Obama OKs military aid for Somalia


An AMISOM soldier stands guard at Hotel Uruba in Mogadishu on October 24, 2012. Somalia's Al-Qaeda linked Shabab insurgents are on the back foot, reeling from a string of losses as they battle a 17,000-strong African Union force as well as Ethiopian troops and Somali forces. But while the extremist movement is badly damaged a hard core remain a potent threat, linking up with regional Islamist groups and leaving operatives to launch attacks across the south, analysts warn.



A Monday memo from President Barack Obama cleared Somalia for receiving US "defense articles and defense services" under American and international law, a move toward normalization with the eastern African nation, according to Reuters

Obama told Secretary of State John Kerry the move is "not based on any particular new threat assessment or any specific plans to undertake action," said Reuters. US security assistance to the country amounted to $133 million in the past six years, according to Agence-France Press

Violence is down but still not infrequent in Somalia, where al-Qaeda-linked rebels were recently forced from the capital after gaining a stronghold there and elsewhere in the country. 

Obama's decision came a month after the United Nations Security Council decided to lift an arms embargo against the country for a year, reported AFP

Nevertheless, the US move does not signal an accelerated American military activity in regards to the country, said White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. 

"It does not constitute a decision to provide particular assistance or to change the nature or our assistance for Somalia's security sector," Hayden told Reuters