Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Interview with Jamaican radio about Pres. Obama's foreign policy priorities, Somalia

I did an interview today on Somalia with the Breakfast Club program in Jamaica (93 FM). When asked why President Obama is not personally engaged in the Somali issue, I noted that he has higher foreign policy priorities such as the Middle East, Iran, and North Korea. He can not be expected to be the action officer on every foreign policy challenge that confronts the United States. The U.S. foreign policy mechanism has a lot of depth. In the case of Somalia, it probably only rarely gets the attention of Secretary of State Clinton. On the other hand, an experienced expert on Africa, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, almost certainly spends a lot of time on the issue. We also discussed the threat to the Transitional Federal Government from spoiler groups such as al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam. I emphasized that al-Shabaab is making progress because of increasing foreign financing and the recruitment of foreign fighters. While this may aid al-Shabaab over the short-term, most Somalis resent foreign involvement in their country as they demonstrated during the Ethiopian intervention. The willingness by al-Shabaab to recruit foreigners will eventually come back to haunt them. I will link the interview if and when 93 FM posts it.

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