Why Somalia?

The visit by the Minister for Development and Africa to Somalia this week begs the question why do we put our priority there and not closer to home in Libya and the Maghreb?

London has awarded medals to troops deployed in Somalia for more than ten years. We are currently involved in several military operations including the African Union peacekeeping mission, the United Nations support mission, the European Union training mission as well as our own support to the Somali National Army in the government’s “comprehensive approach to security”. Many people who I served with in Libya moved on to East Africa to help with the fight against international terrorism.

The reasons why we are in the Horn of Africa date back to the humiliation of the US portrayed so vividly in the film “Black Hawk Down” and Washington’s decision to pull out of complex peacekeeping operations. What particularly vexed the International Community was the way Somali pirates disrupted the sea lanes in the Indian Ocean from the bottom of the Suez Canal to the Seychelles. Apart from protecting international trade, we are also helping to prevent the spread of militancy into neighbouring countries such as Kenya and the proliferation of weapons into Arabia.

The media highlighted the very important issue of humanitarian assistance in their coverage of Andrew Mitchell’s visit but yet again failed to mention the outstanding work of the British Army overseas. It is another example of the suppression of the whole truth to suit an editorial narrative that neglects our armed forces and hides them from the public eye.

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