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CIA director secretly visits Somalia and Kenya amidst rising tensions in East Africa

WILLIAM BURNS, DIRECTOR OF the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), reportedly visited in secret at least two East African nations last week, amidst growing tensions and instability in the region. The trip was confirmed by both the Kenyan and Somali governments after Burns had already returned to the United States.

Reports indicate that Burns held a high-level meeting on Monday in Nairobi with Kenyan President William Ruto and Noordin Haji, the director of Kenya’s National Intelligence Service. The United States Ambassador to Kenya, Margaret Whitman, was also reportedly present at the meeting. Later in the week, on Thursday, the CIA director met with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Mogadishu before departing for the United States.

The specific details of the discussions during Burns’ visit remain undisclosed, leading to considerable speculation. Notably, it is highly unusual for senior American intelligence officials to personally visit sub-Saharan Africa, as the CIA typically communicates with the local governments through station chiefs or American ambassadors. Burns’ in-person visit suggests compelling reasons for the direct engagement.

According to some Kenyan news outlets, discussions encompassed the escalating instability in sub-Saharan Africa, which are stemming from various sources. These include the ongoing conflict in Sudan between government-aligned forces and militias loyal to the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. Additionally, there is growing turmoil in the Democratic Republic of Congo after last month’s elections, resulting in the re-election of President Félix Tshisekedi. Disputes over the election’s fairness have led to military deployments to maintain peace amid rising tensions throughout the country.

Washington’s concerns also revolve around the continuing presence of al-Shabaab in East Africa. Operating in Somalia, al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked armed group, engages in conflict with the Somali government and is responsible for several terrorist attacks in Kenya. The United States currently has around 500 military advisors in Somalia, supporting the Somali government in its efforts against al-Shabaab.

Notably, the CIA has not issued an official statement regarding Burns’ visit to East Africa.

Source: Intel News