A long way from Black Hawk Down
Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will meet with Somali President Hassan Sheikh President and hold a 2 p.m. news conference where she'll talk about the U.S. recognizing the Somali government in Mogadishu for the first time in 20 years.
The country has been without a central government since 1991 and devolved into a haven for al Qaeda-linked terrorists, warlords and pirates. Recognition by the U.S. will open the door to receive assistance from international financial communities including USAID, IMF and the World Bank.
"We are a long way from where we were on October 3, 1993, when Black Hawk Down occurred in Mogadishu," said Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson. That was a reference to the downing of a U.S. helicopter during the Battle of Mogadishu when Somali militia shot down two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters. The rescue operation to recover the crews resulted in the death of 18 U.S. soldiers whose bodies were dragged through the streets by angry mobs.
In a briefing at the State Department, Carson told reporters that U.S. policies in Somalia have helped to strengthen stability in Mogadishu and are "helping to get rid of the key members of the East Africa al-Qaida cell as well as breaking the back of al-Shabaab."
Restoring stability to Somalia was a foreign policy goal articulated four years ago by Clinton. A senior State Department official claimed that the leaders of al Qaeda in East Africa who carried out the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar el Salaam have been "vaporized." The official also claimed that al Shabab, al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia, is on the run.
This news comes just days after al Shabab executed a French intelligence officer following a botched rescue by French military forces to rescue him. He had been held captive since 2009.
The official also said that U.S. is also looking at the prospects of reopening embassies in Mogadishu.
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