President Obama Acknowledges Waging War in Somalia and Yemen in Latest War Powers Report; No End in Sight for War on Terror


In his latest biannual War Powers letter to Congress, President Obama reports that U.S. forces are engaged in military operations in both Somalia and Yemen, or, in his words:

In a limited number of cases, the U.S. military has taken direct action in Somalia against members of al-Qa'ida, including those who are also members of al-Shabaab, who are engaged in efforts to carry out terrorist attacks against the United States and our interests.

The U.S. military has also been working closely with the Yemeni government to operationally dismantle and ultimately eliminate the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula.

This is the first mention of military operations in Somalia or Yemen in a War Powers letter from this president, even though the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, was killed by a Predator drone in Yemen last year. America's secret wars in Africa are no secret, either, with reports of drone strikes in Somalia going back almost a year, at least, not to mention the military intervention in 2007, when backed by the U.S. and neighboring African countries, Ethiopian troops entered Somalia to oust al-Shabab from Mogadishu.

Elsewhere in the report: about 90,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Afghanistan and there are 2,748 detainees being remanded to local authorities over the next several months. There are 169 detainees in Guantanamo. 693 military personnel are stationed in Egypt, part of a contingent there since 1981, and 817 in Kosovo, part of a contingent that's been there since 1999. About 90 U.S. troops are advising local forces in Uganda, South Sudan (the recently independent country at war with Sudan), the Congo, and the Central African Republic on trying to root out Joseph Kony's LRA. The president reports the United States has "completed its responsible withdrawal" from Iraq, and special operations forces rescued an American woman captured by Somali pirates.

As for the end of the war on terror? "It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to counter this terrorist threat to the United States," the president writes, but: "A classified annex to this report provides further information."

More Reason on war and the war on terror

Reason.TV: "Are Drone Strikes and Kill Lists the New Normal?"