Monday, July 05, 2010

Islamic Resistance Forces Close In on U.S.-backed Regime in Somalia

'Somalia is in the hands of al-Qaeda'

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA Jul 05 2010 14:48

Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed pleaded for help on Monday at a regional summit, as an al-Qaeda-inspired insurgency closed in on his
Mogadishu palace.

"Somalia is in the hands of al-Qaeda and extremist groups. The whole
issue needs urgent treatment," he told leaders from the six-nation
Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) in Addis Ababa.

"I would like to tell you that Somalia is going through its most
dangerous phase in recent times and we are asking for intensified
efforts in order to set up an effective military strategy," he added.

Igad leaders met in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for emergency
talks in the wake of intensified clashes in Mogadishu pitting Islamist
insurgents against Somali government troops backed by African Union

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, whose troops pulled out of
Somalia in early 2009 after an ill-fated two-year intervention, called
for more regional cooperation to resolve the crisis.

"The recent security situation does not augur well. This, coupled with
the approaching end of the transitional period, calls for more serious
work within the existing time frame," he said in reference to the
Somali transitional government's mandate, which expires next year.

"In this regard, the Somalis, Igad, the AU and other stakeholders have
to play their respective roles in a proactive manner and help reverse
the trend that isn't encouraging," Meles added.

Sharif urged the international community to honour pledges to provide
financial and military support, training of government forces and
provide more help for the country's refugees.

The hard-line Islamist al-Shabaab controls most of the country and has
been locked in a military see-saw with the Western-backed government for months in the capital, Mogadishu.

About 40 people, mostly civilians, were killed in heavy clashes in the
capital last week between the Islamist rebels and the AU-backed
government forces.

Call for attacks

Meanwhile, the leader of al-Shabaab has called for attacks on AU
peacekeeping forces after recent clashes with his fighters.

Mohamed Abdi Godane accused Ugandan and Burundian troops in the AU force of killing civilians during clashes in Mogadishu.

He urged "the Somali people to unite to fight against the enemy of
Allah", in an audio message sent late Sunday to local media and
obtained by Agence France-Presse.

"We know that the people in Mogadishu were honoured with two previous victories. They won the war against the Americans and the Ethiopians, and the fight against Amisom will be the final victory by God's will," he added.

The US withdrew its troops from Somalia after an ill-fated mission in
the early 1990s, while Ethiopia pulled out in early 2009. The AU
troops, also known as Amisom, were then deployed.

"My message to the people of Uganda and Burundi is that you will be
the targets of retaliation for the massacre of women, children and
elderly Somalis in Mogadishu by your forces," said the leader of the
al-Qaeda-linked militia.

"You will be held responsible for the killings your ignorant leaders
and your soldiers are committing in Somalia."

The Islamists, who control southern and central Somalia, have also
seized much of Mogadishu and reduced the government's reach to just a few blocks with the protection of the AU troops. -- Sapa-AFP

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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