DOES it matter to the United States that Somalia is becoming a hotbed of global jihad?
The answer most often heard in Washington is impenetrable. “Somalia is
not important until it launches a terrorist attack which makes it
important,” explains a Pentagon official. There is wide agreement that a
more aggressive American policy towards the jihadist rebels could well
backfire. But if America is unwilling to invade Somalia, bearing in mind
its disastrous intervention in 1993, how does it plan, through less
direct means, to limit the threat of Somali-based Islamist terrorists?
The leading Islamist militia in Somalia is the Shabab (“Youth”). It
controls large parts of south and central Somalia. In the battered
capital, Mogadishu, it is seeking to drive Somalia’s internationally
recognised transitional government into the sea. The fighting is brutal.
Some 200,000 civilians have fled Mogadishu this year; several thousand
have been injured or killed. The government is protected by 6,000
African Union (AU) peacekeepers. The Shabab relies on insurgency
tactics, and operates at least two suicide-bomb units.
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