Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canada helped fund fight against Somali militants

  • Print

OTTAWA -- With the world's attention focused on fighting in Syria, Mali and Afghanistan, Canada has been quietly supporting the fight against Somalia's al-Shabab militants -- the group responsible for the weekend massacre at a shopping mall in Kenya.

The al-Qaida splinter group -- which once controlled much of Somalia -- had been considered to be on the run, thanks largely to the peacemaking efforts of an African Union military force backed by the U.S. and other western governments.

African troops provided stability for the long-battered country's transitional government, training for security forces and corridors through which humanitarian assistance was able to flow.

It's a complicated and dangerous part of the world where Canada is working in close co-operation with neighbouring nations, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday.

"We do work in close partnership with countries all around the world... and obviously in parts of the world like that portion of Africa, where there is vulnerability to those kinds of attacks," Harper said.

"Our government is the government that listed al-Shabab as a terrorist entity. We did that in 2010. Obviously, we'll work very carefully with our partners in monitoring developments in this area."

The storming of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi on Saturday left 62 dead, including two Canadians, and scores of others wounded. The terrorist group is said to have deployed between 10 and 15 heavily armed militants in the attack.

Kenyan troops continued to battle militants on Monday, reportedly killing three gunmen and freeing several hostages.

Although not a contributor to the United Nations-sanctioned African Union mission, Canada has been watching developments with interest -- so much so that now-retired general Walt Natynczyk was given an extensive briefing on the fight against al-Shabab during his time as chief of defence staff.

"Canada is an active observer in the (African Union) and provides both direct and indirect support to the mission," said a heavily censored briefing dated June 14, 2012, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

Canada contributed US$5.8 million in 2011 towards logistical support for the military mission, another US$1 million to a UN trust fund to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and a further US$520,000 for the international political office in Somalia.

"Indirectly, Canada is engaged in training initiatives through (Directorate of Military Training and Co-operation) to enable (African Union) troop contributing nations through the provision of staff and peace support operations," said the briefing.

That course, delivered twice a year at Camp Aldershot, N.S., involves junior officers from 26 countries who take part in workshops to better equip them to deal with child soldiers fighting in wars throughout Africa.

The Harper government could be doing more, especially in the area of direct training of security forces in Kenya, retired general Rick Hillier told CTV's Power Play.

"I do think there is a good role that particularly our special forces and our police could play in helping them develop the necessary capabilities to provide their own security, provide their own stability better than they can do now," Hillier said.

The U.S. reportedly provides assistance to Somali intelligence agencies and helps run training camps for Ugandan peacekeepers, who carry the fight directly to al-Shabab. As many as 2,000 U.S. military advisers and specialists are involved in the effort.

U.S. experts have said al-Shabab has been hit particularly hard by the occupation of the town of Kismayo, which is rich in charcoal -- a big revenue source for the militants.

The weekend attack appeared to be intended to drive Kenya out of the African Union force, and create a wedge among the four nations involved in the peacemaking mission, said retired Canadian major-general Lewis MacKenzie.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 24, 2013 A12

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Weather for final Fringing weekend

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Two Canada geese fly Wednesday afternoon at Oak Hammock Marsh- Front bird is banded for identification- Goose Challenge Day 3- - Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS June 23, 2011 Local - A Monarch butterfly is perched on a flower  in the newly opened Butterfly Garden in Assiniboine Park Thursday morning.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you like Gord Steeves’ idea to sell four city-owned golf courses to fund road renewal?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google