A Renewed Effort in Somalia? Peacebuilding and Counterterrorism Operations in the Horn of Africa

October 16, 2009Andre Le Sage, an assistant professor of terrorism and counterterrorism at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, joined us for a discussion on recent peace building and counterterrorism efforts in the Horn of Africa, particularly Somalia. Dr. Le Sage has worked in Africa with a variety of organizations, including the UN and Médecins Sans Frontières, and also served as a political advisor to the Somalia National Reconciliation Conference.

Mr. Le Sage briefly covered recent events of note that have served to highlight the importance of Somalia and U.S. interests in East Africa, including an August meeting between Secretary of State Clinton and the president of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Mr. Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the special operations strike that killed Saleh Ali Nabhan last month, and the recent revelations by the FBI concerning U.S. nationals of Somali descent returning to Africa to participate in terrorist operations.

The discussion shifted to cover the major insurgency groups operating in Somalia, notably Hizbul Islaami and Al-Shabab. It was explained how these groups, particularly Al-Shabab, which has known ties to Al-Queda, have worked to destabilize the Somali government and have provided haven to the East Africa Cell of Al-Queda, which was responsible for the notorious embassy bombings in Kenya in 1998.

The Question and Answer session was devoted primarily to understanding how the U.S. can best support the TFG and ensure that it does not collapse, leaving a power vacuum and enabling Somalia as a failed state to become a haven for terrorists.

What are the major terrorist threats affecting the stability of Somalia and how will they impact U.S. interests?

Security for a New Century is a bipartisan study group for Congress. We meet regularly with U.S. and international policy professionals to discuss the post-Cold War and post-9/11 security environment. All discussions are off-the-record. It is not an advocacy venue. For more information, please call Mark Yarnell at (202) 224-7560 or write to [email protected].

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