PrisonPlanet Forum

Geo-Politics / World War III => AFRICA => Topic started by: Biggs on September 24, 2008, 09:35:57 am

Title: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on September 24, 2008, 09:35:57 am
Peacekeepers targeted in Somalia
 
People have started fleeing the worst violence in months

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7632823.stm

Renewed fighting has broken out in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, with African Union peacekeepers coming under attack from Islamist insurgents.


At least 15 civilians have died since clashes erupted late on Tuesday and people are fleeing the city.

Insurgents attacked Ugandan peacekeepers, who responded with tank and artillery fire.

On Monday about 30 people were killed and dozens wounded in some of the worst violence Mogadishu has seen in months.

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says Islamist insurgents have been gaining ground in the city in their fight against the Ethiopian-backed government.

Observers say there has been a change in tactics, with Islamists switching from hit-and-run raids to sustained attacks against peacekeepers.

'Deafening gunfire'

Tuesday's clashes happened in the south of the city.

Our reporter says heavily armed insurgents attacked the AU base at K4 - a strategic junction in the south of the city linking the airport and the presidential palace.

Peacekeepers at the K4 base responded by shelling Bakara market, a scene of frequent fighting where most of the victims of Monday's violence were killed.     A shell hit our house, my father was killed and his body is here
Woman in Mogadishu

Peacekeepers mired in Somalia


The sounds of deafening gunfire and bombardments could be heard throughout the city overnight, he says.

It was the third sleepless night for residents and the second serious attack against AU peacekeepers in a week.

Peacekeepers have generally been considered friendly since their arrival last year, and residents have been upset by the scale of their retaliation, our reporter says.

Maj Bahoku Barigye, an spokesman for the African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom), said the peacekeepers had not suffered any causalities nor had their moral been affected.

He denied that the attacks were getting worse.

"I have been here for about eight months and I have not seen any difference whatsoever," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

'No lost cause'

But people living by the AU bases have started to flee their homes.

"A shell hit our house, my father was killed and his body is here, and I don't know where anybody else is," a distressed woman in the capital told the BBC's Somali Service.

Local residents told AFP news agency that shelling killed four people in one house and three in another area.
 
Most of the AU peacekeepers in Somalia are from Uganda


Somalia has been wracked by conflict since 1991, when former President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown.

The Ethiopians intervened in 2006 to help the government oust Islamist forces from the capital and surrounding regions.

The Islamists then launched an insurgency against Somalia's transitional government.

David Shinn, a former US diplomat who teaches at the George Washington University, said fighters from the hardline al-Shabab militia were trying to assert their authority in order to force the Ethiopians out.

They are trying "to show that they are in a position to perhaps even take control of Mogadishu if the Ethiopian forces were to leave", he told the BBC.

Maj Barigye said it was unrealistic to expect a quick resolution to Somalia's long-running conflict.

"There is no lost cause here," he said.

"It's just a question of time, a question of patience, it's a question of tolerance, it's a question of understanding."

Only Uganda and Burundi have contributed troops to the AU peacekeeping force, which has just 2,000 troops of the 8,000 planned.

But Mr Shinn said adding more peacekeepers would not help.

"The only way out of this mess at the moment is to have a successful negotiation between moderates and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, the ARS, and the transitional federal government," he said.

The UN has been leading peace negotiations over Somalia in neighbouring Djibouti, but al-Shabab has so far rejected the process.

A ceasefire due to be signed at the end of last week has been delayed for another month.
Title: Re: AU troops attacked by insurgents in Somalia
Post by: Biggs on September 24, 2008, 04:39:13 pm
Somalis flee Mogadishu gun battles

Mogadishu residents have been seen fleeing in packed vehicles or on foot [AFP]

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2008/09/2008924710479926.html



Hundreds of Somalis have fled Mogadishu after several days of heavy fighting between anti-government fighters and Somali troops, supported by the Ethiopian military and African Union peacekeepers.

Witnesses said residents could be seen leaving the city aboard packed minibuses and lorries or on foot early on Wednesday

"I believe staying in Mogadishu is ... taking a risk because many civilians died yesterday and warring sides are still sharpening their swords for fresh attacks," Shamso Mohamed Ali, a mother of two, told the AFP news agency.

Fatuma Kassim, a mother-of-seven, said: "We have no hope now and I think this is the end of Mogadishu."

Aid agencies say that about one million Somalis live as internal refugees.

Heavy shelling

Residents said that there was heavy shelling overnight as AU forces clashed with armed men opposed to the Somali government, as well as the presence of Ethiopian and AU forces.

A group calling itself the Mujahidins of Raskamboni said that attacked one of the peacekeepers' bases sparking the fighting.

"This is the heaviest fighting ever since the AU deployed. I have seen the African Union forces using tanks"

Farah Hassan,
Mogadishu resident

It was a retaliatory attack against the African forces and it was the heaviest ever waged against them," Mohamoud Dulyadeyn, a spokesman, said.


He said that his group "operates in Somali territories carrying out attacks against the enemy of Allah".

At least seven civilians were killed by artillery fire in two districts of southern Mogadishu, witnesses said.

"This is the heaviest fighting ever since the AU deployed. I have seen the African Union forces using tanks," Farah Hassan, a Mogadishu resident, said.

"I have seen many civilians crowded in minibuses [leaving the battle zone] and there was no access to hospital for the wounded in the whole neighbourhood."

Residents of the Taleh district told AFP that the shelling shattered many residential houses and set fire to a number of businesses.

Hostages removed

In another development, Ethiopian fficials and the Paris-based Medecins du Monde said on Tuesday that two foreign aid workers kidnapped in Ethiopia have been taken  to central Somalia.

Local Somali authorities have sent security officials to seek the hostages' freedom from the unidentified abductors.

"We have sent security forces to search for the aid workers, who were brought to the region late yesterday," Ali Sheikh Hashi, a local official, said.

The pair, both employees of the French aid agency, were seized from Fadhigaradle village where they were visiting drought-hit areas in Ethiopia on Monday, Hareri Hassan Barre, the commissioner for the Balanbale district in central Somalia, said.

Kidnappings confirmed

Medecins du Monde confirmed the abductions, but did not give the  nationality of its employees.

"The organisation is in permanent contact with the authorities, its team on the ground as well as other actors in the field," it said in a statement.

Somali fighters freed on Monday a German national and his Somali wife who had been abducted over the weekend in the northern Somali breakaway state of Puntland, where kidnapping is endemic.

Kidnappers have also been holding three journalists - a  Canadian, an Australian and a Somali - since August 23 and are reportedly demanding $2.5 million for their release.

Gaining strength

The fighting in Somalia came after gun battles had broken out in several areas of Mogadishu over the weekend following an attack on the international airport as an African Union aircraft was landing. Scores of people have been killed in recent days.

Anti-government fighters appear to have gained strength in recent weeks with the al-Shabaab armed group, an offshoot of the Islamic Courts' Union, which controlled much of Somalia in 2006, attacking AU bases and removing government checkpoints.

Sheikh Muktar Roboow, a spokesman for the movement, has vowed that attacks against the 2,000 AU peacekeepers, many of whom are based at the airport, will be intensified

"We are going to double our attacks against the AU forces. The only option they have is to leave our country," he said.

The troops were deployed in March 2007 to help Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the president, bring the nation under the government's control.
Title: Re: AU troops attacked by insurgents in Somalia
Post by: Biggs on September 26, 2008, 07:17:28 am
Twenty killed in fighting in Somalia
Xinhua
Mogadishu, September 24, 2008
Published: 20:27 IST (24/9/2008)

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?sectionName=HomePage&id=d3dc72ff-badf-4755-ab8d-43eac6c9c133&&Headline=Twenty+killed+in+fighting+in+Somalia&strParent=strParentID

Twenty civilians were killed and 33 wounded in heavy artillery exchange between insurgents and African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Somalia, witnesses and hospital sources said on Wednesday.


Witnesses in Hawlwadag, Hodon and K4 areas said a number of mortar and artillery shells landed in local neighbourhoods after insurgents attacked the bases of AU peacekeepers, who then retaliated with heavy artillery.

"Five people died in a house near ours when artillery shell hit their house overnight," a witness said.

Fifteen other were reportedly killed by the shelling in neighbourhoods in south Mogadishu where insurgents have been attacking AU peacekeepers for the third day running.

Hospital sources say that 33 wounded civilians were admitted in the hospitals after being wounded by the shelling.

Sources said that many people died of blood loss as the wounded could not be taken to the hospital in time.

Nearly 2,600 AU peacekeeping troops from Uganda and Burundi are currently deployed in Mogadishu. The troops are part of a UN authorized 8,000-strong AU peacekeeping force in Somalia.
Title: Re: AU troops attacked by insurgents in Somalia
Post by: Biggs on September 30, 2008, 05:18:00 pm
Ethiopia's Quagmire

Jesse Walker | September 29, 2008, 9:34am
The U.S.-backed occupation runs into trouble:
Nearly two years after being driven from Mogadishu, Islamists have re-taken swathes of south Somalia and may have their sights again on the capital.

The insurgents' push is being led by Al Shabaab, or "Youth" in Arabic, the most militant in a wide array of groups opposed to the Somali government and military backers from Ethiopia, an ally in Washington's "War on Terror"....

Analysts say Islamists or Islamist-allied groups now control most of south Somalia, with the exception of Mogadishu, Baidoa where parliament is protected by Ethiopian troops, and Baladwayne near the border where Addis Ababa garrisons soldiers.

That is a remarkable turnaround from the end of 2006, when allied Somali-Ethiopian troops chased the Islamists out of Mogadishu after a six-month rule of south Somalia, scattering them to sea, remote hills and the Kenyan border.

The Islamists regrouped to begin an insurgency that has killed nearly 10,000 civilians. Military discipline, grassroots political work, youth recruitment and an anti-Ethiopian rallying cry have underpinned their return, analysts say.
Title: Re: AU troops attacked in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on September 30, 2008, 05:21:38 pm
Somali government to be moved to Kenya
Tue, 30 Sep 2008 14:45:01 GMT

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=70950&sectionid=351020501

 
Somalia's President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed

Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) will reportedly be relocated to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi amid a surge in violence.

The African Union convened an urgent meeting on Tuesday and decided to relocate the 275-member Somali parliament along with President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and the Somali cabinet, the Press TV's correspondent in Somalia reported.

This comes as violence plagues the country on a daily basis, threatening civilians and government officials alike.

It is not yet clear what prompted the decision, but there have been unconfirmed reports that Somali government officials intend to meet with opposition leaders in an attempt to establish a coalition government.

The Transitional Federal Parliament of the Somali Republic was formed in neighboring Kenya in 2004. The interim parliament was then relocated to the Somali city of Baidoa, 260 kilometers northwest of Mogadishu, on February 26, 2006.

Meanwihile heavy fighting near the Somali presidential palace on Monday night killed eight civilians and 17 soldiers. Several lawmakers have recently been killed in the ongoing violence.
Title: Re: AU troops attacked in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on October 02, 2008, 01:20:55 pm
Silent Surge: Bipartisan Terror War Intensifies in Somalia
Chris Floyd

www.uruknet.info?p=47669

www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/3/1619-silent-surge-bipartisan-ter
   ror-war-intensifies-in-somalia.html

October 1, 2008

"The soul of a nation is under the knife...." -- Bob Dylan


In the recent presidential "debate," both candidates expressed their eager, unstinting, even feverish support for the so-called "War on Terror" being waged by Washington and its proxies around the world.

Indeed, throughout the entire campaign, Barack Obama and John McCain have repeatedly pledged their fealty to the Terror War, and all that it entails: an even larger war machine (with even more public boodle for war profiteers); a continued military presence in Iraq (under one guise or another); a substantial expansion of the hate-fomenting war in Afghanistan (with a concomitant raise in "collateral damage"); an extension of that war into Pakistan (destabilizing and radicalizing a fractious state with a nuclear arsenal); pressing ever closer to the threshold of war with Iran (with bellicose threats, blockades and demonizing propaganda); establishing even more military satrapies to exercise dominion over the regions of the earth (including new proconsular commands for Africa and the United States itself); and -- as we have noted here over and over -- the bloody rendering of Somalia into a boiling, hellish cauldron of slaughter, suffering and chaos.

Somalia is the invisible third front of the Terror War, an American-backed "regime change" operation launched by the invading army of Ethiopia and local warlords in December 2006. In addition to helping arm, fund and train the army of the Ethiopian dictatorship, the United States has intervened directly into the conflict, carrying out bombing raids on fleeing refugees and nomads, firing missiles into villages, sending in death squads to clean up after covert operations, and, as we reported here long ago, assisting in the "rendition" of refugees, including American citizens, into the hands of Ethiopia's notorious torturers. [See note below for more links.]

Together, the American Terror Warriors, the Ethiopians and the warlords (some of them directly in the pay of the CIA) have created the worst humanitarian disaster on earth. Thousands have been killed in the fighting. Hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes, many fleeing to northern Kenya, where more than 215,000 people are languishing in a single refugee camp in Dadaab; 45,000 people have poured into the camp this year alone, says the UN. In some of the camps, Somali refugees are living without any shelter at all: "The BBC's Mark Doyle, who has recently visited the camps in Kenya, says some refugees do not even have a basic plastic sheet to protect them from the sun and rain."

In just the last two weeks, more than 18,500 people have fled the capital of Mogadishu, which has already been decimated by the warfare. Many were sent on the run by one of the Ethiopians' favorite tactics: mortar and artillery fire into civilian areas believed "sympathetic" to the insurgents.

The United States is not only backing the Ethiopians and the Somali transitional government (TGF) propped up by the occupation; Washington has also provided "robust financial and logistical support to armed paramilitaries resisting the command and control of the TGF," according to a major new study of the conflict by the human rights organization, Enough. In addition to these freebooters, it turns out that the wide-ranging Somali pirates -- who last week hijacked a shipload of heavy weapons being funneled into African conflicts by Ukrainian war profiteers -- are supported by "backers linked to the Western-backed government" in Mogadishu.

In other words, the United States is sponsoring a hydra-headed conflict that spews fire and destruction in every direction, and is trampling an already ravaged people deeper into the dirt. It is by any measure -- even the mass-murdering standards of our day -- a sickening abomination, a war crime of staggering proportions. Yet it goes on, day after day, without the slightest comment, much less criticism, from the entire bipartisan political establishment, and almost all of the media -- including most of the "dissident" blogosphere. The Somalis are simply non-people, a nation of ghosts, unseen and unseeable.

II.
An exception to the media's "cloud of unknowing" around Somalia appeared this week in Salon.com, where Jennifer Daskal put a human face on a single aspect of the Terror War atrocity: rendition. From a refugee camp in Kenya, she writes:
Quote
Ishmael, a 37-year-old shepherd from the Ogaden region in Ethiopia, looked at me with tears in his eyes. Ethiopian forces -- who had already killed his mother, father, brothers and sisters -- murdered his wife days after they were married. They then slaughtered his goats, beat him unconscious, and slashed his shoulder to the bone, he said.

In December 2006, Ishmael crossed through Somalia into Kenya, heading for the nearest refugee camp in search of medical care. But when he didn't have enough money to pay a 1,000 shilling ($15) bribe, the Kenyan police bundled him into a car and took him to Nairobi. Less than a month later, he was herded onto an airplane with some 30 others, flown to Somalia and handed over to the Ethiopian military -- the same forces that he previously fled.

Ishmael is a victim of a 2007 rendition program in the Horn of Africa, involving Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and the United States. There are at least 90 more victims like him. Most have since been sent home. A few -- including a Canadian and nine who assert Kenyan nationality -- remain in detention even now. The whereabouts of 22 others -- including several Somalis, Ethiopian Ogadenis, and Eritreans -- remain unknown....

[In the immediate aftermath of the invasion], Kenyan authorities arrested at least 150 men, women and children from more than 18 countries -- including the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada -- in operations near the Somali border, and held them for weeks without charge in Nairobi. In January and February 2007, the Kenyan government then unlawfully put dozens of these individuals -- with no notice to families, lawyers or the detainees themselves -- on flights to Somalia, where they were handed over to the Ethiopian military. Ethiopian forces also arrested an unknown number of people in Somalia....

An unknown number of them -- likely dozens -- were questioned by the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in Addis Ababa. From February to May 2007, Ethiopian security officers daily transported detainees -- including several pregnant women -- to a villa where U.S. officials interrogated them about suspected terrorist links. At night the Ethiopian officers returned the detainees to their cells....

 In addition to working with the U.S., the Ethiopians used the rendition program for their own ends. For years, the Ethiopian military has been trying to quell domestic Ogadeni and Oromo insurgencies that receive support from neighboring countries, such as Ethiopia's archrival, Eritrea. The multinational rendition program provided them a convenient means to continue this internal battle -- and get their hands, with U.S. and Kenyan support, on those with suspected insurgent links.

Ishmael was one of their victims.

The questions his Ethiopian interrogators asked were nonstop, and always the same: "Are you al-Qaida? Are you an Ogadeni rebel? Are you part of the Somali insurgency?" Each time he said no, he was beaten, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness. When he resisted answering, they targeted his testicles.

Then, in February 2008 -- some 14 months after his original arrest -- the Ethiopians decided Ishmael was no longer worth the trouble. They dumped him, along with 27 others, just over the Somali border....Now Ishmael is back in the refugee camp, limping and urinating blood. He is still waiting for the healthcare he came searching for nearly two years ago.

Deskal's story is marred by the same timidity with which groups like Human Rights Watch (where she serves as senior counterrorism counsel) general take when discussing American direction of and complicity in war crimes. These references are often couched in terms of "a perception" (or even misperceptions!) of American intentions. The latter are always given the benefit of doubt and qualification. Still, it requires little reading between the lines to see the confirmation of what every honest observer of the conflict can see: the Terror War operation is creating more of the violent extremism that it purports to combat:

Almost everyone I spoke with assumed -- whether true or not -- that the United States backed the arbitrary arrest and unlawful rendition of men like Ishmael and the still-detained Kenyans. Almost everyone assumed that the Ethiopians operate with America's blessing.

They "assume" these things, of course, because they are true.

Quote
Their stories have circulated, fueling anger and resentment. As one man, whose childhood friend became one of the rendition victims, told me, "Now when I go to the mosque, I pray to God to punish the Americans."

....The U.S. is funding the Ethiopian military, supporting its activities in Somalia and training Kenyan security forces in counterterrorism -- so as U.S.-backed military and police forces in the region brutalize their domestic opponents in the name of fighting terrorism, the United States is often blamed.
Gee, I wonder why? If I hire a killer, give him a gun and directions to your house, and he goes and blows out the brains of your children, who are you going to blame? Or as I put it a few weeks ago:

Quote
Mass death, mass ruin and immeasurable human suffering: this is what the War on Terror does. This is what the War on Terror is all about. It can have no other outcome. When someone supports the War on Terror -- as Barack Obama, John McCain, Sarah Palin and Joe Biden all do, with eagerness and enthusiasm -- this is what they are embracing. They are dipping their hands in innocent blood.

Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on October 04, 2008, 12:06:47 pm
Somalian Violence Rages, UN Says 80 Civilians Have Died In Past Two Weeks

October 3, 2008 10:11 AM EST | 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/03/somalian-violence-rages-u_n_131588.html

GENEVA
— The United Nations says fighting has killed at least 80 civilians in Somalia's capital over the last two weeks. More than 100 people have been injured.

U.N. humanitarian office spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs says the true number of injured is probably higher because figures are unavailable for some hospitals in Mogadishu.

Violence has raged between government forces and Islamic militants since last month.

Byrs says thousands have been driven from their homes in the last two weeks. She told reporters Friday that nearly half of Somalia's 8.3 million people need food and other assistance.

Recent droughts and high food prices have added to the country's problems. Somalia has been without a stable government for more than 17 years.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on October 04, 2008, 02:11:10 pm
What Nobody Wants To Know About Somalia And Why; And What That Means
Winter Patriot

www.uruknet.info?p=47713

Link: winterpatriot.blogspot.com/2008/10/what-nobody-wants-to-know-about-somalia.html

October 3, 2008


A huge war crime -- a massive crime against humanity -- is going on right now in Somalia, courtesy of (but only indirectly traceable to) the Bush administration and Washington's bipartisan power elite. But, aside from Chris Floyd and a few other internet madmen, nobody knows -- or even wants to know -- much about it.

What's happening? And why doesn't anybody want to know? These are troubling questions for anyone who cares about the soul of America, and even more troubling for anyone who's beginning to suspect that America has no soul at all.

Chris Floyd:
Somalia is the invisible third front of the Terror War, an American-backed "regime change" operation launched by the invading army of Ethiopia and local warlords in December 2006. In addition to helping arm, fund and train the army of the Ethiopian dictatorship, the United States has intervened directly into the conflict, carrying out bombing raids on fleeing refugees and nomads, firing missiles into villages, sending in death squads to clean up after covert operations, and [...] assisting in the "rendition" of refugees, including American citizens, into the hands of Ethiopia's notorious torturers.
Bombing raids on fleeing refugees? Oh, yes. And much more, too. These people look hungry. We'd better kill them!

And the longer it goes on, the worse it gets.

When Chris Floyd writes, "Somalia is the invisible third front of the Terror War", he's probably counting chronologically starting from 9/11: in this sense Afghanistan is #1 (we started attacking in October of 2001; let's forget about the summer of '79) and Iraq is #2 (officially March of 2003, but in reality January 1991, and long before then as a matter of fact), which would make Somalia #3 (December 2006, and long before then, too!) and the recently opened and more recently acknowledged, still partly-deniable war-against-our-ally Pakistan as #4. And then Iran would be #5, or maybe it already is? But -- oops! -- did we forget to count the Terror War against the Home Front?

It soon gets too complicated to sort out, and therein lies one of the problems. The world is too big and too chaotic; we are too small and too stupid; we will never be able to deal with all of it. (I've been blogging for almost four years now and there are still large parts of the world that I have never even mentioned! It doesn't mean I don't care; usually it means I don't know enough to say anything authoritative, in which case I prefer to remain silent. But still ... where's my coverage of Darfur? And that's just one example.)

We prefer good news to bad, especially when times are tough. And it doesn't take much to overload on bad news these days. But still ... How can we ignore things like this?
Together, the American Terror Warriors, the Ethiopians and the warlords (some of them directly in the pay of the CIA) have created the worst humanitarian disaster on earth. Thousands have been killed in the fighting. Hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes, many fleeing to northern Kenya, where more than 215,000 people are languishing in a single refugee camp in Dadaab; 45,000 people have poured into the camp this year alone, says the UN. In some of the camps, Somali refugees are living without any shelter at all: "The BBC's Mark Doyle, who has recently visited the camps in Kenya, says some refugees do not even have a basic plastic sheet to protect them from the sun and rain."

In just the last two weeks, more than 18,500 people have fled the capital of Mogadishu, which has already been decimated by the warfare. Many were sent on the run by one of the Ethiopians' favorite tactics: mortar and artillery fire into civilian areas believed "sympathetic" to the insurgents.

The United States is not only backing the Ethiopians and the Somali transitional government (TGF) propped up by the occupation; Washington has also provided "robust financial and logistical support to armed paramilitaries resisting the command and control of the TGF," according to a major new study of the conflict by the human rights organization, Enough. In addition to these freebooters, it turns out that the wide-ranging Somali pirates -- who last week hijacked a shipload of heavy weapons being funneled into African conflicts by Ukrainian war profiteers -- are supported by "backers linked to the Western-backed government" in Mogadishu.
We're reading more from Chris Floyd, of course; who else? Floyd's writing is unique, both in its stylish command of the language and in its content: for instance, hardly anybody else ever bothers to write about Somalia. The big media -- mainstream and other -- avoid mentioning it at almost every opportunity, and most of what does get published is sanitized in one way or half a dozen, with writers and editors falling over each other to avoid placing the blame for this horrendous situation where it obviously belongs.

But not Chris Floyd: whenever he digs up news from "the invisible third front", he writes about it, and he counters the spin. He puts the news in context; he explains what it means in terms of the big picture, just like he always does, whether he's writing about Iraq or Afghanistan, or the Home Front, or any other place.

But -- remarkably, sadly, and altogether too revealingly, in my opinion -- when Chris Floyd writes about Somalia, his website traffic goes through a hole in the floor.

So hardly anybody bothered to visit Floyd's remarkable site, Empire Burlesque, on the day when he posted the passage quoted above, along with excerpts from a piece by Jennifer Beskal at Salon:
Ishmael, a 37-year-old shepherd from the Ogaden region in Ethiopia, looked at me with tears in his eyes. Ethiopian forces -- who had already killed his mother, father, brothers and sisters -- murdered his wife days after they were married. They then slaughtered his goats, beat him unconscious, and slashed his shoulder to the bone, he said.

In December 2006, Ishmael crossed through Somalia into Kenya, heading for the nearest refugee camp in search of medical care. But when he didn't have enough money to pay a 1,000 shilling ($15) bribe, the Kenyan police bundled him into a car and took him to Nairobi. Less than a month later, he was herded onto an airplane with some 30 others, flown to Somalia and handed over to the Ethiopian military -- the same forces that he previously fled.

Ishmael is a victim of a 2007 rendition program in the Horn of Africa, involving Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and the United States. There are at least 90 more victims like him. Most have since been sent home. A few -- including a Canadian and nine who assert Kenyan nationality -- remain in detention even now. The whereabouts of 22 others -- including several Somalis, Ethiopian Ogadenis, and Eritreans -- remain unknown....

[In the immediate aftermath of the invasion], Kenyan authorities arrested at least 150 men, women and children from more than 18 countries -- including the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada -- in operations near the Somali border, and held them for weeks without charge in Nairobi. In January and February 2007, the Kenyan government then unlawfully put dozens of these individuals -- with no notice to families, lawyers or the detainees themselves -- on flights to Somalia, where they were handed over to the Ethiopian military. Ethiopian forces also arrested an unknown number of people in Somalia....

An unknown number of them -- likely dozens -- were questioned by the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in Addis Ababa. From February to May 2007, Ethiopian security officers daily transported detainees -- including several pregnant women -- to a villa where U.S. officials interrogated them about suspected terrorist links. At night the Ethiopian officers returned the detainees to their cells....

In addition to working with the U.S., the Ethiopians used the rendition program for their own ends. For years, the Ethiopian military has been trying to quell domestic Ogadeni and Oromo insurgencies that receive support from neighboring countries, such as Ethiopia's archrival, Eritrea. The multinational rendition program provided them a convenient means to continue this internal battle -- and get their hands, with U.S. and Kenyan support, on those with suspected insurgent links.

Ishmael was one of their victims.

The questions his Ethiopian interrogators asked were nonstop, and always the same: "Are you al-Qaida? Are you an Ogadeni rebel? Are you part of the Somali insurgency?" Each time he said no, he was beaten, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness. When he resisted answering, they targeted his testicles.

Then, in February 2008 -- some 14 months after his original arrest -- the Ethiopians decided Ishmael was no longer worth the trouble. They dumped him, along with 27 others, just over the Somali border....Now Ishmael is back in the refugee camp, limping and urinating blood. He is still waiting for the healthcare he came searching for nearly two years ago.
Why do people read Chris Floyd? Because he's a fantastic writer; because he's a tireless researcher; because he always tells us the truth, no matter how horrible; because he directs our attention to vital stories we otherwise might have missed; and surely there are more good reasons.

Which of these reasons are negated when Chris writes about Somalia?

None, of course. That was a rhetorical question. Now here's a real one: Why does the whole world run away from Chris Floyd's articles about Somalia?

Is it because the victims of the war crime in Somalia are blacker than the victims of the war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Is it because the roots of the war crime in Somalia reflect badly on both Bill Clinton and George Bush?

Is it because we can't stand reading about more than two war crimes on the same day, and Iraq and Afghanistan fill our quota?

Is it because the war crime in Somalia is a proxy war crime, being fought under the flag of the invading Ethopians?

Are Americans are too lazy and too stupid to connect the dots -- the dots between funding, arming, supplying, motivating and supporting an invading army; and actually being responsible for the invasion?

Is it because no Americans are being killed there?

Or is it because the stories coming out of Somalia are so gruesome?

Floyd's newest post contains an update on renditions in the Somalia war crime, from the BBC:
Among [the fleeing refugees] were Salim Awadh, a Kenyan, and his Tanzanian wife, Fatma Chande. Both of them were arrested as they crossed the border [from Somalia to Kenya in January 2007].

"I was kept in a cell with other women. Then the Kenyan anti-terrorist police questioned me - they asked me why we went to Somalia," Fatma says.

I meet Fatma in her small two-room house in Moshi, northern Tanzania. She is quietly spoken and her voice falters as she explains what happened next.

"I told them my husband got a job repairing mobile phones in Somalia. But they tried to force me to admit that my husband was a terrorist. They said I had to tell them the truth or they would strangle me."

...In the first weeks of early 2007, news began to filter out that several hundred people - including children - had been arrested trying to enter Kenya.

Al Amin Kimathi, the head of Kenya's Muslim Human Rights Forum, sent volunteers to police stations across the capital, Nairobi, trying to collect information.

"Some very frustrated senior police officers told us point blank: it's not our operation, go and ask the Americans, just call the American embassy. We even saw the Americans bring in detainees and take them out of certain police stations in Nairobi," he said.

Many of the refugees were sent back to Somalia, and then "renditioned" onward to Ethiopia.

"A week after we arrived we were interrogated by whites - Americans, British, I was interrogated for weeks," Salim says....

Former detainees have also told the BBC they were questioned by US agents. One said he was beaten by Americans.

...Al Amin Kimathi believes Ethiopia was seen as the ideal destination.

"It was the most natural place to take anyone looking for a site to go and torture and to extract confessions. Ethiopia allows torture of detainees. And that is the modus operandi in renditions."

...More than a year and a half after the renditions, the US government still refuses to respond to questions on the alleged US role.

...Meanwhile Fatma is still waiting anxiously for news of her husband.

After Salim got access to a mobile phone, he was able to speak to her from his cell for the first time in more than a year.

Now the phone has stopped working, Salim has disappeared once again.
Chris appends this note:
I know that no one cares about this. I know that the fact that thousands of Somalis have been slaughtered and millions more driven into suffering and desolation by a vicious war being conducted at every step with American assistance, in America's name -- in your name, if you're an American -- is not nearly as important as whether or not Joe Biden strikes the proper tone in his "debate" with Sarah Palin tonight. I know that even to most true-blue "progressives," the Somalis are non-people -- except when they show up as wild-eyed beserkers on late-night re-runs of "Black Hawk Down." I know that every time I write about Somalia, the traffic for the site plummets like the stock of a clapped-out merchant bank just before it gets a government bailout. But I don't really care. With the full approval of the entire bipartisan political elite, America is breeding death, hate, extremism and a hellish storm of blowback through its actions in Somalia. You might not give a damn that this evil is being wrought in your name, but I do.
I applaud Chris Floyd for his persistence in paying attention to Somalia even though his readers have made it painfully obvious that they don't give a fig. But I still want to know: what combination of factors allows them not to care, or prevents them from caring?

Perhaps there's a question about whether these war crimes are really being committed in our names? Jennifer Deskal, the human rights advocate whose piece in Salon Chris Floyd quoted at length, writes:
Almost everyone I spoke with assumed -- whether true or not -- that the United States backed the arbitrary arrest and unlawful rendition of men like Ishmael and the still-detained Kenyans. Almost everyone assumed that the Ethiopians operate with America's blessing.
To which Floyd remarks:
They "assume" these things, of course, because they are true.
And Deskal continues:
Their stories have circulated, fueling anger and resentment. As one man, whose childhood friend became one of the rendition victims, told me, "Now when I go to the mosque, I pray to God to punish the Americans."

To be sure, the United States is not the main culprit when the Kenyans unlawfully render suspects or the Ethiopians torture them. But when U.S. officials interrogate rendition victims who are being held incommunicado, the United States becomes complicit in the abuse. The U.S. is funding the Ethiopian military, supporting its activities in Somalia and training Kenyan security forces in counterterrorism -- so as U.S.-backed military and police forces in the region brutalize their domestic opponents in the name of fighting terrorism, the United States is often blamed.

The United States could change those perceptions by demanding higher standards of its foreign partners and cutting off aid to abusers. It otherwise risks fueling the very problem -- anti-American militancy -- that it seeks to solve. For starters, the U.S. could demand the release or fair trial of any rendition victims still stuck in Ethiopian custody.
Chris Floyd again:
Daskal's story is marred by the same timidity which groups like Human Rights Watch (where she serves as senior counterrorism counsel) generally display when discussing American direction of and complicity in war crimes. These references are often couched in terms of "a perception" (or even misperceptions!) of American intentions. The latter are always given the benefit of doubt and qualification. Still, it requires little reading between the lines to see the confirmation of what every honest observer of the conflict can see: the Terror War operation is creating more of the violent extremism that it purports to combat.
...
In my opinion, Chris Floyd lets Jennifer Deskal off lightly for ridiculous spin and obvious distortion -- as well as some remarkably timid audacity! (or should I say audacious timidity?)

The notion that the USA is only complicit if its officials participate in the interrogation of rendition victims is bizarre and incomprehensible -- except as another part of the official deception. Welcome to the nightmare, where even defenders of human rights cut unrepentant torturers as much slack as possible.

Another bizarre and incomprehensible notion also comes to mind: perhaps most Americas are determined to know as little as possible about the war crime in Somalia because that's the only way their lives can make sense!

The war crimes against Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran and the Home Front all have some "justifying" pretext, or several. Even though all the stories are false, they're there, part of the national crazy-quilt: all the obvious, transparent, politically viable lies about 9/11; campfire tales about Saddam Hussein and his non-existent WMD; the endless not-really hunt for Osama bin Laden; nuclear weapons that don't exist yet but are already an existential threat to Israel; and a nation crawling with FBI entrapment victims if not actually real terrorists.

But we don't have any story about Somalia.

We don't have a mythically famous villain.

We don't have any ruins we can point to while saying, "You see this? The Somalis did this!"

In other words, there is no reason -- not even a transparently false reason -- for the war crime against Somalia.

And yet there's no opposition to it, from either party. And this combination of facts, in my opinion, makes the story intolerable to almost everybody.

There's no way to cloak ourselves in denial this time, no fig leaf to hide behind. Somalia reveals all too clearly the real motives behind the Terror War, and they are not what we have been told -- by Democrats or Republicans.

Somalia also reveals some crucial aspects of the Terror War on the Home Front. Among them: America's bipartisan leadership has no qualms about attacking foreigners who pose no threat to us, even without a plausible pretext, if they think they can get away with it.

When you add in all the other reasons -- from the blackness of the victims to the gruesomeness of the stories -- you get a tangled mess of horror that is so ugly, only the most courageous among us can stand to look at it.

Chris Floyd has enough courage to do it. But most of his readers do not. And that's one of the reasons why I am becoming increasingly convinced that we are more screwed now than ever before.

Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on October 08, 2008, 05:12:27 pm
Al-Shabab kills 14 Somali soldiers
Wed, 08 Oct 2008 16:54:35 GMT

 http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=71630&sectionid=351020501



Al-Shabab fighters have killed at least fourteen Somali soldiers in an attack on a military checkpoint south of the capital, Mogadishu.

Heavily armed fighters from the military wing of the Union of the Islamic Courts (UIC), al-Shabab, attacked and took control of Sarkuusta checkpoint near an Ethiopian base in southern Mogadishu, Press TV's Somali correspondent reported Wednesday.

They left the checkpoint after firing several mortars 19 of which landed on a nearby Ethiopian base.

Ethiopian soldiers flocked to the scene and went on a shooting spree, killing three civilians.

Also on Wednesday, two Somali soldiers were killed by unknown gunmen in a Mogadishu teashop. Four civilians were also injured in the violence.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on October 12, 2008, 05:29:22 pm
With Spotlight on Pirates, Somalis on Land Waste Away in the Shadows

By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20990.htm

11/10/08 "New York Times" -- AFGOOYE, Somalia
— Just step into a feeding center here, and the sense of hopelessness is overwhelming.

Dozens of women sit with listless babies in their laps, snapping their fingers, trying to get a flicker of life out of their dying children.

Little eyes close. Wizened 1-year-olds struggle to breathe. This is the place where help is supposed to be on its way. But the nurses in the filthy smocks are besieged. From the doorway, you can see the future of Somalia fading away.

 

While the audacity of a band of Somali pirates who hijacked a ship full of weapons has grabbed the world’s attention, it is the slow-burn suffering of millions of Somalis that seems to go almost unnoticed.

The suffering is not new. Or especially surprising. This country on the edge of Africa has been slowly, but inexorably, sliding toward an abyss for the past year and a half — or, some would argue, for the past 17. United Nations officials have called Somalia “the forgotten crisis.”

The causes are unemployment, drought, inflation, a squeeze on global food supplies and a war that will not end. Fighting between Somalia’s weak transitional government and a determined Islamist insurgency has been heating up in the past few weeks, driving thousands from their homes and cutting people off from food. The hospital wards here are one indicator of the conflict’s intensity.

“In the past two months,” said Muhammad Hussein, a doctor at a feeding center in Afgooye, “our patients have doubled.”

In August, 200 women with emaciated babies lined up outside his clinic every day. Today, there are 400.

More than three million people, about half Somalia’s population, need emergency rations to survive. Nobody seems to like it. Many say they feel humiliated.

“That’s all we talk about: when will the next handout come,” said Zenab Ali Osman, a grandmother raising her daughter’s children.

Before fighting drove her from Mogadishu, the capital, to Afgooye’s endless refugee camps of gumdrop-shaped huts made of plastic bags and in some cases soiled T-shirts, Ms. Zenab used to wash clothes for a living. On a good day, she made the equivalent of 80 cents.

The civil war has eviscerated the economy, leaving so many people to survive on pennies. But out on the high seas, it is a different story. Pirates thrive off this same lawlessness, making millions of dollars by hijacking ships in Somalia’s unpatrolled waters and demanding hefty ransoms to free them. On Sept. 25, a band of pirates seized a Ukrainian freighter full of tanks and other weapons bound for Kenya.

The pirates are asking for $20 million, an unfathomable amount here. Negotiations are still going on, and the price will probably be closer to $5 million. No one wants to pay the pirates, but in this case, with 20 crew members being held hostage on a ship full of explosives, giving in may be the safest way out.

But the pirates may be growing impatient. According to The Associated Press, they threatened Friday night to blow up the ship if they were not paid the money within three days.

“I pray to God they are caught,” said Dhuho Abdi Omar, a mother who was waiting at a feeding center in Afgooye with her 2-year-old girl, who had not eaten for two weeks. “These pirates are blocking our food.”

Not everyone agreed. Many young men in the camps seemed to lionize the gunmen of the seas.

“They’re tough guys,” said Muhammad Warsame, 22. “And they’re protecting our coast.”

The pirates have made the same argument, saying they hijack ships in response to illegal fishing and dumping.

“They’re our marines,” said Jaemali Argaga, a militia leader.

Somalia has not had any marines, or national army or navy of any significance, since the central government imploded in 1991. Clan-based warlords carved the country into fiefs, preying upon the population. People eventually got fed up, and in the summer of 2006, a grass-roots Islamist movement drove away the warlords.

Ethiopia and the United States accused the Islamists of sheltering terrorists, and in the winter of 2006, Ethiopian and American forces ousted the Islamists. But the Islamists are back. Supported by businessmen and war profiteers, Islamist guerrilla fighters are viciously battling the weak government forces and Ethiopian soldiers. Civilians are often caught in between. Thousands have been killed in the past year and a half.

Many aid workers have fled. The United Nations World Food Program is one of the last organizations with a large staff inside Somalia. Denise Brown, the deputy country director, said the environment was increasingly hostile. And desperate.

Thousands of hungry people besieged a convoy of 35 United Nations-chartered food trucks moving through Mogadishu two weeks ago. They stripped the trucks clean, looting more than two million pounds of food.

“It’s unprecedented,” Ms. Brown said “Things just went haywire.”

That has taken food out of the mouths of people like Ms. Zenab, whose daughter was one of the 20 street sweepers in Mogadishu killed by a bomb in August that was buried in a pile of garbage.

She is now helping raise several grandchildren. Amina, 13 months old, will not eat. The two sat the other day on a cot covered with flies. All around them were babies looking up at the ceiling with round wet eyes, some with faces covered in tape because they were too sick to swallow and were being fed milk through their noses.

Whom does she blame?

“Those with guns,” Ms. Zenab said. “Whoever they are.”

 

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

 

Click here to help these children - http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/947.htm
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on October 14, 2008, 05:20:43 am
Troop pull-out leaves government on brink
Ethiopian withdrawal marks end of disastrous intervention that sparked new violence and suffering
From Steve Bloomfield in Nairobi

http://www.sundayherald.com/international/shinternational/display.var.2459722.0.troop_pullout_leaves_government_on_brink.php

SOMALIA'S FRAGILE
government appears to be on the brink of collapse. Islamist insurgents now controls large parts of southern and central Somalia - and are continuing to launch attacks inside the capital, Mogadishu.

Ethiopia, which launched a US-backed military intervention in Somalia in December 2006 in an effort to drive out an Islamist authority in Mogadishu, is now pulling out its troops.

Diplomats and analysts in neighbouring Nairobi believe the government will fall once Ethiopia completes its withdrawal, and secret plans have been made to evacuate government ministers to neighbouring Kenya.

That may happen sooner rather than later. A shipment of Ethiopian weapons, including tanks, left Mogadishu port last month as part of the withdrawal. Bringing the equipment back to Ethiopia by land would have been impossible - analysts believe Ethiopian troops and their Somali government allies control just three small areas in Mogadishu and a few streets in Baidoa, the seat of parliament. There are now estimated to be just 2500 Ethiopian soldiers left inside Somalia, down from 15,000-18,000 at the height of the war.

Somalia's overlapping conflicts go back, at the very least, to 1991, the year the country's last recognised government was overthrown. Men and women who were children then have since given birth to a second generation of Somalis who have known only war.

But analysts believe Somalia is now in the midst of its worst ever crisis. The ongoing conflict, which has claimed the lives of at least 9000 civilians and forced more than 1.1 million to flee their homes, has combined with devastating droughts and rocketing food prices to create one of the world's worst humanitarian catastrophes.

Almost half the population - 3.2m people - are in need of emergency aid (the figure has almost doubled in the last 12 months). One in six children is thought to be malnourished.

"This crisis is broadening as well as deepening," said Mark Bowden, the head of the UN's humanitarian effort. "It is now the world's most complicated crisis."

Violence and insecurity have made it almost impossible for aid to get through, and 24 aid workers have been killed in Somalia so far this year. A recent shipment of food aid needed a military escort to navigate Somalia's pirate-infested waters. But within hours of the food being unloaded in Mogadishu's port most of it was stolen by gun-toting gangs.

Oxfam, Save The Children and 50 other aid agencies working in Somalia last week said the international community had "completely failed Somali civilians".

As the crisis worsens thousands are trying to leave the country every week. Around 6000 people are now crossing the border into Kenya every month - despite the Kenyan government's decision to close the border. Some are arriving at the overcrowded Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya, which is now one of the largest refugee camps in the world with nearly 250,000 people.

Others try to leave by sea, travelling to the northern town of Bosasso and paying $100 to people smugglers who ram more than 100 people onto a small fishing boat and set sail for Yemen.

Many do not make it. Smugglers last week forced 150 people off the boat three miles off the Yemeni coast. Only 47 made it to shore.

Attempts to find a political solution have stalled. The UN claims progress has been made, citing an agreement signed in neighbouring Djibouti by the Somali government and the opposition Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS).

But the deal has been signed only by the moderates on each side: Prime Minister Nur Adde and the ARS's Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

President Abdullahi Yusuf, a former warlord who controls the government's security forces, has refused to get involved. Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the hardline Islamic leader of another faction of the ARS, has denounced the deal, as have the leaders of the insurgents, a group called Al Shabaab.

Since the deal was struck in June, the level of violence has increased.

Few Somalis will weep if the government falls. In most respects it is a government in name only. Few ministries have offices, let alone civil servants to fill them. There are no real policies - and no real way to implement any.

Worst of all, this government, which is backed by the United Nations and funded by Western donors including Britain and the EU, has been accused of committing a litany of war crimes. Its police force, many of whom were trained under a UN programme part-funded by Britain, has carried out extrajudicial killings, raped women and fired indiscriminately on crowds at markets. Militias aligned to the government have killed journalists and attacked aid workers.

The government's fall would mark the end of a disastrous US-backed intervention. For six months in 2006, Somalia was relatively calm. A semblance of peace and security had returned to Mogadishu. The reason was the rise of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), a loose coalition of Islamist leaders who had driven out Mogadishu's warlords.

Hardline elements within the UIC vowed to launch a jihad against Somalia's traditional enemy, Ethiopia. The US viewed the UIC has an "al-Qaeda cell" - a belief not shared by the majority of analysts and diplomats.

Ethiopia, with the support of the US, sent thousands of troops across the border to drive out the UIC. It took just a few days to defeat them. Their leaders fled towards the border with Kenya, while many of the fighters took off their uniforms and melted into Mogadishu.

Within weeks, an Iraq-style insurgency had begun, targeting Somali government and Ethiopian troops. Al Shabaab began laying roadside bombs and firing at Ethiopian troops from inside civilian areas.

The Ethiopians responded by bombarding residential areas. Hundreds were killed and hundreds of thousands fled Mogadishu. Human rights groups accused Ethiopia of committing war crimes.

The US must now be wondering whether it was all worth it. Western backing for the unpopular Somali government and US support for the Ethiopian intervention has created a groundswell of anti-West sentiment in Somalia.

The Islamist leaders they were so keen to oust are the same ones they are now engaged in negotiations with. US officials have met both Sheikh Sharif and the more hardline Sheikh Aweys in an effort to find a peace deal.

Meanwhile, in Somalia, the Islamists taking control of towns and villages across the country are considered far more extremist than Aweys. "They are real international jihadis," said one Nairobi-based diplomat. "The Americans' fear of al-Qaeda in Somalia is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy."
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on October 16, 2008, 01:09:25 pm
Heavy gunfire near Somali airport
 
Civilians have fled the fighting in Mogadishu in huge numbers

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7673605.stm


Heavy fighting has broken out on the road to the airport in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, near where African Union (AU) peacekeepers are based.

A witness told the BBC there were also clashes near the strategic K-4 junction and that mortars were being used.

At least five people, including two soldiers, have been killed, residents and doctors say.

Insurgents have targeted the airport in recent weeks as they battle government troops and their Ethiopian allies.

They have labelled it as a tool of Ethiopia's "occupation" of Somalia and forced it to close for several days last month by threatening to stop flights.

The AU peacekeeping force has also been increasingly targeted.

The K-4 junction is strategically placed in the south of the city linking the airport and the presidential palace, where AU peacekeepers are also based.

The witness said he could see houses on fire, and heavy gunfire could be heard in the background.

 (http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/45051000/gif/_45051735_som_mog_map466psd.gif)

Somalia has been without a functioning government since President Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.

Ethiopian troops helped the government push Islamist forces from control of central and southern Somalia in late 2006, triggering an insurgency.

'Threat'

On Thursday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Ethiopia would review its position in the coming months, but would stay longer if Somali politicians showed "readiness for peace".

Even if Ethiopian troops left, he said, they could still return if the powerful Islamist militia al-Shabab threatened to take power.

"Whenever there's a threat posed, we will come back to break their backs," he said.

"Any government is preferable to the Shabab. It's in the interest of Ethiopia and the Somali people to prevent them from coming to power."

More than three million people - almost half of Somalia's population - need food aid, according to the UN.

Aid agencies recently estimated that 1.1 million people had been uprooted from Mogadishu over the last nine months.

Last weekend, Burundi deployed more than 800 peacekeepers to Somalia, boosting the strength of the AU force to just over 3,000.

But the mission, which is made up of troops from Uganda and Burundi, remains well below the force of 8,000 that the AU originally said it would deploy.

Mr Meles said Ethiopian troops would remain in Somalia "at least until the African peace force is fully deployed."
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: TheGoodFight1984 on October 16, 2008, 01:12:16 pm
This place is the new target for the GWOT. posted a nes article about the plans for this in news tips a couple days back if anyone wants a read.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on October 17, 2008, 01:00:32 pm
Fighting In Somalia's Mogadishu Kills 23

LINK HERE (http://www.nasdaq.com/aspxcontent/NewsStory.aspx?cpath=20081016%5CACQDJON200810161415DOWJONESDJONLINE000923.htm&selected=9999&selecteddisplaysymbol=9999&StoryTargetFrame=_top&mkt=WORLD&chk=unchecked&lang=&link=&headlinereturnpage=http://www.international.na)

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AFP)-
-At least 23 people were killed in the Somali capital Mogadishu when insurgents attacked camps housing African Union and Ethiopian troops Thursday, triggering heavy clashes, witnesses and police said.

The Islamist insurgents shelled bases housing A.U. peacekeepers and Ethiopian troops in southern Mogadishu's K4, Shirkole and Hamarjadid quarters, drawing retaliatory fire. Somali forces joined the battle to support the peacekeepers, they said. Witnesses said several residents were also wounded.

"I saw four civilians, one of them a woman, and an insurgent fighter killed in Taleh area. The civilians were caught in the crossfire," said witness Hasan Yahye.

Colonel Farah Abdullahi, a Somali policeman, said two officers were killed in the clash between A.U. troops and insurgents.

Sixteen other civilians died in fighting between Ethiopian troops and insurgents, bringing the death toll to 23.

"Four civilians died and three others wounded when an artillery shell hit their house near a vegetable market in Bakara," Osmail Adan, a witness, told AFP.

Another witness Ali Mohamed Siyad reported five fatalities in a Bakara tea shop.

"I was drinking tea when a mortar struck, killing five people. There was smoke and shrapnel all over the tea shop. I was very lucky not to die but I sustained small injuries," Siyad said.

A family of three was killed when a mortar crashed into their house.

"My father and my two sisters were killed by a mortar shell and their bodies are still lying in the house. I don't know what to say, its dark moment," said Shafici Ahmed.

A man and woman were killed when a shell crashed into a telephone booth in Bakara.

"It was terrible, I saw my friend die as a result of serious injuries caused by a mortar shell that destroyed his telephone booth. A woman also died after shrapnel cut her to pieces," said Ali Osman, a witness.

Witness Sirad Nur Roble said two other civilians were killed elsewhere in Bakara, one of the most volatile zones in the battle-wracked seaside capital.

Witnesses said the shells destroyed residential and business premises in Mogadishu, where hundreds of thousands of residents have fled the bloody duels for dominance in the recent months.

The A.U. force in Somalia, AMISOM, has been in Mogadishu since March 2007 and currently numbers around 3,400 troops, from Uganda and Burundi.

The figure is far below the 8,000 peacekeepers the A.U. pledged to deploy in Somalia to bolster the country's weak government and protect humanitarian operations.

Aid groups have scaled down operations in Somalia because of growing insecurity largely blamed on Islamist militants who have waged a guerrilla war since they were ousted last year by a joint Somali-Ethiopian offensive.

Somalia has been without an effective government since the 1991 ousting of president Mohamed Siad Barre touched off bloodletting that has defied numerous bids to restore stability.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on November 13, 2008, 07:24:00 am
Somali fighters seize port town

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2008/11/20081112111850237733.html

The Shebab is the armed wing of the Islamic Courts' Union which in 2006 seized most of Somalia [AFP]

Somalia's Shabab group has taken over the southern port of Marka, an important entry point for food aid.


The heavily armed fighters rolled into Marka, located 100km south of the capital Mogadishu, after pro-government forces fled.

The Shabab is the armed wing of the Islamic Courts' Union, which in 2006 seized most of the country before being ousted by an Ethiopian military intervention.

"It seems that they are gaining control now and we did not have much power to defend the town," Hussein Yusuf Maalim, a member of the pro-government militia that ruled the town, said on Wednesday.

"Our commander ordered all the forces to leave the town in order to avoid any gunfight."

Marka is an entry point for the food aid urgently needed by more than a third of Somalia's population.
   
World Food Programme (WFP) shipments, already hampered by rampant piracy in Somali waters, generally enter the country either by Marka or by Mogadishu.

Mohamed Sheikh Nur, a journalist in Mogadishu, told Al Jazeera: "The Somali government has repeatedly been saying that it will protect the entire area soon, but that is not something feasible right now.

"This is because government and foreign troops are bogged down in Mogadishu and have no power outside of these areas."

Significant gains
   
Shabab fighters have made significant military gains in recent months, leaving the UN-backed transitional federal government in control of only some parts of Mogadishu and Baidoa, the seat of parliament.   
   


The fighters have broken away from the Islamic Courts, with the group's political leadership fleeing into exile and the Shabab engaging in a guerrilla war that has left thousands of civilians dead.
   
On Tuesday, the Shabab seized Qoryoley, a town just over 100km southwest of Mogadishu.   

African Union peacekeepers are stationed in Mogadishu, but violence goes on almost daily.
   
Humanitarian workers have frequently been targeted by armed groups in recent months, with several killed and others kidnapped.
   
Strict Sharia
   
In August, an alliance of Shabab fighters and forces loyal to Hassan Turki, a Muslim leader blacklisted as a "terrorist" by the US, seized control of Kismayo, one of the country's largest cities and its main southern port.
   
They have since tried to enforce the Sharia (Islamic law) akin to that which prevailed when the Islamic Courts ruled much of the country.
   
When in power in 2006, the Islamic Courts carried out executions, shut down cinemas and photo shops, banned live music, flogged drug offenders and harassed civilians, mainly women, for failing to wear appropriate dress in public.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on November 21, 2008, 10:32:15 am
Fierce gun battle rocks Mogadishu
 
Islamists again control much of Somalia

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7741212.stm


At least 15 people have been killed after insurgents attacked the Somali capital, Mogadishu, witnesses say.

Heavily armed men were repulsed after they attacked the house of district commissioner Ahmed Da'i just after dawn prayers, resident Ahmed Mumin said.

Mr Da'i confirmed the attack and said the bodies of the attackers "now littered the streets".

The raid comes on the day Ethiopian troops are due to start leaving Somalia, under a recent peace deal.

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says there is no sign yet that the planned Ethiopian withdrawal from Mogadishu's residential areas has begun.
    They [bodies] were unfamiliar faces in the our district, so we think they were the insurgents
Dahir Mohamed
South Mogadishu resident


He says in contrast, they started patrolling in new areas of north-east Mogadishu, leading to clashes with residents and insurgents.

The pull-out is due to finish on 29 December, according to the UN-brokered deal between the government and some moderate Islamist groups.

The UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution imposing sanctions - an assets freeze and travel ban - on anyone threatening peace in Somalia.

"The prime goal of this is to provide a framework to stem the flow of arms into Somalia, which is causing such mayhem there," said John Sawers, the UN ambassador of the UK, which drafted the resolution.

The resolution also mentions anyone disrupting aid deliveries.

Mosque killing

Meanwhile, a gunman has killed one clan elder and wounded three others in an attack inside a mosque near the northern town of Hargeisa.

Hargeisa is the capital of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, which has been spared much of the violence of the rest of the country.

Government officials say there were two hours of fighting between insurgents and security officials in south Mogadishu.

The bodies of at least 15 of those killed were displayed by the authorities.

"They were unfamiliar faces in the our district, so we think they were the insurgents," said resident Dahir Mohamed.

The Islamists have not commented on the incident.

Ethiopia sent troops into Somalia two years to help the transitional government oust Islamists from Mogadishu and surrounding areas.

But President Abdullahi Yusuf last week admitted that Islamists now control most of the southern part of the country.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: ConcordeWarrior on November 21, 2008, 10:35:51 am
Hey, I hope the pirates will not seize H.M. the QE2.
She is about to exit the Suez Canal making her way down the Red Sea.
I will start worrying once Her Majesty LadyShip QE2 gets nearby Djibouti and Aden and nearby the Somali coast.
I hope there is a platoon on board armed to their teeth and some missiles passengers don't even know of.

I am going to Dubai to see her so I want her to be there... On time!  ;D
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on November 21, 2008, 10:47:46 am
Somali unrest continues to take toll

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=75901&sectionid=351020501

At least 28 people, including civilians have been killed in clashes across Somalia, as violence continues to dominate the war-torn country.


In Gedo region, unknown gunmen opened heavy fire on the Bulo Hawa town administration headquarters where a group of elders were discussing ways of rescuing two Italian nuns kidnapped near the Kenya-Somalia borders.

The incident left seven people dead including five gunmen and two civilians. Two other civilians were also injured, Press TV correspondent in Somalia reported on Wednesday.

Also in South Mogadishu, heavy fighting broke out between Somali presidential guards and al-Shabaab forces, killing six soldiers and injuring nine others. Thirteen al-Shabaab fighters also lost their lives in the attack, Press TV reported government sources as saying.

Meanwhile scholars in Bay region, southwestern Somalia, welcomed the new administration established in the Lower Shabelle region by the Union of Islamic courts (UIC).

The Islamic Courts have so far taken control of most parts of Somalia, including Lower Shabelle region and they are now focusing on capturing the capital, Mogadishu.

UIC's advance on Mogadishu in recent days has raised the stakes in an insurgency that is the latest manifestation of 17 years of civil conflict in Somalia since warlords toppled a dictator in 1991.

FF/RA
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on November 21, 2008, 10:52:49 am
Islamists' resurgence in Somalia deals setback to U.S. terror fight
By SHASHANK BENGALI
McClatchy Newspapers

http://www.kansascity.com/451/story/898656.html


Al-Shabaab, a radical Islamist group that U.S. officials say is tied to al-Qaida, has methodically seized much of southern Somalia and is poised to take the capital, Mogadishu, as the country's internationally backed government nears collapse.

The rise of al-Shabaab - from the Arabic word for "youth" - in many ways represents the very scenario that the Bush administration sought to avoid two years ago, when it quietly backed an invasion by Somalia's neighbor, Ethiopia, to drive a federation of hard-line Islamic courts out of Mogadishu.

The invasion aimed to forestall a Taliban-style regime that could have become an East African haven for jihadists. But diplomats, regional analysts and former al-Shabaab fighters say that it's fueled a diverse Islamist insurgency that's now stronger and more sophisticated than ever, and seems bent on retaking control of the country.

American officials "are fearful" of a return to hardline Islamist rule in Somalia, according to one official who wasn't authorized to discuss the subject publicly. "There's no question that (the insurgency) is more violent than it has been in recent history, and we are extremely concerned about that," the U.S. official said.

Of several insurgent factions claiming territory in southern Somalia, the most powerful is unquestionably al-Shabaab, whose leaders claim allegiance to Osama bin Laden and rule based on a strict form of sharia, or Islamic law.

In recent months, their forces have been bolstered by the arrival of foreign-trained jihadists and by ready supplies of cash, weapons and mercenaries flowing easily through one of the most lawless and impoverished regions of Africa.

The group has recruited perhaps hundreds of fighters from across the permeable border in Kenya, paying young, jobless Muslim men upward of $100 a month and promising large sums to the families of martyrs, say Kenyan ex-militants.

They're also joined by a small but influential number of jihadists from Arab countries who train the mostly young and inexperienced Somali fighters in suicide bombing and other tactics, the fighters say.

Despite nearly two decades of chaos and militia rule, foreign fighters are a new phenomenon in Somalia and a sign that al-Shabaab is "becoming more dangerous," said Richard Barno of the Institute for Security Studies, a South Africa-based think tank. Analysts credit al-Shabaab's foreign wing with plotting five coordinated car bombings in northern Somalia last month that killed at least 31 people - the worst terrorist strike in the country in recent memory.

Analysts say it's unclear if al-Shabaab's links to al-Qaida are operational or mere bluster, but CIA director Michael Hayden last week identified Somalia as a region where al-Qaida was forming new partnerships. In March, the State Department designated al-Shabaab as a terrorist organization that included "a number of individuals affiliated with al Qaida" and that "many of its senior leaders . . . trained and fought with al Qaida in Afghanistan."

U.S. officials accuse the group of sheltering suspects in the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed more than 220 people. The Pentagon has launched several airstrikes inside Somalia against suspected terrorists, including Aden Hashi Ayro, a top al-Shabaab commander and reputed al-Qaida operative, who was killed in a U.S. strike in May.

In backing the Ethiopian invasion two years ago, Bush administration officials made similar allegations about leaders of the Islamic courts, including Hassan Dahir Aweys, a hardliner who commands a militia from his base in neighboring Eritrea. But in a sign of a softer approach this time around, the U.S. official said that American envoys had met with allies of Aweys in recent months.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on November 23, 2008, 09:03:22 am
17 Killed In Mogadishu Fighting

[img=http://www.nasdaq.com/aspxcontent/NewsStory.aspx?cpath=20081121%5CACQRTT200811211121RTTRADERUSEQUITY_0618.htm&selected=9999&selecteddisplaysymbol=9999&StoryTargetFrame=_top&mkt=WORLD&chk=unchecked&lang=&link=&headlinereturnpage=http://www.international.nasd]http://LINK CLICK HERE[/img]

(RTTNews) -
At least 17 people were killed after the government troops repelled an insurgent attack on the house of district commissioner in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Friday, said officials and witnesses.

Officials said that the fighting broke out after Islamist insurgents attacked the house of district commissioner Ahmed Da'I on Friday morning. They added that some 15 insurgents and two government soldiers were killed in the fighting.

Witnesses and local officials said that the clashes between the insurgents and the government troops lasted for almost two hours and added that six soldiers were wounded in the fighting.

Somalia has not had a functioning government after the fall of the last government in 1991. Recently, the violence escalated after the country's weak transitional government ousted the Islamists from Mogadishu with Ethiopian help in December 2006.

In October, the interim government of Somalia and the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) had signed a UN-brokered peace deal aimed at ending 17 years of anarchy in the troubled Horn of Africa country.

The deal was signed in neighboring Djibouti and it requires the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from strategic areas in Mogadishu and the central town of Beledweyne from 21 November 2008 onwards, leaving them under the control of African Union troops in Somalia (AMISOM).

However, several Somali Islamist militant groups, including the powerful Al-Shabaab group, rejected the deal, saying that that they will negotiate with the country's transitional government only after the Ethiopian army, which was called in to support the government in late 2006, leaves Somalia.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on November 23, 2008, 09:05:02 am
SCENARIOS-Is Somalia on the verge of an Islamist takeover?
Fri 21 Nov 2008, 9:16 GMT

By Andrew Cawthorne

http://africa.reuters.com/country/ET/news/usnLL429900.html

NAIROBI, Nov 21 (Reuters)
- Rampant piracy offshore and an advance by Islamist rebels on Mogadishu have put Somalia's long-running civil conflict in the global spotlight.

Here are some possible scenarios for the country.


ISLAMIST TAKEOVER?

* After a two-year insurgency, Islamist fighters are within nine miles (six km) of the capital and President Abdullahi Yusuf admits his Western-backed government is on the verge of collapse. The Islamists or aligned groups now control most of the south, except Mogadishu and the seat of parliament, Baidoa.

* The Islamists' momentum in recent months has led to some predictions of an imminent assault on the capital, where they launch regular guerrilla-style attacks on the government and its Ethiopian military allies.

* But the rebels are split. The most militant wing, al Shabaab, which is on Washington's terrorist list, is urging jihad, or holy war. Moderate elements in another faction, the Islamic Courts Union, are leaning towards talks. The umbrella opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) is divided into a pro-peace group known as ARS-Djibouti and a hardline wing ARS-Eritrea.

* Some analysts say the Islamists may be quietly satisfied with the current, Iraq-style situation of daily attacks in Mogadishu, drawing in African peacekeepers and keeping Somali-Ethiopian troops bogged down. The presence of several thousand Ethiopian troops -- who beat them militarily at the end of 2006 -- is a major deterrent to an assault on the city.

* Should the Islamists take the capital, hardline leaders say they will impose sharia law across the south. Washington fears that would make it a haven for al Qaeda-linked extremists, and neighbouring Ethiopia fears a push on its ethnically Somali regions. But some regional diplomats say the world should have nothing to fear from an Islamist-led Somalia, provided -- crucially -- al Shabaab and other militants are marginalised. The northern states of Somaliland and Puntland run their own affairs, with the former having declared itself independent.

* Islamist leaders have publicly vowed to stamp out piracy if they take over and cite their action against gangs when they ruled the south for half of 2006. But analysts say some factions, including Shabaab, are increasingly linked to piracy, using the gangs to bring arms from abroad and sharing spoils.


POWER-SHARING?

* After 14 attempts to re-establish effective central government in Somalia since warlords toppled a dictator in 1991, another one came along this year. The U.N. special envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has been leading talks in Djibouti between the government and moderate Islamists.

* Both sides have signed a ceasefire in principle and an agreement to form a power-sharing government. But with hardline Islamists stepping up attacks every time the peace process moves a notch forward, it has had no impact in stemming violence on the ground. Further, Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein says Yusuf himself is opposed to the peace process. "The president is an obstacle, no doubt," he told Reuters this week, underlining rifts that are frustrating the government's foreign backers.

* East African nations and the wider international community are backing power-sharing as the best way to avoid the collapse of Yusuf's government while adapting to the reality of Islamist power on the ground.

* A regional summit in Nairobi at the end of October gave the Somali government a 15-day deadline for a cabinet reshuffle to bring in some moderate opponents. The deadline has expired.


FOREIGN INTERVENTION?

* Any talk of foreign intervention in Somalia is tinged with memories of disastrous U.N. and U.S. interventions in the early 1990s, perhaps most vividly illustrated by the "Black Hawk Down" battle in 1993 when 18 American troops were killed.

* The African Union (AU) has a 3,000-strong peacekeeping force of Ugandans and Burundians, but they have been unable to do much more than guard a few key installations like the presidential palace and airport. Both of those have been hit by insurgents, however, and AU troops themselves are targets too.

* The AU is struggling to increase the force to an intended 8,000, though Nigeria and others are talking of soon sending reinforcements. The pan-African body's preferred option, however, is to hand over to the United Nations.

* The U.N. Security Council appears to have no political appetite for another major intervention in Africa -- at a time when it is facing criticism over failing to keep the peace in Congo and Darfur -- but has begun contingency planning in case.

* By contrast, foreign nations have swung into quick action to try to contain piracy which has reached unprecedented levels this year in the nearby Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean waters.

* The NATO alliance and the European Union (EU) have sent ships, while the United States, France, Russia, India and others have all stepped up patrols in the area. As if mocking their efforts, pirates took a Saudi supertanker off Kenya last weekend in their biggest and geographically furthest strike yet.

* Ethiopia has been quietly withdrawing soldiers it sent in 2006 to back the government. But it still has several thousand there and is viewed as unlikely to pull them all out for fear of an al Shabaab assault on Mogadishu.


CHAOS AS NORMAL?

* In the absence of any major shift in Somali politics, the current quagmire would simply continue.

* Fighting has killed 10,000 civilians since early 2007 and more would undoubtedly be caught up in daily clashes. More than 1 million are internal refugees, and that number would grow.

* Foreign fighters may continue to be attracted to "Africa's Iraq" which militants present as a war against infidel invaders.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on November 23, 2008, 09:08:01 am
SOMALIA ISLAMIST INSURGENTS VOW TO CRUSH PIRATES AND STORM PORT IN HUNT FOR PIRATE GANGS

http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=256009&version=1&template_id=39&parent_id=21

MOGADISHU:
Dozens of Somali Islamist insurgents stormed a port yesterday hunting the pirates behind the seizure of a Saudi supertanker that was the world’s biggest hijack, a local elder said.
Separately, police in the capital Mogadishu said they had ambushed and shot dead 17 militants, in the latest illustration of the chaos in the Horn of Africa country that has fuelled a dramatic surge in piracy.

The Sirius Star — a Saudi vessel with a $100mn oil cargo and 25-man crew from the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, Poland and Britain — is believed anchored offshore near Haradheere, about half-way up Somalia’s long coastline.
“Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country and hijacking its ship is a bigger crime than other ships,” Sheikh Abdirahim Isse Adow, an Islamist spokesman, said. “Haradheere is under our control and we shall do something about that ship.”
Both the US Navy and Dubai-based ship operator Vela International said they could not confirm a media report the hijackers were demanding a $25mn ransom. That would be the biggest demand to date by pirates who prey on boats in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean off Somalia.

A pirate identifying himself as Jamii Adam told the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that negotiations were taking place with the ship’s owners, saying the ransom demanded was not excessive but declining to give a figure.
He said it had cost the pirates $500,000 to seize the vessel. “We bore many costs to hijack it,” he said.
Iran’s biggest shipping firm said gunmen holding a Hong Kong-flagged ship carrying wheat and 25 crew members had set demands for its release, but it did not reveal what they were.

An upsurge of attacks this year has forced up shipping insurance costs, made some firms go round South Africa instead of via the Suez Canal, brought millions in ransom payments, and prompted an international naval response.
In Mogadishu, police said they laid in wait and shot dead 17 fighters from the militant al Shabaab insurgent group during an attempted attack on a senior official.

The Islamists have been fighting the government and its Ethiopian allies for about two years. They launch near-daily guerrilla strikes in the capital and control most of the south, including a town just 14km from Mogadishu.
Islamist leaders deny allegations they collude with pirates and insist they will stamp down on them if they win power, citing a crackdown when they ruled the south briefly in 2006.

Some analysts, however, say Islamist militants are benefiting from the spoils of piracy and arms shipments facilitated by the sea gangs. Analysts also accuse government figures of collaboration with pirates.
The elder in Haradheere port said the Islamists arrived wanting to find out immediately about the Sirius Star, which was captured last Saturday about 450 nautical miles off Kenya in the pirates’ furthest strike to date.
“The Islamists arrived searching for the pirates and the whereabouts of the Saudi ship,” said the elder, who declined to be named. “I saw four cars full of Islamists driving in the town from corner to corner. The Islamists say they will attack the pirates for hijacking a Muslim ship.”

In Mogadishu, al Shabaab gunmen drove to the home of the local Madina district chairman early in the morning, but found police officers lying in wait, witnesses said.
“We got information before they left their hideouts and we were able to surround them,” said a police spokesman. “Thirteen of the dead bodies lie in the street near the chairman’s house.”
Residents said the al Shabaab fighters wore black scarves round their heads.

Somalis are traditionally moderate Muslims, and analysts say al Shabaab — which Washington has listed as a foreign terrorist organisation with close links to Al Qaeda — does not have deep popular support, despite having the upper hand militarily.
Somalia has been without effective central government since the 1991 toppling of a military dictator by warlords.
The capture of the Sirius Star has caused panic around the world, with the rampant piracy threatening to become a further drag on trade at a time of global economic downturn.

Kenya’s Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula summoned foreign ambassadors in Nairobi to appeal for their countries to make all efforts to end the menace. “Act now and not tomorrow,” he said.
Somalia’s President Abdullahi Yusuf said in Nairobi that Somalis had only themselves to blame for their difficult circumstances.
“No one attacked us and forced us into this condition. It is as a result of our actions that we destroyed our nationhood ... The freedom and the unity of the Somali people is on the edge of falling,” Yusuf told reporters. — Reuters

 
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on November 23, 2008, 11:49:58 am
Islamic Fighters Threaten Pirates

LINK HERE (http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Somalia-Islamist-Shebab-Militant-Group-Threatens-Pirates-Holding-Sirius-Star-Oil-Tanker/Article/200811415159576?lpos=World_News_First_Home_Article_Teaser_Region_7&lid=ARTICLE_15159576_Somalia%3A_Islamist_Shebab_Militant_Group_Threatens_Pirates_Holding_Sirius_Star_Oil_Tanker)

12:42pm UK, Sunday November 23, 2008
Somali Islamist fighters have given pirates holding a Saudi oil tanker an ultimatum: free the ship or face the threat of an armed attack.


 

Shebab militants training near Mogadishu


Sheikh Ahmed, a spokesman for the Shebab group in the coastal region of Harardhere, told the AFP news agency: "If the pirates want peace, they had better release the tanker."

The Sirius Star, a tanker carrying around $100m worth of crude oil and owned by Saudi Aramco, was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean on November 15.

Pirates have since anchored it off their base in Harardhere and have demanded a ransom of $25m be paid by November 30.

The Shebab (meaning "youth") armed group controls much of southern and central Somalia, and has positioned fighters in and around Harardhere in recent days.

Islamist leaders have stressed that piracy is a capital offence in Islam and officially condemned the surge in acts of piracy in Somalia's waters.

 

Pirates on board the Sirius Star


A member of the pirate group holding the Sirius Star retorted that his own men were not afraid of the Shebab's threats.

Mohamed Said said: "We are the Shebab of the sea and we can't be scared by the Shebab of the land. If anybody attempts to attack, that would be suicide."

Mr Said reiterated that his group is demanding $25m to release the vessel, which is carrying the equivalent of almost a quarter of top producer Saudi Arabia's daily output.

Speaking to AFP by telephone he said: "I am not on the tanker at the moment because I am co-ordinating what is happening on the ground.

"There is a small Shebab vanguard on the ground but we also have a strong presence."

The pirate added: "Every Somali has great respect for the holy kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We have nothing against them but unfortunately what happened was just business for us and I hope the Saudis will understand."

Some residents in Harardhere have argued that the Shebab are divided over the issue of piracy and that some of the Islamist fighters have moved into the region only to claim a share of the ransom.

Authorities have played down the idea of attacking the ship on the grounds that it would be too dangerous and would probably result in the deaths of some or all of the hostage crew.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on November 29, 2008, 08:12:24 am
Ethiopia to pull troops out of Somalia

Yesterday, 10:44 am
 Tsegaye Tadesse

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/22/20081128/twl-uk-somalia-conflict-bd5ae06.html

Ethiopia said on Friday it would withdraw its troops from Somalia by the end of this year, piling pressure on Somalia's feuding government and African nations that had promised to send peacekeepers. Skip related content


Addis Ababa has sent thousands of soldiers to support Somalia's Western-backed interim administration, whose divisions have hindered its battle against Islamist militants waging an Iraq-style insurgency.

President Abdullahi Yusuf's government wants a fully-fledged United Nations peacekeeping force to replace a small African Union (AU) mission that has been unable to stem the violence.

"The Ethiopians are at the end of their tether because of the squabbling in the interim government, which they have backed at such enormous human and financial cost," Rashid Abdi, Somalia expert at the International Crisis Group, told Reuters.

He said Ethiopia was also angry at the West, which gave it tacit approval to deploy there, but then let it shoulder the burden of trying to stabilise Somalia, while also criticising human rights abuses by its soldiers there.

"I think they'll decide to pull out their forces, seal the border, then make the kind of incursions they made in the past to ensure the (Islamist rebels) do not become a serious threat."

A spokesman for Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry told Reuters that Addis Ababa had had informed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Jean Ping, chairman of the AU Commission, by letter on Tuesday of its decision to withdraw its military forces.

Fighting in Somalia has killed 10,000 civilians since early 2007, driven more than a million from their homes and left more than 3 million Somalis in need of emergency food aid.

ISLAMIST ADVANCE

The Islamists, some of whom the United States accuses of having links to al Qaeda, control most of the south of the country and have been slowly advancing on the capital Mogadishu.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has repeatedly expressed his frustration at the failure of Somali government leaders to reconcile with each other, and with moderate members of the opposition, and this week he raised the stakes a notch.

Ethiopian troops have frequently clashed with the rebels, who control most of the south and launch near-daily attacks on government forces and AU peacekeepers in the capital Mogadishu.

Nearly two decades of chaos in the poor Horn of Africa country has created a breeding ground for kidnappings, banditry and rampant piracy in the busy shipping lanes offshore.

In the latest attack at sea, a regional maritime group said a Liberian-flagged chemical tanker, the Biscaglia, was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden early on Friday.

Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, said it had 30 crew on board -- 25 Indians, three Britons and two Bangladeshis.

"I understand some of the crew managed to escape but I have no confirmation of that," he told Reuters, adding that the ship was managed by Singapore-based Ishima Pte Ltd.

Somali pirates on November 15 seized a Saudi supertanker, the biggest ship ever hijacked. They are still holding it.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on December 02, 2008, 04:25:54 pm
Somalia: Another CIA-Backed Coup Blows Up

By Mike Whitney

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article21375.htm

"The Ethiopian invasion, which was sanctioned by the US government, has destroyed virtually all the life-sustaining economic systems which the population has built for the last fifteen years." Abdi Samatar, professor of Global Studies at the University of Minnesota, Democracy Now

December 02, 2008 "Information Clearinghouse" --- Up until a month ago, no one in the Bush administration showed the least bit of interest in the incidents of piracy off the coast of Somalia. Now that's all changed and there's talk of sending in the Navy to patrol the waters off the Horn of Africa and clean up the pirates hideouts. Why the sudden about-face? Could it have something to do with the fact that the Ethiopian army is planning to withdrawal all of its troops from Mogadishu by the end of the year, thus, ending the failed two year US-backed occupation of Somalia?

The United States has lost the ground war in Somalia, but that doesn't mean its geopolitical objectives have changed one iota. The US intends to stay in the region for years to come and use its naval power to control the critical shipping lanes from the Gulf of Aden. The growing strength of the Somali national resistance is a set-back, but it doesn't change the basic game-plan. The pirates are actually a blessing in disguise. They provide an excuse for the administration to beef up it's military presence and put down roots. Every crisis is an opportunity.

There's an interesting subtext to the pirate story that hasn't appeared in the western media. According to Simon Assaf of the Socialist Worker:

"Many European, US and Asian shipping firms – notably Switzerland's Achair Partners and Italy's Progresso – signed dumping deals in the early 1990s with Somalia's politicians and militia leaders. This meant they could use the coast as a toxic dumping ground. This practice became widespread as the country descended into civil war.
Nick Nuttall of the UN Environment Programme said, "European companies found it was very cheap to get rid of the waste."

When the Asian tsunami of Christmas 2005 washed ashore on the east coast of Africa, it uncovered a great scandal. Tons of radioactive waste and toxic chemicals drifted onto the beaches after the giant wave dislodged them from the sea bed off Somalia. Tens of thousands of Somalis fell ill after coming into contact with this cocktail. They complained to the United Nations (UN), which began an investigation.

"There are reports from villagers of a wide range of medical problems such as mouth bleeds, abdominal hemorrhages, unusual skin disorders and breathing difficulties," the UN noted.

Some 300 people are believed to have died from the poisonous chemicals.

In 2006 Somali fishermen complained to the UN that foreign fishing fleets were using the breakdown of the state to plunder their fish stocks. These foreign fleets often recruited Somali militias to intimidate local fishermen. Despite repeated requests, the UN refused to act. Meanwhile the warships of global powers that patrol the strategically important Gulf of Aden did not sink or seize any vessels dumping toxic chemicals off the coast.

So angry Somalis, whose waters were being poisoned and whose livelihoods were threatened, took matters into their own hands. Fishermen began to arm themselves and attempted to act as unofficial coastguards." (Socialist Worker)

The origins of piracy in Somalia is considerably different than the narrative in the media which tends to perpetuate stereotypes of scary black men who are naturally inclined to criminal behavior. In reality, the pirates were the victims of a US-EU run system that still uses the developing world as a dumping ground for toxic waste regardless of the suffering it causes. (just ask Larry Summers) In fact, the dumping continues to this day, even though we have been assured that we're living in a "post racial era" following the election of Barak Obama. Unfortunately, that rule doesn't apply to the many black and brown people who still find themselves caught in the imperial crosshairs. Their lives are just as miserable as ever.

ETHIOPIA'S PLAN FOR WITHDRAWAL

In 2006, the Bush administration supported an alliance of Somali warlords known as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) that established a base of operations in the western city of Baidoa. With the help of the Ethiopian army, western mercenaries, US Navy warships, and AC-130 gunships; the TFG captured Mogadishu and forced the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) to retreat to the south. Since then the resistance has coalesced into a tenacious guerrilla army that has recaptured most of the country.

The Bush administration invoked the war on terror to justify its involvement in Somalia, but their case was weak and full of inconsistencies. The ICU is not an Al Qaida affiliate or a terrorist organization despite the claims of the State Department. In fact, the ICU brought a high level of peace and stability to Somalia that hadn't been seen for more than sixteen years.

Political analyst James Petras summed it up like this:

“The ICU was a relatively honest administration, which ended warlord corruption and extortion. Personal safety and property were protected, ending arbitrary seizures and kidnappings by warlords and their armed thugs. The ICU is a broad multi-tendency movement that includes moderates and radical Islamists, civilian politicians and armed fighters, liberals and populists, electoralists and authoritarians. Most important, the Courts succeeded in unifying the country and creating some semblance of nationhood, overcoming clan fragmentation.”

The Bush administration is mainly interested in oil and geopolitics. According to most estimates 30 per cent of America's oil will come from Africa within the next ten years. That means the Pentagon will have to extend its tentacles across the continent. Washington's allies in the TFG promised to pass oil laws that would allow foreign oil companies to return to Somalia, but now all of that is uncertain. It is impossible to know what type of government will emerge from the present conflict. Many pundits expect Somalia to descend into terrorist-breeding, failed state for years to come.

The latest round of fighting has created a humanitarian disaster. 1.3 million people have been forced from their homes with nothing more than what they can carry on their backs. Over 3.5 million people are now huddled in tent cities in the south with little food, clean water or medical supplies.

According to the UN News Center: "Nearly half the population is in crisis or need of assistance....Continuing instability, coupled with drought, high food prices and the collapse of the local currency have only worsened the dire humanitarian situation in recent months. The UN estimates that 40 per cent of the population, are in need of assistance. In addition, one in six children under the age of five in southern and central Somalia is currently acutely malnourished." (UN News Center)

The war between the occupying Ethiopian army and the various guerrilla factions has steadily intensified over the last two years. Fighters from the ICU, Al-Shabaab and other Islamic groups have moved from the south to the vicinity of Mogadishu where fighting could break out at any time. It's "game-over" for Bush's proxy army and the transitional federal government. They cannot win, which is why the Ethiopian leaders announced a complete withdrawal of troops by the end of the year. By January 1, 2009, the occupation will be over.

In a recent Chicago Tribune article, "US Appears to be Losing in Somalia", journalist Paul Salopek sums it up like this:

"(Somalia) is a covert war in which the CIA has recruited gangs of unsavory warlords to hunt down and kidnap Islamic militants...and secretly imprison them offshore, aboard U.S. warships. The British civil-rights group Reprieve contended that as many as 17 U.S. warships may have doubled as floating prisons since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks...

"Somalia is one of the great unrecognized U.S. policy failures since 9/11," said Ken Menkhaus, a leading Somalia scholar at Davidson College in North Carolina. "By any rational metric, what we've ended up with there today is the opposite of what we wanted." (Paul Salopek, "US Appears to be Losing in Somalia" Chicago Tribune)

The CIA has done its job well. It's created a beehive for terrorism and the potential for another catastrophe like 9-11.

Currently, negotiations are underway between the guerrilla leaders and the TFG over a power-sharing agreement. But no one expects the talks will amount to anything. The moderate ICU may regain power but the country will still be ungovernable for years to come. At best, Somalia is a decade away from restoring the fragile peace that was in place before Bush's bloody intervention.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on December 07, 2008, 07:56:58 am
Ethiopian troops shell' Mogadishu

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2008/12/20081251257997188.html
Ethiopian forces are expected to leave Somalia
by the end of the year [AP]




At least 16 people have been killed and dozens injured from suspected shelling by Ethiopian troops in the north of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, witnesses say.

Residents said they believed Friday's shelling had been aimed at a stronghold for anti-government fighters but instead fell on a crowded market.

Omar Mohamed, a Mogadishu resident, said: "A shell landed in the market killing five women and two men.

"We are shocked and collecting their scattered flesh. I could see 10 injured people."

Halima Bare, another resident, said two mortar shells killed four people and a baby in a restaurant and that she saw three more bodies at a bus stop.

Sheikh Abdirahim Isse Adow, the spokesman for the Islamic Courts Union (ICU),  said: "We have great sympathy for the innocent civilians who are being killed."

There was no immediate comment from the Ethiopians.

The ICU, a group which had taken control of large areas of the country in opposition to the interim government, was driven out of Mogadishu in 2006 when the government brought in Ethiopian forces to help them fight.

The ICU and several other anti-government groups and splinter groups still remain in the Horn of Africa nation.

Pressure and urgency

Anti-government fighters, who now control most of southern Somalia, mount daily attacks on the Western-backed government and its Ethiopian supporters.

Analysts say it will be hard for them to take control of Mogadishu while heavily armed Ethiopian forces remain stationed there.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia has said its troops will withdraw from the country by the end of 2008.

The announcement puts pressure on Somalia's interim government and adds urgency to its long-standing request for international peacekeepers.

Fighting in Somalia has killed 10,000 civilians since early 2007, driven more than a million from their homes and left more than three million Somalis in need of emergency food aid.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on December 07, 2008, 08:02:00 am
13 dead as insurgents seize Somalia town

By REUTERSPosted Saturday, December 6 2008 at 20:02

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/africa/-/1066/499184/-/147j04uz/-/index.html


The hardline Islamist insurgent group al Shabaab has taken control of a central Somali trading town after fighting that killed at least 13 people and wounded dozens of others, residents said on Saturday.

The capture of Gurael, 370 km (230 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu, adds to the growing hold al Shabaab has gained across south and central Somalia in a two-year insurgency against the government and its Ethiopian military allies.

Locals said al Shabaab, which means youth in Arabic, took Gurael after three days of fighting with a government-allied moderate Sunni Islamist group in the area.

The battle began after al Shabaab fighters arrested a local Koranic teacher of that group, they said.

“I have counted 10 dead men myself,” one local resident, Ali Aden, told Reuters by telephone from the area. “Six died yesterday and four were lying in the paths of the deserted town this morning. It is now under control of al Shabaab.”

Witnesses spoke of chaos in the area, with bullets being fired on vehicles full of fleeing residents. Three women were killed in one lorry, they said.

More than 5,000 Gurael residents had fled to the protection of nearby woods, a local human rights group said. Medical staff were overwhelmed.

“We received 15 injured people including civilians and fighters. And we hear many families fled with injuries to other towns,” said Ismail Ali, a nurse at Guarel hospital. Al Shabaab leaders could not be reached for comment.

Since the start of 2007, al Shabaab and other Islamist rebels have waged an Iraq-style insurgency of mortar attacks, roadside bombings and assassinations in Mogadishu, and been gradually taking towns across south-central Somalia.

They hold one town within just a few miles of Mogadishu.

With Ethiopia saying it will withdraw its troops from Somalia by the end of the year, and the Western-backed interim government remaining weak and split, some believe al Shabaab may be poised to take over Mogadishu soon.

It is hampered, however, by splits within the Islamist ranks, where some oppose al Shabaab’s militancy and support U.N.-brokered peace talks aimed at a power-sharing government.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on December 10, 2008, 08:31:40 am
Ethiopia sends more troops into Somalia

http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=29138

Ethiopia redeploys troops across border into Somalia, reoccupies former military positions in Mogadishu.

 
MOGADISHU
- Ethiopia sent troops across the border into Somalia on Tuesday and reoccupied former military positions in Mogadishu, raising questions about its withdrawal plans, witnesses said.

Addis Ababa did not comment on the troop movements, which some residents saw as negating Ethiopia's pledge to pull out its troops by the end of the year, while others interpreted it as a tactical move to ensure a smooth withdrawal.

"The Ethiopians deployed a battalion of their troops in Somalia's border town of Kalabeyr in the central Hiran region," said Abdi Moalin Farah, a resident in the nearby town of Beledweyn.

"I don't know what they want," he said, adding that the troops had left their positions there only two weeks earlier.

Other witnesses in the region confirmed the redeployment.

In the capital Mogadishu, Ethiopian troops reoccupied part of the northern district of Yaqshiid, residents said.

"Three areas which were vacated by Ethiopian troops five days ago were reoccupied," said Abdullahe Mohamud, a local businessman. "Their actions show that Ethiopia is not sincere when it pledges to leave Somalia."

Ethiopia's foreign ministry announced late last month that it would pull its troops out of Somalia by year's end, wrapping up its ill-fated two-year occupation of the conflict-ridden country.

Ethiopia subsequently said it could delay its pullout "by a few days."

The Ethiopian army invaded Somalia in late 2006 to rescue Somalia's embattled transitional government and oust the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which controlled of much of the country's central and southern regions.

The ICU had ruled much of Somalia with relative peace and prosperity until the Ethiopian involvement.

Since then, ICU fighters have waged a deadly insurgency against the Ethiopian and the transitional government forces.

But Ethiopian troops’ retaliations have caused many casualties among Somali civilians.

Since the Ethiopian invasion, about one million Somalis have fled their homes. An estimated 6,500 civilians have been killed.

Aid workers estimate 2.6 million Somalis need assistance. That number is expected to reach 3.5 million by the end of the year if the humanitarian situation does not improve, according to the UN.

In May 2008, Amnesty International accused the Ethiopian troops in Somalia of increasingly resorting to throat-slitting executions, highlighting an "increasing incidence" of gruesome methods by Ethiopian forces that include rape and torture.

Since the ousting of the ICU, Somalia had plunged into unprecedented chaos, where warlords and pirates have returned to the scene.

Many in Somalia see the departure of Ethiopian troops as a precondition to peace negotiations.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on December 10, 2008, 09:08:56 am
Somalia: 30 killed in renewed clashes
Posted on Sunday 7 December 2008 - 10:45

http://www.africanews.com/site/list_messages/22017


Separate clashes have erupted in Somalia especially in the capital city of Mogadishu, the central regions - Gedo, Baidoa, and Juba regions. At least 30 people have been killed and more others injured in the fighting among Islamists, clan militia, and Ethiopian troops.
Late on Friday, 15 civilians died after Ethiopian troops fired heavy mortar shells in Suqa-holaha village northeast of Mogadishu. 25 others got wounded in this area, eye witnesses said. The accident broke out when insurgents threw several mortar shells into the base of Ethiopian forces in Huriwa districts.

Officials at Daynile Hospital projected about 25 injured persons including women and children.

In Baidoa, the settlement area of the Somali congress, insurgents attacked with grenades at government armed forces in a market place on Saturday. Witnesses said the explosion killed two civilians and 10 were injured including government soldiers.

Also, at least 12 people were killed and 10 others wounded after clashes between two groups Al shabab and Ahlu Sunna wal-Jamee’a broke out.

Reports coming from Juba regions say several people are dead and wounded as a result of heavy clashes near Dhoobley between Al shabab Militants who control the area and troops loyal to Ogden National liberation front (ONLF).

“Al Shabab attacked our military base in Ali-Bolay near Dhoobley. We defended ourselves and battled the enemy. Some of our people are wounded but no death. I don’t know their side,” said Hamid Hirsi a spokesperson of ONLF armed men.

Several people embarked on demonstrations to register their protest against the war. They wielded placards some of which read: “We don’t like this war and must stop it.”
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on December 11, 2008, 06:20:43 am
US gets tough on Somali pirates
By Laura Trevelyan
BBC News, UN headquarters, New York

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7776664.stm

 
Piracy has grown increasingly lucrative in Somalia


Foreign troops supporting Somalia's government should be allowed to capture Somali pirates on land, according to a draft UN Security Council resolution.

The draft has been circulated by the US and seen by UN diplomats in New York.

Currently countries are allowed to hunt down pirates in Somalia's territorial waters but not pursue them on land.

Piracy off Somalia's coastline is rife - 120 attacks have been reported in 2008, and at least 16 ships are still being held, including a Saudi tanker.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution in June allowing countries operating with the consent of Somalia's transitional government to go into Somalia's territorial waters and use force to capture pirates.

Now the US is proposing stronger measures.

Security Council diplomats say an American-drafted resolution suggests countries should be able to pursue pirates onto land if necessary, providing the Somali government agrees.

America's deputy ambassador at the UN, Alejandro Wolff, said that given the threats posed by pirates no stone would be left unturned on this issue.

It is not clear how much support this proposal will have - Russia and China are traditionally cautious about interfering in the affairs of other nations.

US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, will be at the UN next Tuesday for a meeting on piracy, and US diplomats hope the resolution will be adopted then.

In its final weeks, President Bush's administration is also pushing for an international peacekeeping force to be sent to Somalia.

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon suggested a coalition of the willing should be assembled rather than a conventional UN peacekeeping force, as there is no peace to keep in Somalia - so far countries have not volunteered to send their troops.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on December 11, 2008, 02:04:16 pm
Top Islamist returns to Somalia
 
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed backs a UN-brokered reconciliation process

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7775697.stm


One of Somalia's main Islamist leaders has returned to the Somali capital two years after being driven from power.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) was ousted by the Ethiopian-backed interim government.

His arrival follows a deal, between the government and the opposition movement he now leads, which should see Ethiopia withdraw its forces later this month.

The Islamist al-Shabab insurgent group that controls much of southern Somalia has not signed up to the peace deal.

Correspondents say Mr Ahmed was regarded as the more moderate of the leaders in the UIC, the group which ruled most of the country for the second half of 2006.

Islamist rival Sheikh Hassan Aweys has accused Mr Ahmed of siding with the enemy.

Somalia has been without a central government for nearly two decades and half of the population is dependent on food aid.

'Good step forward'

Mr Ahmed was welcomed at Mogadishu's main airport by members of the current government.

UN peace envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, told the BBC it was "a good step forward" in the peace process.

In late 2006, the UIC, which Mr Ahmed headed along with Mr Aweys, was overthrown by troops from neighbouring Ethiopia - who still protect the beleaguered government they then installed.

The Ethiopian move was supported by the United States, which said the Somali Islamists had links with al-Qaeda.

BBC world affairs correspondent Mark Doyle says over the past two years Mogadishu has been the scene of violence on a scale that is unprecedented even for Somalia.

Islamist and nationalist forces have battled the Somali government and their Ethiopian allies on an almost daily basis, causing at least half a million people to flee the city into the surrounding semi-desert.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on December 11, 2008, 04:27:34 pm
Atrocity Unlimited: US Seeks to Turn Somalia into Global Free-Fire Zone
Chris Floyd


www.uruknet.info?p=49502

Link: www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/3/1660-atrocity-unlimited-us-seeks
   -to-turn-somalia-into-global-free-fire-zone.html

December 11. 2008


Not content with destroying the only vestige of stability that Somalia had known for almost two decades by arming, backing and participating in a brutal "regime change" invasion by Ethiopia, the Bush Administration now wants to turn the ravaged land into an international "free fire zone," a giant Fallujah where any powerful nation on earth can launch armed incursions on Somali soil, wreaking the usual "collateral damage" in the search for pirates -- or for those arbitrarily designated as pirates.

The Bush Regime is drafting a UN Security Council resolution that will give "the international community" carte blanche to "hunt down" alleged pirates on land in Somalia, the Guardian reports:

A draft resolution that would permit states fighting piracy to "take all necessary measures ashore in Somalia, including in its airspace" has been circulated to members of the UN Security Council. Prior consent for raids would be required from Somalia's weak and fractured government...

As we noted here recently, the "Somali government" is a rapidly collapsing coalition of CIA-paid warlords and Ethiopian collaborators which "controls" only a few city blocks of territory in the entire country. It is unfathomable that this near-fictitious entity would or could oppose a "request" by a world power to send armed forces into Somalia in a noble quest to clamp down on pirates. And what happens when these invading forces inevitably clash with the various other armed groups now waging a multi-sided, hydra-headed war in the country? Why, the invaders will have to take stern "force protection" measures, of course.

The story goes on to note that the locations of the "pirate lairs are well-known":

Along Somalia's north-eastern coast, villages and towns such as Eyl, Haradheere and Hobyo provide sanctuary and logistical support for pirate gangs holding at least 14 ships.

And it is certainly not surprising that the Western backers of the Somali "government" know just where the pirates are: they provided mighty assistance in their rise, as we noted here a few weeks ago:

For one thing, [the Times] notes something that is almost never mentioned in any story about Somalia, neither in the very rare stories about the conflict itself or the rather more numerous stories about piracy and its effects on commercial shipping (an issue far more important that the lives of 10,000 innocent human beings, of course): the fact that the main backers and bankrollers of the pirate gangs "are linked to the Western-backed government."

The conservative UK paper then goes on to give an accurate account of how these pirate-backing factions came to power -- facts that are almost universally ignored by the "liberal" American media . (Not to mention the "progressive blogosphere;" indeed, you can actually find more references to the Somalia war in the corporate press than among our internet "dissidents.") :

Years of violence, neglect and misguided policies have left Somalia one of the most dangerous countries and a breeding ground for the pirates attacking one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

Today the northeast area of the country, including Puntland, has been carved up by warlords who finance themselves by drug and gun running. This is also the heartland of the pirates, whose main backers are linked to the Western-backed government. Radical Islamists control much of the south, including the key port of Kismayo and the porous border area with Kenya, a staunch Western ally.

This has realised a Western nightmare, which was supposed to have been destroyed by Ethiopia’s American-backed invasion of Somalia two years ago in support of a puppet government created by the international community. That alliance spanned the spectrum from extreme radicals to moderate, devout Muslims. The latter were in charge.

Everyone – except Pentagon planners, it seems – knew that Somalia had never proved fertile territory for Saudi-style radical Islam. However, indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas by Ethiopia, Somalia’s historic enemy, with huge casualties, put an end to that. The Islamists were driven out, the moderates went into exile and the hardliners took control of the south with a popular powerbase beyond their wildest dreams.

A puppet government, installed by foreign invasion, riddled with crime and corruption, alienating and radicalizing the population: here we see the quintessential template of the "War on Terror," replicated faithfully in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia -- and soon, perhaps, in Pakistan.

And now the Bush Regime -- going out in a Götterdämmerung of blood and fury aimed at the world (and at the American people) -- wants to intensify the chaos in Somalia, laying it bare to more invasions, "precision strikes," death squad operations, renditions and other atrocities, this time coming from not just from Washington and its Terror War proxies but from all directions. This is the answer of the American militarist state to any problem, such as piracy or terrorism: the blunderbuss assault of massive military force by land, sea and air; vast destruction, social collapse -- and immeasurable, unbounded human suffering.

This is the reality of much-praised "continuity" in "national security affairs" that Barack Obama's appointments have promised. This is what will be "continued."

Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on December 12, 2008, 10:03:22 am
'Thousands' desert Somalia forces
 
The UN says militants get weapons from the deserters

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7779525.stm

More than 80% of Somalia's soldiers and police - about 15,000 members - have deserted, some taking weapons, uniforms and vehicles, the UN says.


The head of the UN monitoring group on Somalia, Dumisani Kumalo, said Islamist insurgents got many of their weapons and ammunition from the deserters.

The head of the Somali police rejected the UN's report.

Meanwhile, the African Union wants peacekeepers from Burundi and Uganda to stay when Ethiopian troops leave soon.

In the UN report, Mr Kumalo, the South African ambassador, also said most of the Somali government's security budget - supposedly 70% of its total budget - disappeared through corruption.

The Somali police chief, Abdi Awale, said all the money had been properly spent, and only a few soldiers and police officers had deserted.

Peacekeeper pledge

With Somalia's fragile transitional government facing a growing insurgency, the African Union's top diplomat said he hoped the 3,400 peacekeepers currently stationed in Mogadishu would stay - despite claims by the Ethiopian prime minister that they would leave.

"We have asked the African countries to increase their participation in Somalia, asked the UNSC (UN Security Council) to join us there, and to the AU partners to help us financing this force," Jean Ping said.

"A withdrawal from Somalia is something we cannot accept, not only the AU, but also the rest of the world," he said, according to AFP news agency.

Mr Ping's comments come in response to a statement in the Ethiopian parliament by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi that African Union peacekeepers wanted to leave Somalia.

The AU force, from Uganda and Burundi, had been expected to stay and even beef up its presence to make up for the planned Ethiopian pull-out at the end of the month.

Ethiopia has said Burundi and Uganda have asked its army to help their peacekeepers pull-out, but Burundi and Uganda have denied this.

The United Nations Security Council is due to consider a US proposal to send a full UN peacekeeping force to Somalia - something the AU has been pressing for.

Ethiopia troops intervened two years ago to oust Islamist forces from the capital, Mogadishu.

But different Islamist factions are again in control of much of southern Somalia.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on December 12, 2008, 02:20:36 pm
Civilians killed in Somalia clashes

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2008/12/20081211104212629171.html

Ahmed, the UIC leader, returned to Somalia after two years following a peace deal [AFP]


At least six civilians have been killed and dozens wounded in Mogadishu in clashes between Ethiopian-backed government forces and opposition fighters.

The fighting came on Thursday, a day after Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, leader of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), a major opposition group, made his first visit to Somalia in two years.

Ahmed's return to Mogadishu follows a peace deal between the government and the UIC, which should see Ethiopian forces pull out later this month.

Under the agreement, the Somali parliament will be doubled to 550 seats, with 200 going to Ahmed's group and 75 to the members of civil society.

However, the Al-Shabab group that controls much of southern Somalia has not signed up to the deal.

Ahmed, along with other top leaders, left Somalia in late 2006 after the UIC, which had ruled much of southern and central Somalia, was routed by allied Somali government and Ethiopian forces.

Somalia's new parliament is scheduled to elect leadership for the Horn of Africa nation early next year.

Piracy

The fighting in Mogadishu came on the same day representatives from 40 countries met in Nairobi, Kenya to try solve the piracy problem off Somalia's coast.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN's special representative for Somalia, said the world has ignored the issue for long.

Somali pirates have seized several large vessels in recent months, including a tanker carrying millions of gallons of crude oil and a Ukrainian freighter loaded with tanks and other military hardware.

An estimated $30m in ransom have been extorted by the pirates this year.

The US sought international authorisation on Wednesday to hunt pirates on land with the co-operation of Somalia's weak government.

The last time the US military entered Somalia in 1992-1993 culminated in deadly clashes in Mogadishu that forced the withdrawal of American forces from the country.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on December 15, 2008, 06:04:09 am
Somali president sacks government

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2008/12/200812147953267517.html



Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the president of Somalia, has dismissed the transitional government led by Nur Hassan Hussein, the prime minister.


"As of now, I have sacked the prime minister and his current government and I will nominate a new prime minister within days," Yusuf said on Sunday at a news conference in the town of Baidoa, where the government is based.

"The government of Nur Hassan Hussein was unable to perform its duties and I am obliged to save the country," he said.

Hussein became prime minister in November 2007 but has disagreed with Yusuf, mostly notably over ongoing peace talks with opposition groups and the make up of a new cabinet.

"The president was speaking in his usual personal capacity, contrary to the rules and regulations, as he is not mandated to sack the prime minister of the transitional federal government," Hussein said after Yusuf announced his decision.

Parliamentary approval

Under the transitional federal charter, the president needs the parliament's approval to sack the prime minister.

"The government of Nur Hassan Hussein was unable to perform its duties and I am obliged to save the country"

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed,
Somali president



But Yusuf expressed confidence that MPs would back his decision.

"Most of the parliamentarians will endorse my decision to dismiss the prime minister," he said.
   
"Should parliament reject my desire to look for a new prime minister, I will comply with their decision and the current government will continue its tenure."

Dr Yusuf al-Hazari, a political and legal adviser to the president, told Al Jazeera that Yusuf had the right to remove the prime minister if he failed to form a cabinet within the time limit set by the constitution. 

"That is always one month and he couldn't establish or form the cabinet ... Nur Hussein could not compose it in two months and 16 days," he said.

Last month, Hussein blamed the president, who has been head of state since the inception of the transitional government in 2004, for the problems in the government due to his refusal to approve new ministers.

Leaders in the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), made up of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia, had called for the new cabinet to be named at a meeting in October.

Government struggles

Hussein replaced Ali Mohamed Gedi who was forced to resign after months of a struggles with Yusuf.

In 2008, he survived a vote of no confidence after some legislators accused him of embezzling state funds.

The transitional government in Somalia has struggled to enforce its control over the chaotic country and in 2006 needed assistance from the Ethiopian military to retake large areas of the country controlled by the Islamic Courts Union.

Since then government forces and their Ethiopian allies have come under near daily attack as the oppostion fighters have gradually re-established their influence.

In November, Yusuf said the government was "on the verge of total collapse" after opposition fighters retook control of large areas of the country.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on December 23, 2008, 04:06:57 pm
Somebody Is Giving Somali Pirates State-Level Intelligence Information

Somebody Is Giving Somali Pirates State-Level Intelligence Information

http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/somali_pirates_161.html

By Victor Thorn


Dispatched from a mother ship in the Gulf of Aden, a dozen pirates toting rocket-propelled grenades, AK 47s, and grappling hooks leap from speedboats to seize control of another ship, which they then commandeer back to the Port of Eyl in Somalia. So far this year, African pirates have hijacked over 100 vessels, collecting approximately $150 million in ransom money. The payments are concealed in waterproof suitcases, then unloaded into the ocean from specially designated helicopters.

Becoming more brazen each week, the pirates recently abducted a Ukranian ship carrying $30 million worth of Soviet-made tanks, grenade launchers, and ammunition; a Saudi Arabian supertanker loaded with $100 million of crude oil; a British luxury cruise liner; a Japanese chemical tanker; a UN relief boat; while an American naval supply ship was also unsuccessfully targeted.

Currently, at least 17 ships and 300 seamen are being detained in Somali ports as negotiations between the pirates and owners take place.

The problem has taken on such international significance that the seas surrounding Africa are being guarded by NATO, China, the U.S., European Union, Russia, India, France, and the UK; while South Korea and Japan intend to join the coalition. To protect their interests, warships, destroyers, helicopters, and nuclear-powered submarines now patrol this area to combat what some call an “oceanic mafia epidemic.”

Newsweek reports that some ship owners have taken to lining the outside of their crafts with barbed wire to prevent sea bandits from boarding. Additional deterrents include electrified fences, high-powered fire hoses, and Long-Range Acoustic Devices (IRADs) that emit an excruciating wall of sound capable of deafening or bursting the eardrums of would-be hijackers.




Despite these efforts, Somali piracy has become a booming industry, with ransom payments surpassing the entire budget of some provinces, such as Puntland. The pirates even boast an official spokesman (Sugule Ali), while syndicate leaders reside in mansions, drive imported luxury cars, and open special eateries which cater to the pirates and their hostages. To facilitate the movement of their illegally seized currency, pirates either launder it through Kenya (whose financial system annually handles over $100 million in dirty money), or via hawala—an informal Western Union-style transfer network in the Islamic world that leaves no paper trail, no records, and has no government regulation.

A recent report by the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics claims there have been “no arrests or prosecution  for money laundering” related to these activities.

The modern-day piracy phenomenon began in 1991 when warlords overthrew Somali dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. With no effective central government, fishermen in this region began noticing that laws against illegal fishing along their 1,800-mile coastline were not being enforced, while they accused international companies of dumping toxic and/or nuclear waste in their waters. With their health and livelihoods threatened, along with mass hunger and continual war against Ethiopia, vigilante syndicates such as the Majarteen clan arose from this chaos.

Spokesman Sugule Ali characterizes the situation as such. “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard.” Another pirate ringleader, Asad Abdulahi, concurs. “We don’t see hijacking as a criminal act, but as a road tax because we have no central government to control our seas.”

The problem is more complex. Evidence shows that some of the ransom money is being funneled toward al-Shabaab, a 3,000-member insurgency group founded in 2004 that has engaged in bombings, shootings, and other
violent acts in their wars against Ethiopian soldiers and the Somali government.

Since 30 percent of the world’s oil passes through the Gulf of Aden, the Horn of Africa leading to the Indian Ocean is an area of global importance. It becomes even more strategic when considering that sophisticated weaponry—brokered in secret deals with Sudan—is being seized, not to mention a ten-fold increase in insurance premiums for ships traveling through this treacherous territory.

Still, some suggest Somali piracy is in fact an excuse for certain countries to exercise or regain their naval supremacy. On the other hand, Jeff Stein of CQ Homeland Security writes that “shadowy individuals in
Europe or elsewhere may be pulling the strings, ordering ship hijackings from lists of sailing vessels and satellite tracking.”

He then quotes a CIA expert on Africa. “The timing and knowledge of which ships to attack are too good to leave to pirates.”

Journalists Patrick Mayoyo and Lucas Barasa agree. A Somali military policeman told them that “unidentified Western countries are benefiting from piracy.

These pirates are well-connected, and some work with mafias and other international criminals who supply them with arms through countries like Yemen.” A final contingent looks to Israel as the main culprit, claiming that they’re not the actual pirates, but merely sponsors; their goal being to spread piracy so that the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia would have to be internationalized to combat “Islamic terrorism.”

To make matters worse, U.N. mandates prohibit crew members on merchant ships from carrying firearms, and don’t allow navies to board a ship after its been hijacked.

Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and the author of many books on 9-11 and the New World Order. These include 9-11 Evil: The Israeli Role in 9-11 and Phantom Flight 93.
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on December 31, 2008, 07:57:15 am
Islamists on verge of seizing Somalia capital

By Zoe Alsop in Nairobi

Tuesday December 30 2008

http://www.independent.ie/world-news/africa/islamists-on-verge-of-seizing-somalia-capital-1587703.html


The president of Somalia's official government resigned yesterday, causing yet more political turmoil, as radical Islamists prepared to seize the capital, Mogadishu.

Abdullahi Yusuf, a 74-year-old former warlord, admitted that his Western-backed transitional government had failed to unite the country during his four-year tenure.

"I had promised to return the power if I could not bring peace, stability and democracy where people can elect their leader," he said.

Mr Yusuf's government controlled hardly any territory and depended largely on troops from neighbouring Ethiopia, who invaded Somalia in December 2006. However, they are on the point of leaving. Once Ethiopian forces depart, radical Islamists are likely to seize Mogadishu and large areas of southern Somalia.

Mr Yusuf has chosen to resign a few days before he would otherwise have been overthrown or forced to evacuate the capital.

The outgoing president explained that he had been unable to pay his soldiers. "Then the army disintegrated, unable to fight extremists," he explained to reporters.

Mr Yusuf is a polarising figure in Somalia. He refused to negotiate with moderate Islamist opposition, pushing them into the arms of the hardline movements, which may have links to al-Qa'ida and is now poised to locked into a power struggle with his prime minister, Nur Hassan Hussein. Somalia has had no functioning central govern-ment since 1991
Title: Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
Post by: Biggs on January 01, 2009, 10:38:13 am
Somalia: 17 People Killed in Attacks

30 December 2008
http://allafrica.com/stories/200812310030.html   
 

At least 17 people were killed Tuesday in Somalia in guerrilla attacks attributed to the country's Islamist rebels, Radio Garowe reports.


Most of the people died in Mogadishu' s Bakara Market, where seven civilians were killed when a shell slammed into a crowded restaurant, witnesses said.

Three civilians died at a house hit by a mortar in Waberi district, including a young girl.

The battles started after the Islamist rebel group, Al Shabaab, initiated an organized attack on Somali policemen on patrol, who were quickly aided by Ethiopian troops.

The fighting and subsequent bombardment lasted for one hour.

Separately, a bomb explosion in Hamarweyne district killed at least three people including two Somali police officers.

Witnesses said a roadside bomb targeted the police vehicle as it drove, with emerging reports telling Radio Garowe that four other people were wounded in that explosion.

More than 35 wounded people have been admitted into Medina and Daynile hospitals, medical sources said.

Somalia has been wracked by civil war and foreign occupation since 1991, when the country's last effective national government was overthrown and the Horn of Africa country plunged into chaos.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on January 02, 2009, 09:10:57 am
Ethiopia 'begins Somalia pullout'
 
Many Somalis resent the presence of the Ethiopian troops

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7808495.stm


Ethiopia says its troops have begun their final pullout from Somalia, after two years helping the transitional government there fight insurgents.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's spokesman said the withdrawal would take several days.

A convoy of about 30 Ethiopian vehicles loaded with troops and equipment has left the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Hours earlier a roadside bomb killed two Ethiopian soldiers and several civilians died when troops opened fire.

"We have already started to implement our withdrawal plan. It will take some more days. It is a process and it will take some time," Bereket Simon, special adviser to the Ethiopian premier, told AFP news agency.

There are currently some 3,600 Ugandan and Burundian African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Somalia who are due to take over security duties until joint units involving government forces and moderate opposition factions are established.

But there are fears that violence will continue despite a peace deal between Somalia's transitional government and one of the main opposition factions. Some fear the Ethiopian withdrawal could lead to a power vacuum.

But others say it could make it easier for a new government to be formed, including moderate Islamist forces.

The Ethiopian intervention to help government forces oust Islamists from the capital two years ago was deeply unpopular with many Somalis.

Various Islamist and nationalist groups now control much of southern Somalia.

Government forces only control parts of Mogadishu and the town of Baidoa.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on January 04, 2009, 09:51:33 am
Somali police stations In Mogadishu fall to rebels

Last update: January 3, 2009 - 4:06 PM

http://www.startribune.com/world/37044614.html?elr=KArks:DCiUBcy7hUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiU

MOGADISHU, SOMALIA -
Islamic insurgents appeared to be scrambling for power Saturday, taking over several police stations in Mogadishu, the capital, as Ethiopian troops who have been propping up the government began to pull out, witnesses said.

Many fear that the Ethiopian pullout -- and last month's resignation of Somalia's president -- will cause Islamic extremists to fight among themselves for power, bringing even more chaos to this beleaguered Horn of Africa nation.

The Somalia government, with the tacit approval of the United States, called in the Ethiopians in 2006 to support the U.N.-backed government and rout Islamic militants who had taken over most of the country.

Initially, the Ethiopians' superior firepower worked -- the Islamists were driven from power. But they quickly regrouped in the north and launched an insurgency that continues today.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on January 07, 2009, 05:52:16 am
Somalia: Nine People Including Four Ethiopia Soldiers Killed in Mogadishu

4 January 2009
     
http://allafrica.com/stories/200901050878.html

At least 9 people were killed in separate incidents of violence in Somalia's war-torn capital Mogadishu, Radio Garowe reported Sunday.



Four Ethiopian soldiers died instantly when a roadside bomb exploded in the outskirts of Mogadishu, witnesses said.

The soldiers were on foot patrol near a checkpoint and were searching vehicles for explosives, a Somali military official said.

Separately, Somali soldiers shot and killed three civilians near Hotel Jubba in Mogadishu, with witnesses saying the civilians were targeted after "refusing to pay extortion."

Fighting erupted moments later among government troops, leading to the deaths of two soldiers and wounding four other people, including a female caught in the crossfire.

Ethiopian troops have began withdrawing from parts of Mogadishu, but insurgent attacks have increased over the past week.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on January 09, 2009, 09:24:06 am
Somalia: Mogadishu Bomb Blast Kills 6 Soldiers

7 January 2009
     
http://allafrica.com/stories/200901070818.html


At least six soldiers were killed Wednesday in Somalia's war-torn capital Mogadishu after suspected insurgents threw hand grenades, Radio Garowe reports.


The soldiers died in two separate explosions in Mogadishu's Yaaqshiid district, as they were passing through a key intersection at Towfiq.

"There were two explosions, only minutes apart," said a witness, adding: "Four soldiers died in the first explosion and two more died in the second [explosion]."

Witnesses told Mogadishu-based radio stations that at least four Somali government soldiers were wounded in the explosions, which was claimed by Al Shabaab insurgents.

Yesterday, one peacekeeper was killed and another wounded in a Mogadishu blast, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) confirmed.

Mogadishu has been the scene of targeted explosions since Ethiopian troops invaded the country more than two years ago to assist the weak interim government.

The anti-Ethiopia insurgency has killed upwards of 10,000 people in a series of near-daily attacks, including shootouts, assassinations and roadside bombings.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on January 13, 2009, 07:24:50 am
Ethiopia troops 'leave Mogadishu'
 
Ethiopian troops are very unpopular with Mogadishu's residents

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7825626.stm


Ethiopian troops have withdrawn from two of their main bases in the Somali capital two years after they intervened in Mogadishu to oust Islamist forces.

Mogadishu residents gathered at the empty bases, singing and dancing. Some said they could now return home.

A ceremony is being held to mark the handover of security to government forces and moderate Islamists.

Some fear that the Ethiopian withdrawal could lead to a power vacuum, others say it could pave the way for peace.

The Ethiopian intervention was deeply unpopular with many Somalis and their presence united different groups to oppose them.

Some 16,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict between Somalia's transitional government and the Islamists, and a million more have been forced from their homes.
    The ball is now in the court of the Somalis... to stop the senseless killings and violence
UN envoy Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah

New year heralds new Somali fears


Western diplomats say their withdrawal could reduce support for hardline Islamists and lead to moderates joining a government of national unity.

A small African Union peacekeeping force remains in Mogadishu but analysts say it is not strong enough to withstand the Islamists, who once more control much of southern Somalia.

Uganda, Burundi and Nigeria are willing to send extra troops but the African Union has no money to pay for them and is wary of taking on an open-ended commitment.

Strategic

Violence continues in Mogadishu. On Monday, at least 10 people were killed in clashes between the Ethiopians and insurgents.

With the withdrawal of the Ethiopians, the UN envoy to Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah urged hardline Islamists to end their fighting.
 
Many of the city's residents get caught in the daily skirmishes

"The ball is now in the court of the Somalis, particularly those who said they were only fighting against the Ethiopian forces, to stop the senseless killings and violence," he said.

The BBC's Mohamed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says the two bases were in the north-east of the city where there have been daily clashes between the Ethiopians and Islamist insurgents.

An opposition spokesman says the Ethiopians will also withdraw from their other bases on Tuesday.

Our reporter says there are three remaining military bases, but the withdrawal from the strategic north-east of the city is seen as a strong signal that the Ethiopians are leaving.

The withdrawal in the north-east took place overnight, he says.

When Mogadishu residents heard about it in the morning, they flocked to the area to see the empty bases for themselves.

The withdrawal was part of a peace plan agreed by the government and moderate Islamists in October.

Small group of Ethiopian troops have been seen heading for the border in recent days.

For days Somalis have been keeping a distrustful watch on the Ethiopian troops left in the country, suspicious that despite all their promises they were not really going to leave, correspondents say.

Singing and dancing

A ceremony is taking place at the prime minister's office in the centre of the city, where the Ethiopians are handing over responsibility for Mogadishu's security to the interim government, the moderate Islamist opposition and AU peacekeepers.
 
Islamist insurgents control much of Mogadishu now


Increasingly urgent efforts are now going on to strengthen the small African Union force.

Potential donor countries have been invited to a meeting this Saturday at African Union headquarters.

The United States has now circulated a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council calling for a UN peacekeeping force to be deployed in Somalia to take over from the AU force.

The document says UN military intervention is justified because Somalia is a threat to international peace and security.

It suggests the Security Council should vote on the proposed peacekeeping force at the beginning of June.

Last month UN chief Ban Ki-moon said few countries were willing to send troops to Somalia, as there was no peace to keep.

Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991, since when various militias have been battling for control.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on January 15, 2009, 06:22:17 am
21 dead as Islamists strike at departing Ethiopians
 
By Ibrahim Mohamed and Abdi Guled, ReutersJanuary 14, 2009
 
http://www.vancouversun.com/news/dead+Somali+Islamists+strike+departing+Ethiopians/1176529/story.html


(http://a123.g.akamai.net/f/123/12465/1d/www.vancouversun.com/news/dead+somali+islamists+strike+departing+ethiopians/1176529/1176530.bin)
An Islamist insurgent holds his machine gun the stadium in Mogadishu, one of the bases vacated by Ethiopian troops on Wednesday.
Photograph by: Ismail Taxta, Reuters

MOGADISHU — Somali Islamists fired mortars at the presidential palace and ambushed departing Ethiopian soldiers on Wednesday, starting battles that killed at least 21 people and wounded a further 48, witnesses said.


The violence underlined fears of an upsurge in bloodshed after Ethiopia's military exit began in earnest this week.


Witnesses said security forces including African Union (AU) peacekeepers guarding the hilltop palace compound in the coastal capital responded to the Islamist attack with volleys of artillery shells, shaking the city for several hours.


Suspected militants from the al Shabaab group also ambushed a convoy of departing Ethiopian soldiers on a street not far from the palace. The Ethiopians fought back with a tank.


"We have collected 21 dead people and five of them could not be identified," resident and ambulance worker Musa Ali said.


Medical staff also spoke of transporting 48 wounded, including eight children, to hospitals. It was not clear how many civilians and how many fighters were among the casualties.


Some analysts say the ongoing withdrawal of some 3,000 Ethiopian soldiers will leave a vacuum, triggering more violence by rebels who have battled the U.N.-backed administration for two years, and are now increasingly fighting each other.


Others believe the Ethiopian exit could remove forces seen by many locals as occupiers and spur more moderate Islamist factions to participate in forming a new, inclusive government.


After vacating four bases on Tuesday, the Ethiopians left two more on Wednesday, one at a football stadium.


"The Ethiopians have deserted the stadium and many residents have come to watch," witness Abdullahi Hassan told Reuters.


"We see only chairs and their footprints."


The Ethiopians have eight other bases in Mogadishu and face a 500-kilometre journey through Somalia to the border.


Somalis are pessimistic about a return to peace in a nation that has suffered 18 years of incessant civil conflict.


"No Somali wants the Ethiopians to stay, but there will be chaos whether they withdraw or not," said a spokesman of Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca, a government-allied Sunni Islamist group.


He said hardliners like al Shabaab — which Washington says has links to al Qaeda — and militants backed by Somali exiles in Eritrea planned to fight the government and moderate groups like his if they tried to form a power-sharing administration.


Al Shabaab's national spokesman, Sheikh Muktar Robow Mansoor, told a news conference in Mogadishu his group would focus on attacking AU troops and government targets.


"Now that the Ethiopians have left the bases we used to attack, we shall launch attacks on (AU mission) AMISOM, the government and the airport," he said.


The AU has 3,500 soldiers in Somalia and wants to reinforce.


Fighting has killed more than 16,000 civilians since the start of 2007, after Addis Ababa sent military forces to help the government drive an Islamist movement out of the capital. One million people have been forced from their homes.


Ethiopia, frustrated by rifts in the Somali administration and the cost of its operation, began dismantling its main bases in Mogadishu on Tuesday.


Many civilians, though, are too scared to return to homes.


"Those who have concrete houses can go back, but there's no hope for families with houses made of iron sheets like us," said Asha Farah, a mother of four, in a refugee camp beyond the city.


"I don't see any reason for happiness. The ones who have been causing chaos are still alive and perhaps will breed more."


After the resignation of former president Abdullahi Yusuf, a new president is supposed to be elected by Jan. 26.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on January 15, 2009, 03:46:19 pm
Islamists take bases in Mogadishu
 
Islamists once more control much of Mogadishu

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7830526.stm


(http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/45370000/jpg/_45370455_006650749-1.jpg)

The last Ethiopian troops in Somalia's capital have left Mogadishu and Islamist forces have taken over most of the bases they have left behind.

A BBC reporter says four of the six vacated bases have been taken over by insurgents from different factions, seemingly working together.

Troops loyal to the interim government, which Ethiopia was supporting, have control of only two of the bases.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein says he wants to be president.

Abdullahi Yusuf resigned as president last month after falling out with Mr Hussein over attempts to negotiate a peace deal with the Islamist-led armed opposition.

But the opposition is split into various factions, and the more hardline groups do not support the peace process.

Ethiopia intervened in Somalia two years to help oust Islamists, who had taken control of much of the south of the country.

Power vacuum

The BBC's Mohamed Dhore in Mogadishu says African Union peacekeepers are guarding Mogadishu's presidential palace, but most positions in the capital have been filled by Islamist insurgents.
    Only stupid people would repeat everything they did in the past. So obviously if we were to do it again we would do it better
Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi

New year heralds new Somali fears


He says government troops are in the former Ethiopian base at the southern entrance to the city and at the empty central hospital, Digfer.

Analysts had feared the withdrawal of the Ethiopians would lead to a power vacuum and fighting between rival Islamist factions.

But at the moment all factions - whether they back the peace process with the government or not - seem to be working together.

Some 16,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict between Somalia's transitional government and the Islamists, and a million more have been forced from their homes.

Correspondents say that Mr Hussein - one of the architects of the peace deal - is hoping to capitalise on the Ethiopian withdrawal to win support for his presidential candidacy.

Mr Hussein, a former humanitarian worker from Mogadishu and a member of the area's dominant Hawiye clan, has the backing of Igad, the East African regional grouping which brokered the agreement that led to the formation of the interim government in 2004.

"Today I want to announce that I am a candidate for the post of president which is expected to be contested soon and whoever wins it should peacefully and democratically run the country," Mr Hussein said.

Hindsight

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has been defending his decision to oust Islamists two years ago.
 
Thousands of Mogadishu's residents have fled over the last two years


He said the reason Ethiopia had intervened was to avert a clear and present danger to its own security and because it was asked to by the Somali transitional government.

Bringing peace and stability was something Somalis could only do themselves, he said.

Speaking at a news conference in the Ethiopia capital, Addis Ababa, he said that with hindsight, he would do the same again.

"I would without hesitation, have intervened again if I had to do it all over again," he said.

"Now that does not mean I would repeat all the specifics of that intervention.

"Only stupid people would repeat everything they did in the past. So obviously if we were to do it again we would do it better. But we would do it nonetheless."

He however said Ethiopian troops would not be rushed into leaving the rest of the country - and that they would remain in force along the border.

The US wants the United Nations to take over peacekeeping duties from the African Union.

But last month UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said few countries were willing to send troops to Somalia, as there was no peace to keep.

Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991, since when various militias have been battling for control.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on January 18, 2009, 05:33:55 pm
Mogadishu residents trickle back to their homes

Source: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Date: 17 Jan 2009

http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/RMOI-7NDLMY?OpenDocument

by Mustafa Haji Abdinur

MOGADISHU, Jan 17, 2009 (AFP)
- Somali families displaced by more than two years of fighting in Mogadishu have started returning to their homes following Ethiopia's withdrawal from the capital, an AFP correspondent reported Saturday.

Only days after the last Ethiopian troops left their positions in Mogadishu, residents enjoyed a rare period of relative calm while others who had left the war-torn city began returning to their homes.

"I lived in a camp outside Mogadishu for a year, after my husband was killed in a mortar attack on Suqaholaha neighbourhood," said Halimo Nur Hared, a mother-of-six, as she arranged some of her belongings in her home.

"I feel save now that the Ethiopians left our soil," she added.

"I pray Allah there will be no more fighting after the Ethiopian forces' departure from Mogadishu. We are returning to our houses," said Mohamed Ali Hassan, a father of four from the capital's northern Huriwa neighbourhood.

Ethiopian troops invaded in late 2006 to rescue an embattled Somali transitional government and oust the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) which had taken control of large parts of the country.

The Islamist movement's armed wing has since waged a deadly guerrilla war, mainly targeting Ethiopian troops, but also government forces and African Union (AU) peacekeepers.

Following an agreement between the government and the moderate wing of the Islamist-led opposition late last year in Djibouti, Ethiopian pulled out.

Yet the hardline Islamist group Shebab vowed to turn its efforts against the AU peacekeepers, while the vacuum created by the Ethiopian army's departure also risked sparking fresh inter-clan fighting for supremacy in Mogadishu.

Hasan Bile, another recent returnee, predicted he would witness more violence in the capital.

"I'm still worried because some fighters want to continue the war, so it's likely that the chaos in Mogadishu is not over yet," he said.

Amid political disputes over who should have taken over the military positions deserted by the Ethiopians, one of the city's new masters urged civilians to look out for unexploded ordnance as they return to their homes.

"We call upon the fighters in the positions vacated by the enemy of Allah and the civilians that are intending to return their houses to be cautious about the explosive things that are left in those neighborhoods and camps," said Abdirahin Ise Ado, an ICU spokesman.

Ise Ado's forces took control of the former defence ministry earlier this week, a position recently deserted by Ethiopian forces.

The move sparked protests from officials arguing that the Djibouti agreement clearly stated only joint government-opposition forces were to take over Ethiopian positions.

Speaking in Addis Ababa after a meeting with UN experts, the African Union peacekeeping force's top commander, Francis Okello, took heart from the lull in violence in Mogadishu.

"The situation in Mogadishu has been very calm for three days. No attack so far. This calm can mainly be attributed to the clan elders who have come out openly for the peace process," he said.

"The situation has gotten better. Lots of people are moving back to the city and we are expecting more," he added.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on January 18, 2009, 05:35:23 pm
UN intends to establish Somalia peacekeeping force   

By EDITH M. LEDERER
The Associated Press
Friday, January 16, 2009; 9:31 PM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/16/AR2009011604488.html

UNITED NATIONS
-- The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Friday expressing its intention to establish a U.N. peacekeeping force in Somalia, but putting off a decision for several months in order to assess the volatile situation in the Horn of Africa nation.

The resolution renewed the mandate of the African Union force, known as AMISOM, for another six months and urged African nations to beef up AMISOM's troop strength from the current 2,600 to the 8,000 originally authorized.

The resolution expressed the council's "intent to establish a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Somalia as a follow-on force to AMISOM, subject to a further decision of the Security Council by June 1, 2009."

Somalia is currently at a dangerous crossroads. The president resigned in late December, saying he has lost control of most of the country to Islamic insurgents. The Ethiopian troops who have been protecting the fragile, U.N.-backed government are pulling out, leaving a dangerous power vacuum. Islamic groups are starting to fight among themselves for power, and piracy is rampant off its coast.

 

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the United States, which drafted the resolution, believes there must be a comprehensive approach.

"The resolution adopted today essentially addressed the root causes by making a clear commitment that the Security Council will assume its responsibility with regard to Somalia," he told the council.

While the United States wanted a commitment from the council to establish a peacekeeping force in June, Khalilzad said many other council members insisted on holding another vote, which President George W. Bush's outgoing administration accepted.

The incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama appears far less enthusiastic about a U.N. force in Somalia.

At her U.S. Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, Susan Rice, who has been nominated by President-elect Barack Obama to replace Khalilzad, expressed deep skepticism about a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

Asked about her reservations, Khalilzad said the current resolution will give Rice an opportunity to express herself in the next council vote by June 1, and "this is frankly the best way to go."

The council made clear in the resolution that ultimately Somali security forces "would assume full responsibility for providing security in Somalia."
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on January 25, 2009, 08:11:00 am
Ethiopia completes Somali pullout
 
Ethiopia says its forces have ended the threat from Islamist groups.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7849900.stm


Ethiopia says it has completed the withdrawal of its troops from Somalia, two years after entering the country to fight Islamist insurgents.

Ethiopia's information minister told the BBC that the 3,000-strong force had ended the threat from the Islamists.

He said the troops had left Somalia, including the town of Baidoa from where the Somali government operates.

Correspondents say the Islamists and other militia have won back much of the land lost to the Ethiopians in 2006.

Addis Ababa announced late last year that it would fully withdraw from Somalia by the first days of 2009, ending its mission to help the interim Somali government.

Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991.

About 3,400 African Union peacekeepers are taking up positions in Somalia vacated by the Ethiopians, amid concerns that Ethiopia's withdrawal could lead to further instability.

Government forces only control parts of Mogadishu and the town of Baidoa.

Power-sharing

But Ethiopian Information Minister Bereket Simon said that the extremists, known as al-Shabaab, had been so weakened they were no longer an effective force.

He said a recent suicide attack was proof that the organisation had "turned into a small terrorist group who cannot attain their goals in a democratic, peaceful and civilised way".

Meanwhile power-sharing talks have been continuing in Djibouti between the government and moderate Islamists, including the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS).

They are trying to agree on the formation of an expanded parliament - from 275 seats to 550 - to include the opposition, and how to select a new president.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the leader of ARS, said Somalia had to take the "historic opportunity" to correct "past mistakes".

"There's no excuse for Somalis to kill each other," he said.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on January 26, 2009, 05:35:48 am
Deadly 'suicide' blast in Mogadishu
(http://english.aljazeera.net/mritems/Images//2009/1/24/200912414169240734_5.jpg)

Gunfights reportedly broke out in Mogadishu after a car exploded killing at least 20 people [Reuters]

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2009/01/2009124111357800852.html


A suspected suicide car bomb has killed at least 22 civilians in the Somali capital Mogadishu, witnesses say.

The attack on Saturday was apparently aimed at a group of African Union peacekeepers but missed its target, they said.

"That opposition group has massacred only innocent Somali people," Major Barigye Ba-hoku, spokesman for the AU force, said.

The attack came just days before more troops from Uganda and Burundi were due to arrive to boost the 1,400 African Union peacekeepers currently deployed in Somalia.

Abdifatah Shaweye, the city's deputy governor, told the Reuters news agency that police officers stationed near the base had opened fire on the car as it approached, after which it crashed and blew up.

Gunfights were reported to have broken out after the car exploded.

Mohamed Osman Ali, Mogadishu's mayor, said it was unclear who was behind the attack.

Doctors said at least 30 other people were wounded.

Abdifatah Ibrahim Shaweye, Mogadishu's deputy governor told the AFP news agency that the bomber was a foreigner.

"We have one of his arms which is clearly showing that the suicide bomber was a foreigner"

Abdifatah Ibrahim Shaweye, Mogadishu's deputy governor

"We have one of his arms which is clearly showing that the suicide bomber was a foreigner," he said, explaining that the bomber's light skin tone showed he was not Somali.

Somalia is wracked by violence with near-daily attacks on troops loyal to the largely powerless UN-backed transitional government.

Much of the country is controlled by armed opposition groups who have captured many of the towns and villages seized by government and Ethiopian troops from the Islamic Courts Union in late 2006.

The interim government has failed to bring stability to the Horn of Africa nation, where more than 16,000 people have been killed in the past two years and one million others driven from their homes.

Some analysts have said the the recent withdrawal of Ethiopian troops could create a power vacuum as opposition forces scramble for control.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on January 26, 2009, 04:20:23 pm
African Union troops 'shell Somali civilians'

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12021

Global Research, January 26, 2009
Al-Jazeera - 2009-01-25


African Union troops in Somalia have been accused of indiscriminately shelling a Mogadishu neighbourhood after an attempted suicide bomb attack on their base.

At least 22 people were killed in the car bomb blast and an ensuing firefight on Saturday, witnesses and medics said.

Several homes were hit by artillery fire just minutes after the vehicle blew up, residents of the Hodan neighbourhood said.

"We are civilians - we don't have weapons - yet we are caught in the middle of the fighting from the African troops who allegedly came here for peacekeeping," Adam Abdi said.

"This area was bombed more than six times but there are no military bases here."

Mosques hit

Locals were also angered after two people were reportedly killed and two mosques hit during the violence.

"First, they hit the minaret, 10 minutes later they shelled the mosque, this shows how much they hate Islam," the imam of the Nawawi mosque told Al Jazeera.

"I appeal to the Muslims and brothers to support their brothers here against their enemies, whether the Ethiopians or from Burundi."

About 3,000 peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi are in Somalia as part of the African Union mission (Amisom) to stabilise the country.

Nine AMISOM troops have been killed in Somalia since the first Ugandan contingent was deployed in March 2007.

The incident came just days before additional troops were expected to arrive in the Somali capital to bolster the force.

AU denial

Ramtane Lamamra, an AU peace security commissioner, condemned the attempted suicide attack, which he called "a cowardly terrorist act that goes against achieving peace and stability in Somalia".

A spokesman for the Uganadan military said that the AU forces had not opened fired after the blast.

Somalia is wracked by violence with near-daily attacks on troops loyal to the largely powerless UN-backed transitional government.

Much of the country is controlled by armed opposition groups who have captured many of the towns and villages seized by government and Ethiopian troops from the Islamic Courts Union in late 2006.

The interim government has failed to bring stability to the Horn of Africa nation, where more than 16,000 people have been killed in the past two years and one million others driven from their homes.

Some analysts have said the the recent withdrawal of Ethiopian troops could create a power vacuum as opposition forces scramble for control.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on January 28, 2009, 05:53:14 am
Sharia imposed at Somali MPs base
 
Islamic fighters took over Baidoa on Tuesday

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7854527.stm


Islamist rebels have declared sharia law in Baidoa, a day after seizing the central Somali city, a stronghold of the country's transitional government.

Al-Shabab militants took over hours after Ethiopian troops pulled out.

The African Union said Ethiopia may send troops back into Somalia if the Islamist fighters grow too powerful.

Somali lawmakers, in neighbouring Djibouti due to the insecurity at home, meanwhile extended by five days the time needed to elect a new president.

Sheikh Muktar Robow Mansoor, of al-Shabab, told a rally in Baidoa on Tuesday how the movement, which means The Youth, intended to govern.

'Fight anyone'

"We are informing all Somalis we want to rule with justice, and the almighty Allah's sharia law," he said.

"We are informing Somalis we will not accept any man-made constitution. We will not accept it. We shall fight with anyone who opposes it."
   
 The Ethiopians told us that they are going to secure that border, they are going back and to secure the borders
Jean Ping
African Union Commission

'I'm not afraid of al-Shabab'
Q&A: Somali presidential elections


On Monday, al-Shabab took over the airport, parliament building and president's home in Baidoa.

They moved in as the last Ethiopian troops pulled out, two years after intervening in an effort to stamp out the Islamist insurgents.

The BBC's Yusuf Hassan, in Djibouti, says it is not clear if the Somali lawmakers will be able to return to their base in Baidoa.

The African Union's top diplomat, Jean Ping, said events in the city would have little impact on the political process, adding that Ethiopian troops might return to Somalia.

"The Ethiopians told us that they are going to secure that border," he said. "They are going back and to secure the borders."

On Tuesday, MPs agreed to delay by five days an MPs' vote to choose the next president.

The deadline for picking a successor to Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, who quit last month, was to expire on Wednesday.

Somali legislators have already expanded parliament to bring in some 200 moderate Islamists, as part of a UN-backed peace process.

But the al-Shabab, which is on Washington's list of terrorist groups, has refused to take part in the peace talks.

Some 16,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict and a million more have been forced from their homes.

The Horn of Africa country has not had an effective national government since 1991.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on January 31, 2009, 05:45:38 am
Opposition religious figure new Somalia president
Sat, 31 Jan 2009 03:21:40 GMT

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=84215&sectionid=351020501
 
Somalia's new President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad


Somali lawmakers have elected opposition leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad as the new president of their war-ravaged country.

During a run-off vote in neighboring Djibouti, Sheikh Sharif, 44, recevied the necessary majority of votes, 213, just before 4 AM local time (0100 GMT) Saturday 31, during an all-night session of parliament under a UN-brokered plan to forge a unity government in the Horn of Africa country.

This leaves him now in charge of a fragile peace process aimed at ending 18 years of civil conflict.

Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein had pulled out after the first round coming in third opening way for Sheikh Sharif.

Later the contenders, 16 in all, pulled out of the race with the exception of former Somalian president Mohammed Siad Barre's son, Maslah Mohamed Barre, who came in second in the first round with 60 votes.

He was the only contestant to contest the third round against Sharif.

Sharif took the first round with a big margin - 215 out of 420, the Press TV correspondent reported Friday.

As per law, all candidates run in the first round, the six most popular go to a second round and the final round is a runoff between the two leading contenders.

The new president faces the daunting task of delivering peace and stability to a country plagued by violence and lawlessness for nearly two decades.

Sharif is the former leader of Somalia's ousted Islamic Courts Union, which waged a bitter war against the country's weak transitional government.

In late 2006, he was forced to flee the country amid an Ethiopian invasion supporting the government.

Ahmed currently chairs a group of opposition leaders called the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) and is an influential religious leader in the country.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on February 01, 2009, 06:56:12 am
SOMALIA: Counting the Cost After Ethiopia Withdraws
Analysis by Abdurrahman Warsameh

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=45619

MOGADISHU, Jan 31 (IPS)
- The suicide car bomb that struck Mogadishu Jan. 24, killing at least twenty people and injuring nearly fifty others is an explosive comment on the failure of the Ethiopian military deployment to Somalia two years ago to oust Islamist forces it believed represented "a clear and present danger" to Ethiopia.

The last Ethiopian troops have now left Mogadishu as part of an agreement between Somalia's government and one major opposition faction, the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia based in Djibouti (ARS-D) which is dominated by the Islamist movement known as the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC).

The movement controlled the southern and central parts of Somalia during the latter half of 2006, where it was credited with establishing a semblance of law and order. People are today nostalgic about the "Six Months of Peace" during which violence all but ceased and life for ordinary Somalis returned to something but normal after 15 years of conflict.

Responding to pressure to follow the UIC's lead and impose Islamic law, leaders in the autonomous regions of Puntland and Somaliland announced plans to implement shari'a on the one hand, and arresting suspected Islamists on the other.

The UIC's success was in marked contrast to the difficulties encountered by the internationally-sanctioned Transitional Federal Government of Somalia. The TFG was formed in 2004 as a result of two years of peace talks held in Nairobi and sponsored by the regional body, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.

But for the first two years of its existence - during which the TFG was constantly grappling with political infighting and persistent allegations of corruption - it was unable to impose itself on the war-torn country and was confined to the southern town of Baidoa.

The growing strength of an Islamist government was of concern to at least one of Somalia's neighbours: Ethiopia accused the Islamists of threatening its national security by collaborating with arch-regional rival, Eritrea, and Ethiopian rebel groups to destabilise it.

"We sent our troops to Somalia two years ago because there was a clear and present danger posed against Ethiopia," Wahde Belay, spokesperson for the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry in Addis Ababa, told IPS, "The Union of Islamic Courts had waged a jihad against us. That is why we decided to bang the UIC".

Ethiopian troops and tanks rolled over the border with Somalia in late December, 2006 and easily unseated the Islamists in less than two weeks. But the Ethiopian forces spent the next two years fighting a deadly Islamist-nationalist insurgency and have now withdrawn under fire from the same Islamists they came to crush.

"The fact that Ethiopian troops could easily defeat the Islamists did not guarantee lasting victory as the fighters soon regrouped and started fighting back. Now as the Ethiopians are withdrawing from Somalia, most of the south-central regions are again under the control of the Islamists," Yusuf Maalin, an independent political analyst told IPS.

Evaluating Ethiopia's presence

During the past two years, nearly 10,000 civilians have lost their lives while the U.N. High Commission for Refugees estimates more than one million people, mainly from Mogadishu, have fled their homes to escape the nearly daily violence between insurgent fighters and Ethiopian troops backing Somali government forces.

A number of local and international human rights organisations have accused the troops of committing atrocities against local civilians and of indiscriminate bombardment of built up residential areas. They have also accused the Islamist insurgents of using civilians as human shields by firing from populated areas.

Abdelfatah Shaweye, deputy major of Mogadishu, says despite criticism of Ethiopia's presence in the country, the intervention was instrumental in establishing the internationally-recognised government in the capital and most of the country in the first months after the invasion.

"No matter what the human rights groups say about the troops from the friendly country, they have helped us a lot and sacrificed to bring order to our country," Shaweye told IPS.

However Sheik Abdirahim Isse Adow, a spokesman for the armed wing of the UIC, said Ethiopia had not achieved its main aim of defeating the Islamists who he says are now "as strong as ever" and control the same territory as when the troops invaded Somalia.

"What the (Ethiopian) troops brought about is just more misery for the people of this country and more bloodshed. They failed to impose themselves on us or hold on to our country." Adow told IPS.

Ethiopia has now fully withdrawn its troops from Somalia, saying the threat posed to it by the Islamists has cleared.

"If Ethiopia believes there is a clear and present danger, there is no reason why we shouldn't take an identical measure in the future," Wahde Belay said.

However Maalin said Ethiopia would have to think hard before re-entering Somalia as "the adventurism and opportunism" of the first invasion cost Ethiopia dear in terms of lives and the standing of its human right record.

"The Islamists have hurt Ethiopia more badly than they have been hurt, since as even the most casual observer can ascertain, Ethiopia is leaving the Islamists in a much stronger position than before the invasion two years ago. And what has transpired during its presence has eroded much more from Ethiopia than it gained," Maalin said.

What next?

UIC and a splinter group, the hardline faction known as al-Shabaab - listed as a terrorist organisation with links to Al-Qaida by the U.S. State Department - are again running much of the south-central Somalia while the transitional Somali government is in control of small pockets in the capital Mogadishu where nearly 3,400 African Union peacekeepers are protecting government installations including the presidential palace, airport, and seaport.

The peacekeepers are part of an 8000-strong peacekeeping force authorised by the U.N. Security Council early in 2007 to replace Ethiopian forces. But only Uganda and Burundi have sent troops as promised; other African countries which pledged to contribute forces have cited security and logistical reasons for not deploying soldiers.

Elements of the UIC signed a peace and power-sharing deal with the TFG in October 2008. Sheik Sharif Ahmed, leader of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia's Djibouti faction (ARS-D) and head of the UIC's government during 2006, was elected president of the TFG on Jan. 31. He is now more conciliatory towards Ethiopia, but faces strong opposition from rival factions of the ARS and from al-Shabaab, which continues to strongly oppose any foreign presence in Somalia.

Ethiopia has not left its "enemy" to enjoy its newly regained power in Somalia without numerous killjoys. A new and well-armed faction, Ahlu Sunnah, appeared out of nowhere to confront al-Shabaab in the days leading to the announcement by Ethiopia of its decision to pull its troops from Somalia.

Al-Shabaab claims that the new faction has been created, armed and supported Ethiopia to fight a proxy war against the Islamist forces. In a Jan. 26 press conference, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said that Ethiopia is not "disappointed" or "unhappy" that al-Shabaab is now facing armed opposition from within Somalia.

"I cannot tell you that we are unhappy that they chose to fight back. I cannot tell you that we would not be supportive of any such endeavours on their part," Zenawi told reporters.

Despite now heading an internationally-sanctioned government of Somalia, Sharif will likely find running the country much harder than the first time around.

(Michael Chebud in Addis Ababa contributed to this report.)
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on February 02, 2009, 03:29:24 pm
AU troops 'shot Somali civilians'
 


Regional officials in Somalia have accused African Union (AU) peacekeepers of opening fire on civilians in the capital, Mogadishu, killing 18 people.

The incident happened after an AU vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, killing three civilians.

An AU spokesman confirmed that their convoy had been targeted in a bomb attack, but denied that his soldiers had opened fire on civilians.

Militants have targeted AU forces since Ethiopian troops pulled out last month.

But officials have given very different accounts of the latest deadly incident.

Police commander Yusuf Dhumal told AFP news agency he had counted 18 dead civilians.

"This is a tragedy. What happened this afternoon indicates a complete irresponsibility and it will not be tolerated," he said.

Mogadishu's deputy mayor, Abdi Fatah Ibrahim Shaweh, told the BBC the soldiers had killed 36 people.

He said most of the dead were civilians who had been sitting on buses when the troops opened fire.

Allegations denied

But Major Bahuko Baridgye, spokesman for the AU forces, denied the allegations.

"Our forces did not open fire on people," AFP quoted him as saying.

"The information we got indicates that three civilians died in the explosion and one of our soldiers was lightly injured. The vehicle was also slightly damaged."

The incident comes just days after moderate Islamist leader Sheikh Sharif Ahmed was elected Somalia's new president.

Somalia has not had a functioning central government since 1991, and the northern regions of Somaliland and Puntland have broken away to govern themselves.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in successive waves of violence.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on February 04, 2009, 11:31:17 am
Somalis urged to fight AU troops

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2009/02/2009231213552849.html

Al-Shabab, the armed anti-government Somali group, has called on Somalis to intensify their war against African Union (AU) troops for driving the peacekeepers out of the country.

"We call on the African forces to pull out of our country or face resistance harsher than what they have ever experienced," Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, a leader of al-Shabab, told AFP news agency on Tuesday.

Robow was speaking to reporters in the parliament town of Baidoa, a day after Somali officials accused AU soldiers of killing 18 civilians in the capital Mogadishu.

"We are telling them that we don't need their help if they are going to be massacring our people and I urge all holy fighters in the country to step up their struggle against them," Robow said.

Somali officials said at least 18 people were killed by AU troops on Monday when they opened fire on three minibuses after a roadside bomb targeted their convoy in southern Mogadishu.

Yusuf Dhumal, a police commander, said the troops killed the civilians when they opened fire in response to the blast.

"I counted 18 dead civilians who were killed by them after spraying fire on the buses," he told the AFP news agency.

Abdifatah Shaweye, the deputy mayor of Mogadishu, said more than 20 civilians were killed in the shooting.

"The African Union forces committed mass killings today after an explosion hit their convoy. The number of innocent civilians they killed after the explosion exceeded 20," he said.

AU denial

Major Bahuko Baridgye, a spokesman for the AU forces, denied the charges and said that three civilians died in the explosion that also wounded four others.
In depth

 Timeline of Somalia
 Restoring Somalia
 A long road to stability
 Profile: Sheikh Sharif
Sheikh Ahmed



"The information we got indicates that three civilians died in the explosion and one of our soldiers was lightly injured. The vehicle was also slightly damaged," Baridgye said.

"Our forces did not open fire on people."

The peacekeeping force is made up of Ugandan and Burundian soldiers. It has been in Mogadishu for about two years and is charged with protecting key government installations.

The AU peacekeepers have often been targeted by anti-government fighters since the first Ugandan contingent deployed in the country in March 2007.

Ethiopian forces that had also borne the brunt of the armed uprising, pulled out of Somalia last month, sparking fears of a security vacuum in Somalia.

Somali legislators elected Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, on Saturday as the new president in a new bid to stabilise Somalia.

However, more extreme groups who have rejected the government and continue to carry out deadly attacks, remain a huge challenge to Ahmed's efforts to pacify the country.

Abdullahi Yusuf, the former Somali president, resigned on December 29 after he was accused of being an obstacle to peace by the major powers.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on February 04, 2009, 11:32:05 am
Ethiopian troops re-enter Somalia, set up check points at border town

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-02/04/content_10758728.htm

www.chinaview.cn  2009-02-04 00:38:08         

    MOGADISHU, Feb. 3 (Xinhua)
-- The Ethiopian troops crossed over into Somalia and have set up check points around the central region of Hiran, two weeks after the troops left the war-torn Horn of African nation, a senior local official said Tuesday.

    Officials in the central Somali region said the troops entered into the border region nearly 20 km from the Ethiopian border and began taking money from the vehicles using the roads in the region near the border.

    "The troops have returned to the region and made checkpoints where they take extortion money from the vehicles on our roads. It is unacceptable," Abdurahman Ibrahim Maow, governor of Hiran province, told Xinhua by phone from the regional capital of Beledweyn, 300 km north of Mogadishu.

    The Ethiopian troops withdrew from Somalia nearly two weeks ago, two years after they rolled into the war-wrecked country to assist the internationally recognized transitional government of Somalia which topple an Islamist administration.

    Ethiopian troops accused the Islamist administration of threatening the national security of Ethiopia and challenging the authority of the Somali transitional government.  
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on February 08, 2009, 11:35:50 am
Groups call for probe into Somali civilian deaths

By MALKHADIR M. MUHUMED – 2 days ago

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g7OaI4_kjeHA-o4UhlmP7vlWmrrwD9665HG00

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP)
— Two global human rights groups have called for an independent public investigation into allegations that African Union peacekeeping troops killed more than a dozen civilians in the Somali capital earlier this week.

On Monday, witnesses and Somali officials said that African Union peacekeepers had killed 18 civilians when they fired at three minibus taxis in Mogadishu after a land mine exploded, damaging an AU vehicle. The AU has denied killing any civilians, and has blamed the deaths on Islamic militiamen.

A day later, Ugandan Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga said the commander of the AU force would investigate. Uganda forms the largest part of the African Union force and its commander is an Ugandan officer.

But in separate statements late Thursday, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said they had received reliable information indicating that Ugandan soldiers fired indiscriminately at civilians in response to the explosion.

"It is crucial that an effective public investigation is conducted into accusations that (AU) troops unlawfully killed civilians," said Michelle Kagari, deputy director of Amnesty International's Africa Program.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said that, according to reliable sources it talked to, "most of the dead, many or all of whom were civilians, were killed by gunfire."

"The uncertainty around the shooting of these civilians underlines the urgent need for independent investigations of alleged crimes by all forces in Somalia," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. She said AU troops have the right to defend themselves but should respect the laws of war.

An extremist Islamic militia has vowed to attack the AU force because it does not want foreign troops on Somali soil. The U.S. State Department considers the group, known as al-Shabab, a terrorist organization with links to al-Qaida. Al-Shabab has denied such links.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991 when warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. The warlords then turned on each other descending Somalia into anarchy and chaos.

The AU force is in Mogadishu to guard key government buildings and installations for the fragile, U.N.-backed government.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on February 15, 2009, 02:29:53 pm
Ethiopia and US worked secretly together in Somalia:

http://en.afrik.com/article15302.html


Zenawi said on Friday the Ethiopian soldiers did not receive any logistical aid from the United States and the country suffered from bad media publicity during its military campaigns in Somalia to rid the country of terror elements.


“We would argue from an Ethiopian perspective that our military operation in Somalia has been highly successful. We did not think the Al Shabab offensive would bean isolated act,” he told a news conference late on Friday.

He said the Somali military offensive was in Ethiopia’s interest especially given the country had tried to live with the risk the Islamist fundamentalists in Somalia posed to its national security and stability interests and the surge from its Eritrean foes.

Meles said he had finally destabilized the roots of the radical Somali militant groups like Al Shabab and his military offensive there had given rise to the change of political tact by former radical Islamist leaders, who have now taken power in Somalia.

The military offensive, he said, had slowed down the military surge from the radical Islamist movements which believed nobody could stop them from destabilizing the country and had also slowed down Ethiopia’s internal opposition to his rule.

“This was a combined strategy and the tip of that strategy was Al Shabab, two years after the intervention, we can say the conspiracy has been successfully foiled. The elements of destability in that country are now weaker,” Zenawi said.

The United States knew in advance, of Ethiopia’s plan to move into Somalia to flush out radical Islamist movement leaders which had at one time declared a jihad, an Islamic holy war against Ethiopian interests, before the military intervention.

“Our objective was not to kill off all jihadists. The objective was to militarily weaken them and prove to them that they cannot ride the Shabab horse to power and that Ethiopia would not convey it. We have been successful against the Shabab,” the PM said.

He said there was no indication or evidence that the new Somali President was a terrorist but his former allies were terrorists. He cited Daud Aweiss, who had been listed by the US as a wanted terrorist and a member of the Al Qaeda network.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on February 17, 2009, 06:55:47 am
The Nightmare in Somalia
Another US Sponsored Catastrophe

by Len Wengraf

Global Research, February 15, 2009
CounterPunch
         
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12318



U.S.-BACKED Ethiopian troops withdrew from their remaining positions in Somalia at the end of January, bringing an end to a two-year occupation carried out in the guise of the "war on terror."

The Ethiopian Army invaded Somalia in December 2006, overthrowing the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) government and installing the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Two years later, approximately 10,000 people have lost their lives, and 1.1 million Somalis were turned into refugees, the victims of Ethiopian occupiers and an ongoing civil war.

From the beginning, the TFG, though backed by the U.S., was weak, maintaining control in only a small area of the capital of Mogadishu, and some regions of western Somalia. Several thousand African Union troops--including U.S.-trained Ugandan forces--ostensibly bolster the TFG, to little effect. The U.S. also intervened directly in Somalia with sporadic air strikes.

After the Ethiopian invasion, sections of the UIC and other opposition forces regrouped in the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), with others coalescing around the fundamentalist al-Shabab group and other armed factions.

Ethiopian troops withdrew after a unity agreement between the TFG and the ARS, now the major opposition faction. Sheik Sharif Ahmed, the ARS leader and head of the UIC government in 2006, was elected president of the TFG on January 31.

* * *

SOMALIA IS located in the strategically crucial Horn of Africa on the eastern edge of the continent--adjacent to the Red Sea, Suez Canal and key commercial waterways. Somalia and neighboring Sudan have been targeted for oil exploration by U.S. companies, but China, India and other countries have also gotten their foot in the door with development contracts.

Competition past and present is behind the U.S. government's concern with Somalia. The U.S. has variously engaged in direct intervention (as in the infamous "Black Hawk Down" Marine invasion of 1992-3), backed different warlord factions and supported proxy armies (such as Ethiopia).

Actually, the history of Western intervention in Somalia and the Horn of Africa extends back throughout the 20th century, during which time colonial powers and the Cold War superpowers waged proxy battles in constantly shifting alliances and conflicts. Somalia's civil wars--like those in Darfur and southern Sudan--must be seen as a direct result of the U.S. and the former USSR arming different sides with billions of dollars, all while famines raged.

The so-called humanitarian intervention by U.S. Marines in Somalia in 1992–93 was merely a continuation of this policy with a different name. Along with "fighting terror," humanitarian intervention became a watchword for the Clinton administration and the Bush administration after it--providing a cover for Washington's pursuit of economic and military aims, and justifying U.S. military deployment in the region.

In 2003, while the U.S. was invading and occupying Iraq, the U.S. military built a major base in Djibouti, a tiny but strategically located country next to Somalia and across the Red Sea from Yemen. The U.S. used its Camp Lemonier to train Ethiopian forces in the lead-up to the December 2006 invasion of Somalia.

As Mike Whitney pointed out on the Counterpunch Web site: "The Bush administration invoked the 'war on terror' to justify its involvement in Somalia, but its claims are unconvincing. The UIC is not an al-Qaeda affiliate or a terrorist organization. In fact, the UIC brought a level of peace and stability to Somalia that hadn't been seen for nearly two decades."

Political analyst James Petras made a similar point:

The UIC was a relatively honest administration, which ended warlord corruption and extortion. Personal safety and property were protected, ending arbitrary seizures and kidnappings by warlords and their armed thugs.

The UIC is a broad multi-tendency movement that includes moderates and radical Islamists, civilian politicians and armed fighters, liberals and populists, electoralists and authoritarians. Most important, the Courts succeeded in unifying the country and creating some semblance of nationhood, overcoming clan fragmentation.

But Bush didn't let this relative stability under the UIC get in the way. According to a Chicago Tribune article, the invasion in Somalia was "a covert war in which the CIA has recruited gangs of unsavory warlords to hunt down and kidnap Islamic militants...and secretly imprison them offshore, aboard U.S. warships. The British civil-rights group Reprieve contended that as many as 17 U.S. warships may have doubled as floating prisons since the September 11 terrorist attacks."

Only one month after the 9/11 attacks, Paul Wolfowitz, one of the top neo-con hawks in the Bush administration, met with various factions in Ethiopia and Somalia, alleging that al-Qaeda terrorists might use these territories as "escape routes."

On December 4, 2006, Gen. John Abizaid, then the head of U.S. Central Command covering much of the Middle East and the surrounding region, met with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Three weeks later, Ethiopian forces crossed into Somalia, and the U.S. launched air strikes to back them up. The air attacks were supposedly against terrorist targets, but they killed dozens of civilians. The U.S. also embedded small numbers of Special Forces in the Ethiopian army, and provided naval and air support.

* * *

THE END result of the U.S. intervention has been untold destruction. Human Rights Watch published a report in December 2008 detailing the impact:

Two years of unconstrained warfare and violent rights abuses have helped to generate an ever-worsening humanitarian crisis, without adequate response. Since January 2007, at least 870,000 civilians have fled the chaos in Mogadishu alone--two-thirds of the city's population...Somalia's humanitarian needs are enormous.

Humanitarian organizations estimate that more than 3.25 million Somalis--over 40 percent of the population of south-central Somalia--will be in urgent need of assistance by the end of 2008...Freelance militias have robbed, murdered and raped displaced persons on the roads south towards Kenya. Hundreds of Somalis have drowned this year in desperate attempts to cross the Gulf of Aden by boat to Yemen.

Amnesty International documented numerous accounts of killings of Somalis by Ethiopian troops. In one case, "a young child's throat was slit by Ethiopian soldiers in front of the child's mother."

And according to the Red Cross, about half of Somalia's population is dependent on food aid. Millions live in tent cities without adequate water, food or power, while hyperinflation has driven up the price of staple goods by six times since the start of 2008. As Whitney puts it, "It is the greatest humanitarian crisis in Africa today; a man-made hell entirely conjured up in Washington."

Somalis celebrated the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops, and President Sheikh Ahmed enjoys popular support as a legacy of past UIC rule. The U.S. government's short-term goal of installing a partner in counter-terror appears thwarted.

Yet Sheikh Ahmed's openness to the U.S. and his collaboration with the TFG now divides his forces from other wings of the former UIC, including groups like al-Shabab, which is on the U.S. government's list of terrorist organizations. For the U.S., the split is welcome.

Meanwhile, attacks by Somali armed groups have continued. Suicide bombers, likely connected to al-Shabab, attacked African Union troops on February 3.

The longer-term picture likewise indicates increased volatility in the region. Since the collapse of the UIC government in 2006, a resurgence of pirate attacks off the Somali coast--with some holding multimillion-dollar tankers hostage--recently prompted the Chinese and Indian governments to send naval patrols, an unprecedented move for China.

Faced with this heightened militarization, Bush called for sending warships to the Gulf of Aden as well, and Barack Obama has pledged support for continuing that policy.

The Obama administration is also a strong proponent of Africom, a new U.S. military command for Africa officially launched on October 1, 2008, with the frightening potential to subject Somalia and other countries and regions to U.S. terror on a new scale. In fact, Africom could mean the Somali experience writ large for the entire continent, with local proxies and enhanced military reinforcement.

As Nunu Kidane put it in an article titled "Africom, Militarization and Resource Control":

If you're thinking traditional bases with thousands of military personnel, think again. General Kip Ward has said it is not about "bases" and "garrisons," but rather a network of sophisticated military operations strategically placed throughout the continent, which can be moved around and utilized for any purpose.

General Gates called Africom "a different kind of command with a different orientation, one that we hope and expect will institutionalize a lasting security relationship with Africa." It is "a civilian-military partnership," where diplomatic and humanitarian relief by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will get directives from the Department of Defense.

Africa Action and other human rights groups have rightly called on the Obama administration to address the humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia. But one often-proposed solution--United Nations peacekeepers--would only escalate the problems for ordinary Somalis. On the ground, UN troops would carry out U.S. priorities, just as they did during the "humanitarian intervention" of 1993.

Instead, activists should stand against any U.S. military intervention in Somalia, from Africom to the naval patrols. Challenging the "war on terror" is a crucial first step toward real peace for Somalis.

Len Wengraf writes for the Socialist Worker.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on February 22, 2009, 11:14:32 am
AU base in Mogadishu attacked
 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7904613.stm


Insurgents in Somalia have attacked a military base in Mogadishu used by African Union peacekeepers.

The Islamist militant group al-Shabab said two of its members had carried out a suicide car bomb attack on the base.

The AU mission said it was investigating the attack but did not give a casualty figure.

A spokesman for Burundi's military, which contributes to the AU force, said six of its soldiers had been killed, AFP news agency reported.

The 3,500 peacekeepers from Burundi and Uganda are the only foreign troops in Mogadishu since the withdrawal of pro-government Ethiopian troops in January.

A UN-brokered peace deal between Somalia's transitional government and a moderate Islamist opposition group saw Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed elected president in January, but al-Shabab has pledged to carry on with its armed struggle against the peacekeepers.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on February 24, 2009, 10:52:53 am
11 African soldiers killed in Somalia
 A group tied to Al Qaeda said it was responsible for the blasts yesterday. (Feisal Omar/Reuters)
Los Angeles Times / February 23, 2009

http://www.boston.com/news/world/africa/articles/2009/02/23/11_african_soldiers_killed_in_somalia/

NAIROBI
- A suicide car-bomb attack against African Union peacekeepers in Somalia yesterday killed 11 Burundi soldiers and wounded 15 others, the deadliest attack against AU troops since their deployment two years ago.

Insurgents from Al-Shabab militia, which claims links to Al Qaeda, took responsibility and vowed to continue assaults against AU soldiers who have been helping shore up Somalia's transitional government.

"Go home, otherwise you will meet our hell," said Al-Shabab leader Muktar Robow, speaking by telephone to reporters after the attack.

He said two suicide bombers - one in a vehicle and another wearing an explosives-packed vest - infiltrated the AU base at the former Somali National University in Mogadishu. Hundreds of displaced people are living around the campus, and one witness said he saw two civilians among the dead.

"I saw a four-wheel-drive car driving at a high speed and then heard a massive explosion," Kalid Ali Nur said.

AU and UN officials condemned the attack as an attempt by insurgents to detract attention from ongoing efforts to form a new unity government. Since January, the government has named a new president, prime minister and, on Saturday, a Cabinet.

"They are trying to destabilize the situation and take away attention from the good news," said Susannah Price, a spokeswoman for the UN special representative to Somalia.

The attack comes as the AU and the United Nations are struggling to boost the number of peacekeepers in Somalia from the current level of about 3,500 Burundi and Ugandan soldiers. AU troops have been subject to increased attacks since Ethiopian soldiers withdrew from the country in January.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on February 24, 2009, 10:56:43 am
UPDATE 2-Somalia's Shabaab vows more attacks on African troops
Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:54pm GMT
 
http://af.reuters.com/article/somaliaNews/idAFLN45134520090223?feedType=RSS&feedName=somaliaNews&sp=true



* Militants' Internet statement warns of more strikes

* Burundi pledges reinforcements after 11 troops killed

* Analysts split over al Shabaab's strength

* Gunmen free Pakistani national

* Al Qaeda urges Somalis to resist "secular constitution"

By Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Somalia's hardline Islamist insurgent group al Shabaab pledged on Monday to launch more attacks on African Union peacekeepers after the deadliest strike yet killed at least 11 soldiers from Burundi.

"This is our land and you are non-believers," said a statement on a website used by the militants, who are fighting the Somali government and a 3,500-strong AU peacekeeping force.

"Leave us for your safety or we shall never tire of increasing your death toll."

The site, www.kataaib.info, posted pictures of two young men it said were suicide bombers who blew up explosives in a jacket and a car next to an AU base at a former university in the coastal capital Mogadishu.

The militants' Internet statement said 52 people died and 34 were wounded in Sunday's attack.

The AU said its compound had been targeted by mortar bombs, not suicide bombers. It said 11 were killed and 15 injured.

Witnesses described a car speeding towards the gate before hearing at least one blast and seeing thick plumes of smoke.

Somalia's new President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a moderate Islamist [ID:nLV26136], arrived in the rubble-strewn city on Monday and condemned the latest bloodshed.

"AU troops will not leave through fighting and explosions, but through peaceful negotiation among the Somalis," he said.

His new prime minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, the Western-educated son of a slain former president [ID:nLG705221], was also due in Mogadishu later on Monday.

Both men have been in neighbouring Djibouti picking a cabinet under U.N.-brokered efforts to form a unity government to end 18 years of conflict in the failed Horn of Africa state.


BURUNDI VOWS REINFORCEMENTS

Their biggest threat is from al Shabaab which, together with allied militia, controls large swathes of southern Somalia including the strategic towns of Baidoa and Kismayu.

The government controls only parts of Mogadishu.

Since the start of an Islamist insurgency that broke out at the beginning of 2007, at least 16,000 civilians have been killed and a million more driven from their homes.

Al Shabaab gained support as one of many groups waging war against Ethiopian troops propping up the previous government.

An Ethiopian withdrawal in January placated some Somalis, but al Shabaab has now turned its fire on the AU peacekeeping mission, AMISOM, and the new government.

The government of Burundi, which contributes nearly half AMISOM's strength, said it remained committed to stabilising Somalia and planned to reinforce its contingent soon. Burundi's military said the mission's current mandate was too restrictive.

In neighbouring Kenya, the AU special envoy to Somalia, Nicolas Bwakira, said AMISOM's current mandate was sufficient. Somali troops would be used for "peace-enforcement", he said.

Two more battalions, one from Uganda and another from Burundi, are due to deploy within weeks, bringing the force to more than 5,000 -- but far short of its planned 8,000.

Bwakira said Malawi, Nigeria and Ghana had all agreed to send troops. But most African nations have been reluctant to send their soldiers into harm's way in Somalia.

Experts hope the inclusion of moderate Islamists in the new Somali government may marginalise hardliners like al Shabaab. The group is on Washington's list of terrorist organisations and is known to have foreign fighters in its ranks.

But analysts are split over al Shabaab's strength.

Some say it could overrun the government, while others say it has only a few thousand fighters and has used the media and high profile strikes to project a more powerful image -- despite waning support among traditionally moderate Somali Muslims.

In a recording "From Kabul to Mogadishu" posted online on Monday, al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri urged Somalis not to fall for a "secular constitution" and said militants would fight the "U.S.-made government". [nLN525094]

Somali gunmen freed a Pakistani man on Monday a day after kidnapping him in the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland, officials said.

Abdullahi Said Samatar, Puntland's security minister, told Reuters no ransom had been paid and that the man was released after local elders made contact with the gunmen. (Additional reporting by Abdi Guled in Mogadishu, Abdiaziz Hassan and Alison Bevege in Nairobi and Patrick Nduwimana in Bujumbura; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne and Daniel Wallis)
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on February 24, 2009, 10:57:44 am
Some 3.2 mln Somalis need urgent aid - U.N.
Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:01pm GMT
 
http://af.reuters.com/article/somaliaNews/idAFLN62914120090223?feedType=RSS&feedName=somaliaNews

MILAN, Feb 23 (Reuters)
- About 3.2 million people, or 43 percent of population in insurgency-hit Somalia need urgent help to get them through a growing humanitarian and food security crisis, the United Nations' food agency said on Monday.

Violence in the African country has killed more than 16,000 people since the start of 2007 and uprooted 1 million, with chaos helping fuel kidnappings and piracy off the coast. [ID:nLN99324]

The widespread humanitarian crisis has hit 1.2 million people in rural areas and 2 million urban dwellers, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a report on its web site www.fao.org

Somalia has been hit by recurring humanitarian emergencies over the last 18 years and has rates of acute malnutrition which are well above emergency levels, the Rome-based FAO said.

The macro-economic crisis with national currency devaluation and hyperinflation has worsened the situation in Somalia, the agency said.

With cereals prices staying 450-780 percent above normal levels, the average cost of the urban poor's minimum survival expenditure basket has more than doubled in the last year, while purchasing power fell, the FAO said.

"Already urban poor households are deeply indebted and becoming more impoverished, thus increasing their vulnerability to shocks and further crises," it said.

At least 200,000 children under five years, or one out of six children there are acutely malnourished, of which 60,000 are estimated to be severely malnourished.

"These numbers ... will have a devastating impact on the long term economic development of the country," FAO said.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on February 25, 2009, 06:40:25 am
Many dead in Mogadishu fighting

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2009/02/2009224102254199663.html


At least 20 people have been killed and 50 others injured in clashes between government troops and opposition fighters in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Witnesses said that fighting broke out on Tuesday after an armed group attacked police and African Union peacekeepers in the capital's southern Taleh district.

The fighting came a day after Sharif Ahmed, Somalia's newly elected president, returned to the country from Djibouti.

Witnesses said that heavy machine guns and artillery were used in Tuesday's fighting and that the fighters shelled the presidential palace.

Several residents said that two civilians had been hit by stray bullets near the scene of clashes and three others were killed when a mortar shell struck a house.

A medical official said that more than 20 wounded people had been transferred to the city's Medina hospital.

The clashes follow Sunday's suicide bomb attack on an AU base in the Somali capital, which left 11 Burundi soldiers dead.

The bombing, for which the al-Shabab armed group claimed responsibility, was the deadliest so far against the African Union Mission in Somalia.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on February 27, 2009, 08:20:08 am
Civilians dead in Somalia clashes

Renewed fighting has targeted AU peacekepeers from Uganda and Burundi  [AFP]
 
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2009/02/200922511163477931.html



At least 48 civilians have been killed in two-days of fighting between Somali rebel fighters and African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, a rights group said.

More than 90 people were injured in the clashes, Ali Yasin Gedi, the vice-chairman of the local Elman Peace and Human Rights group, said on Wednesday.

Witnesses said at least 15 rebel al-Shabab fighters and six policemen were killed in exchanges of gunfire and mortar bombs, which have rocked the coastal capital since Tuesday.

The latest violence has flared up just days after Sharif Ahmed, the new Somali president, returned to the coastal city to form an inclusive unity government - the 15th attempt in 18 years - to bring peace to the failed Horn of Africa state.

Territorial gain

On Wednesday, al-Shabab seized control of the town of Hodur, near the Ethiopian border, from government-backed forces, residents and al-Shabab members told the AFP news agency.

Al-Shabab and allied groups control much of southern and central Somalia and want to impose their version of sharia (Islamic) law in the country.

The AU currently has about 3,200 soldiers from Uganda and Burundi in Somalia, where two years of fighting have killed more than 16,000 civilians and displaced millions from their homes.

More than a third of the population depend on aid, and large parts of Mogadishu lie empty and destroyed.

Al-Shabab and other anti-government groups regularly attack government troops and AU peacekeepers, in efforts to force them out of the country.

The rebel group gained support as one of the key factions waging war against Ethiopian troops who they said were propping up the country's previous government.

An Ethiopian withdrawal in January eased the fighting, but al-Shabab has since turned its fire on the AU force, Amisom, and the new government.

Regional diplomats hope the inclusion of Islamist groups in the new administration may marginalise groups like al-Shabab, which is on Washington's list of terrorist organisations and is known to have foreign fighters in its ranks.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: comp on March 09, 2009, 02:13:01 am
Fake chips in pentagon through ERAI.com network.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kristalsnider/3336083998/
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on March 11, 2009, 01:53:24 pm
Blast kills Somali security official, 3 soldiers

The Associated Press
Published: March 11, 2009
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2009/03/11/africa/AF-Somalia.php

MOGADISHU, Somalia:
A roadside bomb killed a senior Somali security official and three government soldiers Wednesday, police said.

The remote-controlled explosion ripped through the men's car as they traveled through the Somali capital, Mogadishu, said police spokesman Abdullahi Hassan Barise. Among those killed was Ubeyd Ali Fidow, who worked as a bodyguard for the prime minister.

"There was flesh and blood everywhere," said Mogadishu resident Hurshe Ali, who witnessed the blast.

No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion in one of the most violent cities in the world. Islamist insurgents are fighting the government and African Union peacekeepers for control of a country that has been in chaos for nearly 20 years.

On Tuesday, the Somali Cabinet voted to make Islam the basis of the country's legal system. The move was an attempt to isolate more extreme elements of the insurgency by agreeing to a demand supported by more moderate elements and much of the Somali population.

The most extreme group, al-Shabab, which controls the main cities in the south, has said it does not recognize the legitimacy of the government. The U.S. State Department says al-Shabab has ties to al-Qaida

The bill introducing Islamic law must still be approved by parliament, which is expected to hear it within days.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on March 16, 2009, 05:12:59 pm
Somali rivals in deadly clashes

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2009/03/2009315141315612511.html

Rival armed fighters have clashed repeatedly over control of central Somalia [Reuters]



Fighting between rival armed opposition groups has killed at least 13 people in central Somalia, residents say.

Members of the Ahlu Sunna Wal-jama'ah group clashed with rivals from the al-Shabab movement outside the town of Wabho, north of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, in fighting that began on Saturday.

"Thirteen people are dead - eight of them combatants, from both sides - and seven others were injured," Abdisamed Adan Yusuf, a local resident told the AFP news agency.

The fighting continued on the outskirts of the town on Sunday, residents said.

Ahlu Sunna Wal-jama'ah said its fighters had captured seven al-Shabab members.

"We lost one and four others were injured from our side," Sheikh Abdullahi Sheikh Abu Yusuf, a spokesman for the Ahlu Sunna, told the Reuters news agency.

"We shall conclude the war in a short while," he said. "Wabho is now in our hand and we are now about to capture El Bur, their biggest base."

There was no immediate comment from al-Shabab.

Sharia-based law

The two groups have clashed repeatedly over control of the region.

Al-Shabab and allied groups control much of southern and central Somalia and want to impose their version of sharia, or Islamic law, in the country.

Earlier this month, Somalia's cabinet voted to make Islamic law the basis for the country's legal system in an attempt to isolate more extreme armed groups by agreeing to a demand supported by much of the Somali population.

The bill must still be approved by parliament.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on March 20, 2009, 04:06:38 pm
Witnesses say 14 killed in fighting in Somalia

The Associated Press
Published: March 18, 2009

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2009/03/18/africa/AF-Somalia.php

MOGADISHU, Somalia:
At least 14 people were killed Wednesday when pro-government militiamen and an extremist Islamic group clashed in southern Somalia, according to witnesses.

Pro-government militiamen attacked al-Shabab fighters early Wednesday in a failed effort to seize the southern Somalia town of Rab Dhure, residents said. Rab Dhure is a few kilometers (miles) from the border with Ethiopia. Both sides fired machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

"I have seen eight people dead in a street. Most of the dead and wounded are fighters," Mad Ali, a Rab Dhure resident told The Associated Press by phone.

In a separate location in Rab Dhure, Nuney Mo'alim told the AP she saw six pro-government militiamen die when al-Shabab fighters hit their pickup truck with a rocket-propelled grenade. The pro-government fighters' pickup was mounted with a machine gun to make what is called locally a battle wagon.

Shine Moalin Nurow, a leader of the pro-government militia, said the militia lost a number of fighters but did not give a figure.
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"Our aim was to retake the towns we had lost to al-Shabab. We will regroup and wage another war in the coming days," Nurow told AP by phone.

Somalia is carved into fiefdoms controlled by different militia groups — some led by clan warlords, others by Islamic leaders — who often form rapidly shifting alliances.

The government now directly controls only a few blocks of Mogadishu and the border town of El Berde. But President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, a moderate Islamist who became head of state in January, has allies among the militias that control much of central Somalia and pockets in the south.

Separately, four African Union peacekeepers were injured in Mogadishu, the capital, in two roadside explosions, said Gaffel Nkolokosa, an AU spokesman.

The AU peacekeepers' mandates is restricted to guarding key government installations in Mogadishu but hardline groups view them as an occupying force.

Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991 when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. They then turned on each other, plunging the nation of 7 million into anarchy and chaos.
Title: Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
Post by: Biggs on April 14, 2009, 02:39:58 pm
You Are Being Lied to About Pirates

By Johann Hari

http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22399.htm

April 12, 2009 "Huffington Post"
--- Who imagined that in 2009, the world's governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy - backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China - is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labeling as "one of the great menace of our times" have an extraordinary story to tell -- and some justice on their side.

Pirates have never been quite who we think they are. In the "golden age of piracy" - from 1650 to 1730 - the idea of the pirate as the senseless, savage thief that lingers today was created by the British government in a great propaganda-heave. Many ordinary people believed it was false: pirates were often rescued from the gallows by supportive crowds. Why? What did they see that we can't? In his book Villains of All nations, the historian Marcus Rediker pores through the evidence to find out. If you became a merchant or navy sailor then - plucked from the docks of London's East End, young and hungry - you ended up in a floating wooden Hell. You worked all hours on a cramped, half-starved ship, and if you slacked off for a second, the all-powerful captain would whip you with the Cat O' Nine Tails. If you slacked consistently, you could be thrown overboard. And at the end of months or years of this, you were often cheated of your wages.

Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied against their tyrannical captains - and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls "one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the eighteenth century." They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed "quite clearly - and subversively - that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal navy." This is why they were popular, despite being unproductive thieves.

The words of one pirate from that lost age - a young British man called William Scott - should echo into this new age of piracy. Just before he was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, he said: "What I did was to keep me from perishing. I was forced to go a-pirating to live." In 1991, the government of Somalia - in the Horn of Africa - collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since - and many of the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury - you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish-stocks by over-exploitation - and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m worth of tuna, shrimp, lobster and other sea-life is being stolen every year by vast trawlers illegally sailing into Somalia's unprotected seas. The local fishermen have suddenly lost their livelihoods, and they are starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."

This is the context in which the men we are calling "pirates" have emerged. Everyone agrees they were ordinary Somalian fishermen who at first took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least wage a 'tax' on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia - and it's not hard to see why. In a surreal telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali, said their motive was "to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters... We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas." William Scott would understand those words.

No, this doesn't make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters - especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But the "pirates" have the overwhelming support of the local population for a reason. The independent Somalian news-site WardherNews conducted the best research we have into what ordinary Somalis are thinking - and it found 70 percent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence of the country's territorial waters." During the revolutionary war in America, George Washington and America's founding fathers paid pirates to protect America's territorial waters, because they had no navy or coastguard of their own. Most Americans supported them. Is this so different?

Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our nuclear waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We didn't act on those crimes - but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 percent of the world's oil supply, we begin to shriek about "evil." If we really want to deal with piracy, we need to stop its root cause - our crimes - before we send in the gun-boats to root out Somalia's criminals.

The story of the 2009 war on piracy was best summarised by another pirate, who lived and died in the fourth century BC. He was captured and brought to Alexander the Great, who demanded to know "what he meant by keeping possession of the sea." The pirate smiled, and responded: "What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor." Once again, our great imperial fleets sail in today - but who is the robber?

POSTSCRIPT: Some commenters seem bemused by the fact that both toxic dumping and the theft of fish are happening in the same place - wouldn't this make the fish contaminated? In fact, Somalia's coastline is vast, stretching to 3300km. Imagine how easy it would be - without any coastguard or army - to steal fish from Florida and dump nuclear waste on California, and you get the idea. These events are happening in different places - but with the same horrible effect: death for the locals, and stirred-up piracy. There's no contradiction.

Johann Hari is a writer for the Independent newspaper
Title: Re: Ethiopians withdraw from Somalia but the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on April 15, 2009, 01:41:50 pm
Emotional Rescue: Praise for Sea Victory Could Presage Carnage
Chris Floyd

www.uruknet.info?p=53408

Link: chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/3/1741-emotional-rescue-praise-for-sea
   -victory-could-presage-carnage.html

April 14, 2009


I.
Everyone is glad that Captain Richard Phillips emerged unscathed from his capture by the Somali pirates who seized his ship on its way to bring food aid to Kenya. But the nature of his rescue -- still shrouded in ambiguity -- is a troubling portent. And its potential aftermath could be catastrophic indeed.

It is of course a harrowing business to be captured and held at gunpoint, and Phillips is to be lauded for his selfless courage in offering himself as a hostage in place of his crew. But despite the manifest difficulty and criminality of the situation, it is unlikely that his life was in imminent danger. Since the upsurge of piracy off the Somali coast began, there have been almost no fatalities in the raids, and so far every hostage taken by the pirates has been released unharmed.

What's more, as McClatchy reports, the pirates who had taken Phillips were apparently out of ammunition and adrift in shark-infested waters by the time U.S. Navy ships caught up with them. They offered to give Phillips back to the Americans in exchange for their own freedom -- but were shot dead instead. Navy sharpshooters said they killed the three Somali men when one of them pointed a gun at Phillips' back -- apparently in the belief that the pirates were about to kill the captain.  This seems at bit strange, to say the least; if the pirates were negotiating with the Americans, it seems odd that they would suddenly shoot their only bargaining chip while they were in the crosshairs of two massive Navy warships and a squad of snipers. It also seems unlikely that they had not had a gun -- an empty gun, as it turns out -- pointed at their captive throughout the standoff.

Of course, it was a dicey situation all around, and no one who wasn't there can know exactly what happened. McClatchy pieces together the various claims and fragments of information available:

The SEALs felt Phillips's life was in "imminent danger," Gortney said. The White House said that President Barack Obama had given the Pentagon a standing order to use force if necessary to save Phillips's life.

The sharpshooters "took it that the pirate was ready to use that weapon" and opened fire within seconds, Gortney said in a telephone briefing from Bahrain, headquarters of the Fifth Fleet.

President Obama was told that Phillips had been rescued 11 minutes after the shots were fired, according to Pentagon and White House chronologies of events....

According to Somalis with knowledge of the discussions, the pirates, who at one time had demanded $2 million for Phillips's release, had grown desperate with their situation — adrift under a searing sun in waters infested with sharks, staring at two massive Navy ships armed with guided missiles, running low on fuel and having spent their ammunition.

A relative of one of the pirates, who said he spoke with the men by satellite phone at about 3 p.m. — four hours before the Navy opened fire — said they "were getting scared" and trying to persuade the Americans to let them go in return for the captain's release.

"They were trying to save their own lives," said the relative, Hassan Mohammed Farah, speaking by phone from Haradheere, a coastal town in central Somalia where pirates are known to operate. "The only thing they could bargain with was the captain, but the Americans would not accept."

And so the incident ended as it was surely destined to. The moment I heard that an American ship had been raided by Somali pirates, I knew that someone would have to die for it; nowadays, American leaders -- and broad swathes of the public -- demand blood for the slightest perceived outrage against the nation's dignity. And once a hostage was taken -- by a bunch of rag-tag, Muslim darkies, no less -- a fatal ending was assured.

II.
Barack Obama, who had given the shoot-to-kill order (if necessary, of course, only if necessary; American operatives have never fired a shot in anger anywhere in the world unless it was absolutely necessary), was keen to stand tall in what the commentariat had dubbed a major test of his commander-in-chief mettle. Thus the C-in-C was duly informed of his triumph while the oozing blood of the dead was still warm.

And a triumph it was. Quickly, the White House released details of Obama's omniscient control of the situation -- and was duly rewarded with rapturous PR, especially from his liberal "base," happy to see the hardnosed, blood-drawing president slap down the rightwing critics who forever castigate him for being "soft." Dennis Perrin reports on some prime examples of this he-man hero-worship at Huffington Post. And Juan Cole -- whose insights into the realities of the Middle East have been invaluable, but who now seems to be channeling Arthur "Camelot" Schlesinger at his mythologizing worst -- showers embarrassing accolades on "the deft young president."

Cole approvingly notes that Obama was quietly "making preparations to whack someone" even while Rush Limbaugh and other rightwing blowhards were slamming the Deft One for his presumed inaction. Obama "took the heat, but he took it like a man," while carrying on with "17 separate briefings" on the crisis. Cole then spends an inordinate amount of time castigating the witless blather of Limbaugh and the blowhardniks, before ending in a paroxysm of praise for the cool, competent, deft young leader:

Reminds me of the Carly Simon Bond theme, "Nobody does it better/ Makes me feel sad for the rest."

As we noted here the other day, the most shameless Bush-worshippers of yore would be hard-pressed to match Obama's dazzled acolytes in their gushing, emotional tributes to the Commander.

III.
But the blogosphere reaction is just a bemusing sidelight. Far more serious are the potential ramifications of the incident, and the policies it could be used to justify.

It almost certainly makes a direct American military strike on Somalia much more likely. This of course would be nothing new; as we noted here time and again (to almost no effect or resonance anywhere), the United States was directly involved in the invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia in late 2006: a murderous "regime change" operation by forces funded, armed and trained by the United States. The invasion and occupation, which ended in January 2009, killed thousands of Somalis, ruined and dispossessed hundreds of thousands of others, and plunged the already broken country even deeper into chaos, civil war and ruin. American forces bombed fleeing refugees, launched missile strikes into villages, captured refugees and "renditioned" them to Ethiopia's notorious torture chambers, and, perhaps most chillingly, sent in death squads to "clean up" after missile attacks.

The savage Ethiopian-American invasion was "justified" under the usual rubric of "fighting terrorism." It was ostensibly intended to oust a broad coalition of Islamic groups which had given Somalia its first semblance of stability in many years. The results of this "counter-terrorism" operation were entirely predictable: it weakened or destroyed moderate forces, while radicalizing many Somalis and empowering the most extreme and violent groups, led by the al-Shabab faction. In the end, the Terror Warriors had to admit defeat; the hand-picked, American-backed interim government, which included former warlords in the pay of the CIA, collapsed -- and the leader of the ousted Islamic coalition government became the new president, with the West's reluctant blessing. The entire war had been for naught.

But as noted, the more extreme elements of the former coalition were greatly empowered by the invasion and subsequent chaos, while the new government is compromised by its association with and dependence upon the West. So savage internal conflict still rages in Somalia, despite the withdrawal of the Ethiopians -- who still linger ominously across the border. Chaos reigns, lawlessness is rampant, criminal gangs and sectarian militias clash, combine, fall out, and oppress the population. Western corporate interests have destroyed one of the very few viable enterprises in Somalia: the fishing industry. As Katie Stuhldreher noted in the Christian Science Monitor last year (via Antiwar.com):

The problem of piracy in Somalia originated about a decade ago because of disgruntled fishermen. The headless state had no authority to patrol its tuna-rich coastal waters and foreign commercial vessels swooped in to cast their nets. This proved a slap in the face for Somalis, who saw these vessels as illegal and raking in profits at the expense of the local impoverished population. To make matters worse, there were reports that some foreign ships even dumped waste in Somali waters.

That prompted local fishermen to attack foreign fishing vessels and demand compensation. The success of these early raids in the mid-1990s persuaded many young men to hang up their nets in favor of AK-47s.

Needless to say, the accelerated death and ruin following the "regime change" operation has only driven more men into piracy, and made more communities dependent on the practice for their survival.

This then is the present context for all the talk about renewed American attacks on Somalia. The capture of Captain Phillips has highlighted previous plans and calls to root out the pirates with military strikes on their bases. As we noted here last year, the UN Security Council, following America's lead, has already voted to turn Somalia into a global free-fire zone, giving other nations carte blanche "to conduct military raids, on land and by air, against pirates plying the waters off the Somalia coast," as the Washington Post reported. All they need is permission from the Somali government -- which, as we noted, is dependent on Western nations for its survival.

Meanwhile, as the Washington Post reported earlier this month, the Obama Administration is considering plans to strike at the al-Shabab insurgent group in Somalia, which Washington has long claimed has vague "ties" to al Qaeda. Indeed, it was these same nebulous connections -- literally involving a handful of people -- that the Bush administration cited as its reason for supporting the overthrow of the Somali government in 2006. Now powerful voices in the Obama administration are urging the deft young president to extend his wide-ranging "continuity" with Bush's Terror War policies to Somalia.

In any case, the current chaos -- and the new pressures that will inevitably be brought to bear on the pirates after their yanking of Uncle Sam's beard -- will doubtless see the further meshing of interests between at least some of the pirate groups and the extremists. Already, al-Shabab is proclaiming its solidarity with the pirates, lauding the mercantile group as fellow "holy warriors," as Garowe Online reports. This public linkage will only make it easier for American militarists to urge attacks on Somalia; surely it won't be long until we see officials trotting out the formula "Piracy=Terrorism."

If so, it will be self-fulfilling prophecy. For if they come after the pirates with all guns blazing, with ground assaults and air attacks, the pirates will turn to the Islamist insurgents for muscle. The Islamists will then draw on pirate money to fund their own operations. The pirates will become more and more radicalized -- as will the surrounding population hit by the strikes, thus strengthening the radical Islamists.

Meanwhile, Western corporations will continue their destruction of the Somali fishing industry, driving even more people into piracy, or into the hands of the radical Islamists. All of this increased violence will draw an ever more violent response from the United States: more attacks, more bombs, more shootings -- which will, in turn, lead to more radicalization, more hatred, more violence. A self-perpetuating dynamic will be established. The end result -- or rather, the never-ending result -- will be what it has always been for decades: more death, suffering, chaos and poverty for the Somali people.

As I noted last year:

But let us not succumb to American exceptionalism in this case. The UN Security Council resolution is a virulent product of a global militarism, the universal warlordism that finds expression sometimes in ragged bands of fighters in desert, mountain or jungle enclaves – and sometimes in the clean and carpeted halls of vast nation-states and international institutions. With this resolution, the entire world – the entire world – has turned its back on the people of Somalia. They have been abandoned as utterly, completely – and officially -- as any people in history. At least there was some opposition in the Security Council to the American rape of Iraq; but this declaration of open season on Somalia – this universal license to kill Somalis, granted to every government on earth – passed unanimously. Without demur, without protest, with no objection.

Are there pirates in Somalia? Yes. Have they hindered some commercial operations? Yes. Are there criminal organizations in the United States, in Europe, in Russia, in China, in the Middle East? Yes. Do they hinder some commercial operations? Yes. (And far more violently and extensively than the Somali pirates, we might add.) But only the Somali people are subjected to the murderous strictures of the UN's draconian edict. Only the Somali people are being condemned to die – by the United Nations – for the actions of criminals within their borders.

Title: Re: Ethiopians withdraw from Somalia but the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on April 16, 2009, 01:16:26 pm
'Toxic waste' behind Somali piracy

By Najad Abdullahi

http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22428.htm

April 15, 2009 "Al Jazeera" -
- Somali pirates have accused European firms of dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast and are demanding an $8m ransom for the return of a Ukranian ship they captured, saying the money will go towards cleaning up the waste.

The ransom demand is a means of "reacting to the toxic waste that has been continually dumped on the shores of our country for nearly 20 years", Januna Ali Jama, a spokesman for the pirates, based in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, said.

"The Somali coastline has been destroyed, and we believe this money is nothing compared to the devastation that we have seen on the seas."

The pirates are holding the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and military hardware, off Somalia's northern coast.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, 61 attacks by pirates have been reported since the start of the year.

While money is the primary objective of the hijackings, claims of the continued environmental destruction off Somalia's coast have been largely ignored by the regions's maritime authorities.

Dumping allegations

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia confirmed to Al Jazeera the world body has "reliable information" that European and Asian companies are dumping toxic waste, including nuclear waste, off the Somali coastline.

"I must stress however, that no government has endorsed this act, and that private companies and individuals acting alone are responsible," he said

Allegations of the dumping of toxic waste, as well as illegal fishing, have circulated since the early 1990s.

But evidence of such practices literally appeared on the beaches of northern Somalia when the tsunami of 2004 hit the country.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reported the tsunami had washed up rusting containers of toxic waste on the shores of Puntland.

Nick Nuttall, a UNEP spokesman, told Al Jazeera that when the barrels were smashed open by the force of the waves, the containers exposed a "frightening activity" that has been going on for more than decade.

"Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there," he said.

"European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne.

"And the waste is many different kinds. There is uranium radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. There is also industrial waste, and there are hospital wastes, chemical wastes – you name it."

Nuttall also said that since the containers came ashore, hundreds of residents have fallen ill, suffering from mouth and abdominal bleeding, skin infections and other ailments.

"We [the UNEP] had planned to do a proper, in-depth scientific assessment on the magnitude of the problem. But because of the high levels of insecurity onshore and off the Somali coast, we are unable to carry out an accurate assessment of the extent of the problem," he said.

However, Ould-Abdallah claims the practice still continues.

"What is most alarming here is that nuclear waste is being dumped. Radioactive uranium waste that is potentially killing Somalis and completely destroying the ocean," he said.

Toxic waste

Ould-Abdallah declined to name which companies are involved in waste dumping, citing legal reasons.

But he did say the practice helps fuel the 18-year-old civil war in Somalia as companies are paying Somali government ministers to dump their waste, or to secure licences and contracts.

"There is no government control ... and there are few people with high moral ground ... [and] yes, people in high positions are being paid off, but because of the fragility of the TFG [transitional Federal Government], some of these companies now no longer ask the authorities – they simply dump their waste and leave."

Ould-Abdallah said there are ethical questions to be considered because the companies are negotiating contracts with a government that is largely divided along tribal lines.

"How can you negotiate these dealings with a country at war and with a government struggling to remain relevant?"

In 1992, a contract to secure the dumping of toxic waste was made by Swiss and Italian shipping firms Achair Partners and Progresso, with Nur Elmi Osman, a former official appointed to the government of Ali Mahdi Mohamed, one of many militia leaders involved in the ousting of Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia's former president.

At the request of the Swiss and Italian governments, UNEP investigated the matter.

Both firms had denied entering into any agreement with militia leaders at the beginning of the Somali civil war.

Osman also denied signing any contract.

'Mafia involvement'

However, Mustafa Tolba, the former UNEP executive director, told Al Jazeera that he discovered the firms were set up as fictitious companies by larger industrial firms to dispose of hazardous waste.

"At the time, it felt like we were dealing with the Mafia, or some sort of organised crime group, possibly working with these industrial firms," he said.

"It was very shady, and quite underground, and I would agree with Ould-Abdallah’s claims that it is still going on... Unfortunately the war has not allowed environmental groups to investigate this fully."

The Italian mafia controls an estimated 30 per cent of Italy's waste disposal companies, including those that deal with toxic waste.

In 1998, Famiglia Cristiana, an Italian weekly magazine, claimed that although most of the waste-dumping took place after the start of the civil war in 1991, the activity actually began as early as 1989 under the Barre government.

Beyond the ethical question of trying to secure a hazardous waste agreement in an unstable country like Somalia, the alleged attempt by Swiss and Italian firms to dump waste in Somalia would violate international treaties to which both countries are signatories.

Legal ramifications

Switzerland and Italy signed and ratified the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, which came into force in 1992.

EU member states, as well as 168 other countries have also signed the agreement.

The convention prohibits waste trade between countries that have signed the convention, as well as countries that have not signed the accord unless a bilateral agreement had been negotiated.

It is also prohibits the shipping of hazardous waste to a war zone.

Abdi Ismail Samatar, professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota, told Al Jazeera that because an international coalition of warships has been deployed to the Gulf of Aden, the alleged dumping of waste must have been observed.

Environmental damage

"If these acts are continuing, then surely they must have been seen by someone involved in maritime operations," he said.

"Is the cargo aimed at a certain destination more important than monitoring illegal activities in the region? Piracy is not the only problem for Somalia, and I think it's irresponsible on the part of the authorities to overlook this issue."

Mohammed Gure, chairman of the Somalia Concern Group, said that the social and environmental consequences will be felt for decades.

"The Somali coastline used to sustain hundreds of thousands of people, as a source of food and livelihoods. Now much of it is almost destroyed, primarily at the hands of these so-called ministers that have sold their nation to fill their own pockets."

Ould-Abdallah said piracy will not prevent waste dumping.

"The intentions of these pirates are not concerned with protecting their environment," he said.

"What is ultimately needed is a functioning, effective government that will get its act together and take control of its affairs."
Title: Re: Ethiopians withdraw from Somalia but the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on April 30, 2009, 03:30:48 pm
Somalis say illegal fishing by foreign trawlers drove them to piracy
By SHASHANK BENGALI
 
http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22522.htm

April 29, 2009 "McClatchy" -
-  Their exploits have turned the inky-blue waters of the Indian Ocean into a perilous gantlet for ships and an unlikely security challenge for world leaders. But behind the bare brick walls of a desolate former British colonial prison here, five jailed Somali pirates didn't seem very fearsome at all.

One looked to be in his late 40s, his brambly hair stained a deep henna orange, his milky eyes staring into the middle distance. A slightly younger man clutched a faded sarong to his matchstick waist and spoke in barely a whisper.

The leader of the pirate crew, 38-year-old Farah Ismail Eid, wore such a hungry look that a visiting government official, unsolicited, folded a pale $10 bill into his sandpaper palm.

That a few hundred men like these have wreaked so much havoc in the seas off of East Africa is a testament to the sheer power of guts and greed. It's also a stark illustration of the all-consuming anarchy ashore in Somalia, where, after 18 years of conflict, jobs are scarce, guns are plentiful, men will risk everything for a payday - and their government is too weak and corrupt to stop them.

The men behind bars, however, offered another explanation for piracy.

Their story is also rooted in greed - not of their brazen colleagues with the million-dollar ransoms, they say, but of foreign companies that they say have profited from Somalia's lawlessness by fishing illegally in their waters since the 1990s.

In a long interview with McClatchy Newspapers at the jailhouse in Mandhera, an austere desert fortress in the autonomous northern region of Somaliland, where British forces held Italian POWs during World War II, Eid related what amounts to the pirates' creation myth, in which overfishing by European and Asian trawlers drove Somalia's coastal communities to ruin and forced local fishermen to fight for their livelihoods.

"Now the international community is shouting about piracy. But long before this, we were shouting to the world about our problems," said Eid, a bony-cheeked former lobsterman with a bushy goatee. "No one listened."

Of course, the pirates' journey from vigilante coast guard to firing automatic weapons at cruise ships - as one band did over the weekend - is a reminder that good intentions don't last long in desperate Somalia.

In 1991, Eid was scavenging for lobsters along the craggy shores of central Somalia, saving to start a fishing company, when the government and its security forces were swallowed up in a coup. The country's endless coastline - at nearly 2,000 miles, it's longer than the U.S. West Coast - suddenly became an unguarded supermarket of tuna, mackerel and other fish.

When huge foreign trawlers suddenly began appearing, the local fishermen who plied their trade with simple nets and small fiberglass boats were wiped out, Eid said.

"They fished everything - sharks, lobsters, eggs," he recalled. "They collided with our boats. They came with giant nets and swept everything out of the sea."

At the outset, fishermen in the ramshackle ports of Puntland, Somaliland's rowdy neighbor, re-branded themselves as "coast guards." The first hijackings that Eid remembered came in 1997, when pirates from the port of Hobyo seized a Chinese fishing vessel and then held a Kenyan ship for a $500,000 ransom.

"When I heard about this," Eid said, "I was happy."

Eid had sunk his savings into three boats. In 2005, with catches all too rare and a wife and two children to support, he traded his fishing equipment for a couple of Kalashnikov rifles and rocket launchers in a market in the wild-west port of Bossasso.

He and five other fishermen, swathed in camouflage, piled into a motorized skiff and set off from the village of Garacad. But their motor was too feeble to catch up to any of the ships they spotted, so after five sweltering days they returned to shore.

The next year Eid tried with a stronger engine, a German one imported from Dubai. This time, the novice pirates caught up to a cargo ship and came face to face with its European crew. But Eid's men couldn't prop their heavy metal ladder up against the freighter's hull quickly enough to board the ship. The vessel escaped unmolested.

Global Witness, a London-based group that investigates natural resource exploitation, agrees that vessels from countries such as France, Spain, Indonesia and South Korea gobbled up hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of fish from Somali waters without licenses.

However, experts say that the foreign fishing wasn't necessarily illegal because the Somali government, even before the coup, didn't delineate its territorial waters, as international maritime laws require.

"In the early to mid-1990s there was some fishing in those waters that, if Somalia had a government that was performing its job, would have demanded licensing fees for," said J. Peter Pham, a piracy expert at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. "But the Somalis never got around to declaring what was legal and illegal."

Somali officials don't argue with the pirates' version of events - only with their tactics.

"We know they have their grievances," said Abdillahi Mohamed Duale, the foreign minister of Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991. "But the problem of overfishing has always been there, in the Caribbean, Latin America and the Indian Ocean. It doesn't mean that you take the law into your own hands."

Entering this week, there had been 93 hijack attempts off the coast in 2009, according to the International Maritime Bureau in London - 17 fewer than in all of last year. After a tense, five-day standoff this month ended with U.S. Navy sharpshooters killing three pirates and rescuing an American ship captain they'd taken hostage, countries pledged $213 million to bolster the Somali security forces.

In Puntland, the pirates have a comfortably chaotic haven. Markets carry everything from automatic weapons to spare batteries for satellite phones, standard equipment for any seagoing bandit. A regional government claims to rule the area, but many suspect that the president, Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, is on the take from pirates, which Farole denies.

According to Eid and others, some officers from Somalia's erstwhile marine corps and coast guard, which patrolled the shores skillfully until the civil war, are training pirate groups in navigation and other seafaring techniques.

"If 20 pirate groups go to sea, one will succeed" in capturing a ship, Eid said. "Nineteen will fail, but they'll keep trying. They have all the equipment and support they need."

Somaliland says it's cracking down on pirates. Four groups of pirates - 26 men in all - have been arrested, and three of the groups are serving 15- to 20-year prison sentences.

Last August, Somaliland authorities raided a seaside guesthouse and captured Eid, who'd moved there and was posing as a mechanic. He and four others were charged with weapons possession and plotting a hijacking, and swiftly sentenced to 15-year prison terms despite having never carried out an attack.

"We are afraid this piracy could spread to Somaliland," said Youssef Essa, Somaliland's vice minister of justice. "That's why we have to give harsh sentences."

Nevertheless, Essa, a former high school teacher, seemed impressed with Eid's story. After listening for over an hour, he rose to shake the younger man's hand and handed him $10. Afterward, he and the silver-haired warden agreed that Eid probably would spend the money on khat, a narcotic leaf that Somali men chew to get high.   


Title: Re: Ethiopians withdraw from Somalia but the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on May 03, 2009, 02:31:41 pm
The Crisis in Somalia: US-NATO Plans to Control the Indian Ocean

by Rick Rozoff


Global Research, May 3, 2009
Stop Nato

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13470



Cold War Origins

For the past seven months world news outlets have provided daily coverage on what has been described as escalating piracy off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden and attempts by international, primarily Western, military vessels to combat it.

Absent from such reporting, as the exigencies of commercial news broadcasting inevitably entail, is how and why the situation in the region reached the impasse it has and what its broader significance is.

Instead the picture presented is, according to the standard formula, a point on a blank canvas with no historical depth, no geoeconomic and geopolitical width and no strata of diversified and interrelated causes that contribute to and dynamics that result from what is in truth a lengthy and complex process of developments.

In short the Somali situation is portrayed as a simple and self-contained event that at a seemingly gratutitous moment was declared a crisis.

There are dozens of comparable cases in the world, analagous in the general sense of presenting economic, security, national and regional threats to other nations and their environs, but these have not been declared crises and so aren't given world attention.

The determination of what constitutes a crisis, and a world crisis at that, since the end of the Cold War is a prerogative of the United States and its allies, the governments of which render the verdict, with their own and much of the world's news media echoing the claim.

And the evaluation is inevitably a onesided affair. What has been observed about Europe's most mature writers - Skakespeare, Goethe and Balzac, for example - that their antagonists were never mere villains, that they reflected the complexity and even ambiguity of real life with no character monopolizing the virtues or the vices - is summarily discarded and a broad panaroma of multifaceted motives, players and conflicts reduced to an banal pseudo-morality play with just three actors: Evil culprits, innocent victims and valiant heroes.

The first category is assigned to any individual or group which is opposed to the designs on their nation by major Western powers or, what is interpreted by the latter as the same thing, pursue a policy of protecting local rights and interests. The second is comprised of whoever can be cast into the role to arouse indignation and hostility against the first, currently the crews of Western commercial vessels in the Gulf of Aden. And the third is led by the United States, NATO and the European Union, the self-deputized military vigilantes of the world.

That many of those off the Somali coast capturing foreign, mainly Western, vessels and holding them, their cargo and their crews for ransom are reported to be former fishermen driven out of their sole occupation by years of intrusive and illegal large-scale poaching by world commercial concerns or affected by eighteen years of toxic, including nuclear, wastes dumped off their shores isn't acknowledged. To do so would complicate the narrative contrived by those who have with disastrous consequences interfered in the internal affairs of Somalia and its neighborhood for several decades and are in large part responsible for the current crisis.

Instead the action begins where the governments of the Western states that have deployed warships, helicopters, snipers and bases to the region script its opening act: With pirates.

As though a director would begin a production of Shakespeare's Hamlet with the protagonist thrusting his sword through Polonius and not with the visitation of his father's ghost, so that Hamlet appeared as a brutal murderer and not a reluctant avenger of parricide and regicide.

The national tragedy of Somalia didn't begin last summer with an increase in the seizure of foreign vessels off its coast; it didn't begin with the armed conflict between the Transitional Federal Government and the Islamic Courts Union in 2006 and the invasion by military forces of the US proxy government of Ethiopia; it didn't commence in 1991 with the ouster of long-time president Siad Barre and internecine fighting between militia groups.

It started in 1977.

Eight years earlier, almost forty years to the day, a military government headed by General Siad Barre came to power in Somalia. Anticipating what would become a general pattern in Africa and indeed throughout most of the non-Euro-Atlantic world, the government pursued a path of non-capitalist, avowedly socialist development. The term Barre and his allies used was scientific socialism; that is, Marxism.

In the decade between 1969 and 1979 similiar political and socio-economic transformations occurred throughout Africa, resulting in socialist-oriented goverments allied with and receiving assistance from the Soviet Union. In addition to Somalia, nations matching this description included Angola, Benin, Capo Verde, the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), the Republic of Guinea (Conakry), Guinea Bissau, Libya, Madagascar, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe, with Namibia, Rhodesia, South Africa and Western Sahara poised to follow suit.

The pattern also emerged in Asia - Vietnam with its unification in 1975, Laos, Cambodia (after the ouster of the Khmer Rouge in 1978) and Afghanistan; on the Arabian peninsula with South Yemen; and in Latin America and the Caribbean with Chile, Nicaragua, Grenada, Jamaica and Surinam during the same period.

What was progressing at an apparently inexorable pace was the integration of the Soviet-led socialist bloc, including Cuba, with the entire developing, non-aligned world which coincided with and gave substance to the demands for a New International Economic Order advocated by the developing nations through the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and supported by the world socialist community.

Demands included the replacement of the US-enforced Bretton Woods system - the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in the first instances - in a revision of the entire international economic system that would elevate the nations of the South from mere monoculture exporters to diversified and modernized countries with with industrial bases.

On March 25, 1975 the Second General Conference of UN Industrial Development Organisation, meeting in Peru, adopted the Lima Declaration and Plan of Action on Industrial Development and Co-operation which included the following provisions:

"That every state has the inalienable right to exercise freely its sovereignty and permanent control over its natural resources, both terrestrial and marine, and over all economic activity for the exploitation of these resources in the manner appropriate to its circumstances, including nationalisation in accordance with its laws as an expression of this right, and that no state shall be subjected to any forms of economic, political or other coercion which impedes the full and free exercise of that inalienable right."

"That special attention should be given to the least developed countries, which should enjoy a net transfer of resources from the developed countries in the form of technical and financial resources as well as capital goods, to enable the least developed countries in conformity with the policies and plans for development, to accelerate their industrialisation."

"The new distribution of industrial activities envisaged in a New International Economic Order must make it possible for all developing countries to industrialise and to obtain an efficient instrument within the United Nations system to fulfil their aspirations."

One objective of the plan was to insure that by 2000 25-30% of world industrial production was to occur in the developing world - and not in the manner that has ensued in the current neoliberal order with the transfer of manufacturing to underdeveloped states in a manner that has rather intensified than diminished exploitation of both labor and resources.

With the rising tide of political changes in the developing world during the same time, a shift from neocolonialist dependency toward genuine independence and development, and the support of the Soviet-led socialist bloc - which with its industrial base was issuing longterm, low interest loans to southern nations for infrastructual and industrial projects - the prospects for the creation of new global economic and political order was on the near horizon. 

But not everyone was pleased with this development.

The US - alone - opposed the Lima Declaration and the follow up New Delhi Declaration and Plan of Action four years later.

America's NATO allies, almost to a member at the time former colonial powers bent on maintaining historial prerogatives over their former possessions, were no less dissatisfied.

And the People's Republic of China, having lost earlier bids to dominate the world communist movement and what it deemed the Third World alike, was focused entirely on combating what it derided as "Soviet social imperialism" and after the secret meeting of Henry Kissinger and Chou En-lai in Beijing in 1971, followed by Richard Nixon's meeting there with Mao Tse-Tung the next year, worked hand-in-glove with the US to counter Soviet influence around the world, including providing joint support to armed groups fighting against the governments of Angola, Afghanistan, Cambodia and Ethiopia.

With what would in the 21st Century be called the US's hard power/soft power duality and rotation, the Nixon era method of dealing with the reorientation of developing nations away from the West and toward the East - most cynically and brutally exemplified by its support to the military overthrow of the elected Salvador Allende government in Chile in 1973 - gave way to that of the Carter administration and its foreign policy grey eminence and all-purpose Mephistopheles Zbigniew Brzezinski in January of 1977.

The Carter administration had barely moved into the White House when it began to bribe the governments of Somalia, Afghanistan, Egypt and Iraq into entering political and military alliances and in several cases giving notorious "green lights" for military invasions of other nations. Its foreign policy architect was not Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, but the man who brought about Vance's downfall and resignation over the Operation Eagle Claw fiasco in Iran in 1980: Brzezinski, an arch-Russophobe during the Soviet period and ever since even onto the grave.

Somalia is the main subject of investigation, but a brief review of similiar cases is in order.

In its first year in office the Carter administration bought off Egypt's Anwar Sadat, splitting the Arab world, destroying any unified approach to the Palestinian catastrophe and the realization of UN resolutions 242 and 338 and ousting the Soviet Union as the fourth partner in the Middle East peace process, leaving Israel and Egypt armed and backed by the US and the rest of the Arab world, including Palestine, unrepresented, unprotected and defenseless.

Since 1979 Egypt has been the second largest recipient of US military aid in the world, with only Israel besting it in that category. Over the past thirty years Egypt has received more US aid, over $30 billion, than any other country.

In the period between Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel in November of 1977 and the Camp David Accords of September of 1978, in March of 1978 Israeli launched an invasion of Lebanon, Operation Litani, with over 25,000 troops, a warm-up exercise for the full-fledged attack of 1983.

This was one of the green lights given by the Carter administration.
 
A year later Washington gave a green light to China to invade Vietnam, according to Beijing to "punish" the latter for its role in helping drive the Khmer Rouge from Cambodia the previous year.

In the summer of 1978 US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, emulating Kissinger's trip in 1971, paid a secret visit to Beijing to normalize relations with China, leading to recognition of the People's Republic and derecognition of Taiwan on January 1, 1979.

On January 29, 1979 Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping arrived in Washington, the first visit by a senior Chinese official to the United States since 1949.

According to former Balkans hand and current US Afghanistan-Pakistan point man Richard Holbrooke, the trip "began with a private dinner at Brzezinski’s house." [1]

Deng left on February 6 and eleven days later China launched an invasion of Vietnam along its entire northern border.

Reports exist that in July of 1980 US CIA officials - some rumors say Brzezinski himself - travelled to the Jordanian capital of Amman to meet with high-ranking officials of the Iraqi government. Then Iranian president Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr claims the meeting included both Brzezinski and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. [2]

As recently as March of 2009 Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei renewed the accusation, stating that "They gave Saddam the green light to attack our country. If Saddam had not received the green light from the U.S., most probably he would not have attacked our borders."

Later the first Reagan administration secretary of state, Alexander Haig, wrote in a memo to Reagan that "President Carter gave the Iraqis a green light to launch the war against Iran through [Saudi Arabian Prince] Fahd."

In appreciation of Somalia's geostrategic importance, in the first days of the Carter-Brzezinski administration efforts were made to wean Somalia from its pro-Soviet stance and to secure military, mainly naval, bases on its territory.

The covert campaign was largely conducted through the mediation of Saudi Arabia and in July led to the Somali invasion of the Ogaden region of Ethiopia with tens of thousands of troops, tanks and warplanes.

"Somalia had mounted its major offensive in Ogaden because of a U.S. promise to furnish arms aid. The U.S. policy had resulted from Ethiopia's decision to expel U.S. military advisers from the country and its successful bid for aid from the Soviet Union.

"According to the report, Somali President Mohamed Said Barre had received secret U.S. assurances that the U.S. would not oppose 'further guerrilla pressure in the Ogaden' and would 'consider sympathetically Somalia's legitimate defense needs.' [3]

The Soviet Union and its Cuban ally assisted Ethiopia and the US and China, mainly through Saudi Arabia, provided arms to Somalia.

Brzezinski urged the deployment of the US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk to the region as a show of support to Somalia and an act of defiance toward the Soviet Union and its Ethiopian ally and, referring to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks of the time, said "SALT lies buried in the sands of the Ogaden," as a report of the time phrased it "signifying the death of detente."

Somalia was defeated and withdrew the last of its military forces from the Ogaden Desert in March of 1978. Estimates are that the war cost Somalia one-third of its army, three-eighths of its armored units and half of its air force.

In marked the beginning of the end for Barre and for Somalia itself. Barre would linger on as president of a weakened Somalia until his overthrow in 1991, yet another former client cast off after having served his purpose.

His ouster would be followed by years of conflict between rival armed militias and US military intervention that caused the deaths of thousands of Somalis.

Yet for all the horrors US administrations from that of Carter to the current one have visited upon the Somali people, Washington gained what it intended to: Military bases and forces astride many of the world's most strategic shipping lanes and chokepoints in an area encompassing the Suez Canal and the Red Sea into the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.

In 1977 the Carter White House issued a presidential directive calling for a worldwide mobile military force which in October of 1979 Carter would officially designate Rapid Deployment Forces (RDF).

The site for its first deployments were to be the recently acquired military client states of Somalia and Egypt along with Sudan, Oman and Kenya.

The initiative was inaugurated as the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF) on March 1, 1980 and according to its first commander, "It's the first time that I know of that we have ever attempted to establish, in peacetime, a full four service Joint Headquarters." [4]

Orginally envisioned to focus on the Persian Gulf, the RDJTF was expanded to include Egypt, Sudan, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia as well as Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, the People's Republic of Yemen [Aden], Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the Yemen Arab Republic.
   
That is, from the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf to the eastern coast of Africa to the western one of the Indian subcontinent with the northern half of the Indian Ocean and its seas and gulfs included.

Carter's announcement of the launching of the Rapid Deployment Forces preceded by three months his 1980 State of the Union Address in which he laid out the doctrine that has since borne his name.

Coming less than a month after the first Soviet troops entered Afghanistan, Carter's comments included this disingenuous hyperbole:

"The region which is now threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan is of great strategic importance: It contains more than two-thirds of the world's exportable oil. The Soviet effort to dominate Afghanistan has brought Soviet military forces to within 300 miles of the Indian Ocean and close to the Straits of Hormuz, a waterway through which most of the world's oil must flow."

That at the time a small handful of Soviet troops had arrived in Kabul, the capital of a landlocked nation hundreds of miles from one of the world's five oceans, could in no conceivable manner affect the Straits of Hormuz.

Carter continued: "An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

Brzezinski claims credit for authoring the second half of the above sentence, modeling it on the Truman Doctrine "to make it very clear that the Soviets should stay away from the Persian Gulf." [5] 

It is exactly the Carter Doctrine that was employed by the US for its two wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003 and for its ongoing military presence in the Persian Gulf in preparation for aggression against Iran.

As "soft power" Carter was succeeded by "hard power" Reagan, the Rapid Deployment Forces were converted into Central Command, the US's first new regional military command since World War II, under Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.

Central Command (CENTCOM) has as its area of responsibility twenty nations: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. It also takes in the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and western portions of the Indian Ocean.

It also included the only African nations not formerly assigned to the European and Pacific Commands - Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia and the Sudan - until all 53 African states were turned over to the new African Command last October.

CENTCOM was the main force in the 1991 and 2003 wars against Iraq and the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. Both Iraq and Afghanistan remain in its area of responsibility and its current commander, General David Petraeus, is in charge of operations in both nations.

It has bases in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Pakistan and Central Asia and until recently at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, now part of African Command.

The Command's zone of operations is in fact the northern half of the Indian Ocean from the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz where some 40% of the oil shipped in the world passes to the Gulf of Aden where, as recent reports frequently repeat, ten percent of all global shipping occurs to the Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia where 25% of world trade, including half of all sea shipments of oil and two-thirds of global liquefied natural gas shipments bound for East Asia, pass.

In addition to the US, NATO launched its first naval operation in the Gulf of Aden last October and has now resumed it with the deployment of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1).

The SNMG1 held naval maneuvers with Pakistan last week off the coast of Karachi in the Arabian Sea.

These deployments are a continuation of NATO's plans in the region described last year by veteran Indian journalist M K Bhadrakumar in an article titled "NATO reaches into the Indian Ocean":

"By October 15 [2008], seven ships from NATO navies had already transited the Suez Canal on their way to the Indian Ocean. En route, they will conduct a series of Persian Gulf port visits to countries neighboring Iran - Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which are NATO's 'partners' within the framework of the so-called Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. The mission comprises ships from the US, Britain, Germany, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

"NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General John Craddock, acknowledged that the mission furthers the alliance's ambition to become a global political organization.

"By acting with lightning speed and without publicity, NATO surely created a fait accompli.

"NATO's naval deployment in the Indian Ocean region is a historic move and a milestone in the alliance's transformation. Even at the height of the Cold War, the alliance didn't have a presence in the Indian Ocean. Such deployments almost always tend to be open-ended.

"In retrospect, the first-ever visit by a NATO naval force in mid-September last year to the Indian Ocean was a full-dress rehearsal to this end. Brussels said at that time, 'The aim of the mission is to demonstrate NATO's capability to uphold security and international law on the high seas and build links with regional navies.' In 2007, a NATO naval force visited Seychelles in the Indian Ocean and Somalia and conducted exercises in the Indian Ocean and then re-entered the Mediterranean via the Red Sea in end-September.

"[An] Indian warship [dispatched off the coast of Somalia] will eventually have to work in tandem with the NATO naval force. This will be the first time that the Indian armed forces will be working shoulder-to-shoulder with NATO forces in actual operations in territorial or international waters.

"The operations hold the potential to shift India's ties with NATO to a qualitatively new level." [6]

Securing the safe passage of vessels in the Gulf of Aden and particularly those delivering United Nations World Food Programme aid is a legitimate concern.

But plans by the United States and NATO to take control of the whole Indian Ocean for military purposes and to insure global energy dominance is not a legitimate concern.

Notes

1) Project Syndicate, December 28, 2008
2) My Turn To Speak: Iran, The Revolution And Secret Deals With The U.S, 1991
3) Newsweek, September 23, 1977
4) Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies Journal, June 1981   
5) Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser
6) Asia Times, October 20, 2008
Title: Re: Ethiopians withdraw from Somalia but the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on May 09, 2009, 08:06:44 am
Four killed, dozens wounded in Somali fighting

Source: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Date: 07 May 2009

http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/KERN-7RU3WD?OpenDocument

MOGADISHU, May 7, 2009 (AFP)
- At least four people were killed and dozens wounded Thursday in clashes between Islamist forces backing the Somali government and fighters of a hardline Islamist group, officials and witnesses said.

The pro-government forces attacked a commander of the radical Islamist Shebab rebels in southern Mogadishu, sparking a firefight in which one Shebab fighter was killed.

"One of our mujahideens (fighters) died and another was injured, but the targeted commander escaped," a Shebab commander told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Witnesses said three civilians perished in the fighting, while the deputy director of Mogadishu's Medina hospital, Dahir Dhere, added that 55 civilians had been taken in for treatment.

The hardline Islamists frequently target officials in the government of Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist elected president in January.

His administration has no complete control of Mogadishu and lost large sawthes of territory in the country's southern and central regions to the hardliners.
Title: Re: Ethiopians withdraw from Somalia but the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on May 12, 2009, 02:18:53 pm
Somali pirates guided by London intelligence team, report says

Document obtained by Spanish radio station says 'well-placed informers' in constant contact by satellite telephone
Giles Tremlett in Madrid
guardian.co.uk, Monday 11 May 2009 12.59 BST

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/11/somali-pirates-london-intelligence



The Somali pirates attacking shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean are directed to their targets by a "consultant" team in London, according to a European military intelligence document obtained by a Spanish radio station.

The document, obtained by Cadena SER radio, says the team and the pirates remain in contact by satellite telephone.

It says that pirate groups have "well-placed informers" in London who are in regular contact with control centres in Somalia where decisions on which vessels to attack are made. These London-based "consultants" help the pirates select targets, providing information on the ships' cargoes and courses.

In at least one case the pirates have remained in contact with their London informants from the hijacked ship, according to one targeted shipping company.

The pirates' information network extends to Yemen, Dubai and the Suez canal.

The intelligence report is understood to have been issued to European navies.

"The information that merchant ships sailing through the area volunteer to various international organisations is ending up in the pirates' hands," Cadena SER reported the report as saying.

This enables the more organised pirate groups to study their targets in advance, even spending several days training teams for specific hijacks. Senior pirates then join the vessel once it has been sailed close to Somalia.

Captains of attacked ships have found that pirates know everything from the layout of the vessel to its ports of call. Vessels targeted as a result of this kind of intelligence included the Greek cargo ship Titan, the Turkish merchant ship Karagol and the Spanish trawler Felipe Ruano.

In each case, says the document, the pirates had full knowledge of the cargo, nationality and course of the vessel.

The national flag of a ship is also taken into account when choosing a target, with British vessels being increasingly avoided, according to the report. It was not clear whether this was because pirates did not want to draw the attention of British police to their information sources in London.

European countries have set up Operation Atalanta to co-ordinate their military efforts in the area.
Title: Re: Ethiopians withdraw from Somalia but the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on May 12, 2009, 03:04:22 pm
Mogadishu violence: 113 killed, 27 000 flee

    May 12 2009 at 02:10PM

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=68&art_id=nw20090512135342371C637454

By Abdi Sheikh and Abdi Guled

Mogadishu -
Thousands of residents fled bomb-blasted north Mogadishu on Tuesday where the worst fighting in months between Islamist militants and the government has killed at least 113 civilians, according to a rights group.

Hardline Islamist group al Shabaab and the government are battling for control of the capital and south Somalia, where18 years of war has destabilised the region, created hundreds of thousands of refugees, drawn in foreign armies and militants, and spawned an unprecedented wave of piracy offshore.

The Elman Peace and Human Rights Organisation said battles between al Shabaab and pro-government forces had wounded 330 people in the Horn of Africa state since the end of last week.





It said at least 27 000 civilians had fled the city.

The bloodshed has caused splits in both heavily armed sides: there was a deadly clash on Monday between police and soldiers, then a rift broke out in the opposition after a veteran warlord stoked rivalries between two insurgent factions.

Sheikh Yusuf Mohamed Siad, also known as "Inda'ade" or "white eyes", handed control of his hundreds of fighters and 19 battle wagons - pickup trucks mounted with heavy weapons - to Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, another senior opposition leader.

That angered Shabaab leaders, who are also fighting the country's fragile new government. Washington accuses both Aweys and the Shabaab group of having links to al-Qaeda.

"Shabaab wants to behead Sheikh Yusuf," said a relative of Inda'ade, Aden Hussein.

"They ordered (Aweys) to give him up and his weapons, but Aweys said he prefers to fight Shabaab."

The influential Aweys is a member of Hizbul Islam, an umbrella group of opposition organisations that includes his Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia.

At stake in Somalia is control of Africa's largest coastline.

Apart from pirate ransom revenues, Somalia's main source of income comes from cattle exports to the Gulf, although experts say it may have interesting oil-fields in the north.

Regional nations and outside powers have long battled for influence in Somalia, with its view of strategic shipping lanes linking Europe to Asia.

Since 1991, Somalia has suffered from internal conflicts and occasional interventions by regional nations after dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown.

On Sunday, al Shabaab, whose name means "Youth" in Arabic, said it planned to "cleanse" the capital.

"With permission from (God), we will liberate Mogadishu sooner or later and cleanse it from these filthy people," it said in an online statement, according to a translation by the US-based SITE Intelligence Group.

On Monday, new Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed accused the rebels of working for unnamed foreign governments he said were determined to undermine his administration.

More than 16 000 civilians have been killed by fighting since the start of 2007, more than 1 million have been driven from their homes and about 3 million survive on food aid. - Reuters
Title: Re: Ethiopians withdraw from Somalia but the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on May 12, 2009, 03:12:51 pm

Scores killed in Mogadishu fighting   

Fighting has again erupted in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, between fighters loyal to the government and their opponents from al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam

VIDEO
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2009/05/2009510203635980705.html
Title: Re: Ethiopians withdraw from Somalia but the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on May 17, 2009, 11:29:57 am
Somali militants capture key town
 
Islamist fighters have been gaining ground on the Somali government

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8054179.stm


Hardline Islamist militants have captured a strategically important town north of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, eyewitnesses say.

Members of al-Shabab, a group fighting government forces in Somalia, seized the town of Jowhar on Sunday morning.

One resident told Reuters that there had been "serious fighting" in which at least seven people had been killed.

Jowhar was in 2005 chosen as the temporary location for the country's transitional government.

The Somali government has been losing ground in recent weeks and now controls little more than the centre of the capital, with the support of African Union troops.

On 15 May, Somalia's president appealed to Islamist insurgents to negotiate as intermittent fighting continued in Mogadishu. 


Jowhar is the home town of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed - and now that the country's rainy season has arrived, the town is also the only passable route into central Somalia from the capital.

Describing the clashes in Jowhar, town elder Ali Moalim Hassan told news agency AFP that "the other Islamist militia backing the government deserted their positions" - ceding control of the town to al-Shabab.

Al-Shabab is believed to have attacked the town on Sunday morning on two fronts. After entering the town, militants took over the jail and released prisoners.

At the same time, al- Shabab again attacked government positions in Mogadishu with mortars.The government's forces responded with their own artillery barrage.

Reports from the capital say at least three civilians died in the exchange.

The government is thought to be attempting to bring in reinforcements to retake Jowhar.

The BBC's East Africa correspondent Peter Greste says the loss of the town is a strategic blow to the increasingly unstable government led by Sheikh Ahmed.

The African Union's envoy has said that if need be, it would call on the help of allies like Nato and the European Union, who are operating warships on anti-piracy missions off the Somali coast.
Title: Re: Ethiopians withdraw from Somalia but the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on May 19, 2009, 02:33:37 pm
Ethiopia troops 'back in Somalia'
 
Ethiopian troops ousted Islamist forces from Mogadishu in 2006

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8057115.stm


(http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/45796000/gif/_45796564_somalia_226x170_new_2.gif)

Ethiopian military forces have crossed back into Somalia, four months after leaving, witnesses told the BBC.

Their reported return comes as Islamist militants continue to seize towns from the fragile Western-backed government.

One resident said he saw Ethiopian troops digging trenches in Kalabeyr, a town 22km (14 miles) from the Somali-Ethiopian border.

An Ethiopian spokesman denied the reports. Its troops left Somalia in January after two years in the country.

They entered Somalia in 2006 to help oust Islamist forces from the capital Mogadishu but withdrew under a UN-backed peace deal.
   
 They stopped me and checked my car and then ordered me to move
Farah Ahmed Adaan
Bus driver

Ethiopia's Somalia dilemma


When its troops left, Ethiopia made it clear it did still reserve the right to intervene in Somalia if its interests were directly threatened.

There have been several reports of the Ethiopian military crossing into Somali territory for hot-pursuit operations, or to check vehicles moving in the border area.

The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt in Addis Ababa says the latest reported troop movements may well be part of a similar, limited operation.

But Ethiopian government spokesman Bereket Simon told our correspondent the reports were "fabricated".

He said at the moment they believed events in Somalia presented no immediate threat to Ethiopia and their troops were not contemplating going back there at this point.

Language

However, Kalabeyr resident Fadumo Du'ale told the BBC's Mohamed Olad Hassan on Tuesday: "They have crossed the border late last night and they are here now. They look to be stationing here."

Another resident, Tabane Abdi Ali, told the BBC: "We recognise them because of their military uniform and the language they were speaking."

Bus driver Farah Ahmed Adaan told our correspondent he had spotted "a lot" of Ethiopian troops with 12 military vehicles.
 
Islamist guerrillas now control swathes of Somalia


"Some of them were digging trenches while others were guarding the whole area," he said.

"They stopped me and checked my car and then ordered me to move."

On Sunday, fighters from the al-Shabab group, which is linked to al-Qaeda, took the key town of Jowhar from government forces.

This is the home town of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and now that the country's rainy season has arrived, Jowhar is the only passable route into central Somalia from the capital.

Since withdrawing at the beginning of the year, Ethiopian troops have kept up a strong presence along the Somali border.

Ethiopia, a US ally, invaded its war-torn neighbour in December 2006 to prop up the transitional government and initially everything went according to plan.

Rebel resistance melted away before the 3,000-strong Ethiopian advance and the Somali government was able to set up in Mogadishu.

But the government did not extend its control and the Islamists continued to launch deadly attacks on both Ethiopian and Somali government forces.

About 4,300 Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers from the African Union have arrived in Mogadishu, where they have taken up positions vacated by the Ethiopians in January.

But analysts say they are only in effective control of the presidential palace, airport and seaport in Mogadishu, while the Islamist guerrillas control chunks of the capital, along with swathes of central and southern Somalia.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: David Rothscum on May 21, 2009, 05:28:12 pm
Thanks for keeping this updated man.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on May 22, 2009, 01:10:05 pm
Thanks for keeping this updated man.

my pleasure, a major escalation today sadly, see below
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on May 22, 2009, 01:10:44 pm
Big attack on Mogadishu militants

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8062883.stm

Militants fought running battles with soldiers as concerned crowds looked on


Pro-government forces in Somalia have launched a major attack against Islamist militants controlling parts of the capital, Mogadishu.

The assault is an attempt to recapture areas seized by the rebels.

Medical sources told the BBC that at least 30 people had been killed in the latest clashes.

Forces loyal to the transitional government - which is recognised by the UN - lost control of about one-third of the city to militants last week.

Bitter fighting

Ten days of fierce clashes between the pro-government forces and militant Islamic groups - al-Shabab and Hisbul-Islam - have left more than 100 people dead and displaced about 50,000 civilians.
   
 This is a large military offensive against violent people
Farhan Mahdi Mohamed
Military spokesman

Somali justice - Islamist-style
Q&A: Somalia's conflict


The BBC's Mohamed Olad Hassan, in Mogadishu, says the pro-government military offensive against the insurgents is significant.

Most of the fighting is focusing around one of the city's main routes, Wadnaha Road, he says.

African Union peacekeepers based in the capital to support the fragile administration are not involved in the attack, he adds. The 4,300-strong force does not have a mandate to pursue the insurgents.

"This is a large military offensive against violent people," military spokesman Farhan Mahdi Mohamed told AFP news agency.

"The government will sweep them out of the capital and the fighting will continue until that happens."

A moderate Islamist President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, was elected by a unity government in January as part of a UN-backed peace initiative.

But even his introduction of Sharia law to the strongly Muslim country has not appeased the hardline guerrillas, who are accused of links to al-Qaeda.

The Horn of Africa state has been mired in conflict for 18 years.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on May 23, 2009, 08:52:03 am
Mogadishu street fighting kills 45, wounds 182
Somali government forces try to dislodge insurgents

   Severe fighting
http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2009/05/22/73560.html


(http://images.alarabiya.net/large_4035_73560.jpg)

Somalia has been mired in civil war for 18 years


MOGADISHU (Agencies)

Somali government forces attacked rebel strongholds in Mogadishu on Friday, triggering battles across the capital that killed at least 45 people, the highest daily death toll for months.

Neighboring states and Western security forces fear Somalia, which has been mired in civil war for 18 years, could become a haven for terrorists linked to al-Qaeda.

"At least 45 people including 28 civilians died in today's fighting," Ali Yasin Gedi, vice chairman of Elman Peace and Human Rights Organization told Reuters.
" The opposition groups have been provoking us for the last three weeks "
Somali Defense Minister Mohamed Abdi Gandi

"One hundred and eighty two people, including civilians and the warring groups were also injured."

Residents scuttled across the dusty streets and sheltered by walls as heavy gunfire shook the capital. Some children milled around near a dead body, its blood draining into the sand.

Fighters wearing headscarves with ammunition belts draped over their shoulders loitered on a corner as a battered 4x4 pickup with a heavy machinegun on top raced past.


Severe fighting
" We shall defeat the government soon, God willing. We should not be deceived by Westerners like Sharif "
Opposition leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys

The government says there is little hope of negotiating with al-Shabaab gunmen trying to topple it. The administration says the rebels have no political agenda and have hundreds of foreign extremists in their ranks.

"The opposition groups have been provoking us for the last three weeks," said Defense Minister Mohamed Abdi Gandi.

"We shall continue fighting this opposition with foreign ideologies. They want to destroy our government by the use of violence but it will not be," he told reporters.

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, an influential Islamist opposition leader who once ran Mogadishu with President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, also said his forces would battle on.

"We shall defeat the government soon, God willing," he told Reuters in his Mogadishu home. "We should not be deceived by Westerners like Sharif."

The heaviest fighting for months has killed scores of civilians and uprooted tens of thousands in the last two weeks.


Somalia's interim government is struggling with a powerful insurgency


Residents said Friday's pre-dawn assaults looked to be a concerted effort by pro-government forces to seize back control of strategic sites. One man said government troops had encircled Bakara Market, al-Shabaab's biggest stronghold in the city.

Fighting has killed at least 17,700 civilians and driven more than 1 million from their homes since the start of 2007. About 3 million Somalis survive on emergency food aid.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR says 49,000 people have now fled clashes in Mogadishu in the past two weeks.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on May 24, 2009, 01:49:43 pm
Blast kills seven in Mogadishu

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8065902.stm

A suicide bomber has killed a civilian and six government guards in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, where Islamists and pro-government forces are fighting.

The bomber drove a pick-up truck to the gate of a military base, and detonated an explosive in front of the guards.

The attack follows two weeks of intense fighting which the UN's special envoy for Somalia called a coup attempt.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah told the BBC the Islamists knew they cannot run Somalia while the UN lists them as terrorists.

Mr Ould-Abdallah warned the Islamist leaders that "to take the whole country hostage is not a solution, it is a failure".

He said that if they succeeded in defeating the government it would leave "the whole population hostage to drastic sanctions, including threats to arrest [the Islamists] and bring them to justice".

On Friday the government hit back at this latest action against it, attacking key rebel strongholds.

Mogadishu has been blighted by 18 years of almost uninterrupted civil unrest.

Rise in violence

"A speeding car laden with explosives entered the camp and exploded inside," Deputy Mogadishu Governor Abdifatah Shaweye told reporters.
 


Four guards were killed at the scene and two more died in hospital of their injuries, a police commander told Reuters news agency. At least seven people were injured.

Little is known about the bomber, but Deputy Regional Governor Abdifitah Ibrahim Shawey told the Associated Press news agency that he is believed to have been one of about 300 foreign fighters helping the insurgents.

This month has seen a notable upsurge in violence in Mogadishu - with first the Islamists and then pro-government forces renewing their attacks.

About 200 people are thought to have been killed since the beginning of May, at least 50 of whom have died since Friday morning.

So far, most of the fighting has focused on one of the city's main routes, Wadnaha Road, according to the BBC's Mohamed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu.

African Union peacekeepers based in the capital to support the fragile administration are not involved in the attacks, our correspondent says.

The 4,300-strong force does not have a mandate to pursue the insurgents.

A moderate Islamist President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, was elected by a unity government in January as part of a UN-backed peace initiative.

But even his introduction of Sharia law to the strongly Muslim country has not appeased the guerrillas, who are accused of having links with al-Qaeda.

Mr Ould-Abdallah would not be drawn on the African Union request for UN sanctions against Eritrea, which is suspected of aiding the Islamists.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: David Rothscum on June 01, 2009, 08:23:35 am
Somali officials rumored to overseeing militia training in Ethiopia.
http://somalilandpress.com/6042/somali-officials-rumored-to-overseeing-militia-training-in-ethiopia

Mogadishu, 01 June 2009 (Somalilandpress) Somalia militias who have concluded intensive training in Ethiopia are now being mobilized in the town of Feerfer, which is in the Somali self governing region of Ethiopia.

Reports reaching us from Feerfer in the Somali self governing region of Ethiopia indicate that there has been a large influx of Somali militias in the town from southern and central regions of Somalia. Some of these militias have recently concluded their training in the outskirts of Mustahil which part of the Somali self governing regions of Ethiopia.

Latest reports from there indicate these newly formed on the outskirt of Beledweyne town. It appears that the militia is heading to Bulo Burte which is a strong hold of Alshabaab militants.

It has been reported that hundreds of these Somali militias have filled up military bases in the outskirts of Feerfer where they are being awaited by Ethiopian and Somali senior army officials.

It has also been said that some of these militias have been heavily armed as some of them recently travelled with Ethiopian troops to Kalabeyr Junction and Jawil district in Hiiraan Region [central Somalia] although they have since returned to Feerfer and it is only Ethiopian troops who are now in the area.

It is not yet officially known why these militias are being mobilized in these areas in Ethiopia although sources indicate that senior officials of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia [TFG] are actually in Godey in the Somalia self governing regions of Ethiopia. It is not yet known what their intentions are.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on June 02, 2009, 04:58:39 pm
sounds damned ominous to me.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on June 15, 2009, 03:37:45 pm
Ethiopian troops deeper into Somalia

Published: 12:07PM Saturday June 13, 2009

Source: Reuters

http://tvnz.co.nz/content/2782268


Reuters
A Somali Islamist fighter from Hispul Islam patrols an empty street in Wardigkey, in Mogadishu

Heavily-armed Ethiopian soldiers crossed into central Somalia and entered a town controlled by a pro-government militia nearly 30 kilometres from the border, residents said.

"They came with battle wagons and trucks all full of soldiers and guns," said Hassan Abdi, a resident in the town of Balanbale in Galgadud region. "Everybody is very worried."

Residents said the Ethiopian troops were setting up positions in the centre of the town.

Ethiopia sent thousands of troops into Somalia in 2006 to help topple an Islamist movement holding Mogadishu and most of the south. That drew protests from some in the Muslim world and enraged the Islamists, who regrouped to launch an insurgency.

The Ethiopian soldiers withdrew in January but residents, insurgents and humanitarian organisations have reported new incursions in the past few months.

Addis Ababa initially denied any soldiers had crossed into Somalia but said earlier this month that military personnel had been carrying out "reconnaissance" missions into its neighbour.

"Ethiopia has no intention to go back into Somalia. That is the standing position of our government," the Ethiopian government's head of information, Bereket Simon, told Reuters on Friday when asked about reports of new incursions.
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People living in the southwestern Somali region of Bakool, which is controlled by hardline Islamist rebel group al Shabaab, said Ethiopian troops moved into a village called Washaga on Friday and residents were fleeing.

"I'm now packed up to leave the village, al Shabaab and the Ethiopians are close to each other and on the verge of fighting," said resident Fatima Isaq Madey.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on June 18, 2009, 01:25:42 pm
Somalia minister killed by bomb
 
Mr Aden had moved to Beledweyne to boost the fight against insurgents

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8106838.stm


Somalia's Security Minister Omar Hashi Aden has been killed in a suicide car bomb attack north of the capital Mogadishu, witnesses and officials say.

Somali diplomats were also reportedly among at least 10 people killed in the blast at a hotel in Beledweyne.

Somalia's president blamed al-Shabab - accused of links to al-Qaeda - which later claimed the attack.

Al-Shabab is among militants who have been trying to topple the fragile UN-backed government for three years.

On Wednesday, at least 10 people died when a mortar hit a Mogadishu mosque. The city's police chief was killed in a separate attack.

'Invaded by terrorists'

In Thursday's blast, witnesses said a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the Medina Hotel in Beledweyne, some 400km (249 miles) north of Mogadishu.
   

Mogadishu carnage devastates lives


Most of the victims were burnt beyond recognition after the explosion, a local medic was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

Abdulkarim Ibrahim Lakanyo, a former Somali ambassador to Ethiopia, was reportedly among those killed in the blast.

Mr Aden had recently moved to Beledweyne, a town close to the Ethiopian border, in an effort to stop Islamist insurgents gaining more ground in Somalia, the BBC's Will Ross in Nairobi says.

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed told a news conference in Mogadishu: "As you see this country was invaded by terrorists who do not allow for the existence of the Somali national flag, its sovereignty and any peace to this country.

"This group is hiding under the cloth of Islam. You know that a lot of foreigners are pouring into the country day by day," he added, in an apparent reference to Islamist fighters from overseas he has previously warned are entering Somalia to join the insurgents.
 


Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme the transitional federal government was still in control but urged the international community to help "before it is too late".

The failed Horn of Africa state has not had an effective national government since 1991 and some four million people - one-third of the population - need food aid, aid agencies say.

Pro-government forces have been locked in ferocious battles with radical Islamist guerrillas in Mogadishu since the second week of May.

The UN refugee agency's representative to Somalia, Guillermo Bettocchi, said on Wednesday the recent bout of bloodletting in the country was the "worst ever" in nearly two decades of chaos.

But Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN special representative for Somalia, denied on Thursday that the conflict was getting worse.

"The president and prime minister have been put in place in January and February. It is not even six months, so you will not have total peace after two decades of violence overnight," he told Focus on Africa.

"These people [Islamist guerrillas] tried around 7 May to take power by force; they have not been able to do it. That they have resorted to suicide bombs or killing, there is nothing any country can do against these kind of people, but this is different from taking power."

President Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, took office in January but even his introduction of Sharia law to the strongly Muslim country has not appeased the guerrillas.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on June 26, 2009, 05:10:06 pm
25 killed in Somali suicide attack

    June 20 2009 at 02:36PM

http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=68&art_id=vn20090620065613772C381404

Nairobi, Kenya -
Somalia's National Security Minister and at least 24 other people have been killed in a suicide attack in western Somalia, and an extremist Islamic group with alleged links to al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility.

President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed accused al-Qaeda of being behind yesterday's bombing, which also killed a senior Somali diplomat.

The attack appeared to be another indication that Somali Islamic militants are adopting two tactics long used by al-Qaeda: suicide attacks and videos promoting their fundamentalist ideology.

In March, Osama bin Laden, the global terrorist network's leader, urged Somalis to overthrow Ahmed, calling him a tool of the US in an audiotape that outlined al-Qaeda's ambitions in Somalia.
Continues Below ↓






The bombing in western Somalia far outside Mogadishu - claimed by the Somali militant group al-Shabab - raised concerns that local insurgents are aiming to take out leaders of security forces to further cripple the country's weak, UN-backed government.

Analysts say the insurgents have identified suicide attacks and assassinations as the best way to defeat the government.

National Security Minister Omar Hashi Aden was the second senior security official to be killed in as many days. Mogadishu's police chief died during fighting with Islamic insurgents in the capital on Wednesday that saw at least 34 people killed. - Sapa-Ap
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on June 26, 2009, 05:22:04 pm
Friday, June 26, 2009
13:20 Mecca time, 10:20 GMT  
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/06/200962520481752248.html

 
News Americas  
 
US sending weapons to Somalia  

(http://english.aljazeera.net/mritems/Images//2009/6/19/2009619182632830112_5.jpg)  
Fighters have taken control of parts of the capital Mogadishu [EPA]


 
 
The US has revealed it is sending weapons and cash to the Somali government to aid its fight against al Shabab.

The US state department said on Thursday it was "concerned" about whether the government of Sharif Sheikh Ahmed could be overwhelmed by fighters from the group.

Washington was hoping to help "repel the onslaught of extremist forces which are intent on ... spoiling efforts to bring peace and stability to Somalia", Ian Kelly, a state department spokesman, said.

Fighters cut the hands and feet off alleged thieves in Mogadishu and paraded the body parts through the streets of the capital on Thursday.

In depth :
(http://english.aljazeera.net/mritems/Images//2008/12/19/2008121995033332734_8.jpg)
Visit page for following links :

 Profile: Sharif Ahmed

 Timeline: Somalia

 Inside Story: What next for Somalia

 Video: Foreign fighters 'invade' Somalia

 Video: US 'fears collapse' of Mogadishu government

 Riz Khan: Somalia - From bad to worse

 Restoring Somalia

 A long road to stability

 Al-Shabab: Somali fighters undeterred

 Somalia at a crossroads

 Somaliland: Africa's isolated state

+ + + + +
 
In a bid to contain the violence, President Ahmed declared a state of emergency on Monday.

Asked if the US was afraid the government might collapse or be overwhelmed by attacks by fighters, Kelly replied: "We are concerned.

"We think that this government ... represents Somalia's best chance for peace, stability and reconciliation," he said.

"In addition to this threat to the government ... this kind of violence is causing real suffering for the Somalian people and it's just prolonging the chaos and preventing the country from getting on stable footing."

Kelly confirmed that the US organised an arms shipment made to the Somali government earlier this month, but did not confirm plans to train Somali forces in Djibouti.

The state department said it was providing the arms in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.

'Horrific acts'

The rebels used long knives to cut off a hand and a foot each from four young men in Mogadishu as punishment for theft, witnesses said.

"The horrific nature of such acts that were carried out in front of a crowd adds further injustice and dehumanizes these teenagers," said rights group Amnesty International.

Al Shabaab has carried out executions, floggings and amputations before, mainly in the southern port of Kismayu.

Movies and football matches are reportedly banned in areas it controls, and men and women cannot travel together on public transport.

The government has launched a series of attacks this month to drive the fighters out of Mogadishu but it has failed to make headway and is relying on African Union troops to protect the presidential palace, airport and seaport.
 
 Source: Agencies  
 
  
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on June 28, 2009, 09:51:01 am
Somalia violence kills more than 250 civilians: UN
 
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090626/wl_africa_afp/somaliaunrestkenyarefugeesun_20090626175516

AFP/File – A hardline Islamic fighter of 'Hizbul Islam' fires a heavy callibre machine gun during training …

Fri Jun 26, 1:55 pm ET

GENEVA (AFP)
– Clashes between Islamist rebels and Somalia's government have killed some 250 civilians and forced more than 160,000 to flee their homes since last month, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.

The fighting "is leaving a trail of civilian casualties, destruction and renewed displacement," said William Spindler, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

"According to records of local Somali hospitals, more than 250 civilians have been killed and at least 900 wounded since last month," he said.

"We estimate that since the start of the fighting in May, more than 160,000 people have been forced to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere within Somalia or in neighboring countries."

He said that some 26,000 were displaced from Mogadishu between June 19 and June 22 alone amid an Islamist offensive that has seen them take control of much of the country.

Large numbers of people have fled to neighbouring Kenya, where 38,000 new refugees have arrived since the start of the year, nearly all Somalis, according to the agency.

The Dadaab camp in Kenya, which the UNHCR calls the largest refugee complex in the world with more than 280,000 people, saw 4,104 arrivals in June.

Those fleeing the capital have also faced major difficulties in trying to leave, with most seeking rides on minibuses that charge 250 dollars (178 euros) or more for a fare in the impoverished country, according to the UNHCR.

A mother-of-six told aid workers "it took her nine days to reach Afmadow as the local transporters took her money and then left her and her children stranded along the route," according to the UNHCR.

Afmadow is some 400 kilometres (250 miles) southwest of Mogadishu.

"The deteriorating security situation has sharply reduced deliveries of desperately needed humanitarian aid to the displaced in and around Mogadishu," said Spindler.

Somalia's speaker last week made an urgent appeal for foreign military intervention to prop up the internationally backed government, which has been facing a fierce insurgent military offensive since May 7.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on June 28, 2009, 09:51:52 am
US sending weapons to Somalia

http://english.aljazeera.net//news/americas/2009/06/200962520481752248.html

Fighters have taken control of parts of
the capital Mogadishu [EPA]



The US has revealed it is sending weapons and cash to the Somali government to aid its fight against al Shabab.

The US state department said on Thursday it was "concerned" about whether the government of Sharif Ahmed could be overwhelmed by fighters from the group.

Washington was hoping to help "repel the onslaught of extremist forces which are intent on ... spoiling efforts to bring peace and stability to Somalia," Ian Kelly, a state department spokesman, said.

Fighters cut the hands and feet off alleged thieves in Mogadishu and paraded the body parts through the streets of the capital.
In depth


 Profile: Sharif Ahmed
 Timeline: Somalia
 Inside Story: What next for Somalia
 Video: Foreign fighters 'invade' Somalia
 Video: US 'fears collapse' of Mogadishu government
 Riz Khan: Somalia - From bad to worse
 Restoring Somalia
 A long road to stability
 Al-Shabab: Somali fighters undeterred
 Somalia at a crossroads
 Somaliland: Africa's isolated state

In a bid to contain the violence, Ahmed declared a state of emergency on Monday.


Asked if the US was afraid the government might collapse or be overwhelmed by attacks by fighters, Kelly replied: "We are concerned.

"We think that this government ... represents Somalia's best chance for peace, stability and reconciliation," he said.

"In addition to this threat to the government ... this kind of violence is causing real suffering for the Somalian people and it's just prolonging the chaos and preventing the country from getting on stable footing."

Kelly confirmed that the US organised an arms shipment made to the Somali government earlier this month, but did not confirm plans to train Somali forces in Djibouti.

The state department said it was providing the arms in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.

'Horrific acts'

The rebels used long knives to cut off a hand and a foot each from four young men in Mogadishu as punishment for theft, witnesses said.

"The horrific nature of such acts that were carried out in front of a crowd adds further injustice and dehumanizes these teenagers," said rights group Amnesty International.

Al-Shabab has carried out executions, floggings and amputations before, mainly in the southern port of Kismayu.

Movies and football matches are reportedly banned in areas it controls, and men and women cannot travel together on public transport.

The government has launched a series of attacks this month to drive the fighters out of Mogadishu but it has failed to make headway and is relying on African Union troops to protect the presidential palace, airport and seaport.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on June 28, 2009, 09:52:55 am
Rights body: AU should investigate peacekeepers' actions in Somalia
Africa News

Jun 26, 2009, 9:58 GMT

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/africa/news/article_1486042.php/Rights_body_AU_should_investigate_peacekeepers_actions_in_Somalia_


Johannesburg
- Human Rights Watch called Friday on the African Union to set up a commission to investigate allegations of indiscriminate use of force by peacekeepers in conflict-ridden Somalia.

An AU peacekeeping force of 4,300 troops from Uganda and Burundi is propping up the Somali government, which is wobbling under a fierce onslaught by Islamist insurgents.

The peacekeepers have faced repeated accusations of responding to roadside bombs and other attacks by randomly opening fire on civilians.

'The Somalia peacekeeping mission is the AU's toughest and most dangerous undertaking in Africa today,' Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at HRW, said in a statement. 'The AU should ensure that its troops are not drawn into the abuse that surrounds them.'

HRW alleged that peacekeepers in February killed at least 13 Somalis, most of them civilians, when they opened fire wildly following an attack.

The body, which sent its request to AU leaders in advance of a the upcoming AU summit in Libya on July 1-3, said that all such incidents should be investigated and those responsible held to account.

Civilians have borne the brunt of Somalia's bloody insurgency, which broke out in early 2007 after Ethiopia invaded to kick out an Islamist regime.

An estimated 18,000 civilians have died, while over a million have fled. Millions more are dependent on food aid.

Insurgent groups al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam launched a major offensive in early May aimed at toppling President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who was appointed this year as part of a United-Nations backed peace process.

The Somali government has unsuccessfully appealed for foreign military intervention as it clings to power.

However, the United States on Thursday confirmed it had sent an unspecified amount of weapons and ammunition to the Somali government.

The US is concerned about the consequences for regional security if al-Shabaab, which has links to al-Qaeda, takes over Somalia.

Somalia has been embroiled in chaos since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on July 04, 2009, 12:44:05 pm
'Fighter influx' for Somali group
 
The radical Islamist al-Shabab are accused of links to al-Qaeda

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8132064.stm


An Islamist commander in Somalia has told the BBC there has been an influx of fighters from overseas joining their battle against the interim government.

The al-Shabab militant leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said several hundred foreigners had joined their militia, many from Pakistan.

Meanwhile, at least 30 people have been killed in fighting in the capital, Mogadishu, over the past three days.

Africa Union leaders meeting in Libya are due to discuss Somalia later.

There have been calls for the AU to boost its force of some 4,000 peacekeepers based in Mogadishu.

The BBC's Andrew Harding, in Buale in the south, says an al-Shabab commander confirmed foreign fighters were among his ranks.

The radical al-Shabab Islamists, who are accused of links to al-Qaeda, already control much of the south of the country.

Militant alliance

Earlier this week government forces displayed what they said were the bodies of some al-Shabab foreign fighters.
   

AU troops - 'fig-leaf' for Somalia?


But the insurgents denied that any foreigners had been killed.

Fierce fighting between government forces and militants around Mogadishu continued on Friday for a third day, leaving 30 people dead and 70 wounded.

The fighting started late Wednesday and has continued in residential areas north of the city, witnesses told the BBC

Each side blamed the other for starting the violence.

"We have been attacked and we are defending ourselves and our legal government," said military spokesman Farhan Asanyo on Thursday.

Muse Abdi Arale, of the Hisbul Islam group which fights alongside al-Shabab, said government soldiers attacked them and in response they pushed them back and have taken new areas.

Since 7 May, an alliance of militant Islamist hardliners has been locked in ferocious battles with pro-government forces in Mogadishu.

More than 165,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on July 04, 2009, 12:45:43 pm
25 dead in 2 days in Somalia, witnesses sa
http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?sectionName=NLetter&id=b9e40af9-b1d7-4e5b-85cf-e2b3de0095b3&Headline=25+dead+in+2+days+in+Somalia%2c+witnesses+say


Associated Press
Mogadishu, July 03, 2009
First Published: 01:15 IST(3/7/2009)
Last Updated: 01:16 IST(3/7/2009)

      
Fighting in the Somali capital has killed 25 people over two days, leaving corpses in the streets of a city where a bloody insurgency is intensifying, doctors and witnesses said on Thursday.

The fighting in Mogadishu started late on Wednesday and continued on Thursday in residential areas. Yesterday, at least 10 people were killed and 40 wounded. Thursday's fighting killed about 15 people and wounded 30, hospitals reported.

The government and rebels who want to install an Islamic state in the east African country blame each other for instigating the violence.

"The fighting is intensifying and the government soldiers seems to be retreating," said Ahmednuur Osman, a local resident.

"Insurgents are shouting 'God is great' and trying to advance toward Parliament's meeting hall."
Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991 when the overthrow of a dictatorship plunged the country into chaos. The vacuum has also allowed pirates to operate freely around Somalia's 1,900-mile (3,060-kilometer) coastline.

Over the past two months, Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed's government has come under heavy attacks from insurgents who have pounded government positions with mortars and targeting senior officials in suicide attacks.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on July 10, 2009, 08:13:20 pm
Fighting forces 204,000 to flee Mogadishu

UN says offensive by Islamist militias devastating Somali capital, as almost 500,000 people forced to live in temporary shelter
Xan Rice in Nairobi
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 7 July 2009 18.22 BST

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/07/somalis-flee-mogadishu-fighting


(http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2009/7/7/1246987321992/Families-flee-their-homes-001.jpg)

 

Families flee their homes in Mogadishu. Photograph: Mohamed Sheikh Nor/AP

Fighting between Islamist militias and government-aligned forces has caused 204,000 people to flee Mogadishu since May and forced the closure of some of the Somali capital's few health centres, the UN refugee agency said today.

The eight-week offensive by the al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam guerillas was devastating parts of north Mogadishu that had until now been "islands of peace", UNHCR said. Many residents were fleeing their homes for the first time since the country's descent into anarchy in 1991.

At least 105 people have been killed in the past week alone. Almost half a million people are living in temporary shelters made from sticks and plastic sheeting along the road to Afgooye, west of Mogadishu.

Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) said there was a "desperate" shortage of food and water there. The aid organisation added that continuous shelling and open combat had forced it to close three clinics and a paediatric hospital in north Mogadishu last week.

"The population is terrorised, and in the past two weeks the number of dead and wounded has drastically increased. It has become impossible to provide medical and humanitarian assistance to those in need," said Monica Camacho, general co-ordinator of the MSF mission in Somalia.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on July 14, 2009, 03:48:22 pm
Monday, July 13, 2009
At least 43 killed as Somali troops clash with insurgents

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2009/0713/1224250543080.html


Somali government troops backed by African Union (AU) peacekeepers fought insurgents yesterday in clashes that killed at least 43 people in north Mogadishu, residents and officials said.

Somalia’s government and a 4,300-strong AU force (Amisom) have been unable to take control of rebel strongholds in Mogadishu and other parts of the Horn of Africa nation despite international support and training.

“We have killed 40 fighters from al-Shabaab group and we continue to repulse them. We have now pushed them back from three northern districts of Mogadishu. AU peacekeepers were assisting us,” said Salad Ali Jelle, a parliamentarian who was involved in yesterday’s fighting.

Rebels were not immediately available for comment.

Mogadishu’s deputy mayor said the insurgents had captured an area near the presidential palace at the weekend.

“Amisom backed us up in this latest operation because the rebels were only one kilometre from the presidential palace,” said Abdifitah Shawey. “We lost three soldiers in battle.”

Somalia’s interim government has been pushing for a stronger mandate for Amisom to allow its soldiers to help government forces fight opposition groups.

Ugandan and Burundi peacekeepers are only allowed to defend themselves if attacked and protect key sites such as the presidential palace, airport and harbour. An ambulance driver said that he had seen eight dead fighters lying on the streets and had picked up 16 wounded. It was not clear if the eight bodies were al-Shabaab fighters.

“Shelling into the residential areas is still going on. We do not have access into some areas, said Ali Muse of Mogadishu Lifeline and Nationlink Ambulance service.

An Amisom spokesman said: “Our troops were in imminent danger, so we had to take some limited action because the rebels crossed the red line where they were not supposed to go to avoid our military action.”

Residents said they saw AU troops in armoured vehicles fighting against insurgents in north Mogadishu.

“I have seen early this morning tanks of Amisom going towards the frontline of the fighting and after a short while we heard gunshots much louder and heavier than in the past days,” said resident Ahmed Haji.

Fighting in Somalia since Ethiopian troops ousted the Islamic Courts Union in late 2006 has killed at least 18,000 people and sent hundreds of thousands more fleeing from their homes.

On Saturday, clashes between insurgents and government troops killed at least 20 people in the heaviest fighting for a week in the capital.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on July 14, 2009, 03:49:49 pm
Somali president hails victory in battle for Mogadishu
MOGADISHU, SOMALIA Jul 13 2009 07:48
http://www.mg.co.za/article/2009-07-13-somali-president-hails-victory-in-battle-for-mogadishu


Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on Sunday hailed a "clear victory" over Islamist rebels in a months-long battle to gain control of the capital, as the latest clashes left at least 21 dead.

At least 18 of those killed in the heavy fighting, as the government attacked rebel positions in the Abdiasis neighbourhood of northern Mogadishu, were civilians.

Sharif said the operation had dealt a heavy blow to the militants in long-running efforts to win control of the conflict-ravaged city.

"You can see government forces are today in control of most areas that were being fought over in the capital," he told reporters on Sunday.

"This is a clear victory over the rebels."

Battles for control of Mogadishu's districts have become increasingly focused on strategic points, such as police stations, but often both sides have been unable to declare a decisive victory.

Sharif is fighting to end an 18-year-old conflict in Somalia against a fierce insurgency led by al Qaeda-inspired al-Shebab armed group and the more political Hezb al-Islam.

The hardline Islamists control much of the country.

Paramedics, police and government forces said the fighting on Sunday spread across several districts of the city and claimed many lives.

 CONTINUES BELOW



"The ambulances collected 75 injured civilians and 14 dead bodies of civilians," said Ali Muse, the head of the city's ambulance service.

"Some of them were killed by mortar and artillery shells and others by crossfire."

Colonel Mohamed Farah, commander of the government forces, said: "Heavy artillery shells and crossfire left around 14 civilians dead around neighbourhoods in northern Mogadishu where the fighting spread."

Earlier on Sunday, witnesses, hospital sources and police said the clashes had killed seven people: two government soldiers, one fighter, and four civilians.

"We are advancing in on their last positions in northern Mogadishu and several of their dead lay in the streets this morning," said Somali police officer Abdulahi Duale.

One witness said African Union tanks fought the militants alongside government troops but Sharif denied this.

Mohamed Hashi Gurey, who lives in the Abdiasis neighbourhood, said two African Union tanks had been involved in the fighting.

"The tanks were firing shells at the rebels near [a hotel] and they advanced in onto the Islamists' strongholds," he said.

The African Union has deployed 4 300 peacekeepers to Somalia.

But the president said: "We have no information indicating African Union soldiers took part in the battle.

"It is the Somali government alone who is responsible for cracking down" on the insurgents, he added.

The clashes come after fighting on Saturday killed at least 10 people, mostly militants, in northern Mogadishu.

Hardline Islamists launched their latest offensive against the internationally backed administration of Sharif on May 7.

Government forces began their counter-offensive on May 22.

More than 200 000 people have been displaced in the past two months, while hundreds of civilians are believed to have been killed and wounded, according to the UN Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Shebab militia, the main force fighting to oust Sharif, have imposed strict sharia, or Islamic law in areas under their control.

Last month Shebab militiamen chopped off the right hand and left foot of four people found guilty of theft by their court in Mogadishu. - AFP
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on July 20, 2009, 11:41:02 am
Britain, Japan also arming Somali govt - Mugume

Angelo Izama

Kampala

http://www.monitor.co.ug/artman/publish/news/Britain_Japan_also_arming_Somali_govt_-_Mugume_87999.shtml


Washington is not the only country contributing arms and other forms of military aid to the embattled Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Speaking to Daily Monitor after a press briefing by Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa, over the weekend, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Ambassador James Mugume, said Uganda was receiving military aid on behalf of the TFG from other European countries and some unnamed Arab states.

“It is not only America giving the TFG weapons. So is Britain, France and Japan and some Arab countries,” he said, adding that all weapons transfers through the Ugandan-manned African Union Peace Keeping Mission [Amisom] were done legally.

“We are acting under a Security Council and African Union mandate,” he said.
The comments are likely to draw even more attention to any “allied” response to the civil war underway in Somalia and the role of influential actors like the newly-created US Africa Command which is prosecuting the security agenda there.

The arms transfers and training programmes being offered to TFG are a way of Washington intervening indirectly in Somalia after the 1990’s “Operation Restore Hope” was hurriedly concluded after US casualties were humiliated by Somali militants in Mogadishu.

The Ugandan army admitted recently that it was acting as a conduit for arms for the TFG after a state department briefing mentioned that Uganda was being reimbursed with cash for weapons given to the government of President Sheriff Ahmed.

However, government officials concerned about the logistical support to TFG told Daily Monitor that it may well encourage direct attacks on Amisom which, has a peace-keeping force, as so far been spared the fighting.

Mr Sam Kutesa, who will chair a debate at the United Nations Security Council this month on conflict and its resolution, told journalists that he will also be urging for sanctions against Eritrea, an erstwhile ally, for allegedly arming and training the Al Shabaab militia.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on August 24, 2009, 01:03:58 pm
Ethiopian troops back in central Somalia
Posted on Thursday 20 August 2009 - 14:36


http://www.africanews.com/site/Ethiopian_troops_back_in_central_Somalia/list_messages/26530


Ethiopian military forces on Thursday crossed the border into Somali central town of Beledweyne, some 206 miles (332 km) north of the Somali capital Mogadishu, witnesses said. The heavily armed troops with armored vehicles got into the town early in the day and set up bases in the centre of the town.
Pro-government forces from Union of Islamic Courts currently control the town, which connects the capital to central towns and it is not clear whether or not the Ethiopian troops are back under the invitation of the local administration, AfricaNews reporter said.

The forces reported return comes as Islamist militants and pro-government forces continue to battle for the control of central and southern towns. Heavy fighting erupted on Thursday in nearby town of Bulabarde between militant group Al-Shabaab and government forces who invaded the town in a bid to seize it.

This month alone, several central and southern Somali towns have changed hands between insurgents groups and forces loyal to fragile UN-backed transition government.

Ethiopian troops completely withdrew from the Horn of African nation in early this year after two years of military occupation. However, Addis Ababa amassed its troops at the border where they frequently crossed the border in what Ethiopia says is “small reconnaissance missions”.
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on August 24, 2009, 01:04:47 pm
Somalia fighting kills at least 45 -residents
Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:53am EDT
 
http://www.reuters.com/article/homepageCrisis/idUSLK004914._CH_.2400?rpc=401&


* Al Shabaab fighters return to Bulahawa in force

* At least 30 wounded in fighting

* Hizbul Islam rebels also retake Luuq town

(Recasts with new deaths)

By Sahra Abdi

NAIROBI, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Fighting between Somali insurgents and pro-government troops killed at least 45 people and wounded 30 others in separates battles in the south of the country on Thursday, witnesses said.

Western security agencies say Somalia, which has been torn by civil war for the past 18 years, has become a haven for militants plotting attacks in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

Militiamen supporting President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's fragile administration attacked al Shabaab insurgents in the Bula Burde in the southern Hiran region and the ensuing fight killed at least 33 and wounded 22 others.

"I have counted 20 dead bodies around the bridge where the two groups have been fighting since morning," local elder Farah Ali told Reuters by phone.

Another resident said 13 civilians were also killed.

In a separate battle, al Shabaab fighters seized back the southern Bulahawa town from pro-government militiamen after fighting that killed at least 12 people, witnesses said.

Earlier this week, militiamen backing Ahmed's government chased al Shabaab fighters out of Bulahawa without any fire.

On Thursday, al Shabaab returned with reinforcements.

Local nurse Abdiraxman Ali said 12 people were killed and eight wounded: "The dead are from both sides, and civilians."

The United States accuses al Shabaab of being al Qaeda's proxy in the chaotic nation.

Al Shabaab spokesman in Bulahawa, Sheikh Osman, told Reuters the group had retaken control.

"We have defeated the Ethiopian-backed militia," he said.

Meanwhile another rebel group, Hizbul Islam, retook control of Luuq town, which is also in Gedo region. They had abandoned it on Wednesday to a pro-government militia. [ID:nLJ085215]



STATE OF EMERGENCY

The international community is trying to bolster Ahmed's U.N.-backed government, which controls only parts of the central region and small pockets of the coastal capital Mogadishu.

The Islamist rebels say Ethiopian soldiers are fighting alongside the pro-government militiamen, but a senior official in Addis Ababa denied that repeatedly.

On Wednesday, Somali lawmakers declared a state of emergency while the government battles the rebels. The move means Ahmed can make major decisions without having to consult parliament.

Violence in Somalia has killed more than 18,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and uprooted another 1 million.

An independent group of Somali elders led by former president Abdiqassim Salad Hassan is attempting to broker a ceasefire deal between the warring parties.

"This is a purely Somali initiative ... the opposition groups have not yet accepted a ceasefire, but we are hopeful they will do," Hassan, who was Somalia's president between 2001 and 2004, told Reuters from Cairo.

"In the end, we will come up with our recommendation of who is an obstacle to peace in Somalia, and fight against them together with our people." (Additional reporting by Abdiaziz Hassan, Ibrahim Mohamed, and Tsegaye Tadesse in Addis Ababa; Writing by Daniel Wallis)
Title: Re: Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
Post by: Biggs on August 31, 2009, 03:52:15 pm
Ethiopian troops enter Somali town

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2009/08/2009829101133876939.html


Ethiopian troops left Somalia in January under the terms of a peace agreement [File: EPA]

Ethiopian troops have crossed into neighbouring Somalia and seized control of a town from Islamist fighters, witnesses say.

Hundreds of troops reportedly entered the strategically important town of Beledweyne on Saturday.

Abdinur Ahmed Maow, a local resident, told The Associated Press news agency that the armed opposition fighters had left "without a single shot".

Abdulahi Faramiliq, another resident of Beledweyne, said that the troops were cordoning off residential areas and going from house to house searching for weapons.

However, General Muqtar Hassan Afrah, the Somali military commander in the region, denied that any Ethiopian troops were in the region.

Unpopular presence

Ethiopian forces withdrew from Somalia in January as part of a peace deal, more than two years after moving in to help the UN-backed interim government battle the Islamic Courts' Union, which had seized control of much of the south and centre of the country.

In depth

Their presence was unpopular with the majority of Somalis and was used by local Islamist groups as a recruiting tool.

Rashid Abdi, a Kenya-based Somalia analyst with the International Crisis Group, said that it is unlikely that Ethiopia is planning to send a larger force across the border.

"It's a strategic town for them," he said, referring to the Beledweyne's location near the border.

"They want a buffer zone and they won't allow it to be in hostile hands."

There have been several reports of Ethiopian troops crossing the border in recent months, but the Somali government has not confirmed their presence.

Somalia's government is struggling to control the country, despite including several factions of the Islamic Courts' Union.

Fighters from al-Shabaab and Hizb ul-Islam groups have seized control of large areas of the country and have vowed to topple the administration of Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the current president and former Islamic Courts leader.