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US Defense Secretary Optimistic About Improving Somalia Accountability

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Friday that he was optimistic about improving Somali accountability concerning the distribution of American aid to Somali armed forces, much of which was suspended because of corruption concerns.

“I’m sure we can get this thing under control, even if it’s not for the whole, but for parts of it,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.

The suspension reflected the Somali military’s repeated inability to account for aid items, such as food, fuel and weapons.

‘Pause’ in assistance

The massive “pause” in aid is being made “to ensure that U.S. assistance is being used effectively and for its intended purpose,” a State Department official said.

It will “affect the majority of U.S. logistical support and stipends assistance” to the Somali armed forces “until additional transparency and accountability measures are in place,” Marion Wohlers, the spokesperson for African affairs at the State Department, told VOA.

The Somali government has agreed to develop new accountability criteria that meet American standards, a State Department official said.

Mattis said changing a “culture of corruption” takes time, adding that Somalia had “finally got a president worth supporting.”

FILE - Members of the Somali military perform a defensive drill after attending a commando training exercise in Mogadishu, Jan. 20, 2016.

FILE – Members of the Somali military perform a defensive drill after attending a commando training exercise in Mogadishu, Jan. 20, 2016.

“We have a good relationship with President [Mohamed Abdullahi] Farmajo and his administration, but as you know, he inherited a very difficult situation,” Mattis said.

Some assistance to continue

Somali security force members who are actively fighting al-Shabab and receiving some form of mentorship from either the U.S. or a third party will continue to receive appropriate assistance, officials said.

According to documents obtained by the Reuters news agency, the Somali military has been unable to properly feed, pay or equip its soldiers, despite having received hundreds of millions of dollars of American support.

A U.S.-Somali team sent to nine Somali army bases between May and June of this year found that evidence of the arrival of food aid or its consumption by soldiers was present at only two of the bases, Reuters reported.

Plans to suspend the support will be a “big setback” to the effort by Somali security forces to fight al-Shabab, warned former Somali Defense Minister General Abdulkadir Ali Dini.

Dini, who worked closely with American officials in Somalia for many years, first as chief of the Somali national army and later as defense minister, said the decision did not come at the right time.

“If the United States suspends food, fuel and stipends, that will hamper the war and work against the enemy and terrorists,” he said. “It does not help these operations, and it damages morale.”

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1 comment

rezen Dec 16, 2017 at 4:49 am

Subject: “US Defense Secretary Optimistic About Improving Somalia Accountability”, By VOA, Dec 16, 2017

Commentary, 15 Dec 2017

It is good to be optimistic about anything worth following. But — and this a BIG BUT — REALITY of a situation must be observed and taken into serious account.

The Somali problem is a perfect example. The Somali people know who they are; they know their problems; they know the theoretical solution to their problems; and they know where they are heading. What is missing is the meshing of gear to arrive at their destination. It is imperative that the Somali people are given the space and time to arrive at their own defined destination, in their own way without interference from international ‘vultures’ who are only interested to control the strategic area according to their own geopolitical interest. Period.

As long as that freedom is interfered with, or even denied all together, that area will always be a source of ‘headache’ to all concerned. In the process, the Somali people will never get peace to be THEMSELVES. The vicious circle continues — of course, only to the detriment of the Somali people, not to the outsiders who are promoting their interest at the expense of the Somali people.

Imagine a miracle happening today i.e. ALL OUTSIDERS LEAVING THE SOMALI PEOPLE ALONE. One can bet that the Somali people will find a way to live in harmony with each other, in their own ancient traditions, customs and aspirations. But the international consortium, who are interested in their own agenda, will NEVER let the Somali people control THEIR OWN AREA!!!!

Finally, the Somali Leaders, more than other so-called experts, must be on the “driver’ seat” and lead Somalia to its way of Life, in its own way. Asking for help is normal but NEVER at the risk of loosing ones identity, personality, way of life, and independence to forge self- owned way of Life. THE END

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