Two weeks ago, Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf publicly criticised the US over claims that it was funding warlords in the country.
However, sources well versed in Somalia affairs told The EastAfrican that the former CIA chief was indeed in the country, during which time strategies for fighting al-Qaeda in Somalia were formulated. The sources, one in the Kenyan armed forces and the other in the transitional federal government of Somalia, said the director’s visit was followed by a trip by CIA and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agents to Mogadishu, where selected warlords were given money to help identify and arrest suspected al-Qaeda operatives in the country. Leadership in Somalia is divided between clan warlords, the increasingly popular Islamic courts and the transitional federal government.
US support for the warlords is making it difficult for a democratic government to be put in place, sources close to the transitional government say."It is not clear to us why the US is funding the warlords. If they want to fight terrorists, they should first help us have a functional government, then use it to get them, said a senior advisor to Prime Minister Abdul Ghedi.
It is now feared that Islamic extremists are gaining ground. The support for the once popular warlords has now shifted to their rivals, the extremist Islamic groups, and by extension to al-Qaeda," said a government advisor. Ms Barnes, however, said the US policy towards Somalia is designed to support the re-establishment of a functioning central government capable of bringing the Somali people out of civil conflict.
"An effective, functioning central government in Somalia is the most effective long-term means of addressing the threat of domestic terrorism against Somalis, and international terrorism from Somalia," she said in a statement.She said the United States strongly supports the establishment of transitional federal institutions in Somalia and shares the concerns of a majority of the Somali people regarding the presence of foreign terrorists, specifically al-Qaeda. "The United States remains gravely concerned that a small number of Somalis are harbouring foreign terrorists inside Somalia, which undermines the efforts of those seeking to establish peace in Somalia and threatens the stability of the Horn of Africa, she added.