Reports are emerging that an “un-named Muslim country” is directly funding the creation of a 1000 strong, “well-armed and privately trained militia force” in Somalia’s north to fight piracy.
The Associated Press reports claims the new force has already trained its first recruits and received its first shipment of weapons, having hired a former CIA officer and a senior official from the Bush administration to advise the Somali government on security matters.
The Associated Press said the “anti-piracy” force was receiving instruction in Puntland, a semi-autonomous region on the tip of Africa’s horn that oil and gas exploration firms are interested in.
A separate force will be trained in the capital, Mogadishu, the news agency said, citing sources involved in the programme, which has reportedly cost many millions of dollars. A large convoy of pick-up trucks, small aircraft and armoured vehicles will support the troops.
The donor State seems serious about creating what may soon be Somalia’s best functioning military force. As AP reporter Katharine Houreld points out, “he who holds the gun makes the rules in Somalia”.
Speculation on the funding ranges from Dubai, though we have also learned from Wikileaks that Egypt has urged the U.S. Joint Chiefs to “focus counter piracy efforts on the Somali shore.”
The exact motivation of the donor country remains unknown, and UN experts have confirmed they are investigating whether there has been a violation of Somalia’s arms embargo. The country has not had a functioning government since 1991, and Islamists who claim allegiance to al-Qaida are trying to gain overall control.