Tuesday, April 09, 2013
President Barack Obama took the first step Monday toward providing US
military assistance to Somali forces battling Islamist militants, after
the easing of a UN arms embargo last month.
Obama signed a
determination stating that having the legal capacity to offer defense
equipment to Somalia was in the national interest of the United States
and could promote peace and stability in East Africa.
allows the US Secretary of State to consider the provision of arms to
Somalia but does not signal a decision to provide specific assistance,
said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.
United States is committed to being a long-term partner in assisting the
defense forces in Somalia to become professional military forces,"
The UN Security Council last month suspended the arms
embargo against Somalia for a year, easing the oldest international
weapons blockade to help the government take on Islamist militants.
15-member council unanimously passed a resolution allowing light arms
to be sold to the Somali armed forces as they seek to rebuild and spread
government authority into territory taken from the Al-Qaeda-linked
A US official said on condition of anonymity that Obama's decision was not based on any new threat assessment in Somalia.
2007, the United States has provided $133 million in security sector
assistance to Somalia, a form of aid designed to help nations build
structures to provide for their own security.
The arms embargo was
imposed in 1992, a year after the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre,
as rival warlords battled for control of the East African nation.
A transitional government, backed by an African force, is starting to establish itself after major victories against the Shebab.
United States was a key player in pressing for the end of the embargo,
in a show of support for President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
are considered to be on the back foot, having lost a string of key towns
in recent months to African Union forces, Somali troops and Ethiopian
But Washington believes the group remains a threat to
stability in the Horn of Africa and beyond. In 2010, Shebab is believed
to have been behind suicide bombings in Uganda, and earlier this year
claimed to execute a French hostage.