World News‎ > ‎

Clinton rules out air strike on Al Shabaab

posted 23 Feb 2012, 13:13 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 23 Feb 2012, 13:13 ]

Air strikes on areas of Somalia controlled by the militant Islamist al Shabaab militant group would not be a good idea, says U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FEBRUARY 23, 2012) (UK POOL) - Air strikes on areas of Somalia controlled by the militant Islamist al Shabaab militant group would not be a good idea, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday (February 23).

Replying to a question at a news conference following an international conference on Somalia, Clinton said: "I am not a military strategist, but I think I know enough to say air

strikes would not be a good idea and we have absolutely no reason to believe anyone, certainly not the United States, is considering that."

Addressing the conference aimed at energising attempts to end more than 20 years of anarchy, Clinton also demanded greater efforts to cut funding for al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants fighting Somalia's weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

Al Shabaab is the most powerful of an array of militias spawned by the conflict in Somalia, where armed groups have a history of wrecking attempted political settlements and

perpetuating war, instability and famine, but Clinton effectively ruled out any form of negotiation withe the group.

"Negotiating with Al Shabaab would be the wrong path, but the United States will engage with Somalis who denounce Al Shabaab's leadership and embrace the political roadmap and the fundamental rights and freedom of all Somalis." she said, adding that the US would be increasing its aid to the region.

"Today I announce the United States is providing an additional 64 million dollars in humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa, brining or total emergency assistance since 2011 up to more than 934 million dollars, including more than 211 million dollars for Somalia alone. And looking ahead as the security and political situation improves in Somalia, the United States will consider a more permanent, diplomatic presence there."

Journalists at the news conference also took the opportunity to ask Clinton about the desperate humanitarian crisis in Syria, as well as the important relationship between the United States and Pakistan - seen as key to maintaining peace in the region after Clinton also met Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.

"First let me say that our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik, the two journalists killed this week, and with the thousands of families of Syrians who have been killed and wounded in the brutal onslaught that the Assad regime continues to rain down on their own people," Clinton said, adding that she would ultimately bet against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's staying in power.

"We see a lot of developments that we think are pointing to pressure on Assad. We hope it'll pressure him to make the right decision regarding humanitarian assistance. But in the event that he continues to refuse, we think that the pressure will continue to build. So it's a fluid situation, but if I were a betting person for the medium term and certainly the long term, I would be betting against Assad."

Then she spoke directly to Russia and China, which have blocked U.N. Security Council resolutions designed to end the violence in Syria.

"And the pressure will build on countries like Russia and China, because the world opinion is not going to stand idly by. Arab opinion is not going to be satisfied, watching two nations - one for commercial reasons, one for commercial and ideological reasons - boast a regime that is defying every rule of modern international norms."