January 09, 2007

Follow the Gunships

In comments to my earlier post on Somalia, there was some back and forth over what role, exactly, the United States has played in the Ethiopian invasion. To that end, I thought I'd pass on this report by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a terrorism consultant (via Cursor.org):
The al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic Courts Union's (ICU) rapid retreat in the face of Ethiopia's military campaign in Somalia has puzzled many observers. How could the Ethiopians roll up the jihadists so quickly? Pajamas Media has learned that one significant factor is that U.S. air and ground forces covertly aided the Ethiopian military since its intervention began on Christmas day.

U.S. ground forces have been active in Somalia from the start, a senior military intelligence officer confirmed. "In fact," he said, "they were part of the first group in."

These ground forces include CIA paramilitary officers who are based out of Galkayo, in Somalia's semiautonomous region of Puntland, Special Operations forces, and Marine units operating out of Camp Lemonier in Djibouti.
If Gartenstein-Ross' report is accurate, the United States probably wasn't taken by surprise over the Ethiopian offensive. At least, the Pentagon wasn't. Dahir Jibreel, a foreign secretary for Somalia's transitional government, said that U.S. planes have been striking targets since Christmas, and claims that the U.S. and Ethiopia had been planning this for months beforehand.

On the other hands, comments by various State Department officials before the conflict started suggest that a number of U.S. diplomats really wanted to avoid war and settle the ongoing inter-Somalian disputes peacefully. Were they lying? Or were the State Department and Pentagon just on totally different pages, with the former not knowing that the latter was gearing up for war? That's a disturbing scenario. Details are all still hazy, though.
-- Brad Plumer 9:37 PM || ||