality.  And this is a fact that should be taken into account in both Somalia and in Yemen,” he observed.
       
    Does this mean a more intensified struggle in Somalia at this point? Samatar says not as far as expecting an infusion of fighters from Yemen to add to Somalia’s woes.  He says al-Shabab continues to lead insurgents’ attempts to bring down the internationally endorsed TFG.

       
    “I think Shabab controls much of southern Somalia at the present, and in the last week or so, they have had military celebrations in Mogadishu itself, to show the caliber of their troops and the size of their troops.  So they are already what they are, and they control what’s left of Somalia….small strips in south Mogadishu and a few other pockets.  And I just don’t think further pressures are going to make any difference in those spots because those are where the African Union forces are, and I don’t think al-Shabab will have the wherewithal to confront them head-on,” he said.

       
    The answer to U.S. and British efforts to bring greater stability to both Somalia and Yemen can be found in new initiatives to democratize both countries rather than focusing on the anti-terror threat, according to Professor Samatar.  He warns that stepped up foreign military involvement can foment resentment among local populations in both countries, which have long been discontent with the authoritarian qualities of their own failed states’ leaderships.
       
    “I think the Somali people would welcome a very genuine support from the United (States) government to help themselves rebuild their country.  I think the project that the United States helped take part in in Djibouti, which ultimately produced the Transitional Federal Government was both illegitimate and incompetent.  And so what the Somali people are looking for is support from Britain and the United States people and governments that are genuinely democratic, that will support civil society, and Islamic movement that is also democratic,” he maintains.
       
    Samatar asserts that Yemeni and Somali resentment are stirred up against western interference when it is being engineered to serve outside interests.
       
    “Genuine democratization of the political process in Somalia, pushing the Transitional Federal Government into becoming more inclusive, more accountable, more effective, and bringing on board people with capacity who are Somalis who can deliver for the local population, if the U.S. and Britain push things in that direction, the Somali people will genuinely welcome that, in my opinion,” he noted.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora