Thursday, February 23, 2012

US Issues More Threats On Somalia


US considering sanctions on Somalia 'spoilers'

Feb 22, 2012 - 7:43:05 PM

LONDON--The US is mulling the possibility of imposing sanctions on "spoilers" blocking political progress in Somalia, a US official said Wednesday on the eve of a London conference to address the country's troubles.

"We would contemplate imposing both travel restrictions and visa bans on individuals who serve as spoilers in the political process," the senior US State Department official told reporters under the cover of anonymity.

These sanctions could involve officials within the Somali transitional government (TFG), he added.

"We are saying very clearly that individuals who undermine political progress" towards the implementation of basic structures intended to replace the TFG by August "should be held accountable," he stressed.

"We have indicated (this) in various discussions with TFG officials and also with other Western partners," he added.

Another US official said sanctions are likely to be discussed at the London conference, which kicks off on Thursday.

The US official called the summit: "One of the largest and most important international conference held on Somalia in recent years.

"Our objectives are to underscore and maintain high level international attention on Somalia's multiple problems; Piracy, counter terrorism, humanitarian responses and issues related to state failure," he explained.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the US representative at the talks, arrived in London late Wednesday, an AFP journalist reported.

Somalia has had no central authority since the collapse of President Siad Barre's regime in 1991.

"What we want to see is for the political process to match the security progress we've seen on the ground," said the official, highlighting the military setbacks suffered by the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents in Somalia in recent months.

"We are also determined to galvanize better financial support for AMISOM," the African Union force in Somalia, he said.

The US, he noted, has spent "$385 million" over the last three years to support the AMISOM mission, providing equipment and training.

The US accounts for around one third of the force's total funding, the remaining two thirds being shared between the EU and the UN, the official said.

According to the official, Europe hopes the US will boost its financial support after the UN agreed on Wednesday to increase the African Union force in Somalia from 12,000 to 17,731 troops.

Besides attending the Somalia conference, Clinton will meet her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar on Thursday for talks on the rocky relationship between Washington and Islamabad.

She will then attend Friday's Tunis conference on Syria before visiting Algeria and Morocco over the weekend.

Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said Wednesday he would welcome European air strikes against Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents, as long as they did not hurt civilians.

As his government announced a strategic victory against the rebels, Ali told reporters on the eve of the major conference that the Shebab were a "global enemy, not only a Somali enemy".

The Islamist group already faces the threat of US drone attacks, but Britain's Guardian newspaper reported on Wednesday that Britain and other EU countries were considering military air strikes on Shebab training camps.


Somalia: Troops enclose on Al Shabaab stronghold

Feb 22, 2012 - 5:57:05 AM

BERDALE, Somalia Feb 22 2012 (Garowe Online) Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ethiopian troops are enclosing on the Al Shabaab stronghold of Baidoa, Radio Garowe reports.

The town of Howlaha Guud 8 kms from Berdale has been taken over by the TFG without any resistance from the terror cell. Berdale was subject to an IED attack on Tuesday as TFG and Ethiopian troops moved closer to Baidoa the capital of Bay region. Civilians were killed in the IED attack leaving 6 dead and injuring 10 others.

Many have fled the region of Bay trying to escape an imminent battle between Al Shabaab and the government backed by its neighboring countries. The remaining residents of towns in Bay region said that TFG and Ethiopian had drove by in more than 30 technical cars and a few tanks.

There are also unconfirmed reports that Al Shabaab insurgents fleeing from TFG and Ethiopian troops have set up a defense in the city of Baidoa.

Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Gaas said the end of Al Shabaab was near. "The governments plan in the upcoming days is to rid Al Shabaab from regions in Bay, Bakool and Lower Jubba,"said PM Gaas.


Somalia: Puntland President receives a warm welcome in London

Feb 21, 2012 - 2:28:43 AM

LONDON, England Feb 21, 2012 (Garowe Online) Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole and his delegation were warmly received at London's Heathrow Airport, Garowe Online reports.

President Farole and his delegation arrived at Heathrow Airport on Monday night. Delegates that accompanied President Farole include Interior Minister Abdullahi Ahmed Ilkajir, Education Minister Abdi Farah Juha and Puntland Electoral Commission Chairman Mohamed Hassan Barre.

The President was welcomed by Somali Diaspora community of London, Puntland officials stationed in London and Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

The Puntland President and his delegation arrived in London for the upcoming Somalia conference being held on the 23 February. Somalia's leaders will be attending this conference which hopes to help bring stability to the war torn country.


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