Saturday, November 18, 2006

This Could Expand With Or Without Us

I've mentioned that a wide-ranging offensive with relatively small numbers of troops in the Horn region could be necessary to smash up al Qaeda types that are gathering strength.

Lest you think we would simply be making things worse by initiating open warfare in a pastoral kite-flying region, Strategypage notes that regional nations are getting worried about Somalia:

Soldiers from the Ugandan Army (UPDF, Uganda Peoples Defense Forces) are apparently operating "inside Somalia." The Ugandan troops were helping train supporters of the Somali Transitional Government. Uganda belongs to IGAD Intergovernmental Authority on Development), an East African regional development cooperative. The Ugandan troops were supporting the Transitional Government as part of an IGAD-initiated training team. The Ugandan soldiers are not deployed as a fighting force but are "entitled to defend themselves" if attacked. The presence of Ugandan troops in Somalia is another indicator that an attempt by the Islamic Courts in Somalia to destroy Somalia's Transitional Government could produce a wider regional war.

Add in Ethiopia and Eretria already involved on opposite sides, and I assume Kenya at some level which is right next door and various Arab nations that are the source of jihadis, and we have the potential for Somalia to be a battleground just as the Democratic Republic of Congo has been a battlefield for other countries.

So if we get involved, I don't wan't to hear any nonsense about how we "started" a war in the region. Heck, since this isn't Iraq, some of our usual anti-war suspects might even count this as part of the war on terror.

UPDATE: I assumed Kenya would be involved. They are:

Kenya has halted flights carrying the narcotic leaf Khat, into Mogadishu. This has cut off the supply of Khat, and left thousands of addicts very unhappy. Khat gives you more of a buzz than caffeine or nicotine, but less than stronger drugs. For the last 16 years, Khat chewing has made militiamen more surly and trigger happy than they would normally be.

I really doubt that Kenya's involvement is limited to cutting off a source of income from a Kenyan product sold in Somalia.

And as for possible action by America:

The United States has a large counter-terrorism force just north of Somalia, in Djibouti. These forces have not been heard from yet, although U.S. operators have been inside Somalia collecting information, or running Somali agents to do it for them. Many known al Qaeda personalities have been spotted inside Somalia, hanging with the Islamic Courts. Presumably, once a solid enough case has been built, to prove that the Islamic Courts is providing a new base for al Qaeda, the American hammer will fall. Just how this will play out is either secret, or undecided.

At some point, our hammer has to fall here. Certainly, not every solution to our jihadi problem is a hammer. But when al Qaeda is involved, there is no question that we have to nail them.