afrol News, 4 January - Six German navy ships are supposed to arrive the waters off Somalia within three weeks to "patrol the area close to Yemen, Sudan and Somalia," as part of the US led war against terrorism. The United States is also increasing its presence in the area, nourishing speculations an attack on Somalia is approaching.
The US is stepping up military activities in and around Somalia to prevent the lawless African country from becoming a new base for the group, Bush administration officials said yesterday. The US government believes Somalia to be a safe haven for international terrorists.
- We have always made clear that we felt that Somalia and the situation that existed there made it a potential haven for terrorists US Department of State spokesman Richard Boucher yesterday told the press in Washington. "If you look at our Patterns of Global Terrorism and other reports, you will see that we have identified organizations that operate in Somalia."
Boucher confirmed the US concern that Somalia "could become a potential haven" and said the US government was "in touch with various kinds of various Somali authorities and individuals." The US was therefore "working to try to ensure that Somalia does not become a haven for terrorists."
Boucher however denied there were plans for US or NATO operations within Somalia. "The fact that there is all this speculation about Somalia has nothing to do with anything the US Government has said. The Secretary has made clear, the President has made clear, I've made clear there are no decisions on future targets," Boucher said.
In recent days, the US and leading NATO allies however had increased military reconnaissance flights and other surveillance activities in Somalia, US officials told the 'Washington Post', which concluded the Pentagon had "sharpened its focus on Somalia." The reconnaissance flights and other surveillance activities clearly have the aim of locating al Qa'ida terrorists or their local allies.
The German Ministry of Defence yesterday released a statement saying that, within the end of January, twelve German navy ships would participate in the fight against terrorism. "The aim is to secure the liberty and security of the seaways and to interrupt the logistics and escape routes of terrorist organisations," the Ministry stated.
Naval Commander-in-chief, Vice Admiral Lutz Feldt, told the press in Germany, the naval action was "not without risks." He further admitted the operation was not possible to plan "in all its details," and that much still remains open." Feldt thus nourished German media speculations German troops could eventually be used on Somali soil.
A possible attack on Somalia has been given much attention in the German press after German Minister of Defence, Rudolph Scharping, in December said there only was a question of "when" and not of "if" it would take place. Renewed interest came with the shipping of 800-1000 German soldiers to Somali waters.
The German movement is Germany's largest naval deployment since World War II and its first action in Africa after being ousted from its colonies in 1916/17. There is no clear majority for these military actions among the German people, polls have shown. The outspoken wish of the German government is to "put the lid on the post-war era" by participating on a big scale in the US led war against terrorism.
- It is going to be a rapid operation, German Somalia specialist Winrich Kühne told the journal 'Der Spiegel'. As Somalia was "totally different from Afghanistan," so the probable US operations would be limited, Kühne held. He especially mentions that the US would try to avoid using own forces, remembering the humiliation US marines suffered in Somalia in 1993.