American-made F-16 fighterjets bomb Mogadishu airport in Somalia. The Bush administration has encouraged the pro-western Ethiopian government to occupy Somalian territory.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
by John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
6/22/2007 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Leaders in five African nations see the U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, as a constructive approach to making the continent more stable, a senior Defense Department official said June 22.
A delegation comprising officials from the departments of Defense and State and from the U.S. Agency for International Development met with leaders from Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Djibouti and the African Union last week to discuss the new unified combatant command the Defense Department is establishing in Africa.
"They saw AFRICOM's integrated approach as a more constructive way for the Department of Defense to partner with African organizations and help bring about long-term peace and security," said Ryan Henry, principal undersecretary of defense for policy.
Currently, the Defense Department divides responsibility for Africa among three combatant commands: European Command, Pacific Command and Central Command. AFRICOM will be a three-pronged defense, diplomatic and economic command effort focused solely on the continent, Henry said.
"We're ... taking the area of responsibility for the African continent and giving that to a single commander, who will worry 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just about African issues," Mr. Henry said.
Officials have not decided where the new command's headquarters will be, nor have they named a commander, he said, but Mr. Henry confirmed that the four-star commander, once appointed, will serve in theater.
AFRICOM will better enable the Defense Department and other elements of the U.S. government to work in concert with more politically stable and economically prosperous African partners, Mr. Henry said.
"It will also help in setting the conditions whereby humanitarian and developmental assistance can be used more effectively," he added.
During discussions, the African leaders identified counterterrorism as "a top security concern," Mr. Henry said.
"They were interested in how AFRICOM would help support their counterterrorism efforts, how current programs and initiatives would be impacted," he said. "We said that it was our intent not to make any dramatic changes as AFRICOM comes on line, but to see how we can be more effective by integrating civilian parts of the U.S. government that will be resident on AFRICOM's staff."
Leaders are committed to the Africa Union as the continent's common security structure, Mr. Henry said, and they advised the delegation that AFRICOM should work in harmony with the established body.
"We responded that we were investigating on how best to do that, as AFRICOM's goal is not to lead the security efforts on the continent, but rather to support existing African countries and organizations that take the lead and be successful," he said.
In October, AFRICOM is slated to be structured as a sub-unified command to European Command with some responsibilities. It is expected to be a fully unified command able to handle all responsibilities about a year later, Mr. Henry said.
This was Mr. Henry's second "consultation trip" to the continent, where he led delegation members in expressing AFRICOM's broad goals to their African counterparts. In April, a delegation met with leaders from Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana and Senegal.
Somalia: fighting erupts in Kismayu
Fri. June 22, 2007 08:47 pm.-
By Mohamed Abdi Farah
(SomaliNet) Fresh gun battle between rival soldiers within the Transitional Federal Government has erupted in Somalia’s southern port city of Kismayu on Friday killing seven people and wounding 30 others - as heavily armed Ethiopian forces are heading to Kismayu to go between the warring clans.
The fighting that lasted for four hours in Bulo-Gadud and Gobweyn villages village, near Kismayu went between Sade and Majerten clans of Darod, one of powerful tribes in Somalia.
Both clan soldiers in the government are fighting for the control of Kismayu, 500km south of the capital Mogadishu.
Unconfirmed reports say the soldiers that hailed from Sade clan who now control Kismayu overrun those from Majerten clan, led by Col. Abdirisak Afgadud who was close to the president of Somalia Abdulahi Yusuf Ahmed.
A spokesman for Sade clan who declined to be named claimed that his militia seized six war vehicles from the other side and took hostage their commander Aden Bojar.
There is no independent confirmation on that.
Just in reports say that the fighting still continues as both sides regain reinforcements.
Somalia: Explosions rock Mogadishu after curfew
Fri. June 22, 2007 08:49 pm.-
By Mohamed Abdi Farah
(SomaliNet) Huge and load explosions could be heard late Friday in the Somalia capital Mogadishu as the city is under curfew.
Around seven blasts rocked the capital tonight and it is not yet clear where the explosions happened and the casualty so far.
The latest explosions came shortly after the curfew was put into effect in Mogadishu with government troops together with the Ethiopian forces patrolling the city enforcing the curfew.
Night curfew imposed in Mogadishu
Several people were injured in a grenade attack at a marketplace in Mogadishu
Authorities in Somalia have clamped a night-time curfew in the capital Mogadishu after six people were killed in continuing violence.
Somalia's national security agency chief said the curfew would take effect on Friday.
"No one should be seen moving from 7.00 pm (1600 GMT) to 5.00am (0200 GMT)," Mohamed Warsame Darwish said on Thursday.
The curfew was announced as three people died in a grenade explosion in the Mogadishu’s Bakara market. Several more were injured in the blast.
Minutes before the grenade attack, two people reportedly died after police opened fire in the same market.
Eyewitnesses said the grenade was thrown at a group of policemen, one of whom was killed along with a bystander.
One other person was killed after another police officer on the scene opened fire.
Darwish said the curfew was necessary to restore security to the restive capital.
"We need our forces to tackle the violence in the evenings and secure the city in order to prevent explosions. That is why we are imposing the curfew," Darwish said.
Police last week set an overnight curfew in the central town of Baidoa after grenade attacks in a cinema hall and a bank killed at least three people and wounded at least 12.
Violence has continued in Mogadishu despite Somali government troops backed by Ethiopian forces pushing opposition fighters, led by the Union of Islamic Courts [ICU], from the capital.
Months of fighting has left hundreds of civilians dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.
In recent months, opposition fighters have targeted government officials, Ethiopian troops and African Union [AU] peacekeepers in the country.
Last week, a UN-backed peace conference bringing together Somali clan leaders and government officials was postponed for the third time.
Somalia has been without a functioning central authority since ruler Mohamed Siad barre was deposed in 1991.
The current transitional government, now nearly three years old, has been unable to maintain security in Somalia.
Somalia: Ethiopian troops kill civilians in Mogadishu
Wed. June 20, 2007 08:34 pm.
By Mohamed Abdi Farah
(SomaliNet) Nine civilians have been killed in gun shooting by the Ethiopian forces in the Somalia capital Mogadishu after the Ethiopians got under attack on Tuesday, according the medical sources on Wednesday.
Shortly after yesterday’s roadside bomb blast, the Ethiopian soldiers near the former defense ministry compound in southwest Mogadishu opened indiscriminate fire on all directions killing nine civilians in the area.
“I saw several bodies after the shooting by the Ethiopians when the bomb exploded on their truck,” said one eyewitness who declined to be named.
The blast hit the first military pick-up truck of the Ethiopian convoy receiving but not yet clear the exact casualty on the soldiers.
The area of the blast was cordoned by the Ethiopian forces and began arresting many people.
The Ethiopian forces in Mogadishu are always target for the attacks by the insurgents.
Since the local insurgents were defeated in the capital by the allied forces of Somalia and Ethiopia last month, they began hit and run attacks including suicide bombing.
Somalia: PM flies to US for UNSC assembly
Wed. June 20, 2007 08:16 pm.
By Mohamed Abdi Farah
(SomaliNet) Somalia interim Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi Wednesday left for New York city in USA to attend the assembly of the United Nations Security Council.
Before leaving the country, Mr. Gedi told the reporters he will brief the UN about Somali issues. The reconciliation conference he said will be on the agenda of the UNSC assembly on June 28. “definitely, I will discuss the country’s developments with the UN member states,” said Gedi.
The premier’s trip to the USA comes as escalation of anti government violence still rages in the capital.