It has been revealed that the US recently shipped 40 tons of small arms and ammunition worth $10 million to supply the Somali government. Reuters reports:
The U.S. government has provided about 40 tons of weapons and ammunition to Somalia’s embattled government in the past six weeks to help it fight Islamist insurgents, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States spent less than $10 million on what he described as small arms and ammunition as well as on payments to other nations to train Somali government forces.
While the State Department confirmed on Thursday that it was providing weaponry to the government, it had not previously provided details on the type, cost or amount.
Since the defeat of the Islamic Courts the impotent government (I use the word lightly as they don’t govern much of the country at all) failed to secure the territory won and another hard-line Islamic group Al-Shabaab rose from the ashes to fill the void. This is the group that recently performed public double amputations (hand and foot) on four thieves in Mogadishu.
The first thing I thought when reading the Reuters article was that Al-Shabaab are sure to try to capture the weaponry. Sure enough, they have just announced that they will. The Associated Press reports:
A spokesman for radical Islamic insurgents says his group will seize weapons the U.S. has supplied to Somalia’s embattled government.
Sheik Hassan Ya’qub of al-Shabab says the weapons shipments will escalate violence in war-wracked country. He was speaking late Sunday in reaction to U.S. officials’ statements last week that the Obama administration was supplying arms and providing military training to the shaky government.
I think training and support from an established foreign conventional force is far more important in a country already swimming in arms that more arms and ammo. It is pretty safe to assume special forces are training government troops, as they are in neighboring Ethiopia. Unfortunately no African countries want to get involved in a war that does directly effect them.
I suspect the US will use the carrot approach to entice Ethiopia to once again enter the country and disrupt the Islamic rebels. Once again Ethiopia will pull out before the government gets a grip on the country. No country want to stick around and suffer from attrition at the hand of insurgents.