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Somalia Raids Were Long in the Making

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

NPR's senior news analyst Ted Koppel joins us now. He's been talking with a senior U.S. military official with firsthand knowledge of operations in Somalia. Good morning.

TED KOPPEL: Good morning, Renee. How are you?

MONTAGNE: Fine, thank you. And what can you tell us about the military involvement in Somalia?

KOPPEL: So whereas we may have had the impression that this was sort of a quick and dirty operation, this is something that has been in the planning stages for a long time, just waiting for the appropriate moment where the targets could be hit.

MONTAGNE: And do we know who exactly is being targeted?

KOPPEL: And they believe that two or three of the members of that council were directly involved in the bombing of U.S. embassies in east Africa about eight years ago.

MONTAGNE: Now the Ethiopian army has been largely instrumental in driving the Islamists from power in Mogadishu and keeping them on the run. What is the U.S.'s position on Ethiopia's involvement in Somalia?

KOPPEL: But by the same token, this official was careful to point out that we should not look upon this as being the opening of a new front. They want to get in, they want to get out.

MONTAGNE: Although there has been concern this past week or so expressed about a wider conflict in that area - the horn of Africa, which juts out towards the Middle East.

KOPPEL: The Ethiopians are talking about withdrawing their forces, although I wouldn't take that too, too seriously. The Americans are saying they're hoping that the organization of African Union will be able to come in and do something, or that even the previous government may be able to resume control. That, I fear, may be whistling in the dark.

MONTAGNE: Thanks very much.

KOPPEL: Thank you, Renee.

MONTAGNE: NPR senior news analyst Ted Koppel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ted Koppel
Respected broadcast journalist Ted Koppel is a commentator who provides analysis and perspective on the topics and events that shape our world. His news experience and interests are wide-ranging, spanning topics from national security, values, privacy, health and the media to Iran, Iraq and the Mideast.