Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Somalia News Update: AFRICOM Says It Will Boost AMISOM Force

General: US Military to Boost AU Somalia Force

Jul 20, 2010 - 6:39:11 PM

A top U.S. general says the military is ready to give more assistance
to African Union forces in Somalia.

General William Ward, head of the U.S. military's Africa Command, says the U.S. hopes to provide more training, transportation, and
logistical aid to the AU mission, known as AMISOM.

Ward made the comments Tuesday while addressing the Center for
Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The United States currently provides training and supplies to AMISOM, which consists of several thousand troops from Uganda and Burundi. The troops clash frequently with Somali insurgents who are trying to topple the Somali government.

AMISOM has helped the government keep control of key areas of
Mogadishu, notably the airport, seaport, and presidential palace.

In a briefing to reporters last week, a senior Obama administration
official said the U.S. wants to "build up the capabilities" of AMISOM
and the government.

The United States has repeatedly expressed concern about insurgent groups al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam seizing control of Somalia. Officials say if that happens, the country could turn into a haven for terrorists.

Al-Shabab has proclaimed its links with al-Qaida, and the group is on the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations.

Source: VOA

Dozens killed in clashes between Somali government forces and Islamist militants

By Sudarsan Raghavan
Wednesday, July 21, 2010; A13

NAIROBI -- Intense clashes between U.S.-backed Somali government forces and Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda killed at least 53 civilians and wounded scores over the past week, a Somali human rights group said Tuesday.

Fighting, including tit-for-tat shelling on heavily populated areas,
has escalated in northern Mogadishu, the Somali capital, in the days
since Somalia's hard-line al-Shabab militia asserted responsibility
for bombings in the Ugandan capital of Kampala that killed 76 people watching the World Cup final on television at two crowded venues.

"The shelling is continuing," Ali Yesin, deputy director of the human
rights group Elman, said by phone from Mogadishu. "The situation is
getting worse."

On Tuesday, al-Shabab ambushed a Kenyan police unit patrolling the Kenyan-Somali border, wounding one officer and prompting Kenyan authorities to send reinforcements to the border, according to news reports.

Since the bombings in Uganda, Kenyan security officials have been on heightened alert, fearing that Somalia's civil war could spill into
Kenya. In recent months, al-Shabab has staged several cross-border
raids into the northeastern part of the country, where hundreds of
thousands of Somali refugees live.

African leaders are expected to discuss the civil war at an African
Union summit this week in Kampala. The Ugandan bombings were the first major international attacks by the militia, raising fears that
Somalia's conflict could destabilize the region.

The militia, which has imposed a strict interpretation of Islam in
areas it controls, is seeking to overthrow the weak transitional
Somali government.

An African Union peacekeeping force is protecting the government in
the sliver of the capital it controls. But medical officials and human
rights groups accuse the force of indiscriminately killing hundreds of
civilians. Al-Shabab leaders have declared the Ugandan bombings
retaliation for the shelling by the peacekeeping force, which is made
up of Ugandan and Burundian troops.

On Tuesday, Gen. William E. Ward, who heads U.S. Africa Command, said the U.S. military is prepared to increase its support for the peacekeepers.

"The nations that are contributing forces to . . . the African Union
mission in Somalia -- we are working very closely with their
logistics, their training, their transportation, information that they
would use to be effective in what they do, and we continue looking for
ways, based on what they ask us, to enhance these efforts," he told
the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Reuters reported.

Discussions Underway Involving Greater Military Intervention in Somalia

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A key Somalia strategy meeting is underway in the Ethiopian capital,
Addis Ababa, with military chiefs from across Africa expected to
hammer out a plan of action to confront the crisis in the war-torn

It was announced yesterday on the sidelines of the ongoing AU Summit in Kampala that the African Union and regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) expect their military representatives to assess the resources that will be required to rid Somalia of the terrorist-affiliated al Shabaab militants.

Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Erastus Mwencha told
journalists in Munyonyo that Somalia is high on the Summit agenda. He said resolutions from the Addis meeting would be presented to the AU Executive Council sitting in Kampala in three days.

“Our military people are having a meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss
the strategy and the logistics needed to deal with this Somali
situation,” he said. He blamed the delay by other African countries to
reinforce Burundian and Ugandan peacekeepers in Somalia on lack of capacity.

“It takes courage, commitment and resources to deploy troops for
peacekeeping especially when you hear that those who are there are
being killed. The problem has been lack of capacity. Commitment from the member countries exists but they lack resources, nothing else,” he said.

Wake up call

Uganda has about 3,400 troops, whereas Burundi has so far sent 1,600 troops.

Nigeria, Malawi and Ghana had pledged forces to make up the initial
envisaged 8,000 peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) but have not honoured their pledges. AMISOM has recently been upgraded to an expected 20,000-strong force. Mr Mwencha said the July 11 terrorist attacks in Kampala were “a wake-up call” to African countries to unite and put in place measures to end the 19-year Somalia civil war that threatens regional security.

Piracy and terrorism

The Somali militant group, al- Shabaab, have claimed responsibility
for the bomb blasts that left 76 people dead in Kampala. Giving a hint
of a possible shift in continental opinion that will likely see
Amisom’s peacekeeping mandate changed, Mr Mwencha asked: “What peace is there to keep” in the troubled country?” “That is why we are saying we need at least 20,000 troops in Somalia to ensure peace.

We are calling upon the international community to come and help us. “If we got everything we need in place today, troops will be
dispatched to Somalia tomorrow.” “The international community is too far to feel the pinch of the Somalia situation, but we now have piracy and terrorism that are affecting everybody. These are not African problems alone,” said the official.

Following the blasts in Kampala, President Museveni announced that he was ready to commit more troops to deal with the terrorists in
Somalia, once cleared by IGAD and other AU member states.

Source: Daily Monitor

Uganda Opposition Calls For Withdrawal Of Troops From Somalia

KAMPALA, Uganda -(Dow Jones)- Uganda's largest opposition party, the Forum For Democratic Change, has called for the withdrawal of Ugandan troops from Somalia and for other African countries to send their own troops for peacekeeping operations.

According to Wafula Oguttu, the FDC spokesman, the leaders of the
African Union should also consider the Somali crisis as a top priority
at the AU summit which opens in Uganda this week.

"Ugandan troops have been in Somalia for over three years now, we
think this is enough time and we want our forces to be withdrawn such that other countries can also send their troops," he told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday.

African leaders are reluctant to solve the Somali crisis because most
of them are preoccupied with consolidating their own power, Oguttu

The FDC party is leading a coalition of four parties which are
expected to take on the incumbent president Yoweri Museveni early next year in the country's parliamentary and presidential polls.

Since the AU passed a resolution on the sending of peacekeeping troops to Somalia, only Uganda and Burundi have contributed troops.

The peacekeeping troops continue to be attacked by Somalia-based
al-Shebab militants, who are linked to al-Qaeda. Uganda's privately
owned daily, the Daily Monitor quoted al-Shebab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab as saying that his group attacked the AU bases late Sunday in Bondhere and Shibi districts and captured new territory in the northern parts of Mogadishu.

July 11, more than 70 people were killed in attacks in the Uganda
capital, Kampala which al-shebab have claimed. The militants said they carried out the bombings because Uganda deployed peacekeepers in Somalia and they called for their withdrawal.

The Ugandan government is pressing for a change in the mandate of its force in Somalia--from peacekeeping to peace enforcement--to confront the militants, according to Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kuliagye, the Ugandan army spokesman.

-By Nicholas Bariyo, contributing to Dow Jones Newswires;
Read more:

US lawmaker wants Eritrea added to terror blacklist

20 Jul 20, 2010 - 6:41:10 AM

WASHINGTON — The United States should add Eritrea to a terrorism
blacklist over its support for an Al-Qaeda-linked group tied to last
week's deadly bombings in Uganda, a senior US lawmaker urged Tuesday.

Representative Ed Royce, the top Republican on a House subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation and trade, urged US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a letter to designate Eritrea a state sponsor of terrorism.

"The time to tackle state support of Shebab is now, before this menace becomes even more potent and reaches our shores," he said, referring to the group that has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

"That response must include an honest recognition of the destructive
role the government of Eritrea is playing in the region by designating
it as a state sponsor of terrorism," said Royce.

The designation -- currently only applied to Cuba, Iran, Sudan and
Syria -- carries a range of economic and diplomatic sanctions.

The strikes in Uganda were the deadliest attacks in the region since
the 1998 bombings against the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es
Salaam also linked to Islamist militants.

At least 73 people, including one American, were killed in the two
attacks, which targeted people watching the World Cup final.

The Shebab group said the attacks were in retaliation for the presence of about 3,000 Ugandan troops in an African Union force deployed in Somalia to prop up its fragile Western-backed transitional government.

Shebab has vowed further attacks, including on Burundi, which has
around 2,500 troops in the embattled AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

The California lawmaker said "Eritrea's support for Shebab is well
documented" and that the Uganda attacks underscored "the group's
threat to the region, continent and even the United States."

Will Somalia see a return of UN peacekeepers?

by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, July 17 (Xinhua) -- African leaders are calling for the
deployment of U.N. peacekeepers to Somalia in a bid to end the chaos that has engulfed the lawless country for nearly two decades.

But while the U.N. has agreed in principle, a deadline has yet to be
set and many nations are wary of deploying troops to the anarchic

Moreover, some experts argue the deployment of a major U.N. force is unlikely and say the problem will be left to the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) -- an East African organization comprising seven nations.

Somalia is home to the radical al-Shabab movement -- "the youth" in
Arabic -- which controls a vast swath of the country's south and is
believed to boast around 7,000 fighters, according to Agence

The group, which supposedly has ties to Al-Qaeda, claimed
responsibility for a bomb attack Sunday against civilians in Kampala,
the capital of neighboring Uganda.

More than 70 people were killed when twin blasts rocked a restaurant and an open area of plastic chairs in front of a big-screen TV where spectators were watching the final minutes of the World Cup. Scores more were injured in the attack.

US supports AU mission in Somalia

Posted on Saturday 17 July 2010 - 07:00
Muhyadin Ahmed Roble, AfricaNews reporter in Nairobi, Kenya

The US vowed to boost support for a peacekeeping mission in Somalia following the pledge of another 2,000 Ugandan peacekeepers to Somalia. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Washington would increase aid for the AU Mission in Somalia (Amisom), a UN backed peacekeeping mission that seeks to help Somali government for restoring peace. "We've been the major contributor to the Amisom mission. That won't
change," said Crowley.

He said that they welcome Uganda’s decision to send an extra 2,000
peacekeepers to Somalia.

"We have reviewed, since Sunday, the support that we're providing to
Amisom. We are going to beef that up... if Uganda needs support in
terms of its additional troop complement, we certainly will continue
to support Amisom."

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said at a news conference that his country is committed to sending 2,000 more troops to Somalia.

Al-Qaeda linked group of Al-Shabaab, which claimed the two blast
attacks hit at Kampala, said it was avenging the killing of civilians
by the African Union peacekeepers.

“If you murder our people, we will also massacre yours; if you
devastate our houses, we will devastate yours. These explosions were a minor according to what your boys do in Mogadishu,” said Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, Al-Shabaab spokesman.

Uganda was the first country to commit peacekeeping troops for the
African Union’s mission in Somalia, where now 6000 forces from Uganda and Burundi stay.

Kenya had intelligence of the terror attacks plan

17 Jul 17, 2010 - 12:02:02 PM

Kenya warned that terrorists linked to the al-Shabaab militia group
were about to stage attacks in the East African region three days
before the blasts that left 76 people dead in Kampala, Uganda.

Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang’ula told the Associated Press
that there was credible intelligence that the fighters were upping
their game and appealed for help from the United States to keep the
militants at bay.

The minister said in the interview with the American wire service that
the situation in Somalia was “very, very dire” and that Somalia’s
immediate neighbours, including Kenya, faced potential attacks from
the militants.

He said that veteran insurgents from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan
had relocated to Somalia in large enough numbers to worry the
international community.

“There have been Afghans, there have been Pakistanis, there have been certain Middle Eastern nationalities, quite a number. Intelligence reports indicate that there’s quite a cocktail of them,” Mr Wetang’ula told The Associated Press last week.

Mr Wetang’ula has complained that the US and other rich nations are
doing little to help prop the government in Somalia and to fight off
the militia group.

“They spend billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With just a
small fraction of that amount, we can strengthen the TFG and
capacitate them with tanks, aerial power, armoured vehicles so that
they are able to secure their people. They run on a war economy,” said Mr Wetang’ula.

“A country is no country if it cannot guarantee security to its
people. Somalia runs on a war economy. The US is not doing enough and is not willing to sufficiently listen to the concerns.”

Forewarn the militia

Contacted by the Sunday Nation, Mr Wetang’ula said that it would be
“inappropriate” for him to disclose the information Kenyan
intelligence officers have since it would forewarn the militia group.

But, asked whether the Kampala attacks would have been averted had the international community acted, he said “possibly yes”.

He spoke ahead of the African Union Summit which begins in Kampala on July 25 and whose theme of maternal and child healthcare is highly likely to be overshadowed by the events of last Sunday’s terror attack on football fans watching the World Cup final in the city.

Al-Shabaab has since claimed responsibility for the attacks.

“In the face of what happened it would be inappropriate either to the
terrorist or even to us. Let’s leave it at that. We have intelligence
and we are using it and perpetrators must know that no one will sit
back and watch them cause mayhem,” the minister said.

The minister said that some Kenyan residents of Somali origin were
under constant watch but said the country had no problem with those
whose status is properly verified by authorities.

“Some are on a watch list. We are continuously on a high alert to
ensure that whatever information we get . . . we must evaluate it and
see how valuable it is. Even when a mad man comes in, we must look for a lucid moment in his madness,” said Mr Wetang’ula.

Somalia has been without a government since 1991 and various
international efforts to establish a government in Mogadishu have
largely floundered.

The Transitional Federal Government has been unable to establish its authority beyond the area protected by African Union peacekeepers and has repeatedly asked for help.

In March, three mosques in Nairobi were named in a United Nations
investigation report as recruiting fighters for Somalia’s Islamist
groups and their preachers marked by authorities for preaching
extremist messages.

Wealthy clerics

The UN report also linked a community of wealthy clerics who also run businesses to the three mosques.

“Members of al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam travel with relative freedom to and from Nairobi, where they raise funds, engage in recruitment and obtain treatment for wounded fighters. A key pillar of this support network is a community of wealthy clerics-cum-businessmen, linked to a small number of religious centres notorious for their links to radicalism,” said the report.

The UN investigators said they received “credible, detailed and
specific information” concerning one of the preacher’s participation
early in 2009 in meetings with representatives of armed groups from
Somalia, together with prominent members of the Eastleigh business community in Nairobi to discuss logistical issues and raise funds for the armed struggle.

The preacher – who we cannot name for legal reasons – is said to have changed his tone to support Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.

“In January 2010, he took a step further and denounced the takfiri
practice of designating other Muslims as apostates in order to justify
spilling their blood, posing a direct challenge to al-Shabaab,” said
the report, which has since been transmitted to the UN Security

One of the preachers operating from what the UN report calls an
informal centre in Eastleigh is quoted as having said in one of his
sermons: “Funding the Jihad is an individual duty for every Muslim. If
you cannot physically join the Jihad, then it is mandatory that you
finance it. The small amounts of money collected from you for the
Jihad are not donations for charity but an individual duty incumbent
upon you.”

The investigators also received information that the leaders of this
group hosted al-Shabaab leaders from Mogadishu on several occasions last year.

One of the key leaders of the centre is reported to be a 31-year-old
cleric whom authorities believe obtained Kenyan papers by false

Another one is said to travel freely between Nairobi and Mogadishu and regularly exchanges currency notes with fellow recruiters on the

“One such (Internet) session audited by the Monitoring Group raised
$20,000, to be remitted to a bank account in the United Arab Emirates. One particularly generous donor was rewarded with a promise that the next suicide bomber in Somalia would pray for her before going to his death.

During other sessions, held in the aftermath of the twin suicide
bombings of the African Union peacekeeping (AMISOM) force headquarters on September 17, 2009, (the preacher) kept listeners informed of the casualty toll and thanked them for their contributions to the struggle,” says the report.

And six days to the bombing, regional heads of state under the
auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development issued a strongly worded statement indicating that a military experts’
assessment of the situation in Somalia showed escalating violence.

The heads of state expressed serious concern that the deteriorating
security situation in Somalia posed serious threat to the peace,
security and stability to the people and government of Somalia, the
region and the international community and called for an “urgent
response to the threat”.

The coordinated explosions in Kampala followed repeated threats by
al-Shabaab to strike Uganda for its contribution to the 6,100-strong
AMISOM force deployed in Somalia.

Mr Wetang’ula also alluded to a possible role of Eritrea, which the UN report says has been offering help to al-Shabaab.

“It is difficult to speak with finality but the government of Eritrea
has been messing up in Somalia. The African Union has recommended sanctions and the UN has sanctioned them. We believe they have no money of their own but surprisingly they are putting all this effort. There could be a third hand,” said Mr Wetang’ula.

Source: Daily Nation (Kenya)


IGAD is misleading the world on Somalia [Editorial]

Jul 6, 2010 - 12:50:23 PM

President Sharif's speech in Addis Ababa and his begging for more
foreign troops is a clear indication that no clan is in control of

The Assembly of Heads of State of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional bloc of several East African nations, concluded in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa this week with a declaration dominated by the conflict in Somalia. The Summit was attended by the Heads of State of: Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya, and the President of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.

Expectedly, the TFG leader used alarm words such as "Al Qaeda has
taken over Somalia" to ring alarm bells in Washington and Brussels, as the international community grapples with the disastrous after-effects of the controversial Djibouti Agreement signed exclusively by
representatives of the Hawiye clan “ the clan that came to dominate
Mogadishu after its militia savagely massacred and expelled fellow
clans, especially the Darod, in 1991 as the Somali nation-state
disintegrated. It is no wonder that Mogadishu has not seen peace ever since.

In 2008, a coalition of interests self-organized to take down the
first president of the TFG and the man who restored the presidential
seat at Villa Somalia for the first time since Gen. Barre's departure
in 1991. That distinction goes to none other than Abdullahi Yusuf
Ahmed, who resigned respectfully in Dec. 2008 under surmounting
international pressure. Those members of the TFG, including former
Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein (Nur Adde), who worked very hard to get rid of Yusuf's leadership, used a notorious slogan to move international opinion: "Abdullahi Yusuf is the obstacle to peace in Somalia."

Why was Yusuf targeted so maliciously? There are many apparent
reasons, but mainly the empty rhetoric of Somali nationalism under the pretext of opposing Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu. The Ethiopian army withdrew from Mogadishu with President Yusuf's departure and the Djibouti Agreement as a cover. What followed is the ascension to power (on paper) of President Sheikh Sharif and the consolidation of power (on the ground) by Al Shabaab extremists. If Yusuf was "the obstacle to peace," how does one explain the change of fortune for the TFG, which once controlled most regions in south-central Somalia? Further, who is today's obstacle to peace?

The IGAD declaration on July 5, 2010, states three highly controversial points:

Clause 3: Underlines that the conflict in Somalia is not a conflict
among the Somalis but between the people of Somalia and international terrorist groups;

Clause 8: Decides to work with all parties including AMISOM and UN
Security Council to raise 20,000 troops to be deployed throughout the
country. In this regard, Summit embraces the need to mobilize Somali forces internally with possible intervention by neighboring countries including approach the East African Community and empower them with resources and equipment;

Clause 18: Affirms that the Djibouti process remains the sole basis
for the Somalia peace and reconciliation and rejects the proliferation
of initiatives inimical to the swift resolution fo the crisis in

President Sharif's speech in Addis Ababa and his begging for more
foreign troops is a clear indication that no clan is in control of
Mogadishu. Those Hawiye politicians who travel to Nairobi with false
information of Hawiye's imagined power in Mogadishu must face today's tough reality and the end of their fiction: Sheikh Sharif, crowned as the Hawiye president who could defeat Al Shabaab in Mogadishu, travels in a Ugandan tank every time he returns from yet-another foreign visit. These same politicians, during the run-up to the failed Djibouti Agreement, promised the world that a Hawiye president would bring peace and that Abdullahi Yusuf, the Darod president, was a "foreigner" from Puntland and he could not control Hawiye-dominated Mogadishu. As they say, a lie only has one foot to stand on and President Sharif's abject failures is a truth that is LOUDER than all the lies combined.

IGAD should not mislead the African Union and the United Nations with declarations that contain dangerous precedents for the future of
Somalia. The conflict in Somalia is always a socio-political conflict
among the Somalis. The international terrorist groups, such as Al
Shabaab, emerged in recent years as a direct result of the Somali
civil war. But for President Sharif, along with many Hawiye
politicians, to accept such fabrications from IGAD serves the hidden
agenda: an attempt to mislead the world that the Somali civil war has
ended (indeed, an evil effort to deny the 1991 clan pogroms).

But such misleading language is necessary to justify yet another
foreign intervention in Somalia, and the worrying reference to
"possible intervention by neighboring countries" is another cover for
Ethiopia and Kenya to intervene in Somalia under the pretext of
fighting Al Shabaab. In the minds of evil-doers, the more the war
looks like Somalis vs. Al Shabaab, the more the world will forget
about the 1991 clan pogroms that led to the disintegration of the
nation-state. Without addressing the 1991 clan pogroms, and the
uprooting of an entire society (Darod) from Mogadishu, there can never be Somali nation-state.

Indeed, if the Djibouti Agreement was actually working as designed,
there would be no need for 20,000 troops it seems, after nearly
six years, President Sharif stands today exactly where President Yusuf stood when he first addressed the African Union in Oct. 2004 to request 20,000 troops, only days after his election as TFG president.

In conclusion, two things will never work in Somalia: 1) the Djibouti
Agreement, as representative of a single clan, will never work for
Somalia as a nation and was a perfect cover for Ethiopian withdrawal, as the Bush years came to an end; 2) any military solution, 20,000 troops or not; Somalia needs a political settlement among Somalis, who must reorganize under a federal system.

Garowe Online Editorial
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