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Obama's first Somalia strike hits Al Qaeda suspect

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Obama's first Somalia strike

Yesterday's airstrike may not be the first for the US in Somalia, but it is the first major strike against a terrorist target under President Obama, and, despite campaign promises to try a different, more nuanced approach to the war against terrorists, this had all the hallmarks of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Security analysts suggest that Nabhan was a high-enough target within the Al Qaeda organization that his elimination could seriously disrupt the command structure of Al Qaeda in Somalia. But experts on the Horn of Africa say that this very success could complicate the goal of strengthening a democratic government in Somalia.

"There is serious talk that if you take out one of the three top Al Qaeda leaders, you cut off the logistical chain on the ground, so in that sense it may be seen as a success," says Paula Roque, a Horn of Africa expert at the Institute for Security Studies in Tshwane [Pretoria], South Africa. But to complete the job would require military strike after military strike, she adds, which would have the unintended effect of making Somalia's supposed leader, President Sharif Ahmed, look weak.

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