U.S. Asks Kenya to Serve as Base for Commandos Hunting al-Qaeda in Somalia
U.S. wants Kenya, Somalia’s neighbor, to serve as a safe base from which American Special Forces will launch attacks into the heart of Somalia.
The United States is apparently planning to attack al-Qaeda fugitives in Somalia in the near future, and has called on Britain to persuade Somalia’s neighbor, Kenya, to allow U.S. Special Forces to use bases there, American sources indicated to British newspaper The Telegraph.
The Kenyan Government fears that a large-scale assault would drive hundreds of thousands of refugees across the Somali border to the already lawless northeastern region of Kenya, and is resisting.
In a visit to Nairobi on Monday, Britain’s Secretary of Defense Geoff Hoon attempted to quiet Kenyan fears when he told President Daniel arap Moi that a US intervention would probably be in the form of commando operations, rather than the massive bombings that sent thousands of Afghan refugees fleeing into neighboring Pakistan recently.
Sources in the US told the British newspaper there would be no need to obtain overflight rights for an operation in Somalia because the American aircraft carriers at sea off the shores of Somalia can launch reconnaissance and attack missions directly over the country's coast. The American requirement of Kenya would be to serve as a land base for commando units seeking al-Qaeda fighters. A US official said on Wednesday that Washington was working with Kenya and Ethiopia to identify potential "terrorist" networks in Somalia.
"Somalia is possibly an environment that could be hospitable to terrorists. Our first effort is to make it inhospitable for the terrorist networks," Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Walter Kansteiner, said in Pretoria. The US put the Somali group al-Itihaad al-Islamiya on a list of "terrorist" organisations after the September 11 attacks, due to its alleged links to al-Qaeda. (www.albawaba.com)
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