Change We Can Believe In?

The American government’s support of the Somali military in their fight against the militant group Al-shabaab, who are alleged to have ties to Al-Qaeda, may be breaking the law. From The New York Times:

The United Nations lists the Somali government as one of the “most persistent violators” in the world of using child soldiers, and this week The New York Times documented several child soldiers, some as young as 12, toting assault rifles and working for the Somali transitional government in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.

While the American government has expressed concern about the matter, it has given the Somali military millions of dollars in arms and paid soldiers’ salaries. On Wednesday, Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said that assistance might violate the Child Soldier Prevention provision of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008; the Durbin-Coburn Child Soldiers Accountability Act; and the Durbin-Coburn Human Rights Enforcement Act.

President Obama’s policy on Africa has already been the subject of some criticism and this news will further infuriate his detractors. I mean does this not sound like the old Cold War US posture of propping up regimes regardless of their human rights record as long as they were prepared to help realise certain foreign policy objectives?

(Photo: Ahmed, 15, with his weapon in Somalia’s capital in April, fights for Somalia’s government and said he was sent to Uganda for training at the age of 12. By Ed Ou/Reportage by Getty Images for The New York Times)


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