U.S. State Dept Africa head on Somalia airstrikes, Zimbabwe, and more
Speaking today at the Center for American Progress in Washington, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson discussed yesterday’s Special Forces operation in Somalia on alleged terrorist Saleh Ali Nabhan. “[T]he individual who was reportedly killed in Somalia yesterday was in fact one of the two top leaders of al Qaeda in ...
Speaking today at the Center for American Progress in Washington, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson discussed yesterday’s Special Forces operation in Somalia on alleged terrorist Saleh Ali Nabhan. “[T]he individual who was reportedly killed in Somalia yesterday was in fact one of the two top leaders of al Qaeda in East Africa. He was in fact the individual who was directly responsible for organizing the destruction of the Paradise hotel [in Kenya in 2002] and the attempted shoot-down of the Isreali aircraft [also in Kenya].”
“We think that his departure form the ranks of the al Qaeda leadership in East Africa will substantially reduce the capacity of that organization to plan and carry out future attacks,” Carson said.
The discussion comes on the heels of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s August trip to Africa, a subject that Carson brought up in greater detail. He re-emphasized that among the countries visited on that trip, Nigeria remains “the most important” for its size, population, oil supplies, and ongoing challenges (read: conflict, corruption, poverty). Similar concern was expressed about the dire humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Clinton’s visit took her to meet with victims of rape and abominable living conditions.
Most interesting of all were some of the meetings that Secretary Carson alluded to, both past and present including:
- The secretary’s meeting with Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe in Libya last month, which the secretary found to be a “not very pleasant, unsuccesful meeting.” (though he had a “much more satisfactory meeting” with the country’s Vice President Joyce Mujuru, also a member of Mugabe’s party.) Carson told the audience that he believed the power-sharing agreement between Mugabe’s party and that of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was yet to be fully implemented, to great U.S. and broader international concern.
- A trip by Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew to Ethiopia and Tanzania in July. (The past administration had very close ties with the former on intellgience and counterterror in the Horn of Africa. It is yet unclear whether such a relationship is ongoing in the Obama administration today.)
- Finally, Carson will travel to Minnesota in the next weeks, where he will “meet with leaders of the Somali community in Minneapolis” — the country’s largest Somali diaspora. In recent months, reports have surfaced that radical messages from Somalia’s Islamist insurgency have helped recruit Somali-Americans back home to fight for these groups.
Photo: PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images
Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
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