By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
September 24, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) - The United States is reportedly set to build a new drone base in Ethiopia for counter-terrorism operations in the Horn of Africa, the Washington Post reports.
The establishment of the drone base in the East African country will be used to carry out strikes against targets in the region mainly to confront the activities of designated terrorist groups such as Al-Shabab an al-Qaeda affiliate who are fighting the the weak transitional government of Somalia.
Ethiopia has in recent years proved as “a valued counterterrorism partner to deal with the threats posed by al-Shabaab.” according to US officials who spoke to the Washington Post.
“The CIA and other agencies also employ Ethiopian informants who gather information from across the border,” the Washington Post reported.
The United States and Ethiopia have been discussing creating a drone base inside the Horn of Africa nation for the past four years according to one US official, but the plan was delayed because “the Ethiopians were not all that jazzed.”
Ethiopian officials have not been available for confirmation over the report.
The United States has in the past insisted it had no plans to build new bases on the African continent reassuring Africans that the new US Africa Command, responsible for US military operations and military relations with 53 African nations except Egypt, would not mean a stretched US military presence in Africa.
However the latest move instead has proved Washington’s interest to extend the range of its drone weapons to Africa.
The US has a long established base in Djibouti where it conducts drone attacks over targets inside Somalia and Yemen.
The US government had carried out unauthorised deadly drone attacks in at least six countries namely Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yemen where in most cases the attacks have sparked public anger.