Limited US military assistance will resume to some Somali troops

Somali soldiers patrol Sanguuni military base south of Mogadishu, Somalia. (AFP/File)
Updated 02 July 2019

Limited US military assistance will resume to some Somali troops

  • The aid would include food, fuel and limited non-lethal equipment to a single unit of the Somali National Army
  • Somalia has been riven by civil war since 1991, when warlords overthrew a clan dictator then turned on each other

NAIROBI: The United States is resuming some assistance to a unit of the Somali military that is not working directly with US forces, US officials said on Tuesday, around 18 months after aid was suspended to such units over widespread corruption concerns.
The assistance, part of US military aid to the country aimed at helping the government fend off Islamist insurgents, was suspended in December 2017 after the Somali military was unable to account for food and fuel.
US and Somali investigators visiting bases also found far fewer soldiers than had been reported. Many of the men present were missing their guns, indicating they were not ready for active duty.
The resumption of assistance of units not working directly with US forces will be on a pilot basis, a press release from the U.S. embassy in Mogadishu said.
"On the basis of internal reforms made by the Federal Government of Somalia and an inspection of the recipient unit, the United States assesses that the Federal Government of Somalia and the SNA (Somali National Army) have undertaken significant efforts to improve accountability over donor resources," the release said.
The aid would include food, fuel and limited non-lethal equipment to a single unit of the Somali National Army, a spokeswoman for the embassy told Reuters in an email.
"The Department (of State) intends to implement a robust monitoring and verification mechanism to ensure accountability, including through the use of third-party monitors to conduct physical site inspections to confirm end-user receipt and use," she said.
The aid suspension did not affect some Somali military units, like the Special Forces group Danab that is trained directly by US forces.
Somalia has been riven by civil war since 1991, when warlords overthrew a clan dictator then turned on each other. The US also helps fund an African Union force that is supporting the weak, U.N.-backed government against Islamist insurgent group al Shabaab.


Khalilzad upbeat on chances for intra-Afghan peace talks

Updated 44 min 34 sec ago

Khalilzad upbeat on chances for intra-Afghan peace talks

WASHINGTON: Recent prisoner releases and a relatively low level of violence may bode well for the start of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said on Monday.
“We are in a good place,” Khalilzad told reporters, saying the Afghan government had released 2,400 to 2,500 Taliban prisoners since Feb. 29 and the militant group has freed more than 400 detainees in return. “We’ll have challenges and difficulties but we are optimistic that finally we’re moving forward to the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations.”