Obama steps up aid to the embattled government in a country that has been attracting al Qaeda fighters--and where bin Laden-trained militiamen killed 18 Americans in 1993.

Photo: A hardline Shebab fighter stands guard over a crowd in a Mogadishu neighbourhood on June 22, 2009 during a court session conducted by the Islmaist group. Somalian President, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, clinging to power by his fingerrnails has declared a state of emergency in a bid to contain a deadly six-week-old insurgency. The insurgency was speraheaded by the supposedly Al-Qaeda backed militant Islamist group Al-Shebab against the weak government that is now appealing to emergency military assistance from neighbouring countries to rout insurgents entrenched in the embattled capital, keen on deposing Ahmed. Atleast 300 have been killed and some 130,000 displaced since an unprecedented anti-government offensive launched by the Shebab.  (ABDIRASHID ABDULLE ABIKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

--Michael Crowley