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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.