U.S Intervention in Somalia

In my recent post about Ethiopia's incursion into Somalia to displace the until-then victorious Islamic extremists, I noted that Ethiopia was quietly backed and covertly supported by the United States. Although this is not an overtly religious war, it does pit a predominantly Christian army (backed by a predominantly Christian United States) against an overwhelmingly Muslim one. It is possible that such conflicts may escalate in Africa, although this analyst thinks that decisive intervention against extremists may prevent an escalation in the long-term. His point is interesting because there are moderate Muslims in Kenya and the Somalia Transitional Government are working with Christian troops from Ethiopia and cooperating with the predominantly Christian U.S. The common enemy is extremism.

I also stated that I had not seen any evidence of direct U.S. involvement in the conflict. All that changed this week as a U.S. AC-130 gunship attacked sites in Somalia, where al Qaeda leaders have retreated to in the face of the Ethiopian incursion. U.S. helicopter gunships followed up with additional attacks in Somalia. The U.S. Navy, active in the region for a while combating piracy and interdicting terrorists, has also acted to pen in any attempts by al Qaeda operatives to flee the region.

What about ground troops? It is likely that U.S. Special Forces, such as Marine Recon, Green Berets, or Delta Force, are on the ground in the conflict area to confirm intelligence about targets, assist in targeting, and to coordinate with air and naval assets. The number of troops would likely be limited to a few teams. Moreover, the focus of the U.S. intervention is not to assist the Ethiopians or Somalia Transitional Government directly, but to take out al Qaeda targets. It is for just this reason that the U.S. has been maintaining a 1,800 strong anti-terrorism task force in the Horn of Africa. However, the Somalia Transitional Government reports that U.S. advisors have been working with its own troops as well as the Ethiopian army.

The Somalai Transitional Government reports that the attack succeeded in killing the masterminds of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa that killed 225 people.


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