U.S. refrains from full dip in Somalia's murky waters

14:47, March 16, 2010      

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The United States is providing Somali authorities with some degree of support in a bid to prevent the re-emergence of a government bent on Jihad but is refraining from an all-out maneuver for fear that it might become another Battle of Mogadishu.

"The U.S. has no desire to have a sequel of 'Black Hawk Down' coming out in theaters," said Bayless Parsley, Africa analyst at Stratfor, a global intelligence company.

The analyst was referring to a movie depicting the 1993 U.S. operation in Mogadishu, where 18 American soldiers were killed and some of their bodies were dragged through the streets.

"I think the Obama administration would rather that Somalia just went away," said Bronwyn Bruton, author of a report on Somalia for the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank.

"If you contrast the amount of money being spent in Somalia with the amount that is spent in Afghanistan and Iraq, it looks like a pittance," she added.

While the Obama administration is trying not to get entrenched in the ongoing conflict in Mogadishu, the U.S. public still perceives Somalia as a potential haven for terrorists, although that may be exaggerated, Bruton said.

Still, the administration cannot afford to ignore the embattled country, she added.

But while the terror threat is higher now than in the past, Somalia is ultimately hostile to foreign militant groups, the analyst said.

Al-Qaeda made inroads into Somalia during the United Nations buildup in the early 1990s, but later collided with the country's clan system and ultimately floundered there, Bruton explained.

For its part, Washington is adamant that U.S. support for Somalia's government forces will remain limited.


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