East Africa Leaders See ‘Historic’ Opportunity in Somalia

Posted November 16th, 2011 at 7:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Three East African leaders say the fight against al-Shabab militants presents a “historic opportunity” to restore peace and stability in Somalia.

Kenya's president Mwai Kibaki, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, and Somalia's Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed met in Nairobi Wednesday. They say they are confident the Kenyan and Somali military action against the insurgents could end 20 years of lawlessness in Somalia.

The three pledged to work together to defeat al-Shabab — the al-Qaida-linked militant group fighting to turn Somalia into a conservative Islamic state.

The leaders also said more international support is needed to ensure that al-Shabab is defeated.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman George Little said Wednesday the United States is not providing any aid to the military operations in Somalia. But he called al-Shabab a very serious terrorist threat and says the group deserves all the pressure being put on it.

Kenya sent troops into neighboring Somalia last month to chase down al-Shabab which it blames for a series of cross-border kidnappings. Ugandan forces make up most of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia. Somali government troops, backed by AU forces, recently pushed al-Shabab out of Mogadishu. But the militants still control large parts of southern and central Somalia.