There have been plenty of reports that the incompetent Afghan war planners have allowed significant amounts of weapons and money to get into the hands of those we are ostensibly there to fight. This kind of thing is doubly counterproductive given that our entire set of policies towards the Middle East – including Israel-Palestine, support for dictatorships, military bases, aggressive wars and occupation – are the fuel for the engine of anti-American violence, never mind that we actually contribute guns and butter to our frontline foes.
But now there are reports that this inadvertent support is happening not just in Afghanistan but in Somalia with newfound boogiemen in al Shabaab:
Bad news in America’s five-year-old proxy war against al-Qaida-allied Somali insurgents. Half of the U.S.-supplied weaponry that enables cash-strapped Ugandan and Burundian troops to fight Somalia’s al-Shabab terror group is winding up in al-Shabab’s hands.
[…] The Pentagon has been striking at al-Shabab since at least early 2007, with special forces, armed drones and Tomahawk cruise missiles fired by Navy ships. But most of the fighting against the Islamic terror group, which has lured as many as 50 Somali-American kids to Mogadishu and even sent one on a suicide mission, is done by the roughly 9,000 Ugandan and Burundian soldiers belonging to the African Union’s peacekeeping force in Mogadishu, codenamed “AMISOM.”
In exchange, Washington pays the troops and sends them regular consignments of guns, rockets and ammo. Between 2007 and 2009, the bill for U.S. taxpayers came to around $200 million — and has probably doubled since then.
[…] So the Ugandans sell their excess weaponry to intermediaries who then sell it on to al-Shabab. And to keep up their racket, the peacekeepers make sure to shoot at every opportunity, burning through “an extraordinary amount of ordnance” to justify continued arms shipments from Washington.
How bad is it? “In April of 2011 the U.N. determined that 90 percent of all 12.7 x 108 millimeter ammunition [in Mogadishu] was from an AMISOM stock created in 2010,” Pelton revealed. “An RPG captured from al-Shabab was analyzed and determined to have been delivered by DynCorp to the Ministry of Defense in Uganda. The contract was to supply weapons and ammunition to the Ugandan forces in Mogadishu.”
Somehow defense planners never learn. The urge to fight wars and maintain dominance through proxies – whether client states or rough-and-tumble guerrillas – has historically led to backlash, betrayal, and blowback (as our first Afghan war sufficiently illustrates).