Sunday, September 27, 2009

US Supported Ethiopian Government Levels Threats Against Somalian Resistance Forces

Extremists hijacking Somalia, Ethiopia warns

September 26, 2009
Peter James Spielmann

Somalia is being hijacked by Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists who are better organized and more highly motivated than the ineffectual government in Mogadishu, and Sudan could be the next nation to fall under their influence, Ethiopia warned Saturday.

"It is time that we abandon the fiction that this is a war just among Somalis. It is not," Ethiopian Foreign Minister Ato Seyoum Mesfin said in a pessimistic speech before the General Assembly.

"Somalia is being hijacked by foreign fighters who have no inhibition in proclaiming that their agenda has nothing to do with Somalia. Theirs is an ambition that goes well beyond Somalia, and they say it out loud and clear," said Mesfin.

"Today in Somalia, there is greater co-ordination and co-operation among those who assist the extremists than among those who profess support for the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia," Mesfin said.

Last week, two stolen UN vehicles packed with explosives blew up at an African Union peacekeeping base in Somalia, killing 21 people, including 17 Burundian and Ugandan peacekeepers. Markings on the cars meant they were not subject to the usual security checks.

Al-Shabab, a local Islamic militia with foreign fighters in its ranks, said the Sept. 17 bombing was in retaliation for a U.S. commando raid on Sept. 14 that killed Al Qaeda operative Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan in southern Somalia. It has released a video pledging allegiance to Al Qaeda and showing foreign trainers moving among its fighters.

"As the latest horrific suicide attack ... has shown, those destroying Somalia are being emboldened, and their supporters rewarded," Mesfin said.

On the other hand, "The international community is being stingy even with symbolic steps to show resolve against extremists and spoilers in Somalia," he said.

"It is critical that the international community wakes up before the hijacking of Somalia by extremism is fully consummated," Mesfin said, lamenting that "it appears, the Council does not consider Somalia is a priority."

"What is missing is the political will. No one who knows Somalia well believes that Al-Shabab is popular in Somalia. Whatever gains they have made is a function of their brutality and the support they have from without."

Mesfin warned Sudan could be the next domino.

"The Horn of Africa cannot afford the consequence of failure in the Sudan peace process. We are very close to both parties in the Sudan, an asset which we want to use wisely," Mesfin said.

11:25, September 27, 2009

Somali PM optimistic about dialogue with Islamist rebels

By Abdurrahman Warsameh

Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdurashid Ali Sharmarke, on Saturday said the Somali government is in dialogue with "key" individuals in the opposition and he expected positive results from the talks.

The Somali government is fighting deadly insurgency with Islamist rebels since it returned to the capital early this year following a UN-sponsored talks in Djibouti late 2008 which culminated with the election of the current president and the formation of the government of national unity led by Sharmarke.

The prime minister, who was speaking in an exclusive interview with Xinhua, said there were both "direct and indirect" dialogues going on between the government and the opposition.

"We will continue to engage the opposition. We try to discuss directly or indirectly and I think there have been a lot of progress in our talk. I hope the results may be seen later on but we continue to have a meaningful dialogue," said the prime minister.

Sharmarke acknowledged that there are difficulties in the talks with the opposition groups who are basically two main Islamist factions of Al-Shabaab and the Hezbul Islam.

The prime minister said there will always be going to be "elements" within the opposition that as he put it "will not agree to anything", but he stated that as a government it was their responsibility to reach out to those who were "still out of the (peace) process of Djibouti".

The Somali prime minister was hopeful that the opposition groups would come to terms with the fact that the only way out was to join hands and move forward.

The official also talked about the current security situation, African Union peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the bilateral relations between China and Somalia, and the unfulfilled pledged funds from the international community.

Sharmarke, whose beleaguered government is confined to parts of Mogadishu and fights off daily attacks from insurgent groups poised to topple it, said his government was doing all it could to improve security in Mogadishu.

He acknowledged that the latest deadly twin suicide car bombings against AMISOM headquarters in Mogadishu was a "setback" and nothing could be done to prevent such attacks.

"I think you can hardly prevent such suicide bombings. I think you can only minimize the effects of such things. When one decides to blow himself up, I think very little can be done," the prime minister told Xinhua.

The suicide attacks which killed nearly 21 people, mostly peacekeepers, and wounded as many as 40 others, was claimed by Al-Shabaab Islamist rebels who along with the Hezbul Islam faction, control much of southern and central Somalia.

Meanwhile, the Somali prime minister praised what he called "the long and historic ties" between the Somali and Chinese peoples and governments and urged the further strengthening of the ties between the two nations.

He sent congratulation to the government and people of China as they celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

"I would urge people and government of China to continue to do their own progress to continue to grow their economy. I think growth in China is a growth for the entire world," he told Xinhua.

He, however, described as unfortunate the international community's inability to deliver its pledged funds to support the Somali government and AU peacekeeping forces.

The official hoped that the 8,000-strong African Union peacekeeping forces, of which nearly 5,000 are currently on the ground in Mogadishu, would soon be fully deployed and that their mandate, which is now limited, would be strengthened to enable them to fight Islamist rebels.

Source: Xinhua

Uganda hosts talks on AU Somalia force


Defence ministers from Uganda, Burundi and Somalia met last Friday in Kampala over the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia after last week’s suicide attack on the force, an official said.

The ministers alongside military chiefs of staff from the three countries began discussions last Thursday at an undisclosed location and continued last Friday.

“Somalia security is top on the agenda of this meeting,” Ugandan army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye said late last Thursday.

Last Thursday, radical Somali Islamist rebels carried out deadly twin suicide attacks on the AU force headquarters in Mogadishu, killing 21 people including 17 peacekeepers as well as the force's deputy comander.

Since that attack the insurgents have called for fresh attacks against the African peacekeeping force, which comes under fire almost on a daily basis on the streets of the Somali capital. Burundi and Uganda are the only countries that contribute troops to Amisom. The force currently counts 5 000 men, well short of the 8 000 promised when the force was deployed in March 2007. Bujumbura and Kampala, as well as the AU, are asking for the force's mandate to be beefed up.

Meanwhile One of several suicide bombers who killed 21 people, including 17 African Union peacekeepers, at a base in the Somali capital Mogadishu on September 17 was American, a Somali-language website has claimed.

Militants from Islamist insurgent group alShabaab which the US says has close links with alQaeda entered the base in vehicles stolen from the United Nations and detonated explosive charges as a meeting between Somali officials and peacekeepers was taking place.

Somali-language website, without revealing its sources, reported that one of the bombers was Omar Mohamed Mahmoud, a Somali-American who lived in the United States until 2007.

The site is run by members of the Mursade a subclan of the large Hawiye clan which has provided a significant number of fighters to alShabaab.

Gaffel Nkolokosa, a Nairobi-based spokesperson for the AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia (Amisom), said investigations, including DNA analysis of remains, were ongoing and that the identity of the bombers had not yet been confirmed.

The US Embassy in Nairobi declined to comment. No one from al Shabaab was immediately contactable.

Should the report prove to be true, it will be the second verified case of an American citizen turning suicide bomber in Somalia.

Shirwa Ahmed became the first known naturalised US citizen to become a suicide bomber when he blew himself up in the selfdeclared autonomous Somali region of Puntland last October, killing dozens.

FBI director Robert Mueller said that Ahmed was radicalized in the US state of Minnesota, which has a sizable Somali community.

The FBI believes that over a dozen Somali-American youths have left Minneapolis to join alShabaab over the last two years.

Jamal Bana, 20, and Burhan Hassan, 17, both former residents of Minneapolis, were shot dead while fighting for alShabaab.

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