RAF could give support in Somalia intervention
%20Kim%20Sengupta> Oliver Wright, Kim Sengupta
Friday 23 December 2011
The British Government is considering providing direct military assistance
to international troops fighting Islamist insurgents in Somalia.
Senior Foreign Office sources said discussions had taken place about
providing help - including air reconnaissance or support - to African Union
troops helping Somalia's weak, American-backed, transitional government.
While the use of ground troops has been explicitly ruled out it is believed
there could be some role for Britain following the successful Nato air
operation in Libya. As well as air power, SAS and SBS units are stationed
with the US-led Horn of Africa Task Force based in Djibouti.
The Somali government, which has been fighting insurgents known as
al-Shabaab, has little influence outside the capital Mogadishu.
The number of peacekeeping troops in the country has increased significantly
in recent months and British officials are examining how to extend their own
influence further. "Certainly in the wake of Libya there are ongoing
discussions about what assistance we might be able to provide in Somalia,"
said one source. "At this stage, the areas we are looking at are equipment
Both the US and French have been actively involved in Somali military
operations - the Americans carrying out drone strikes from the southern
Ethiopian port of Arba Mich, while the French are ferrying in equipment. A
French helicopter-gunship crashed at the southern port of Kismayo, while, it
is claimed, providing supporting fire for Kenyans flushing out al-Shabaab
A senior British officer said: "There is no appetite for boots on the ground
but there are other options. Any military cost needs to be weighed against
the costs of propping up a failed state which is being kept a failed state
by this insurgency. Also, the African Union forces can't be there forever,
and there may be a role for the UK to train the forces of the TFG
[Transitional Federal Government]."
Yesterday the International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell appeared
to hint at a greater British involvement. Describing Somalia as a direct
threat to the UK's security because it is one of the "most dysfunctional
countries in the world" he said: "It is a place from which emanates piracy,
drug running, this weight of people trying to come to a more attractive
"There are probably more British passport holders engaged in terrorist
training in Somalia than in any other country in the world."
------------[ Sent via the dehai-wn mailing list by dehai.org]--------------
Received on Fri Dec 23 2011 - 09:06:41 EST