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White House Targets Somalia Reform Obstructors, Shabaab Charcoal Trade

Monday, July 23, 2012
By Samuel Rubenfeld

The White House late Friday issued an executive order targeting those who impede on Somalia’s political transition.

Similar to how it approached Yemen in May, the White House didn’t designate anyone with the issuance of the executive order, which went into effect at 2 p.m. Friday.

The executive order on Somalia grants the Treasury Department greater power to impose sanctions on those found misappropriating state assets. It also targets political or military leaders who recruit children as soldiers, and those committing violence against Somali citizens, including sexual or gender-based violence.

“By expanding our ability to impose sanctions on those engaged in despicable acts of violence in Somalia, the United States is once again demonstrating its full support for the Somali people,” said David Cohen, undersecretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a statement.

The executive order also targeted a key revenue source for al-Shabaab, the Somali group designated by the U.S. as a foreign terror organization and that has close ties to al Qaeda.

It imposed an embargo on imports of charcoal from Somalia into the U.S., and granted the Treasury Department the authority to slap sanctions on those involved in the import or export of charcoal from Somalia after Feb. 22, implementing a United Nations Security Council resolution passed that day.

“It is crucial that the trade in charcoal from Somalia be prohibited to diminish this source of al-Shabaab’s revenue and further discourage the group from engaging in terrorist acts,” Treasury said in the statement.

Somalia has become a priority for the Obama administration as it combats terrorism. The country hasn’t had an effective government in more than 20 years, and it’s become a haven for terrorists, pirates and warlords.

In addition to flying drones in the region, the U.S. has reportedly operated secret sites there. Treasury has also been active in slapping sanctions on those contributing to the conflict there.


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