US President Barack Obama s plan to renew sanctions against Somalia to weaken Islamist militants would wrack the war-torn country s economy just as an elected government is restoring stability for the first time in 22 years
and as thousands of refugees are returning to their homeland, The Washington Times reported.
The sanctions, imposed in 2010, are scheduled to be lifted Friday. They prohibit charcoal exports a key source of funding for al-Shabab terrorists, whose grip on parts of Somalia has been loosened by UN-backed African Union forces.
Charcoal exports are also a basic economic resource that affects thousands of Somali
villagers. In announcing to Congress his intention to extend sanctions for one year, Obama
last week noted that his administration in January formally recognized Somalia s new government, led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The US action allows the resumption of full diplomatic relations with Somali, as well as civilian and defensive
"Although the US recognition underscores a strong commitment to Somalia s stabilization, it does not remove the importance of US sanctions, especially against persons undermining the stability of Somalia," Obama said in a letter to lawmakers. "For this reason
I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency with respect to Somalia and to maintain in force the sanctions - to respond to this threat."
Such harsh action could not come at a worse time for the struggling villagers and merchants in Somalia, which I visited last week.
Security in the Somali capital Mogadishu has improved dramatically since African Union forces drove out al-Shabab in August 2011, but sporadic bomb attacks continue.