Somalia Update II

Anti-Ethiopian protests rock Somali capital – Police and protesters exchanged fire in Mogadishu on Saturday, killing at least one person, a government source said, as hundreds of Somalis demonstrated against Ethiopian troops and a disarmament drive.

Protesters hurled stones and burnt tyres, wreathing streets in smoke and reviving memories of the chaos that had largely stopped during six months of strict Islamist rule.

“Protesters shot at policemen, the police returned fire killing one man,” a government source said. “I don’t know how many people have been wounded.”

A witness said three people had been killed and that Ethiopian troops had opened fire.

* Commander of Somalia is in the eye of beholder
* Somali gov’t halts disarmament program
* Ethiopian operation dovetails with U.S. aims
* Islamic fighters hiding in Mogadishu say they are inspired by al-Qaeda message

(This is the new Somalia update thread, the first thread can be found here. More articles can be found in comments.)

Jan 5
Somalia plans major assault – Somali troops backed by Ethiopians captured a southern town near the Kenyan border on Thursday evening and prepared to launch a major assault on Friday on the last stronghold of Islamic movement militiamen.

US Navy warships were patrolling off the Somali coast to prevent the militiamen from escaping by sea. Col Barre “Hirale” Aden Shire, the Somali defence minister, said Islamic militiamen were dug in with their backs to the sea at Ras Kamboni at the southernmost tip of Somalia.

“Today we will launch a massive assault on the Islamic courts militias. We will use infantry troops and fighter jets,” said Shire, who left for the battle zone on Friday. “They have dug huge trenches around Ras Kamboni but have only two options: to drown in the sea or to fight and die

* US general does not see American troops in Somalia
* Ethiopian army eager to learn from U.S. soldiers
* Mogadishu ripe for militants and warloards
* Qaeda exhorts Somali Islamists to fight
* America’s new puppet

Jan 4

* US Says Its Pursuit Of Somali “Al-Qaeda Terrorists” A Right h/t Raja

US forces are deployed near Somalia to block the escape of members of that country’s ousted Islamist government with ties to al-Qaeda and other extremists, a State department spokesperson said on Wednesday.

“We would be concerned that no leaders who were members of the Islamic Courts which have ties to terrorist organisations including al-Qaeda are allowed to flee and leave Somalia,” spokesperson Sean McCormack said.

“We of course have a presence off the coast of Somalia and Horn of Africa to make sure there are no escape routes by sea where these individuals could flee,” McCormack said. He declined to provide details about the US forces.

* Ethiopia launches all-out war on Somalia after UN’s resolution legitimises foreign intervention
* Kenya Closes Border but Denies Turning Back Refugees
* 3,500 Islamists Said Hiding in Somalia
* Resounding boo for Ethiopia’s invasion
* Somali gunmen attacked an oil tanker truck near Mogadishu

Jan 3
Kenya Sends Troops to Border With Somalia – Kenya sent extra troops to its border with Somalia on Wednesday to keep Islamic militants from entering the country after Ethiopian helicopters attacked a Kenyan border post by mistake while pursuing suspected fighters.

Meanwhile, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni flew to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to meet with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to discuss the framework of a regional peacekeeping mission to Somalia, said Okello Oryem, the Ugandan minister of state of foreign affairs.

* Eritrea warns of Somalia ”˜quagmire’ for Ethiopia
* Kenyans deport Somali refugees illegally
* Somalis skeptical of turning in their guns
* After preemptive strike on Islamist, Ethiopia wants others to pay

JAN 2:
Ethiopian troops to stay in Somalia weeks
Ethiopian troops will stay in Somalia for another few weeks to help the victorious government pacify the Horn of Africa nation after a two-week war to oust militant Islamists, Addis Ababa said on Tuesday.

Tightening the net on defeated Somali Islamic Courts Council (SICC) fighters fleeing south, neighbouring Kenya said it had sealed its long and porous northeastern border.

A triumphant Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, whose intervention turned the war against the Islamists, said his forces would only remain “for a few weeks” while the interim government pacifies the chaotic nation.

“It is up to the international community to deploy a peacekeeping force in Somali without delay to avoid a vacuum and the resurgence of extremists and terrorists,” he added.

* Somalia’s PM: Major Fighting Likely Over
* Eritrea: Gov’t accuses US for Somalia war
* Somalia’s new conflict, rooted in old ties
* Somali Islamists are gone — so “khat” is back!

Islamic militants flee final stronghold
A militant Islamist movement fled from rapidly advancing government forces into a rugged, forested corner of Somalia, as the prime minister offered the Islamist rank and file amnesty if they surrendered.

Diplomats from the region were working to arrange the speedy deployment of African peacekeepers to help the interim government establish its authority in the country, which has known only anarchy for 15 years.

* Somali Islamists battle advance

* It’s not over yet, vow Somalia’s Islamists
* Somalis flee as showdown looms
* Somalia: Hiran Urged Not Hunt Down Former Islamist Fighters

Dec 28

Somali government to seize Mogadishu – A joint Ethiopian and Somali government force controlled the main routes into Mogadishu and was poised to capture Somalia’s capital after Islamist rivals fled the city, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

Somali Islamists change tactics – All forces loyal to Somalia’s Union of Islamic Courts abandoned the capital, Mogadishu, late on Wednesday night in what it says is a change of tactics.

“We have taken the decision to leave Mogadishu because of the safety of the civilians,” the deputy head of the Islamic courts executive council, Abdi-Rahman Janqow, said as Ethiopian-backed government troops advanced towards to the city.

“All of our troops have withdrawn. They are now heading to somewhere they think they can fight with their enemy and kill them one by one without fighting among the civilians”, he added.

* Islamic forces flee Somali capital
* State of emergency in Somalia

Dec 26
Islamic forces retreat in Somalia; government offers conditional amnesty – Somalian government and Ethiopian troops advanced toward the country’s capital Tuesday as Islamic fighters retreated, bloodied by a week of artillery and mortar attacks but promising a “new phase” in the war, a chilling pronouncement from a movement that has threatened suicide attacks.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said he had been given unconfirmed reports that as many as 1,000 people had died and 3,000 were wounded. “Some of them are Somalis, but a very significant proportion of them are not Somalis,” Meles told reporters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, referring to foreign Islamic radicals who have reportedly joined the fighting.

Meles said his forces, which entered Somalia in large numbers Saturday, have completed about half their mission.

* US defends Ethiopian attacks in Somalia, urges ‘maximum’ restraint
* Ethiopian forces were now hunting down troops from his arch-foe Eritrea
* Ethiopia predicts victory against Islamists
* In Somalia, a reckless U.S. proxy war

Dec 25 – Ethiopia Bombs Airport in Somali Capital

Dec 24
Ethiopia Jets Attack The Somalia Islamic Council – Ethiopia launched an attack Sunday on Somalia’s powerful Islamic movement, sending fighter jets across the border and bombarding several towns in a major escalation of the violence that threatens to engulf the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia confirmed the attacks, the first time it has acknowledged that its troops were fighting in Somalia, though witnesses have reported their presence for weeks.

* Ethiopia fights rival Somali Islamists
* Anti-American sentiment is sweeping across Africa
* War fears as Ethiopia strikes Somalia
* Anti Ethiopia rallies in Somalia as Ethiopian air raid continues

Ethiopian tanks roll in Somali battle’s fourth day ~ Dec 22

Ethiopian tanks rolled to the battle front on Friday as Somali Islamists and pro-government troops pounded each other with artillery and rockets in a fourth day of clashes starting to take the shape of a war.

Witnesses near the fighting on two fronts to the southwest and southeast of the government’s encircled stronghold, Baidoa, said they heard the rumble of armour before dawn.

If the tanks engage in the battle it would raise the stakes in what is already the most sustained combat so far in a fight many fear could mushroom across the Horn of Africa.

Witnesses have said Ethiopian soldiers are taking part in the battles, and have reported that an Ethiopian military helicopter was flying over Baidoa on Wednesday. more at link

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  • FACTBOX-Somalia’s role in Horn of Africa tensions
    22 Dec 2006 10:52:01 GMT
    Source: Reuters


    * Ethiopia and Somalia have been rivals throughout history, and memories of the 1977-78 Ogaden war between the two are still fresh. Fought against a backdrop of shifting Cold War alliances, Ethiopia’s army crushed Somali troops who tried to lay claim to the Ogaden region with the vision of recapturing ethnically Somali territories outside Somalia. Ethiopia had seized the Ogaden in the early 1900s in what Somalis viewed as a colonialist expansion by a Christian empire.

    * Ethiopia has not hesitated to send troops into Somalia to attack radical Somali Islamic movements, wary they could stir up trouble in the ethnically Somali regions on its side of the border. Since the Somali Islamic Courts Council (SICC) took power in June after kicking U.S.- and Ethiopian-backed warlords out of Mogadishu, Addis Ababa has warned it would crush any Islamist attack.

    * In a way, the current fight is a repeat of history with the same players involved. Several times from 1992 to 1998, Ethiopian soldiers attacked al-Itihaad al-Islaami, a militant Somali group the United States has put on a list of organisations linked to terrorism. SICC leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys led its military wing at that time. Current interim President Abdullahi Yusuf, then a warlord with Ethiopian money behind him, led his militias against al-Itihaad in that period.

    * A report to the United Nations on arms embargo violations says Eritrea has given weapons and training and sent about 2,000 troops to back the SICC, to frustrate the Ethiopian-allied interim government. Eritrea denies the charge, though makes no secret of its hatred of Ethiopia over their still-unresolved border dispute, which led to a 1998-2000 war.

    * Military experts estimate Ethiopia has 15,000-20,000 troops inside Somalia. Addis Ababa says it only has a few hundred military trainers there.

    * Witness reports for months have placed Ethiopian combat units inside Somalia. They have reported an Ethiopian military helicopter flying over Baidoa and also have spotted tanks rolling towards the front on Friday. A government security source told Reuters the Ethiopians have 20 T-55 tanks and four attack helicopters in Baidoa, and have improved the airfield there to accommodate military operations.

  • Ethiopian tanks roll towards Somali battlefront
    22 Dec 2006 11:52:42 GMT
    Source: Reuters
    More (Adds government, Islamist fighter quotes)

    By Hassan Yare

    BAIDOA, Somalia, Dec 22 (Reuters) – Ethiopian tanks rolled to the battlefront on Friday as Somali Islamists and Somalia’s pro-government troops pounded each other with artillery and rockets in a fourth day of clashes edging closer to all-out war.

    The Islamists said they would send ground troops to attack en masse on Saturday, as opposed to fighting from a distance with heavy weapons as the two sides have done so far, ignoring a European peace initiative.

    “Our troops have not started to attack. From tomorrow the attack will start,” Islamist deputy spokesman Ibrahim Shukri told a news conference.

    Witnesses near the fighting on two fronts near the government’s encircled stronghold of Baidoa in south-central Somalia said they heard the rumble of armour before dawn.


    The SICC says it has the popular support the government lacks, bringing law and order to a nation convulsed with anarchy since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.

    The SICC said Ethiopian troops were moving by air and ground toward Galkaayo, a strategic central Somali town held as a forward defence base by government-allied Puntland fighters.

    “We hope fighting will simultaneously start there too. We call upon the Somalis to rise up and join in the jihad,” SICC Secretary Ibrahim Suley told reporters.

    Ethiopia and Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf, a Puntland native, are keen to keep the relatively stable, semi-autonomous Puntland region and its strategic ports out of SICC hands.

    A Puntland fighter said by telephone from near Galkaayo: “There is a lot of troop movement. From the way things are going, fighting can start any time.”

  • Seven Questions: War in Somalia
    20 Dec 20, 2006, 20:17

    Somalia is the only country in the world without a functioning government. Fighting between Islamic militias and the remnants of a U.N.-backed national government threatens to leave half a million people stranded and engulf much of the Horn of Africa in war. FP sat down with Ken Menkhaus, a leading scholar on Somalia who has just returned from the region.

    FOREIGN POLICY: How likely is an all-out war in Somalia, and how long could such a conflict last?

    Ken Menkhous: The situation is extremely serious. The two sides have been sparring over the last few weeks. This morning, there were clashes between the two sides outside the provisional capital, Baidoa. The Council of Islamic Courts on the one side, and Ethiopia and the transitional federal government on the other, have been preparing for war, building up arms and logistical supplies. At this point, we can expect probably a protracted, inconclusive armed conflict in southern and central Somalia. This could go on for a long time. Neither the Ethiopians nor the Islamists has the ability to deliver a knockout punch. The only way this armed conflict will be short is if each side is trying to send a signal to the other. In other words, they bloody each other’s noses, then step back and assess the very high risks to both sides, and someone steps in to mediate. Barring that, the most likely scenario is protracted conflict that could spread to parts of Ethiopia and Kenya.

    FP: How much of the country is controlled by the Council of Islamic Courts versus the Transitional Federal Government?

    KM: The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) controls almost no territory. It holds the provisional capital of Baidoa, barely, and some of the hinterland between Baidoa and Ethiopia. The Courts now control all of Southern Somalia, from the Kenyan border to Mogadishu up to the central Somali town of Galcaio. North of that, the nonsecessionist semiautonomous state of Puntland has yet to join the Courts. So if you include the secessionist state of Somaliland in the northwest, the Courts control more than 50 percent of Somali territory.

    FP: Are the Courts controlled by al Qaeda?

    KM: No. Absolutely not. There is a legitimate debate over whether a small number of leaders in the Islamic Courts have linkages with a small number of leaders from al Qaeda. That’s not the same as saying that the two are in a deeply intrinsic partnership. The problem that the Courts face is that they are not by any stretch a unified movement. It’s an umbrella group that includes moderates, hard-line salafists, and jihadists. And a small number of jihadists can do an enormous amount of damage and can bring in elements from outside that create a whole new level of security problems.

    FP: How serious of a humanitarian crisis would ensue if war broke out, something along the scale of Darfur?

    KM: There’s already a very serious humanitarian crisis in Somalia and parts of Ethiopia and Kenya due to the heavy flooding that has occurred there. In Somalia alone, there are 500,000 people displaced due to the flooding. The humanitarian agencies are facing the perfect storm right now in southern Somalia—impassable roads due to the flooding, armed conflict breaking out between Somalia and Ethiopia which will ground U.N. helicopters once the war starts, and the unspecified threat of jihadist violence directed at any United Nations, Western, or American agency, emanating from Mogadishu. It’s

    different from Darfur, but the scale is very large. Darfur is a manmade crisis, and it’s an ongoing one that is incredibly difficult to access. In Somalia, for the moment, the biggest crisis is a natural disaster, the flooding. The problem is that access to those in need is complicated by the imminent threat of war, in which humanitarian workers could become the principal targets for small groups of jihadists. So the immediate threat to the 500,000 people who’ve been displaced by the flooding is very serious.

    FP: How is involvement by Eritrea and Ethiopia feeding the conflict?

    KM: Somalia has become a proxy war in the region. Eritrea is using the Islamic Courts to try to bog Ethiopia down in a quagmire. They have provided arms and training to the Courts. Meanwhile, Ethiopia is involved in Somalia and has troops there, in large part because it views the rise of the Courts as a very dangerous security threat on a number of levels. One is the prospect of having a radical Islamist movement controlling Somalia. Ethiopia is country which splits roughly 50-50 between Muslims and Christians and doesn’t want a radical Islamist movement on its borders. More immediately, the Courts have made claims to Somali-inhabited territory in eastern Ethiopia and northern Kenya. This is unacceptable to Ethiopia. As long as the Courts are making these claims, Ethiopia will view their ascendance to power as a security threat.

    different from Darfur, but the scale is very large. Darfur is a manmade crisis, and it’s an ongoing one that is incredibly difficult to access. In Somalia, for the moment, the biggest crisis is a natural disaster, the flooding. The problem is that access to those in need is complicated by the imminent threat of war, in which humanitarian workers could become the principal targets for small groups of jihadists. So the immediate threat to the 500,000 people who’ve been displaced by the flooding is very serious.

    FP: How is involvement by Eritrea and Ethiopia feeding the conflict? KM: Some people argue that the prospects of a negotiated settlement are nil, that the Courts have nothing to gain. They are already in a position of tremendous power within Somalia. They are the strongest military and political force by a long margin. They win in a stalemate. Along the same lines, some argue that Ethiopia has no interest in seeing a government of national unity that would be seen as a Trojan horse for the Islamists. On the other hand, the window of opportunity for a negotiated settlement does exist, because the risks of war are so high for both sides that there is some reason to believe that both sides would like to avoid war. For Ethiopia, the threat is a quagmire in Somalia with very few reliable local allies. The threat of jihad will expand into Ethiopia and will attract a lot of foreign elements who see the largely Christian-dominated government there oppressing lowland Muslim populations. Ethiopia also has to worry about its northern flank with Eritrea. For the Islamists, the danger is that they are about to take on one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest and most seasoned militaries—a military that will, in degrees, have some backing from the world’s only superpower. That’s very dangerous and they have a lot to lose. If the war is protracted, most of the casualties and humanitarian suffering will be borne by the Somali people, and the Courts would be held accountable for dragging Somalia into an unnecessary war.

    Ken Menkhaus is associate professor of political science at Davidson College and a former special advisor to the U.N. operation in Somalia.


  • Posted on Fri, Dec. 22, 2006

    U.S. policy in the Horn of Africa may aid al-Qaida, experts warn

    By Jonathan S. Landay and Shashank Bengali
    McClatchy Newspapers

    NAIROBI, Kenya — As fighting intensified Friday between Somali Islamists and an Ethiopian intervention force, Western diplomats and experts warned that U.S. policy in the Horn of Africa – intended to curb Islamic radicalism – may not only be fueling this newest conflict, but also may be making it easier for al-Qaida to gain a foothold in the strategic region.

    Fighting raged for a fourth day around Baidoa, the last bastion of Somalia’s U.N.-recognized Transitional Federal Government, which is depending on Ethiopian troops for its survival. Both Islamists and the government claimed advances after what was described as a heavy artillery exchange.

    The top Islamist official renewed his call for “jihad” against what he said was Ethiopian invaders, and there were reports of an armored column of Ethiopian tanks heading into central Somalia.

    The Ethiopian government, which had denied having troops in Somalia, said Friday that it had been patient with a situation that had gone “from bad to worse” and said “there is a limit.” Ethiopia has said it will not tolerate an Islamist regime in neighboring Somalia.

    Officials close to the Somali parliament confirmed Friday that more Ethiopian reinforcements had arrived since Thursday, setting the stage for possible full-scale war.

    The Bush administration has publicly denounced the Islamists who control most of southern Somalia as al-Qaida puppets, reinforcing a widespread belief that the United States tacitly supports Christian-ruled Ethiopia’s intervention into the overwhelmingly Muslim country.

    The outbreak of fighting has focused new attention on U.S. policy in the region, which Western diplomats and regional experts say has been riddled with inconsistencies and missteps. The experts say U.S. handling of Somalia and Ethiopia is a tale of flawed intelligence, inadequate U.S. government attention and overheated rhetoric, with a measure of domestic U.S. politics thrown in.

    Earlier this year, Washington provided covert aid to an alliance of secular Somali warlords in a failed bid to prevent the Islamists from seizing Mogadishu, the capital. U.S. officials confirmed to McClatchy Newspapers that one recipient of the CIA payments was a leader of a Somali militia that killed 18 U.S. troops in 1993 in fighting in Mogadishu, which was portrayed in the film “Black Hawk Down.”

    Even powerful U.S. politicians have had a role in American policy surrounding the complex conflict. Dick Armey, the former majority leader in the GOP-run House of Representatives, has been lobbying for Ethiopia, congressional aides said. Last summer, Armey worked to block a vote on a bipartisan bill to cut U.S. security aid to Ethiopia if it failed to halt political repression. The Bush administration also opposed the bill.

    The Bush administration says it’s urging Ethiopia to show restraint and that it’s working closely with European Union officials in trying to arrange a truce and negotiations.

    But Western diplomats and regional experts said the United States is widely seen as approving of Ethiopia’s intervention.

    “The Americans are trying to get (Ethiopia) to do what they wanted the warlords to do, which is get the bad guys,” said a senior Western diplomat, who monitors Somalia from Nairobi and requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. “Of course that failed so spectacularly.”

    Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frasier, the chief U.S. spokeswoman on Africa, helped fuel the perception of U.S. support for Ethiopia by charging on Dec. 14 that the Union of Islamic Courts, as the Islamists call their alliance, “is now controlled by al Qaida cell individuals, East Africa al Qaida cell individuals.”

    The Courts’ top layer comprises “extremists … terrorists,” she said.

    Western diplomats, some U.S. intelligence officials and independent analysts dispute those allegations as exaggerated.

    Among the most serious U.S. missteps in the run-up to the current fighting, analysts say, was the secret CIA payments to the secular warlords whose militias had controlled Mogadishu since the withdrawal of U.N. peacekeepers in 1995. Disclosure of the payments to men widely despised for years of lawlessness helped galvanize Somalis behind the Islamists, who captured Mogadishu in June and went on to overrun most of southern Somalia.

    One recipient of the payments was Abdi Hasan “Qaybdid” Awale, a former top aide to Mohammad Farah Aideed, the late militia leader whose forces killed 18 U.S. troops in the Battle of Mogadishu in March 1993, said U.S. officials, who requested anonymity because the matter remains classified.

    Awale, Aideed’s self-styled “interior minister” during Aideed’s confrontation with U.S. and U.N. forces, was a target of the raid that triggered the two-day street battle.

    According to Western diplomats and analysts, there’s ample evidence of U.S. sympathy for the Ethiopian intervention. Among the signs:

    U.S. sponsorship of a Dec. 6 U.N. Security Council resolution that authorized, over the Islamists’ opposition, the deployment of an African peacekeeping force but omitted a demand for the withdrawal of the estimated 8,000 Ethiopian troops.

    A visit by Army Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last month for talks with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

    The Bush administration’s failure to insist publicly on an Ethiopian withdrawal or to participate directly in efforts to negotiate a cease-fire and power-sharing agreement between the transitional government and the Islamic Courts.

    “We (the United States) are now giving a yellow-slash-green light to Ethiopia’s policy of containment by intervention,” said John Pendergast, a former Clinton administration adviser on Africa who’s now with the International Crisis Group, a conflict prevention organization


  • December 23, 2006
    In the Third Day of Fighting in Somalia, Worries of a Sharp Escalation by Ethiopian Forces

    ZANZIBAR, Tanzania, Dec. 22 — Any hope of a quick peace in Somalia vanished in a burst of artillery shells on Friday, as fighting between rival forces raged for a third straight day.

    Residents of Baidoa, the seat of the internationally recognized transitional government, said they saw columns of Ethiopian tanks chugging toward the front lines, heightening worries that Somalia’s internal problems could soon become regional ones. Meanwhile, residents in Mogadishu, the battle-scarred traditional capital and the base of Somalia’s powerful Islamist movement, said they saw sailboats packed with foreign mercenaries landing on the city’s beaches.

    According to United Nations officials, the transitional government, with the help of thousands of Ethiopian troops, has inflicted heavy losses on the Islamists, who rely on teenage boys to do much of their fighting. On Friday, the fighting was concentrated in towns ringing Baidoa, where witnesses said bodies were piling up in the streets.

    As the two sides continued to blast each other with machine guns and artillery, an exodus began, with thousands of residents from the battle zone squeezing into aged trucks with pots, pans and sacks of clothes and fleeing to safer areas.

    Ethiopia has acknowledged that it has dispatched several hundred military advisers to help the transitional government repel the Islamists. But on Friday, Ethiopian officials continued to deny that their troops were engaged in combat.

    “Tanks? What tanks?” said Zemedkun Tekle, spokesman for Ethiopia’s Information Ministry. “We have not sent any heavy arms into Somalia. Such talk is just propaganda to stir up the people.”

    The realities of waging war in a desperately poor country are setting in. At a hospital in Burhakaba, a town near Baidoa, a doctor stood in a filthy waiting room crowded with wounded and listed all the things he did not have: “No X-ray machines, no operating tables, no nothing.”

  • ETHIOPIA-SOMALIA: More people flee as fighting spreads
    24 Dec 2006 14:49:43 GMT
    Source: IRIN via Reuters

    NAIROBI, 24 December (IRIN) – For the first time, air attacks have been reported in Somalia’s escalating conflict between forces of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), backed by Ethiopian troops, while ground conflict was reported from previously unaffected areas in Central Somalia.

    An international NGO official told IRIN that population displacement was expected in the conflict areas, and that news of aerial bombardment might cause people to move due to fear of further air attacks. Organizations will be trying to “scope out” where displaced populations are moving to, but, the official said that at the moment, “where they’re going to go, people don’t know… a lot of people may move out of the way”.

    An eyewitness told IRIN that aircraft, allegedly Ethiopian, had struck areas near the town of Beletweyne in Southern Somalia this morning. “Two jet airplanes bombarded the town this morning. They came back five times,” said Ahmed Gure of the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) in Beletweyne. He said the attack took about an hour. Gure said many of the town’s population were only just starting to return from temporary camps after they were displaced by recent flooding, and “can ill-afford to move again, but I am afraid if the situation deteriorates they will move again.” Many families have already started to leave the town, said a local journalist, claiming that four people, including a young girl, were killed by the air raids. “Hundreds of people have started leaving, fearing that the planes will return,” said Umar Muhumad Keyow of Radio Shabelle.

    Meanwhile, a WFP-chartered Antonov-12 aircraft today air dropped 14 MT of food to Afmadow in Southern Somalia, as part of a US$16.6 million special flood relief operation in Kenya and Somalia. Afmadow is cut of from road access by floods. Fifty trucks carrying food to Afmadow have been stuck in mud for seven weeks, according to a WFP statement issued today. “We are constantly reviewing our operations in view of the Ethiopian air activity”, said Peter Smerdon, regional WFP spokesperson, “but we are still planning another airdrop on Monday [25 December]”.

    International media reported that Ethiopian government has for the first time admitted that it has troops fighting in Somalia. The BBC quoted Ethiopian Information Minister Berhan Hailu as saying that, “The Ethiopian government has taken self-defensive measures and started counter-attacking the aggressive extremist forces of the Islamic Courts and foreign terrorist groups.”


  • New York Times, By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN, December 24

    ZANZIBAR, TANZANIA, Dec. 24 — Ethiopian warplanes attacked Somalia today, destroying a recruiting center for Islamist fighters and solidifying fears that a dreaded regional war has now begun.

    According to witnesses, the warplanes bombarded several towns while Ethiopian tanks pushed aggressively into territory that had been controlled by Somalia’s Islamist forces. That ignited fighting up and down the Somali coast, with Ethiopian troops locked in an escalating battle against Somalia’s powerful Islamist movement.

    “The Ethiopians are blowing things up all over the place,” said Mohammed Hussein Galgal, an Islamist commander in Beledweyne, near the Ethiopian border. “Civilians have been killed, people are fleeing. But don’t worry, we won’t be defeated.”

    Ethiopian officials said today that they had run out of patience with the Islamist leaders, who have declared war on Ethiopia and vowed to turn Somalia into a recruiting ground for anti-Ethiopian fighters.

    “What did you expect us to do?” said Zemedkun Tekle, a spokesman for Ethiopia’s information ministry. “Wait for them to attack our cities?” Mr. Zemedkun said his country had initiated “counter-attack measures in the interests of protecting our sovereignty and stability.”

  • Well, that’s a relief; I guess no Western country manufactured and supplied them to the Ethiopians after all. They’re just generic “warplanes” like you get at big-box stores.

  • Guardian Unlimited , Agencies, Tuesday December 26, 2006

    Ethiopia today pressed on with its offensive against Somali Islamists and threatened to seize the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

    At least two Ethiopian jets fired missiles on retreating Islamist forces, prompting the interim Somali government to claim a partial victory.

    Hundreds of troops have been killed during a week of heavy artillery and mortar fighting amid fears that it could spark a wider regional conflict in the Horn of Africa.

    “Ethiopian forces are on their way to Mogadishu. They are about 40 miles away and it is possible they could capture it in the next 24 to 48 hours,” Somalia’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Abdikarin Farah, told reporters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

    But the Islamists, who insisted their withdrawal was “tactical”, warned that any attempt to take Mogadishu would end in disaster for the attackers.

    “It will be their destruction and doomsday,” the Islamist spokesman Abdi Kafi said. “We will fight to the last man until we ensure there are no more Ethiopian troops in our country.”

  • A more involved military offensive might pose the same problems the U.S. is facing in Iraq, observers say.

    By Edmund Sanders, LA Times Staff Writer, December 26, 2006

    NAIROBI, KENYA — Ethiopia’s attacks against Islamic forces in Somalia may have delivered a short-term military victory, but analysts warned that a longer offensive could present the U.S. ally with some of the same challenges facing American forces in Iraq.

    Airstrikes against the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and other towns Sunday and Monday demonstrated Ethiopia’s military superiority over the Islamic forces that seized most of southern Somalia during the summer.

    But Ethiopia would be hard-pressed to dispatch enough troops to capture and occupy Islamic-held areas of Somalia.

    “I don’t understand what Ethiopia’s objective is,” said David Shinn, a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and now a political science professor at George Washington University. “I can’t imagine their objective is to occupy and hold Somalia. It was a very limited victory.”

    Most experts agree that Ethiopia’s battle-tested army, numbering as many as 150,000 troops, could easily beat Somalia’s ragtag Islamic fighters, which are believed to total under 10,000.

    But Islamists say they would compensate for their lack of numbers and sophisticated weaponry by pursuing an unconventional war, including suicide attacks and other insurgency-style tactics that U.S. and allied troops face in Iraq.

    “The Ethiopians could get bogged down into a hopeless, long-term guerrilla campaign with enormous supply lines,” Shinn said. “I don’t see how they ‘defeat’ the Islamists in the long run.”


    “I used to think that the Islamic courts were just another interest group, but now I recognize that they are standing up for the country and religion,” said Muse Ali Omar, a banana vendor in Mogadishu.

    “Ethiopia is my enemy, I will not sell bananas anymore,” he said. “I will take my gun and go for jihad. Otherwise I am sure they will kill me in my banana kiosk if I wait for them here.”

    Mohammed Ibrahim Mohammed, a moderate Muslim, said, “As long as the West is supporting Ethiopian invasion, it will open the door for Islamic courts.”


    Shinn said international leaders should immediately intervene and push to remove all foreign fighters from Somalia.

    “A week ago I was still optimistic that we could get this cat back in the box,” he said. “Now I’m not clear if that’s an option.”

  • MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) Dec 26 — Somalia government and Ethiopian troops advanced toward the country’s capital Tuesday as Islamic fighters retreated, bloodied by a week of artillery and mortar attacks but promising a “new phase” in the war — a chilling pronouncement from a movement that has threatened suicide attacks.

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said he had been given unconfirmed reports that as many as 1,000 people had died and 3,000 were wounded.

    “Some of them are Somalis, but a very significant proportion of them are not Somalis,” Meles told reporters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, referring to foreign Islamic radicals who have reportedly joined the fighting.

    Meles said his forces, which entered Somalia in large numbers Saturday, have completed about half their mission.

    “As soon as we have accomplished our mission — and about half of our mission is done, and the rest shouldn’t take long — we’ll be out,” Meles said. He said there are only 3,000-4,000 Ethiopian troops in Somalia — “but no more.”

  • kinda reminds me of what the US said to Israel about Lebanon ~ candy

    US defends Ethiopian attacks in Somalia, urges ‘maximum’ restraint
    22 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States defended Ethiopia’s attacks on Islamists in Somalia that have reportedly claimed more than 1,000 lives but urged the Ethiopian government to exercise “maximum restraint” in its intervention.

    “Ethiopia has genuine security concerns with regard to developments within Somalia and has provided support at the request of legitimate governing authority — the Transitional Federal Institutions,” State Department spokesman Gonzo Gallegos told reporters.

    But he said the United States “urged and continue to urge the Ethiopian government to exercise maximum restraint in intervening or responding to developments in Somalia and to assure the protection of civilians.

    “The United States remains concerned by the deteriorating security situation and the humanitarian impact of this fighting in Somalia,” said Gallegos, as Ethiopia claimed its forces backing the weak Somali government had dealt a massive blow to Islamists, forcing them to retreat after days of battles.

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi claimed Tuesday that days of fighting had left more than 1,000 dead, saying he was halfway to a decisive victory in Somalia.

    The figure could not be independently confirmed as the Islamists have claimed killing hundreds.

    The weak Somali government holds only one major town, Baidoa, in the southern central region, while the Islamic Court Union fighters in June seized the capital Mogadishu from warlords and then extended their control over south and central Somalia.

    Somali government fighters began to advance against the Islamist movement after Ethiopian warplanes bombed Mogadishu airport and other airfields to cut supply lines.

    Mainly Christian Ethiopia justified intervention on the grounds that the Islamists represent a direct threat to its own security and sovereignty, and has aligned with Washington in linking their radical leaders with the Al-Qaeda terror network.

    Gallegos warned that “no Somali party should use external actors as an excuse to avoid further dialogue.

    He did not identify them but Meles had said the “enemy” included “many Eritrean troops, international jihadists and Shebab (youth militias).”


    Africa: US Arms Sales Increase
    October 17, 2006 01:00 PM EST

    The United States has dramatically increased its involvement and arms sales to the Horn of Africa and East Africa in the last three years. In addition, the United States will soon consolidate it focus on Sub-Sahara Africa by unifying the military command structure.

    US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has given initial approval to create a unified Africa Military Command.

    This consolidates the current split command structure of the US European Command controlling most of Africa, and the Central Command directing US military activities in Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya into a single command.

    Direct US arms sales to East Africa and the Horn of Africa countries—Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda Uganda and Zambia–have increased from under one million dollars
    in 2003 to over $25 million in 2006.

    Djibouti leads the list with nearly $20 million in direct
    arms purchases in 2005 and 2006.

    However, Ethiopia also shows a dramatic increase of arms purchases. In 2006, an estimated eight million dollars of weapons will be directly sold and with another five million dollars estimated in 2007. This is an increase from only $250,000 in 2005 and $750,000 in 2003.


  • What does winning mean to Ethiopia? Even if they drive them into Ethiopia staying? ~ candy

    Dec. 26, 2006

    Ethiopian forces march to oust Islamist leadership in Somalia

    By Mahad Elmi and Jonathan S. Landay
    McClatchy Newspapers

    MOGADISHU, Somalia — Government troops backed by ground and air forces from neighboring Ethiopia swept toward the Somali capital of Mogadishu Tuesday as lightly armed Islamic fighters beat what their leadership called a tactical retreat and announced preparations for a long war.

    Christian-led Ethiopia claimed that its forces were halfway toward defeating the militias of the Council of Islamic Courts, a loose clan-based alliance of Muslim leaders that holds Mogadishu and had controlled most of southern Somalia.

    But the Courts’ threat of waging a lengthy conflict raised the prospect that its fighters could bog Ethiopian forces down in a bloody insurgency bolstered by foreign jihadists. That could further destabilize the strategic Horn of Africa.


    The United States, which accuses the Courts of being in league with al-Qaida, sent its strongest signal since Africa’s newest war erupted a week ago that it supported Ethiopia’s military intervention.

    “Ethiopia has genuine security concerns with regard to developments within Somalia and has provided support at the request of the legitimate government authority,” State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said in Washington. “We have urged and continue to urge the Ethiopian government to exercise maximum restraint in intervening or responding to developments in Somalia and to assure the protection of civilians.”

    Ismail Hurre, the foreign minister of Somalia’s U.N.-recognized Transitional Federal Government, said in a telephone interview from Nairobi, Kenya, that he was “sure” that U.S. surveillance aircraft were providing intelligence to Ethiopia.

    Pentagon officials couldn’t be reached immediately for comment.


  • U.S. Signals Backing for Ethiopian Incursion Into Somalia

    Published: December 27, 2006

    WASHINGTON, Dec. 26 — The United States on Tuesday signaled its support for the Ethiopian offensive in Somalia, calling it a response to “aggression” by Islamists who have since the summer been consolidating power in the country.

    A spokeswoman for the State Department, Janelle Hironimus, said Ethiopia was trying to stem the flow of outside arms shipments to the Islamists. Ms. Hironimus added that Washington was concerned about reports that the Islamists were using child soldiers and abusing Ethiopian prisoners of war.

    The statement was the most detailed by the United States since last week, when the long-simmering tension between Ethiopia and Somalia boiled over.

    Ethiopia has long been a strong ally of Washington in the Horn of Africa. The American military has for years trained Ethiopian troops at bases in the eastern region. The training is part of a Pentagon effort to build the Ethiopian military into a bulwark against regional terrorist networks.

    The Ethiopian military presence in Somalia, while tacitly blessed by Washington, has nonetheless been awkward for American officials. They have publicly urged a return to peace talks by warring Somali factions, but some officials have also said an Ethiopian invasion could be the only factor to prevent the Islamists’ complete takeover of Somalia.

    On Tuesday, a day after an Ethiopian jet strafed the airport in Mogadishu, the capital, the State Department issued internal guidance to staff members, instructing officials to play down the invasion in public statements.

    “Should the press focus on the role of Ethiopia inside Somalia,” read a copy of the guidelines that was given to The New York Times by an American official here, “emphasize that this is a distraction from the issue of dialogue between the T.F.I.’s and Islamic courts and shift the focus back to the need for dialogue.” T.F.I. is an abbreviation for the weak transitional government in Somalia.

    “The press must not be allowed to make this about Ethiopia, or Ethiopia violating the territorial integrity of Somalia,” the guidance said.

  • New York Times, By Jeffrey Gettleman, Dec 28

    NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec. 27 — The Islamist forces who have controlled much of Somalia in recent months suddenly vanished from the streets of the capital, Mogadishu, residents said Wednesday night, just as thousands of rival troops massed 15 miles away.

    In the past few days, Ethiopian-backed forces, with tacit approval from the United States, have unleashed tanks, helicopter gunships and jet fighters on the Islamists, decimating their military and paving the way for the internationally recognized transitional government of Somalia to assert control.

    Even so, the Islamists, who have been regarded as a regional menace by Ethiopia and the United States, had repeatedly vowed to fight to the death for their religion and their land, making their disappearance that much more unexpected.

    Fortified checkpoints across the city — in front of the radio station, at the airport, at the main roads leading into Mogadishu and outside police stations — were abruptly abandoned Wednesday night, residents said.

    Many of the teenage troops who made up the backbone of the Islamist army had blended back into the civilian population, walking around without guns or their trademark green skullcaps.

    The sudden reversal left it unclear whether a war that had threatened to consume the Horn of Africa had quickly ended, or the Islamists had merely gone underground, preparing to wage a guerrilla insurgency, as some leaders had threatened.

    “The whole city is just waiting,” said Sheik Ahmed Shiro, a Koranic teacher in Mogadishu.

    Mohammed Ibrahim and Yuusuf Maxamuud contributed reporting from Mogadishu.

  • Somali PM, government to relocate in Mogadishu: spokesman

    NAIROBI, Dec 28, 2006 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi and the entire cabinet will move base to the capital Mogadishu after the withdrawal of the Union of Islamic Courts which had ruled the city since June, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

    “It is not only the prime minister but the entire government, the entire cabinet, members of parliament and assistant ministers. They will go to Mogadishu to organize the population to welcome the Somali forces,” Abdirahman Dinari, government spokesman told Xinhua by telephone from Somalia.

    “The cabinet and the members of parliament are now in Mogadishu,” said Awad Ashareh, a Somali lawmaker and the Chairman of the Parliamentary Information Committee.

    “The committee is working on establishing administrative structures for Mogadishu, they have identified local officials and would appoint a governor for Mogadishu,” said Ashareh.

    Analysts predicted a power vacuum in Mogadishu on Thursday after the Islamic courts abandoned the capital to flee from advancing Somalia government troops.

    “The government troops are poised to take over Mogadishu. I can hear sporadic shooting from where I am standing but I do not know from where,” a foreign correspondent in Mogadishu told Xinhua on phone.

    But the Somali government said calm had returned to Mogadishu and the government had engaged the Somali people in preparations for the grand entry of the Somali troops. more

    This could be hopeful or the transitional goverment is committing suicide. If they don’t have enough force to project to keep the calm the city will dissove again. Not only that they have to show force through the whole country. Even with AU forces I don’t see that happening. If they keep Ethiopian troops in the country they will never be able to rule. With the Islamics blending back in to the claans the chances for suicide bombings are high. I think they will be going after govt members and supporters in Somalia, Ethiopians and no doubt any and all Ethiopians and US interests. one by one…..

    Somali Islamists change tactics – All forces loyal to Somalia’s Union of Islamic Courts abandoned the capital, Mogadishu, late on Wednesday night in what it says is a change of tactics.

    “We have taken the decision to leave Mogadishu because of the safety of the civilians,” the deputy head of the Islamic courts executive council, Abdi-Rahman Janqow, said as Ethiopian-backed government troops advanced towards to the city.

    “All of our troops have withdrawn. They are now heading to somewhere they think they can fight with their enemy and kill them one by one without fighting among the civilians”, he added.

    “you can disagree without being disagreeable” ~ Gerald Ford

  • AFGOYE – Ethiopian-backed government troops on Thursday entered northern Mogadishu hours after Islamists abandoned the city they had controlled for six months, the country’s premier and residents said.

    “We are already inside Mogadishu in some areas,” Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi told reporters in Afgoye township, about 20 kilometres (13 miles) west of the capital.

    Mogadishu residents in the Suuqaholaha district confirmed the troops had entered into the city from the north, where one said that crowds cheered the government forces he saw accompanied by Ethiopian soldiers.

    “I saw government troops in north Mogadishu. They have fully entered the town. People were cheering and shouting that ‘Welcome our government’,” said Nur Dirie, another resident

  • Somalia: ICU leaders resign as Ethiopian army nears the capital
    Wed. December 27, 2006 03:18 pm.

    Mohamed Abdi Farah

    (SomaliNet) The top leaders of Islamic Courts Union in the capital have announced on Wednesday that they resigned and are ready to hand over the administration to the people in Mogadishu to avoid destruction and bloodshed in the city.

    After having crucial and urgent meeting tonight in the capital, the leaders of executive and Shura councils of Islamic Courts Union and deputy leader of executive council of ICU, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed and Sheik Abdirahman Janaqow resigned and issued a joint press statement over the current situation in Somalia particular in Mogadishu.

    Sheik Janaqow read out the statement through the local media saying:

    “Since the Islamic Courts Union came to the power in Somalia, it did a lot of significant acts to the people, particular in terms of security, justice, country’s development, improving the inner and outside politics, reopening the air and sea ports and so on,” said in the statement.

    The ICU said also in the press release that foreign powers have invaded the country therefore to avoid devastation and fighting inside the capital, the Islamic Courts Union now agreed on the following decisions:

    1. It is national duty to protect the sovereignty and the integrity of Somalia and its people.

    2. The ICU allows that Somalis should have the option to determine their future and would be ready for taking over the responsibility.

    3. The Islamic Courts Union agreed not to allow anyone to create violence in Mogadishu and anybody that is found guilty would be brought before the law and would be taken for the suitable punishment according to the Islamic Sharia.

    4. The ICU fighters are responsible for establishing the security and stability in the Somalia capital Mogadishu.

    5. Lastly, the ICU is calling on all the Islamic fighters in whereever they are in Somalia to secure the stability and get ready in the police stations and other security stations.

    The Islamic officials in the capital stressed that it is shame and misfortune that Somalia will again loss their security and peace in which they were brought from starting village, town, city and to country.

    “you can disagree without being disagreeable” ~ Gerald Ford

  • Seems like they learned the lessons of the last five years all too well. They just leveraged themselves from a scrappy light infantry force unable to mount an effective defense against conventional forces into an insurgency – and they didn’t even bother to put up much more than a token fight first.

    Cavalry used to be horses. Then it was tanks. Then it was AirCav (helicopters). The main thing that was thought to characterize cavalry was swift mobility – and even with obvious changes in what “swift” meant, the traditional military was slow to adopt the new definition. There were still mounted or horse-drawn units in some militaries in WWII.

    But suppose you define “cavalry” not by its mobility but by its function – the ability to quickly mount a strike to exploit an enemy’s vulnerabilities and melt away. The speed that they move at isn’t the metric, it’s the ability to perform that function.

    When a force transforms within three days before your eyes from relatively weak light infantry into an insurgency, maybe they’ve dropped one “light infantry” card into the bin and pulled out a great big handful of “cavalry” cards in exchange.

    [edited to add – if it’s true that they’ve now been pried free of their embedding in an urban populace, they’ve now got the “worst of both worlds” – lacking traditional military strength for a toe-to-toe fight, they surrendered one of their sole advantages when they lost the intermingled urban population that would have permitted them to act the role of cavalry. Let’s hope they used Che Guevara’s African Safari Adventure as their model 🙂 – ES]

  • Somali parliament to declare martial law

    December 29, 2006 – 6:59AM

    Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamad Gedi says the country’s parliament will declare martial law on Saturday for a period of three months.

    “This country has experienced anarchy and in order to restore security we need a strong hand, especially with freelance militias,” he told reporters in Mundul Sharey, his home village, some 40km southwest of Mogadishu.

    It was Gedi’s first visit to his village since 2002 and came hours after Ethiopian troops and Somali government forces pushed Islamist fighters out of the capital they had controlled for six months.

    Earlier, Somali government forces and their Ethiopian allies marched into Mogadishu after Islamist rivals abandoned the war-scarred city they had held for six months.

    The flight of the Islamists was a dramatic turn-around in the volatile Horn of Africa nation after they took Mogadishu in June and spread across the south imposing sharia rule.

    Terrified of yet more violence in a city that has become a byword for chaos, some Mogadishu residents greeted the arriving government troops, while others hid.

    “People are cheering as they wave flowers to the troops,” said resident Abdikadar Abdulle, adding scores of government military vehicles had passed the Somalia National University west of the city centre.

    Parts of Mogadishu shook with the sound of gunfire and there were outbreaks of looting after leaders of the Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) fled its base early in the morning. Some fighters ditched their uniforms to avoid reprisals.

    “We have been defeated. I have removed my uniform. Most of my comrades have also changed into civilian clothes,” one former SICC fighter told Reuters. “Most of our leaders have fled.”

    The fall of Mogadishu came about 10 days after the Islamists sought to march on the government base of Baidoa. That prompted Ethiopia to come openly into the war, proving the decisive factor in saving the government and pushing back the Islamists.

    But it was unclear what the SICC’s next step would be, and analysts feared they could launch a protracted guerrilla campaign. Experts also questioned whether the weak Somali government could maintain security if the Ethiopians left.

    “The idea that the Ethiopians can just bring this government from outside, plonk it down in the capital and walk away and everything will be solved, I think that’s very, very unrealistic,” Richard Dowden, director of the Royal African Society, told Sky News in London.


    “you can disagree without being disagreeable” ~ Gerald Ford

  • Toppled Islamists had brought stability to region long ruled by feuding warlords

    PAUL KORING, The Globe and Mail, Dec 29

    WASHINGTON — The toppling of the Islamic Courts regime isn’t likely to bring peace to war-ravaged Somalia, one of Africa’s most impoverished countries, nor eliminate a haven for al-Qaeda.

    As Islamist fighters in Mogadishu either fled the advancing Ethiopian-backed government forces or shaved their beards and discarded skullcaps to blend in with the fearful population yesterday, the long see-sawing of power in Somalia seemed to have tipped in favour of Washington, which supported those who toppled the regime.

    But analysts fear that the White House’s recent interventionist interest in a place best remembered by Americans for the violence and humiliation depicted in Black Hawk Down may actually boost Islamic extremism, not limit it.

    “It’s a lose-lose situation,” said Karin von Hippel, co-director of the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies.

  • By Les Neuhaus, Dec 29

    MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somalia’s prime minister entered the capital Mogadishu on Friday in a visit meant to symbolize the government’s victory over Islamic rivals, a day after the militias abandoned the battle-scarred city.

    Greeted by hundreds of cheering residents, Ali Mohamed Gedi drove into northern Mogadishu in a heavily armed convoy of 22 vehicles, as trucks fitted with loudspeakers roamed the city. Mogadishu has been controlled for the last six months by Islamic militias trying to establish a government based on the Quran, but the fighters abandoned the city on Thursday.

    Several thousand demonstrators took to the streets to protest the presence of Ethiopian troops, throwing stones, burning tires and using cars to block a main road.

    Earlier, Ethiopian troops aboard tanks fired warning shots into the air after dozens of young men threw stones at Mr. Gedi’s convoy. The men had been trying to block the convoy of about 300 soldiers travelling though a former Islamic stronghold, 17-year-old student Najiib Aden Muse said, adding that the youths were chanting, “Ethiopian invaders go home.”

  • Somali Islamists vow to fight on as government holds talks with clans

    · Protests in Mogadishu at role of Ethiopian forces
    · Reliance on warlords weakens administration

    Xan Rice in Nairobi
    Saturday December 30, 2006
    The Guardian

    Somali Islamist leaders vowed yesterday to continue fighting against pro-government forces yesterday even as Ethiopian MiG fighter jets buzzed over Kismayo, their last stronghold.

    The Islamists fled from Mogadishu, 260 miles north of Kismayo, on Thursday after being surrounded by Ethiopian troops and fighters loyal to the Somali government. Hassan Dahir Aweys and Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the top two Islamist leaders, were joined in the southern port city by several thousand militiamen and scores of “technicals” – pick-up trucks with machine guns mounted on the back.

    Article continues
    “We will not run away from our enemies,” Mr Ahmed, head of the executive committee of the Somali Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC), told Associated Press. “We will stay in Somalia.”


    Ethiopia, which fought two wars against Somalia in the 1960s and 1970s and which accuses the Islamists of being terrorists, is even more widely reviled. In what may be an early sign of trouble to come, several thousand people staged angry demonstrations against Ethiopia’s role, burning tyres and throwing stones in at least two neighbourhoods, according to agency reports.

    “We do not need and clearly we do not welcome Ethiopian forces here or anywhere in Somalia,” Muhamoud Abdi, a local resident, told Agence France Presse.

    Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian prime minister, has repeatedly stated that his forces would withdraw swiftly from Somalia – within “weeks” he said on Thursday night. However, this is unlikely to happen. Mr Zenawi has already broken his pledge that Ethiopian troops would not enter Mogadishu.

    Without Ethiopia’s firepower, the Somali government may not be able to keep control of the territory it has captured in the past week of fighting.

    Furthermore, Mr Yusuf’s fractured administration has no money – ministers’ salaries and transport costs are paid by the United Nations – and no capacity to administer a city such as Mogadishu, let alone an entire country. Its strategy of using “friendly” warlords – many of whom were kicked out by the Islamists – to help in the short term is unlikely to increase its support among the population.

    Even if the Islamists are routed in Kismayo, analysts say that the potential for a long-running guerrilla-style conflict remains. Many of the SCIC fighters did not flee south from the capital but simply melted back into the population, discarding their uniforms but not their guns. The hardline fighters, particularly the Shabaab youth wing, who are well trained and highly committed, may see an insurgency as the ideal outlet for their ambitions. And countries such as Eritrea, which backed the Islamists as a way of agitating against its arch-foe Ethiopia, are unlikely to stop their meddling, analysts say.,,1980063,00.html

    “you can disagree without being disagreeable” ~ Gerald Ford

  • Mike Pflanz, The Telegraph

    Nairobi, Kenya, Jan 1 – ETHIOPIAN tanks were rolling south through Somalia yesterday for a showdown with the hardline Islamists driven from power in a 10-day military offensive.

    As the military convoy headed towards the southern port city of Kismayo, the last stronghold of the Union of Islamic Courts, Ethiopian fighter jets flew overhead. The Somali interim Government and its Ethiopian allies have said they aim to crush the Islamic movement, which took control of much of southern Somalia.

    Hundreds of people have died during the campaign, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and more fighting was expected. A Somali government soldier said the Islamists — accused by Addis Ababa and Washington of being backed by al-Qaeda — had laced the highway from Mogadishu with mines as they pulled back.

    The Islamic Courts’ leaders, pushed from power in Somalia by Ethiopia’s lightning offensive last week, have warned that they will wage a guerilla war against the new Government. Since the capital, Mogadishu, fell on Thursday, Islamist leaders have been regrouping in Kismayo, which is under control of Hassan al-Turkiye, a hardline Islamist.

  • AP Interview: Former warlord calls government control of Somali capital an illusion

    MOGADISHU, Somalia: (AP) Dec 29, Mohamed Qanyare Afrah was once among the handful of warlords who ruled this city. For more than 10 years, he had thousands of militiamen under his control, keeping an iron grip on the southern part of Somalia’s seaside capital.

    With no effective government in Somalia, Afrah and warlords like him acted as Mogadishu’s leaders, judges, jailers and executioners, until they were driven from the capital by Islamic militants six months ago.

    Last week, a newly powerful Somali government retook Mogadishu, with the help of Ethiopian troops. And now, Afrah is back — suggesting that the age of the warlords may not quite be over.

    “I have 1,500 militiamen under my control,” Afrah told The Associated Press on Sunday from the home he returned to on Friday, a compound teeming with weapons, including 12 armored vehicles mounted with double-barreled anti-aircraft guns. “And why not? An angry man is an angry man. We need to protect ourselves.”

  • NYT, By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN, Published: December 31, 2006

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Dec. 31 — As fighting began to flare up today around Kismayo, the final redoubt for Somalia’s diminished Islamic movement, elders within the city demanded that the Islamists leave.

    Mohammed Arab, a leader of the Ogaden sub-clan, said 36 elders of various clans and sub-clans met over the weekend with Islamist leaders and tried to persuade them that resisting the huge Ethiopian-backed force heading toward them would be futile.

    “We told them that they were going to lose,” Mr. Arab said, “and that our city would get destroyed.”

    Kismayo, a scenic harbor town along the Indian Ocean that was once part of the fabled East African spice empire, had been spared the fighting so far.

    But the Islamists, according to Mr. Arab, did not care.

    “These guys are bent on war,” he said.

  • Reuters, January 1

    Somali residents say the Islamist militia have retreated from the key southern port of Kismayu, surrendering control of their last remaining stronghold in the country, and retreating south towards the Kenyan border.

    Ethiopian troops, who are backing Somalia’s transitional government, are now said to be advancing on the port, after shelling several thousand Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) fighters with mortars and rockets at their frontline in Jilib on Sumday.

    Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi told reporters in Mogadishu his government had regained control of the port.

    “Kismayo is already in the hands of the government,” he said.

  • Somali PM orders complete disarmament across country
    Mogadishu, Jan. 1 (AP): Somalia’s Prime Minister on Monday ordered all Somalis to hand over their weapons within three days.

    Ali Mohamed Gedi also offered an amnesty to Islamic fighters fleeing their last major stronghold toward the Kenyan border, if they gave themselves up, but stressed there would be no amnesty for the leaders of the militant Islamic group.

    The Prime Minister told journalists that Somalia’s infamous warlords and clan militias must also abide by the order to give up weapons, which comes into effect Tuesday. “If they fail to heed the orders of the government, the government will forcefully extract weapons from them,” he said.

    From Tuesday, people have three days to hand in their weapons voluntarily, Gedi told a news conference in the recently captured capital, Mogadishu.

    “The warlord era in Somalia is now over,” Gedi said, vowing to chase down hard-line fighters fleeing a 13-day onslaught led by the Ethiopian army.

    “I am appealing to the international community and aid agencies to provide assistance to those people in the regions affected by the war and the flooding before that,” Gedi added. He also repeatedly called for an African Union peacekeeping force.

    “you can disagree without being disagreeable” ~ Gerald Ford

  • Somali Islamists say refuse govt amnesty offer
    02 Jan 2007 17:50:00 GMT

    MOGADISHU, Jan 2 (Reuters) – Somali Islamists on Tuesday said they refused a government offer to surrender after a two week war that drove them out of their strongholds.

    “We cannot accept the government offer for surrender,” Islamist spokesman Abdirahim Ali Mudey told Reuters by phone from a hideout.

    “If the world thinks we are dead, they should know we are alive. We will rise out of the ashes.”

  • ANALYSIS-Somali Islamists fought wrong kind of war
    02 Jan 2007 16:18:26 GMT
    Source: Reuters

    By C. Bryson Hull

    MOGADISHU, Jan 2 (Reuters) – Somalia’s Islamists suffered rapid defeat against Ethiopian troops and their Somali government allies because they fought the wrong kind of war — a conventional one, experts said on Tuesday.

    But the slaughter of their forces on Somalia’s low bushlands and arid wastes, followed by a hasty retreat from the capital Mogadishu and later the key southern port of Kismayu, may portend the start of a campaign of bombings and assassinations.

    After systematically defeating warlords in more than four months of fighting for Mogadishu, the Islamists won credit for producing one of the most disciplined military forces in Somalia since the Cold War heyday of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

    “Taking on the Ethiopians in a conventional war, fighting these set-piece battles, was a tactical mistake for the courts,” said independent Somalia analyst Matt Bryden.

    The gunmen of the Somali Islamic Courts Council (SICC) chose to fight the joint Somali-Ethiopian forces, packing the support of tanks, helicopter gunships and jets, on front lines spread across flat terrain with only rudimentary cover.

    “I think the Islamists were on a roll and overconfident … against a competent, professional military force like the Ethiopians,” said a military expert and combat veteran who follows Somalia and is not authorised to speak to the press.

    Ethiopia has demonstrated its military power in the Horn of Africa before, sending troops to attack the militant Somali group al-Itihaad al-Islaami several times from 1992 to 1998, and combating Eritrea in a 1998-2000 border war that killed 70,000.

    No independent casualty figures are available from Ethiopia’s latest war, but the Somali government estimates its fighters and the Ethiopians killed several thousand Islamists.

    A Reuters reporter saw about two dozen dead Islamist fighters in Moode Moode, 12 km (7.5 miles) east of Baidoa, their bodies arrayed a few metres apart along trails through the thorny brush — evidence of a one-sided fight.


    The ideological motivation of the SICC — which wanted to impose a harsh form of sharia, Islamic law — was thought to have given it a decisive edge in the battle for Mogadishu last year. But that evaporated against the Ethiopian military.

    “They realised they were not capable of resisting this sophisticated machine. That is the story of war throughout history. Ideology is not enough to get you through when you are being smashed militarily,” the military expert said.

    But hardcore militants in the SICC’s ranks, whom the United States and United Nations say have links to al Qaeda, may plan to return to the kind of insurgency they practised in Somalia in limited instances before the rise of the SICC.

    Most experts say there is a risk the remaining fighters, especially those with training in bombings, assassinations and sniping, will go underground and use their skills in Ethiopia, Somalia and even Kenya.

    “You don’t go up against tanks and jets and helicopters if you don’t have an offset to them. But there is a greater plan, and we’re just waiting for the rubber band to snap back,” said a security expert who declined to be named.


  • Mogadishu 03, Jan.07 ( Sh.M.Network) -Somalia’s internal affairs minister Hussein Mohammed Farah Aideed has alleged today that his remarks that Ethiopia and Somalia should unite with one passport were distorted by the press on Wednesday.

    He denied that he meant Ethiopia and Somalia should be combined as one nation. “My speech was not as people took it”, he said.

    Speaking at a government meeting participated by the cabinet ministers and the parliament cabinet, Aideed stated:

    “When I said that the boundaries between Ethiopia and Somalia should be wiped out, I did not mean that the two countries should be combined as one country, but I meant that two nations should be more friendly and brotherly to create confidences between the two peoples”, he said.

    He said he did not even mean that Somalis should abandon their passport and take the Ethiopian one. “I meant both nations can have one passport as European countries do”, he said.

    He accused the press of writing all his terms to the opposite. “I never said Somalia must be colonized and I never will”, he added.

    Civil society organizations in the capital asked the international community to bring an immediate peacekeeping force to Somalia to secure the war torn country, Somalia.

  • Intricate mix of clans and grievances
    By Edmund Sanders, Times Staff Writer
    January 3, 2007

    MOGADISHU, SOMALIA — The collapse last week of the Islamic Courts Union in Mogadishu is reviving old clan rivalries that experts say will play a key role in Somalia’s future. The following is a primer on the nation’s clans.

    There are six main clans and minority groups, and dozens of subclans.

    Hawiye, the largest by number, are historically based in central Somalia and the capital, Mogadishu, though, like most clans, can be found all over the country. Darod are found in Puntland in the north, as well as being from the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, though many also live in the south.

    Rahanweyn are found in Lower Shabelle, Baidoa and other areas. Dir, including Isaak, are mainly in Somaliland, a self-declared republic that broke from Somalia in 1991. The Jarer and Banadiri are smaller and often work together to boost their clout.

    The 1991 collapse of Mohamed Siad Barre’s regime sparked clan wars, with large and more powerful groups attacking smaller rivals.

    At the same time, there were intraclan conflicts involving Hawiye and Darod in Mogadishu and Kismayo. The conflicts led to a massive “reclanization,” as Somalis resettled to be closer to their traditional clan base for protection.

    Barre was a member of the Darod. His subclan dominated Mogadishu and its resources. After 1991, Hawiye tribes, working with Darod subclans who opposed Barre, invaded the capital and drove out some Darod subclans and other clans, seizing land, homes and property.

    Many of those grievances have yet to be resolved.

    Transitional President Abdullahi Yusuf is a Darod. Before he became president, he led his clan’s fighters in civil war clashes against Hawiye. Many Hawiye fear he will use his position to seek retribution.

    The Islamic Courts Union temporarily unified various clans under Islam. But even before the alliance collapsed, familiar clan rivalries were beginning to emerge because nearly all of the courts officials were Hawiye.

    The Hawiye clan is divided into many subclans whose rivalries often surpass the tensions between Darod and Hawiye.

    Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi, a former professor of veterinary medicine who lived in Ethiopia, won his job in part because he comes from an important Hawiye subclan in Mogadishu, but many in the group do not support him, leading to credibility problems.

    His subclan is seen as being one of the two most antagonistic toward the transitional government. The second is the Hawiye subclan of Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, former chairman of the Islamic courts. Both subclans are thought to be heavily armed and reluctant to heed the government’s call to disarm.

  • Updated Thu. Jan. 4 2007 6:34 AM ET

    MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Remnants of Somalia’s Islamic movement still pose a threat in the capital, the interior minister said Thursday, days after his government’s and Ethiopian troops chased most of the militiamen from Mogadishu.

    “There are 3,500 Islamists hiding in Mogadishu and the surrounding areas and they are likely to destabilize the security of the city,” Interior Minister Hussein Aideed told journalists at a news conference. Aideed did not explain the source of his information or what prompted his comments after Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi said on Tuesday that major fighting had ended and he expected only minor violence ahead.

    At a separate news conference Thursday, Gedi played down the threat and disputed Aideed’s figure of Islamists hiding in the capital but did not offer his own estimate.

    The Islamic movement has declared it would keep fighting, raising the spectre of an Iraq-style guerrilla war.

  • The United States has a right to pursue Somalia’s Islamists, which it believes have ties to international terror networks, the US embassy in Kenya said Thursday. On Wednesday, the US state department said the country has forces off the coast of Somalia and is working with other countries in the region to ensure that Islamists linked to terrorism are not able to flee the country.

    “Counterterrorism is one of the US’ goals in Somalia. We feel we have a right to pursue al-Qaeda terrorists wherever they are,” said Robert Kerr, a counsellor for public affairs at the US embassy in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

    The US has a fleet of boats around the Somali coast that move in from a Combined Joint Task Force base in Djibouti. The patrols often intercepted pirated ships before the rise of the Islamists, who lessened crime in the Horn of Africa country during their six-month rule based on Islamic (Sharia) law.

    Washington had been concerned that the rise of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) in Somalia could turn the country into a refuge for al-Qaeda terrorists. Their leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, is on a US and United Nation terrorist list.

  • Ethiopia launches all-out war on Somalia after UN’s resolution legitimises foreign intervention

    by M A Shaikh
    (Thursday January 04 2007)

    “Unfortunately, the so-called international community has learnt nothing from the defeat of the warlords and the rise of the Islamic Courts to power. The UN, for instance, continues to refer to the warlords as the “federal transitional government” and to Abdullahi Yusuf as “president”. One of the first mistakes was to arrange peace talks between the warlords, masquerading as a federal government, and the victorious Islamic Courts, treated as a rebel group at best, in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. There is, of course, nothing wrong with arranging peace talks, but the warlords should not have been invited to take part. Many Somalis would argue that, instead, they should have been consigned to oblivion, or charged and tried for the crimes they committed while in control of Mogadishu.”

    It seems likely that Somalia will not have peace for the foreseeable future, as war again breaks out between the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and the “interim government” (IG) with the Ethiopian forces entrenched in the region to protect it. Since it is laughable to call the handful of former warlords hiding in Baidoa an ‘interim government’, the current fighting is really only between Ethiopian troops and forces loyal to the Islamic Courts. The corrupt and wealthy warlords, who are backed and funded by the West and the UN, have hired a small number of poor Somalis to play the role of a loyal militia or national force. This explains their resolve to confront the far stronger ICU forces on two fronts near Baidoa when the current clashes broke out.

    The latest round of fighting began on December 19, a few hours after the expiry of a deadline set by the Islamic Courts for the Ethiopian forces to leave the country. The peace agreement, brokered by a European envoy the day before, failed to hold; fighting broke out in two towns near Baidoa – Dynunay, 12 miles to the southeast, and Idanle, 44 miles to the southwest of Baidoa. The Islamic Courts claimed to have captured Idanle on December 21 and Ethiopian troops were rushed there. According to witnesses, more than 500 Ethiopian troops and eight tanks also headed for Bandiradley, a town in central Somalia controlled by the Islamic Courts, who also claimed that Ethiopian troops were on their way to the town of Galkaayo in the north.

    There is little doubt that the Islamic Courts’ forces would have chased the warlords and their hired gunmen out of Baidoa had it not been for the presence of the large number of heavily armed Ethiopian troops. After all, it was only last June that the Islamic Courts drove the interim government out of Mogadishu, the capital, and quickly took possession of most of central and southern Somalia, forcing the retreating warlords to take refuge in Baidoa under Ethiopia’s military protection and the political and diplomatic backing of the UN and western governments, particularly the US.

    As the fighting intensified and the casualties on both sides grew, the Ethiopian government continued to stick to its line that its troops were not present in Somalia and could not, therefore, be said to be involved in the current clashes. All the soldiers it had there were a small number of trainers supplied at the request of the ‘interim federal government’, it insisted, despite the detailed reports of western journalists covering the face-off between “the Ethiopian troops and forces loyal to the Islamic movement.” The reports, mainly by reporters belonging to the BBC World Service, left no doubt that there are thousands of Ethiopian troops in central and southern Somalia engaged in the fighting, using heavy artillery, tanks and even aircraft.

    In fact, one World Service programme broadcast on December 23 (From Our Own Correspondent) gave full details of how the reporter and two Belgian journalists had been dragged out of their car in central Somalia and kicked around by Ethiopian soldiers. The convoy consisted of tanks and heavy artillery, and was guarded by a large number of heavily armed Ethiopian troops. Despite having been kicked by the troops, the reporter sounded happy enough when he said that “we have stumbled on the evidence” of the Ethiopian troops’ heavy involvement. Other accounts from Baidoa by BBC reporters quoted the town’s inhabitants as saying that they had heard and seen Ethiopian war-planes flying over the town on their way to attack the “Islamic militia”.

    However, both Ethiopia and Washington chose to dismiss this clear evidence, with the latter insisting that al-Qa’ida jihadists are responsible for the violence. The US – an old and firm ally of Ethiopia – has military ‘anti-terrorism’ bases in both Ethiopia and neighbouring Djibouti, and values Addis Ababa’s contribution to the US government’s ‘war on terrorism’. Washington has Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the header of the Islamic Courts Union, on its list of terrorists, and like Addis Ababa wants to see the Islamic Courts wiped out. The US is now particularly worried that the growing popularity of this movement, which enjoys the full support of the people of Somalia, will also inspire the Somali populations of Ethiopia’s Ogaden region and of Kenya’s Northern Frontier District to resume their demand and struggle for liberation and union with Somalia. But its warlike attitude towards the Islamic Courts Union and its support for Ethiopia’s attacks are so questionable that even the European Union disapproves of its hostile manner to the Islamic movement.

    The EU – taking into account the strong support the Islamic Courts Union enjoys from most Somalis – believes that attacking or ignoring the ICU will not bring peace to the region and will instead ignite a full-scale war. The EU is naturally no friend of Islamic movements and would rather see a secular regime take over power in Mogadishu. But they realise that hostility to the Islamic Courts and support for the warlords in Baidoa will lead to war rather than peace. The people of Somalia would rather fight Ethiopia and its Somali agents and will not accept an externally imposed settlement.

    There is in fact strong evidence that most Somalis are against the ‘federal transitional government’, as the Western media have frequently reported and continue to do. To take only one example, the daily Times of London described the extent of this backing in an article on December 22. “The Islamists, who are made up of 11 factions, are strongly supported by ordinary Somalis and the business community for having ended more than 15 years of anarchic and bloody rule by warlords who took over after the fall of the dictator Mohamed Siyad Barre in 1991.”

    The description of the warlords’ rule as anarchic and bloody is no exaggeration. Not only did they encourage clan divisions in order to rule but they were so corrupt and greedy that they even confiscated the houses of residents to sell them or use them to house their own supporters or relatives. They also monopolised trading opportunities, which partly explains why the business community is backing the ICU. Another reason for that backing is the previous state of violence, which brought most business activities to a halt. In fact, the violence adversely affected every walk of life, to the extent that most people became fed up with it and the warlords.

    Despite this, in 2004 the UN appointed the warlords as leaders and members of what it called the ‘federal transitional government’, putting up general Abdullahi Yusuf as ‘president’. Far from being the president of a federal government, Yusuf had declared his region in northern Somalia – mostly populated by members of his own clan –as autonomous and named it Puntland. But by last June the ICU was able to come out of nowhere and build up enough strength, take over Mogadishu and extend its control in the following months to most of central and southern Somalia.

    Unfortunately, the so-called international community has learnt nothing from the defeat of the warlords and the rise of the Islamic Courts to power. The UN, for instance, continues to refer to the warlords as the “federal transitional government” and to Abdullahi Yusuf as “president”. One of the first mistakes was to arrange peace talks between the warlords, masquerading as a federal government, and the victorious Islamic Courts, treated as a rebel group at best, in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. There is, of course, nothing wrong with arranging peace talks, but the warlords should not have been invited to take part. Many Somalis would argue that, instead, they should have been consigned to oblivion, or charged and tried for the crimes they committed while in control of Mogadishu.

    But the ‘international community’ (which in effect means the UN and Western governments) persists in treating the warlord as being in command and therefore the legitimate ruler of Somalia. That is why it is no surprise that the EU sent Louis Michel, the European commissioner for development and humanitarian aid, to both Baidoa and Mogadishu to hold talks with the leaders of the Islamic Courts and the warlords. Michel announced on December 21 that both sides had agreed to an immediate end to the fighting and to peace talks in Khartoum. To their credit the leaders of the Islamic Courts have never said no to any offer of peace talks, insisting that the current fighting is not with the warlords but with the Ethiopian troops. Shaikh Abdurahman Janaqar, the Islamic Courts’ first vice chairman, was reported by the Times on December 22 as saying: “We have given our commitment to attend the peace talks in Khartoum and we will honour that.”

    However, a speech by Sheikh Aweys on the same day, which urged “all Somalis to take part in this struggle against Ethiopia”, was wrongly interpreted in the Western press as scuppering Michel’s initiative. Moreover, a call by the Islamic Courts’ leaders on the Muslim world to join the war against the Ethiopian invaders was interpreted as a call on ‘Islamic terrorists’ to come to Somalia, and as evidence that the ICU has links with Al-Qaida and other terrorist movements.

    But the Islamic Courts won a resounding propaganda victory when Addis Ababa – through its foreign and information minister – said publicly on December 24 that they were invading Somalia to crush the ‘Islamic terrorists’. This confirmed that the Islamic activists are fighting Ethiopian troops, not forces belonging to the warlords. But this is not expected to persuade the US and Ethiopia to abandon their conspiracy to destroy the Islamic movement and place their ill-disguised agents in charge of Somalia.

    It seems certain that instability will continue to blight the lives of the people of Somalia, who are not likely to have peace in the near future.


    by courtesy & © 2007 M A Shaikh
    MMN Recommended Reading

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  • Somali militia attack revives fears

    By Sahal Abdulle

    Thursday, January 04, 2007

    An unidentified photographer takes pictures of weapons handed over to Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government inside a former police training compound in Mogadishu, January 3, 2007. REUTERS/Shabelle Media

    MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Somali gunmen attacked an oil tanker truck near Mogadishu on Thursday, wounding three people and raising fears of a return to the clan violence that had largely stopped during six months of Islamist rule.

    The Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC), which had imposed sharia law across much of the south, abandoned the capital last week to government troops backed by Ethiopian forces.

    Within hours of the Islamists’ departure, militiamen loyal to warlords ousted in June reappeared at checkpoints in the city where they used to rob, rape and murder civilians.

    “The militias fired three RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades). One of them hit us,” the truck driver, who gave his name as Tusbah, told Reuters at the scene, where the charred wreckage of his vehicle lay strewn across a sandy road.

    “They were bandits who wanted money.”

    Dozens of passengers riding on top of the truck fled as the gunmen fired automatic rifles before launching grenades.

    The rapid return of warlords showed how easily Mogadishu could slide back into anarchy.

    The attack in Galgalato, 25 km (15 miles) north of the city center, came on the last day of a three-day government ultimatum for Mogadishu residents and militia to turn in their guns.

    Few have been turned in.

    “I have an AK-47 (Kalashnikov rifle) and a pistol in my house. I will not surrender them because I do not see any trustworthy person to give them to,” said one resident, who declined to be named.

    “People have started burying their weapons. Others have transported their heavy weapons outside Mogadishu.”

    Deputy Defense Minister Salad Ali Jelle said forcible disarmament would begin at the weekend.

    “We will start sweeping and collecting the weapons from Saturday,” he said. But a government source said this was yet to be finalized.


  • January 4, 2007
    Somali Government Compound Hit by Grenade

    KISMAYO, Somalia, Jan. 4 — A hand grenade was tossed into a government compound today in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, in yet another sign of a growing insurgency as security seems to be unraveling across the country.

    Just days after Ethiopian-led troops helped rout Somalia’s once powerful Islamist forces and install a new government in the capital, violence is surging in the form of anti-government attacks and increased banditry, both of which were mostly unheard of during the Islamists’ short-lived reign.

    Witnesses said that shortly after nightfall, a man in a pickup truck flung a grenade over a wall and into a compound that housed Ethiopian and government soldiers. Apparently, no one was seriously hurt and the pickup truck escaped in a blaze of gunfire.

    In northern Mogadishu, residents said that four people were killed Wednesday night after bandits fired a bazooka at a truck whose driver refused to pay an extortion tax. Unauthorized checkpoints have popped up all over the city, reminiscent of the years of anarchy when clan-based militias carved up Mogadishu and much of the rest of Somalia.

    In Dhagtur, in central Somalia, Shabelle radio reported today that five people, including two children, were killed by a tribal militia during a gun battle. A dispute over a well was cited as the possible cause.


  • This article is full of history and mentions other things in play in Somalia. Its not often that water rights or the fact that Ethiopia is landlocked is mentioned in the press. ~ candy

    Africa Insight: Somalia – Theatre of proxy and hidden agendas

    Story by Peter Kimani
    Publication Date: 1/5/2007

    Somalia’s political future was uncertain this week even as the Transitional Federal Government —installed in Nairobi in 2004 through a controversial collegiate — finally marched to Mogadishu backed by Ethiopian guns.

    The government forces were greeted with jubilation by Mogadishu residents who only six months ago applauded the advent of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) that Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi had sworn to crush, and whom he finally drove out of town under a hail of bullets after two weeks of fighting.

    Triumphant Somali government forces in Bur Haqaba, 60km south of baidoa, last week.

    These contrasting vistas of ballots and bullets underline the complex nature of the Somalia conflict, which is slowly gaining acceptance as an abiding symbol of international intervention failure after 16 years without a central government.

    The latest push for control — the 13th since 1991 when things fell apart after the deposing of dictator Siad Barre — typify the desperation in restoring law and order in a country now reputed as a safe haven for international terrorists.

    much more at The Nation(Kenya)

  • Somalis loath to disarm

    Only a handful turned in weapons by the time a 72-hour amnesty ended Thursday. Tension grips the capital.
    By Rob Crilly | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor


    Hussein Aideed, deputy prime minister and minister for the interior, estimates there are $3 billion worth of guns in Somalia. He says the three-day amnesty was ill-conceived. Some businesses should be licensed to hold weapons legally, and the government needs to find a mechanism to disarm clan rivals simultaneously, he adds.

    “But the prime minister is an academic, not a military man,” Mr. Aideed says in his office at Villa Somalia, which will be the president’s residence once it is safe for the president to come to Mogadishu. “The prime minister has good intentions, but Somalia is not like that.”

    While serving in the government, Aideed was one of the clan-based warlords who controlled a chunk of Mogadishu before losing ground to the Islamic militias this summer.

    His father was the man that US Rangers were trying to capture during the disastrous “Black Hawk Down” episode, in which Somali mobs dragged bodies of dead US soldiers through the streets in 1993.

    At the moment, he has 1,000 police officers for a city of 2.5 million people. He has appealed to some 3,000 former officers to return to work without pay and without guns.

    His entire police arsenal comprises 326 AK-47s – a gift from Yemen to the Somali president for his personal bodyguard.


  • Ethiopian army eager to learn from U.S. soldiers
    By Monte Morin, Stars and Stripes
    Mideast edition, Friday, January 5, 2007

    America’s new puppet

    By its ill-judged invasion of Somalia, Ethiopia has become an accomplice in Bush’s war on terror

    Cameron Duodu
    Friday January 5, 2007
    The Guardian Comment Is Free

    If the 20th century taught us anything, it was that powerful armies can be brought to their knees by small groups of fighters who are not afraid to die. Small Vietnam humiliated mighty America, and the “stone-age” mujahideen of Afghanistan sent the Soviet army packing. With all this so apparent, why has the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, sent his army into Somalia?

    The transitional government had been fighting a civil war against the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). Meles may think the former has the people’s backing, but that poses the question: if it’s so popular, why does it need the Ethiopian army to fight for it?

    Ethiopia fought a war against the Somali government in the late 1970s and early 80s, but there has been peace on the border for over a decade. So Ethiopia cannot point to internal safety concerns in allowing itself to be drawn into invading its neighbour.

    The crisis has now escalated sharply with the deployment of US naval forces to prevent UIC fighters from fleeing, the US claiming that some have ties to terrorist organisations, including al-Qaida.

    The Ethiopian invasion will certainly be resisted by Somali patriots. It will initially be classified as “successful” because it will establish a semblance of law and order. But the routed UIC, although weakened by internal squabbles, will seek safe havens nearby, regroup and woo back its supporters.

    The UIC knows that when faced with a conventional army backed by an airforce, the best option is to disappear into the undergrowth or behind the desert dunes. The Somalis have been “disappearing” like that for centuries, always coming back to harass those who claim to have defeated them.

    The danger this time is that the resistance will draw in other countries. Eritrea, which fought its own costly war with Ethiopia, does not need an invitation to help its enemy’s enemy. The UIC is also said to be receiving financial assistance from rich leaders of sympathetic Islamic sects, drawn from such countries as Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Gulf sheikhdoms. And the most explosive fuel will be the involvement of the US on the side of Ethiopia. General John Abizaid, commander for the US central command, is reported to have visited Ethiopia last month, after which Ethiopia moved from providing the Somali government with “military advice” to open armed intervention.

    The US objective is to safeguard access to the Red Sea for its oil tankers, and to prevent al-Qaida cells being nurtured in Somalia or in Ethiopia, which has a sizeable Muslim minority. Now, by allowing the US to persuade it to invade, Ethiopia has signalled to the Islamic world that it is willing to join the US in its “war on terror”.

    Can Ethiopia afford to be universally regarded as a US puppet? In the African Union (AU) – which has its headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa – US policy is already causing enormous confusion. For months the AU has been trying, unsuccessfully, to persuade the UN security council to bolster the AU force in Darfur, Sudan. Yet within days of Ethiopia’s invasion, the security council, under US instigation, was able to pass a resolution asking for an AU force to be sent to Somalia. Clearly, the US wants to legitimise the invasion by placing it under the umbrella of the very AU that it has humiliated for months.

    As one of the poorest countries on earth, Ethiopia needs to have the solidarity of the “wretched of the earth”. In allowing itself to be associated with George Bush’s foreign policy, it is placing itself on the wrong side of the struggle between the weak and the strong.

    · Cameron Duodu is a Ghanaian novelist and journalist

  • Last Updated: Jan 5th, 2007 – 13:00:14

    Somalia: Puntland forces to assist in Mogadishu disarmament
    5 Jan 5, 2007, 12:57

    MOGADISHU, Somalia Jan 5 (Garowe Online) – Hundreds of soldiers from the northern Somali regional autonomy of Puntland reached the town of Jowhar, 90km northwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, residents reported.

    The forces are estimated to number upto 1,000 strong and are heading for Mogadishu, according to reliable military sources.

    The sources said the Puntland troops would partake in the interim Somali government’s efforts to pacify Mogadishu and disarm the public, after Prime Minister Ali Gedi’s 3-day ultimatum ended without any resident voluntarily surrendering his or her weapons.

    Puntland is the home region of Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf, who had previously deployed a 3,000-strong Puntland force to protect the southwestern Somali city of Baidoa where the government is temporarily based.


  • Ten Somali MPs arrested in Nairobi

    Aweys Osman Yusuf
    Mogadishu 05, Jan.07 ( Sh.M.Network) -Police in the Kenyan capital Nairobi have arrested at least ten Somali MPs. The main reason behind their arrest is still unknown.

    The MPs have reportedly opposed the stay of the Ethiopian troops in Somalia. It is not yet clear if Sharif Hassna Sheik Aden, the Somali parliament speaker, who is also in Nairobi, included the arrested MPs.

    Kenyan police have arrested the men while staying at a Brakat Hotel in Nairobi. More than 20 Somali MPs were reportedly in that hotel.

    Neither the Kenyan nor the Somali governments were available for comments over the incarceration of the Somali MPs.


  • Somalia: Kenya cracks whip as key peace talks are held

    Story by WAHOME THUKU
    Publication Date: 1/6/2007
    Saturday nation-Kenya

    Five Somali MPs were yesterday dragged from their hotel rooms in Nairobi and placed in custody as Kenya continued its hard line against the Islamist militias.

    The MPs were interrogated by immigration officials about their possible links with extremists.

    A Kenya Army soldier keeps watch at a border post near Liboi.Security has been beefed up at the border to check the influx of refugees from Somalia. Photos/Bashkash Jugsuday .

    The arrests came as the world moved to create order in the war-torn country when an international force to restore peace was proposed in Nairobi. The international initiative to deploy foreign troops on the war-shattered country was proposed after a five-hour closed-door meeting that brought together representatives from three continents.

    Those represented included the United States, the European Union and Africa through the Inter-Governemental Authority on Development (Igad).

    But as the diplomats met in Nairobi, the Al- Qaeda terror network of Osama bin Laden told Islamists in Somalia to confront the Ethiopian Army which drove them out of Mogadishu this week. Those arrested in Nairobi were in a list of 26 wanted Somalis who were being hunted by police and immigration officials in an operation that was extended to other areas within the city.

    The morning incident that caught many by surprise was conducted by the Immigration department backed by police. Some of those arrested were taken to the Immigration offices at Nyayo House where they were interrogated.

    However, as the Government mounted the crackdown, members of the Muslim community held a Press conference at Jamia Mosque in Nairobi and asked the State to allow genuine Somali refugees fleeing the conflict in their country to enter Kenya unconditionally.

    Soon after the arrests, Immigration assistant minister Anania Mwaboza said the Government believed the arrested Somalis had information that could lead to the arrest of the Islamists.

    The Nairobi diplomats’ meeting was held under the auspices of the International Somalia Contract Group. It called for urgent funding of the security intervention under a United Nations Security Council resolution.

    But Foreign Affairs minister Raphael Tuju, who chaired the meeting, said Kenya would not be sending troops to Somalia. Mr Tuju, who represented Kenya as the Igad chairman, said he was optimistic that the building up of the stabilisation force from other regional countries would be successful.

    During the meeting, the US government pledged to provide $14 million (about Sh966 million) for peace keeping and another $10 million (Sh690 million) for development and reconstruction of Somalia.

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  • VIEW: Destabilising the Horn —Salim Lone

    The best antidote to terrorism in Somalia is stability. Instead of engaging with the Islamists to secure peace, the United States has plunged a poor country into greater misery

    The stability that emerged in southern Somalia after sixteen years of utter lawlessness is gone, the defeat of the ruling Islamic Courts Union now ushering in looting, martial law and the prospect of another major anti-Western insurgency. Clan warlords, who terrorised Somalia until they were driven out by the Islamists, and who were put back in power by the US-backed and -trained Ethiopian army, have begun carving up the country once again.

    With these developments, the Bush Administration, undeterred by the horrors and setbacks in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, has opened another battlefront in this volatile quarter of the Muslim world. As with Iraq, it casts this illegal war as a way to curtail terrorism, but its real goal appears to be to obtain a direct foothold in a highly strategic area of the world through a client regime. The results could destabilise the whole region.

    The Horn of Africa, at whose core Somalia lies, is newly oil-rich. It is also just miles across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, overlooking the daily passage of large numbers of oil tankers and warships through that waterway. The United States has a huge military base in neighbouring Djibouti that is being enlarged substantially and will become the headquarters of a new US military command being created specifically for Africa. As evidence of the area’s importance, Gen. John Abizaid, the military commander of the region, visited Ethiopia recently to discuss Somalia, while Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Horn countries a few months ago in search of oil and trade agreements.

    The current series of events began with the rise of the Islamic Courts more than a year ago. The Islamists avoided large-scale violence in defeating the warlords, who had held sway in Somalia ever since they drove out UN peacekeepers by killing eighteen American soldiers in 1993, by rallying people to their side through establishing law and order. Washington was wary, fearing their possible support for terrorists. While they have denied any such intentions, some Islamists do have terrorist ties, but these have been vastly overstated in the West.

    Washington, however, chose to view the situation only through the prism of its ‘war on terror’. The Bush Administration supported the warlords — in violation of a UN arms embargo it helped impose on Somalia many years ago — indirectly funnelling them arms and suitcases filled with dollars.

    Many of these warlords were part of the Western-supported transitional ‘government’ that had been organised in Kenya in 2004. But the ‘government’ was so devoid of internal support that even after two years it was unable to move beyond the small western town of Baidoa, where it had settled. In the end, it was forced to turn to Somalia’s archenemy Ethiopia for assistance in holding on even to Baidoa. Again in violation of the UN arms embargo, Ethiopia sent 15,000 troops to Somalia. Their arrival eroded whatever domestic credibility the government might have had.

    The United States, whose troops have been sighted by Kenyan journalists in the region bordering Somalia, next turned to the UN Security Council. In another craven act resembling its post-facto legalisation of the US occupation of Iraq, the Council bowed to US pressure and authorised a regional peacekeeping force to enter Somalia to protect the government and “restore peace and stability”. This despite the fact that the UN has no right under its charter to intervene on behalf of one of the parties struggling for political supremacy, and that peace and stability had already been restored by the Islamists.

    The war came soon after the UN resolution, its outcome a foregone conclusion thanks to the highly trained and war-seasoned Ethiopian army. The African Union called for the Ethiopians to end the invasion, but the UN Security Council made no such call. Ban Ki-moon, the incoming Secretary General, is being urged to treat the enormously complex situation in Darfur as his political challenge, but Somalia, while less complex, is more immediate. He has an opportunity to establish his credentials as an unbiased upholder of the UN Charter by seeking Ethiopia’s withdrawal.

    The Ethiopian military presence in Somalia is inflammatory and will destabilise this region and threaten Kenya, a US ally and the only island of stability in this corner of Africa. Ethiopia is at even greater risk, as a dictatorship with little popular support and beset by two large internal revolts by Ogadenis and Oromos. It is also mired in a military stalemate with Eritrea, which has denied it secure access to seaports. It now seeks such access in Somalia.

    The best antidote to terrorism in Somalia is stability. Instead of engaging with the Islamists to secure peace, the United States has plunged a poor country into greater misery in its misguided determination to dominate the world. —Agence Global

    Salim Lone, a Kenyan whose last assignment in his UN career was as spokesman for the UN mission in Iraq immediately after the 2003 war, is a columnist for the Daily Nation in Nairobi

    dauily Times-pak

  • Ethiopia’s Zenawi: Betting on a losing horse
    Sunday 7 January 2007.

    By Jamal Madar

    Jan 6, 2006 — Meles Zenawi may be celbrating in his palace in Addis Ababa for his lightning victory over the poorly armed and ill-trained forces of Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) but his victory may soon prove to be hollow.

    Zenawi’s US backed war aim was essentially two folds: First, to disrupt or destroy the ruling apparatus of the UIC and, depending on the success of combat operations, decapitate the whole UIC regime. Second, to replace the UIC with the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) headed by Abdillahi Yusuf, which is more receptively attuned to the Ethio-US interests and provide protection to it until such time when it has reasonably attained the capability to defend itself from Islamists.

    Undoubtedly, Zenawi, under instructions from his US benefactor, has succeeded to remove the UIC from power, for the time being at least, but he has not been able to decapitate the UIC. The UIC forces hastily abandoned Mogadishu to spare civilian population from death and destruction and dispersed their militia and heavy weaponry around the country to fight another day. Conversely, the so-called extremist elements within the UIC, which Ethiopia and the US longed to capture or kill, are still out there in the wilderness, thumping their noses at Melez Zenawi.

    As part of its on-going war against what George Bush described as “Islamo fascists”, Washington gave Addis Ababa the green light to invade Somalia and topple the UIC, which it [Washington] views “a new Taliban and al-Qa’ida sympathisers who were turning Somalia into a haven for terrorists including those responsible for the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998,” according to The Australian.

    “Washington encouraged Addis Ababa to go ahead. They provided the same sort of diplomatic cover they did for Israel going into Lebanon last summer, and for similar reasons — to keep a foothold in the region,” said analyst Michael Weinstein according to The Daily Nation.

    The TFG, which Zenawi staked so much of Ethiopia’s credibility, is not only ineffectual and unpopular, but it is also powerless militarily and cannot protect itself from the Islamists without prolonged Ethiopian military presence in Somalia- something, which Zenawi cannot afford at the moment because of the growing ONLF insurgency in the Somali region of Zone 5, his current hostilities with Eritrea coupled with the ever-increasing domestic opposition to his authoritarian rule and the international pressure on Addis Ababa to pull back its troops. Moreover, the perception in the Somali street is that ‘the TFG is nothing more than ‘a motley collection of traitors and mercenaries who are at the beck and call of Meles Zenawi’ and has little or no popular support in the country. Surely, if the TFG had any support among the Somali people, it wouldn’t have needed Ethiopia to fight for it. The only credible support that the TFG has until now comes largely from the heartlands of Abdillahi Yusuf’s hometown- the self-autonomous region of Puntland.

    The TFG may be recognised by some 88 countries but, in the eyes of the Somali people, it is a discredited and reviled government associated with warlords. Most, if not all, of the blood–thirsty warlords who wreaked death and destruction across Mogadishu and its environs for the past one-and-a-half-decades were cabinet ministers that belonged to the TFG.

    These warlords include: former ministers such as Security minister, Mohamed Afrah Qanyare, Trade minister, Muuse Sudi Yalahow, Religious affairs minister, Omar Mohamoud Mohamed and minister for Militia and Rehabilitation, Botan Isse Alin

    Other warlords, without portfolio, inlcude Mohamed Dheere whose reign of terror in Jowhar- the seat of the TFG- put him in collision course with Abdillahi Yusuf and Ali Mohamed Gedi over government’s meagre resources. Eventually, Mohamed Dheere had to kick out the Ethiopian backed TFG from Jowhar forcing the government to flee to Baidao. Ironically, when the Islamists expelled him from Jowhar, Zenawi took Mohamed Dheere to his bosom and trained him and his followers in Feerfeer, Ethiopia.

    Needless to say, these TFG warlord-ministers caused untold misery and mayhem right across the country.

    It was only in June 2006 when the Islamists fully seized control of Mogadishu and defeated the TFG warlord-ministers that Prime Minister Gedi had actually sacked the four ministers in question for their involvement in the Somali bloodshed.

    With the backing of Ethiopia, it is now business as usual for these same warlords. Mohamed Dheere is now back to Jowhar to restore and re-establish his warlord ship. Another warlord, Mohamed Afrah Qanyare, returned to his old hunting ground, Dayniile, Mogadishu, to re-exert his authority in there.

    There is no doubt that the TFG lost its mantle of legitimacy when it allied itself with Ethiopia. It would be hard for the TFG to shrug off its image of subservience to Meles Zenawi as well as its past era of jungle mentality and warlordism.

    On the contrary, the UIC forces brought about peace and stability throughout much of central and southern Somalia. They re-opened Mogadishu airport and seaport for business, both of which closed for more than one-and-a-half decades. They cleaned and collected mountains of garbage from the streets of Mogadishu, restored law and order, expelled all blood-thirsty warlords who killed, maimed and destroyed the lives of thousands upon thousands of Somali people and sold innocent muslim clerics by the dozen to the US as part of the CIA extra-ordinary rendition. The UIC authorities removed all barricades erected by TFG warlord-ministers in the main roads between townships and cities. More importantly, they evicted all squatters who occupied properties owned by other people and returned them back to their rightful owners.

    If there were any blunders and mistakes to which the UIC authorities fell victim, it was that they have over reacted with their approach to certain sensitive and contentious issues, such as the banning of Khat where thousands of people’s livelihoods depended on, their empty rhetorical threats against Ethiopia [though Ethiopia occupied Somali territories] and the break-away republic of Somaliland where they could have won friends rather than enemies.

    Such is the stark difference between the TFG and the UIC. It simply defies the conventional wisdom as to how the people who suffered so much for so many years under the warlord-ministers of the TFG would suddenly welcome back and offer support to their tormentors.

    Given its past record of warlordism and its unholy alliance with Ethiopia, it is hard to imagine how the TFG would ever govern the country without popular support, which is the key to its success. If the past is any guide, the prospect of a protracted guerrilla war tactics against Ethiopia’s occupying forces and its puppet TFG is now a more realistic scenario than ever before. Surely, Zenawi is betting on a losing horse.

    * The author is a Somali-Briton based in London, UK. He can be reached at

  • Somalia ‘key’ in war on terror
    07/01/2007 12:09 – (SA)

    Washington – The rapid deployment of US military forces to track down Islamists fleeing Somalia has highlighted Washington’s conviction that the unstable Horn of Africa region is a key front in its war on terrorism.

    US warships deployed off the coasts of Somalia and neighbouring Kenya at midweek to prevent the escape of Islamic militants still being routed from their last Somali strongholds by Ethiopian-backed government forces.

    The US has also been feeding intelligence gleaned from spy satellites to Ethiopian units hunting for Islamist leaders along the Somalia-Kenya border, Kenyan officials said.

    Washington says the Islamists – leaders of the Islamic Courts movement which gained control of much of Somalia in the final months of last year – include prominent operatives of the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation.

    The top US official for Africa, Jendayi Fazer, went so far as to assert that al-Qaeda had taken control of the courts last June, just as the movement began its lightning drive to take over Somalia, a country without an effective government since 1991.

    A safe haven for terrorism?

    While other US officials and Africa experts have contested the extent of al-Qaeda influence over the Islamic Courts, the meteoric rise of the fundamentalist movement looked like a nightmare come true for governments wary of Somalia becoming a beachhead for radical Islam in Africa.

    “We’re concerned about the Aal-Qaeda threat worldwide, but the fundamental way to address that threat is to give stability to Somalia (and) not have Somalia be a safe haven for terrorism,” Frazer said in Nairobi on Friday.


  • Somalia: Ethiopian soldiers arrest government representative for Hiran province

    Aweys Osman Yusuf
    Mogadishu 07, Jan.07 ( Sh.M.Network) – A number of Ethiopian forces have arrested Muktar Hussein Afrah, the chairman of Hiran province, central Somalia. The arrest reportedly sparked a conflict between the Ethiopian and government officers.

    The Ethiopian soldiers demanded that former Islamist leader for the province should be handed over to them. Farah Moalim Mohomood, an Islamist leader, returned to Hiran provincial main town of Baledweyn a couple of days ago after the government announced it offered an amnesty to former Islamists.

    Witnesses said a large number of Ethiopian troops along with tanks and pick-up trucks mounted with artillery arrived at the town of Baledweyn. They took away the transitional government representative for Hiran, Col. Muktar Hussein.

    Ahmed, a resident in Baledweyn, told Shabelle that col. Muktar showed the Ethiopians a written statement.

    “The statement says that local tribal chiefs, elders and the intellects of the province have declared that Farah Moalim, an Islamist, committed no crimes and that he is among the forgiven Islamists”, he said.

    The Ethiopian troops rebuffed the statement.

    Somalia: Commander says military operations over
    7 Jan 7, 2007, 03:53

    KISMAYO, Somalia Jan 7 (Garowe Online) – A top military commander for the interim Somali government announced on Sunday that “major military operations” were over against the Islamic Courts militia fighters.

    Col. Abdirisak Afgadud, a division commander, said military operations against fleeing Islamist fighters have come to an end after days of skirmishes near the border areas.

    Col. Afgadud also said Islamist fighters who fled to the island of Ras Kamboni, their last stronghold, were removed and government forces had taken control.

    There were no independent reports to verify the commander’s claims.

    But his comments come at a time a leading Islamist financer, Abukar Adani, was detained by Kenyan authorities and other unconfirmed reports suggesting top Islamist leaders might’ve surrendered near the Ethio-Somali border.

    Garowe Online News

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