US cautious over Kismayu blockade

Thursday November 3 2011


The United States reacted cautiously to an appeal from Kenya and Somalia for international support to blockade the rebel-held port of Kismayu.

“Blockades are generally difficult to enforce and may have unintended consequences in the midst of a humanitarian crisis,” the State Department said in a statement on Wednesday.

Overall strategy

“This proposal must be discussed particularly with the African Union and UN Security Council and carefully considered in the context of the overall strategy for restoring peace and stability in Somalia.”

Kenya and Somalia made the proposal after Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his Somalia counterpart Abdiweli Mohamed Ali of the Transitional Federal Government met in Nairobi on Monday. (READ: Kenya, Somalia seek support for war on Al Shabaab)

The two governments said the Al-Shabaab group of Somali rebels linked to Al-Qaeda was a common enemy.

Kenya is pursuing a two-week offensive against the rebels across the border inside southern Somalia.

“The Somalia Government supports the activities of the Kenyan forces, which are being fully coordinated with the transitional government of Somalia and being carried out in the spirit of good neighbourliness and African unity,” they said.

“This threat must be fought jointly by the two nations with support from the international community,” they added, calling for international “logistical and financial support” to blockade Kismayu, a strategic rebel-held port.

Kenya contends that Al-Shabaab receives much of its funding and supplies through Kismayu.

The US has said it is playing no direct military role in support of Kenya’s move into southern Somalia.