Jan 25, 2009

Somalia Update

More deaths in Mogadishu. AU peacekeepers retaliated with heavy artilary to an Al-Shabab suicide bombing in Mogadishu yesterday, the result: more than 20 civilians dead and 30 more injured. The minaret of one of the more famous mosques in Mogadishu, Sheik Ali Sufi mosque, was damaged by an artilary shell.

Al-Shabab, and other Islamist militias, made it clear they will continue fighting the African Union peacekeepers despite the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from Mogadishu. Now, the 3000 AU peacekeepers are trapped in Mogadishu, attacked by Al-Shabab and despised by the population. Their presence in Mogadishu has only made the situation worse and the question is: what peace are they suppose to keep? Not only is there no peace, there is no political process that could lead to peace - at least not anytime soon.

The government has virtually collapsed but there now sign it might be resurructed. Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the former leader of the Union of Islamic Courts, had signed a power-sharing deal with the government few months ago - it was never implemented, until now.

The opportunity came when former president Abdullah Yusuf, who had opposed the power-sharing deal, resigned. Now Sharif Ahmed, prime minister Nur Adde, speaker of the parliament Adan Madobe and MPs are gathering in Djibouti to select a new president and form a new government that includes Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's Islamist supporters. The talks in Djibouti is sponsored by the UN and has the support of the international community, or so it seems.

Back in Somalia, Al-Shabab and Ras Kamboni brigades reject the legitimacy of the government, even if other Islamists join it and say they will continue fighting as long as foreign troops are present in Somalia. They control large part of southern Somalia including the strategic port city of Kismayo and are heavily present in Mogadishu.

The Ethiopians are still around, too. Barre Hirale, a veteran warlord, told BBC Somali radio that he is heading to Kismayo with his militia along with Ethiopian troops to fight Al-Shabab. Hirale was chased out of Kismayo in 2006 by the Union of Islamist Courts and in 2008 by Al-Shabab, and twice more before that. He is one of a number groups that had been armed by Ethiopia in anticipation of their withdrawal.

Ethiopian had troops inside Somalia since 1996, backing and arming warlords - and Eritea has been doing the same, too. For Ethiopia and Eritrea are back in the business of proxy wars, in Somalia.


Anonymous said...

I'm not quite sure I understand the comlexity of the conflict in Somalia. It seems that there are several groups or factions fighting for political power and influence in the country. Africa is plagued by in-fighting, gross corruption on all levels, abject poverty, and general neglect from the international community. It appears as if no one cares about Africa, not even Africans. It is this complacent attitude that has prevented any real progress or development for the dark continent.

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