Kenya Formally Requests U.S. Help in War on Somalia

Many observers have questioned whether Washington is already deeply involved in Kenya's military onslaught of Somalia

by John Glaser, November 18, 2011

Kenya’s government has urgently requestly that the United States assist them in their war and invasion of southern Somalia. Administration officials are considering providing intelligence and logistical support to Kenya’s struggling military.

Kenya invaded southern Somalia in mid-October with 2,000 soldiers and heavy artillery fire specifically aimed at the terrorist group al Shabaab, and supposedly in response to a series of kidnappings near the border between the two countries. With a U.S. drone war and covert operations on the ground in Somalia, some have questioned whether Washington supported the Kenyan attack.

Now Kenya has reportedly made an official request for help through the State Department. But the US was lending security support to Kenya as late as 2009 according to embassy cables released by WikiLeaks and the New York Times reported early this month that Kenyan military officials had said they were already receiving help from the US and France.

As McClatchy news service reports, a set of diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks regarding an invasion into Somalia back in 2009 hint at possible U.S. involvement in the planning or logistics of the Kenyan invasion in 2011. “One particularly lively cable,” McClatchy reports, “depicts a senior U.S. official asking Kenya’s foreign minister if Kenyan troops shouldn’t consider trying to take Kismayo, the Shabab stronghold seaport, on their own or with the help of Somali militias, and promising the review of the plans by an American team. The tactics described in that cable match the plan Kenya appears to be trying to execute.”

The Kenyans have already received over $700 million in U.S. aid this year, much of it for military, counter-terrorism, and intelligence purposes. The violence in Somalia and surrounding regions is worsening a severe humanitarian situation, partly the result of a famine in Somalia.

With U.S. military intervention already well underway on almost every front in Somlia, an acquiescence to Kenyan requests for deeper involvement in the war on Somalia is likely.

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