US-Backed Ugandan Military Deploys Air Force Over Somalia

The growing proxy war in East Africa is bound to have severe blowback

The Ugandan military, under the auspices of the US-backed African Union forces, has deployed an air force contingent in Somalia to aid an onslaught on the city of Kismayu to rout out al-Shabab militants.

“Conditions keep changing in Somalia and we felt it was the right time to deploy an air component to support our ground troops,”Lt. Moses Omayo, spokesman for the Uganda Airforce told Reuters. “We have sent helicopters which will provide air cover for combat troops, escort convoys, conduct rescue missions and airdrop forces,” he said.

The war against the al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab involves attacks from all sides; from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and several other AU countries from Burundi to Djibouti. But this is Washington’s war.

“Officially, the troops are under the auspices of the African Union. But in truth” the Los Angeles Times reported last month, “the 15,000-strong force pulled from five African countries is largely a creation of the State Department and Pentagon, trained and supplied by the U.S. government and guided by dozens of retired foreign military personnel hired through private contractors.”

Another component of this largely secret war in Somalia is drone warfare. In July, the UN Security Council Committee Chairman issued a letter warning against what he described as the increased use of drones over the skies of Somalia, saying such actions may violate international law.

There have also been reports of horrible conditions of secret CIA prisons in Somalia which confine uncharged individuals in terribly inhumane conditions without access to legal council. The proxy tribes the US supports in Somalia have been reported to have committed widespread human rights abuses themselves.

The current policies are apt to come back to bite the US, with the memory of the US-sponsored invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia in 2006 still lingering. That proxy war helped give rise to the militant group al-Shabaab – now ironically justifying current interventions.

Oddly, even the Obama administration has quietly acknowledged the fact that their military involvement in Somalia may create more problems than it solves, with one administration official telling the Washington Post in December there is a “concern that a broader campaign could turn al-Shabab from a regional menace into an adversary determined to carry out attacks on U.S. soil.”

Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for