8572News from Somalia: A light at the end of the tunnel
- Apr 6, 2008A light at the end of the tunnel
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, chairman of Somalias
Union of Islamic Courts has welcomed the role of the
international community to bring the Transitional
Federal Government of Somalia and the opposition to
the negotiating table. Uncompromising members of the
Union of Islamic Courts of which Moalim Hashi Mohamed
Farah is the most vocal had described Sheikh Sharifs
presence in Nairobi as tourism. Moalim Hashis
response will not slow the reconciliation momentum as
long as top leadership of the Union of Islamic Courts
who rebranded themselves as Re-liberatioin Alliance
continune to hold the view that finding solution to
Somalias problems is not solely the preserve of
either the TFG or the opposition.
The Union of Islamic Courts appeared on the Somali
political scene almost two years ago. The Courts' main
achievementpacifying Mogadishu and large parts of
Southern Somaliais still an unforgettable feat that
will give them a chance to avoid making past political
mistakes caused by political inexperience and
conflicting agendas. The TFG has long been under
pressure to be pro-active in promoting genuine
reconciliation in Somalia. The international community
is to be commended for making reconciliation efforts a
basic benchmark for the TFG, and this why there is a
light at the end of Somalia tunnel.
© 2008 Somali Press Review
Somalia: 7 Killed in Mogadishu Attacks
Garowe Online (Garowe)
5 April 2008
Posted to the web 6 April 2008
At least seven people including four civilians were
killed in Somalia's capital today as a guerrilla war
continues to rage between Ethiopian-backed government
troops and Islamist insurgents, sources said.
Fighting erupted Saturday morning in Mogadishu's
Wardhigley district when suspected insurgents attacked
a government checkpoint.
Three civilians were killed in the crossfire and four
other people wounded, including two people shopping at
Mogadishu's Bakara market, witnesses said.
The fighting started slowly, but quickly spread to the
outskirts of Bakara market, although the gunfire did
not interrupt the market's daily operations.
In a separate attack, a group of heavily-armed
insurgents driving a public transportation bus
launched a sneak attack on government police manning a
checkpoint in Hodan district, locals said.
Four people, including two police officers, were
killed in the subsequent gunfire.
Ten others were wounded in the attack, where
insurgents used hand grenades and machineguns to
target government police, according to witnesses.
The attackers escaped in the mini-bus before extra
government troops reach the area. The soldiers then
took away the two dead police officers, a witness told
Guerrilla attacks have rocked Mogadishu since early
2007 when the Ethiopian army ousted the capital's
Islamic Courts rulers and installed the weak
Upwards of 7,000 people have been killed since and
more than 1 million civilians displaced by the war,
according to UN estimates.
Somalia: Islam was probably the best answer
Djibouti (HAN) April 4th, 2008 - Updated Version. Two
years after the U.S.-backed government supported by
troops from neighboring Ethiopia rolled into Mogadishu
promising peace, divisions over clan, politics and
power are stronger than ever. The chaos is allowing a
deadly Islamic insurgency to gain momentum in a region
seen as a key battleground in the war on terror.
The United States has already pledged some $40.5
million for reconstruction and peacekeeping efforts in
Somalia. But don't expect to see U.S. boots on the
ground. U.S. Army Gen. William Ward, deputy commander
of U.S. European Command, said four months ago that he
doesn't expect U.S. troops to go into Somalia:. Now
many Somalis wonder what would have happened to the
Islamist ideology if the Ethiopians had never stormed
in. "Islam was probably the best answer for us," said
Hassan Gedi Roble, a chief of the Dir clan. "A
government of clans is only going to create clan
competition." The Islamists have gone underground,
vowing to wage a guerrilla war.
And already the resistance in the capital is beginning
to work along clan lines, with attacks against
government troops concentrated in neighborhoods that
were Islamist strongholds. Government soldiers are so
frightened of driving through Tawfik, dominated by the
Ayr, that they change out of their uniforms into
street clothes before they enter. In other areas not
far away, like Sinai, inhabited by many Abgal,
shopkeepers pump their fists in the air and cheer when
they see the government troops.
Jendayi Frazer, the U.S. assistant secretary of state
responsible for Africa, said four months ago, what
most of us already know: that a peacekeeping force is
desperately needed in Somalia. With the roots of a
deadly insurgency beginning to take shape and the
Ethiopian military set to withdraw within two weeks,
Frazier said there's a window of opportunity "to not
have Somalia be a safe haven for terrorism."
Clans have been the bedrock of Somali identity since
the first bands of nomads fought over water holes.
Somalia, which has been an archetype of Africa's ills
for so long, has waited 16 years for this government.
The United Nations has invested millions of dollars
into propping it up. American officials are so intent
on its succeeding that, in the interests of regional
stability and counterterrorism, American forces have
ventured onto Somali soil for the first time in more
than a decade to hunt down the last of the Islamist
leaders who held a firm grip on much of the country
until just a few weeks ago.
But whether Somalia pulls itself together now or
explodes into bloodshed again depends not on American
troops, foreign peacekeepers, investment or aid. It
depends on clans. "Clannism," said Ali Mahdi Mohammed,
an influential clan leader and once a contender for
president, "is our national cancer."
It was clan animosities that tore down Somalia's last
government in 1991, clan militias that humiliated
American troops in 1993, bringing a troubled aid
mission to a hasty end, and clan warfare that has
consumed countless lives and reduced Mogadishu,
Somalia's once- beautiful capital by the sea, to a
pile of bullet-pocked bricks.
The government, which took the capital for the first
time last month, is trying to address the clan problem
head- on. It is using a mathematical formula based on
rough estimates of the population (the last census was
in 1975) to allocate parliamentary seats and
ministerial posts on a clan basis, and plans to govern
like that until the next elections, which are proposed
But this approach is hardly original and it does not
have an encouraging history. It is the 14th attempt
since 1991 to form a clan-based government; all the
others have disappeared into a vortex of suspicion and
The Green Line in Mogadishu, a blasted-out boulevard
with blackened buildings on each side, is a monument
to fratricide. It is the dividing line between two
clans, the Haber Gedir and the Abgal, which are
actually part of the same family.
The main Somali clans are divided into a dizzying
number of subclans, sub-subclans and even
sub-sub-subclans, and the term clan is loosely used
for large family networks, like the Hawiye, and
smaller ones, like the Ayr.
There is no definitive clan chart, with different
clans disputing how they are interrelated, and Somalis
argue over whether they have physical differences. But
all clans are based on ancient genealogies.
You cannot join a clan. You are born into one.
The Islamists, who seized power six months ago, had
their own solution for this. They tried to submerge
clan identities under the blanket of Islam, the one
thing, besides language, that all Somalis share. They
delivered more stability to Mogadishu in their short
reign than the city had seen for a decade and a half.
But then they made an enormous mistake. In December,
the Islamists tried to seize all of south-central
Somalia, including Baidoa, the seat of the
transitional government. Their attacks provoked a
crushing response from neighboring Ethiopia, which
commands one of the most powerful militaries in Africa
and viewed the Islamists as a regional threat. Within
a week, the Ethiopian forces, with approval from
American officials, annihilated the Islamist army.
The future looks bleak unless an understanding is
reached between the Islamists and the transitional
government, with Ethiopian troops replaced by some
stabilizing force. That probably has to come from the
United Nations, in conjunction with the African Union.
Neither organization has covered itself in glory
recently, in Sudan or Somalia, and both are
overstretched. But the price of failure in the Horn of
Africa will be high indeed.
Opinion Contributed by : HAN Reporter in Nairobi and
notes from Jeffrey Gettleman.
Cracking Somali Government
IslamOnline.net & Newspapers
Sat. Mar. 29, 2008
CAIRO The US-backed interim government in Somali is
on life support losing the hearts and minds of the
people as well as conceding major cities to the armed
"We havent been paid in eight months," a government
soldier named Hassan told the New York Times on
Saturday, March 29.
"We rob people so we can eat."
Last week government soldiers went to a market in the
capital Mogadishu and, at gunpoint, stole sacks of
The innocent civilians were only rescued by fighters
of the ousted Supreme Islamic Courts of Somalia
Interim Premier Nur Hassan Hussein knows that his
troops rob civilians.
"This is the biggest problem we have," he said in an
interview this month.
The prime minister also admitted that every month,
more than half of the governments revenue are stolen
by "our people."
Backed by the US, the Ethiopian army invaded Somalia
last year to the SICS, which ruled for six months
after routing a US-backed alliance of warlords and
restored unprecedented order and stability for the
first time in 15 years.
SICS fighters captured on Wednesday, March 26, the two
strategic towns of Jowhar and Mahadai from the interim
Recent months have seen a strong comeback for the
Courts which had seized four smaller towns and a
military checkpoint near Mogadishu earlier this month.
"I feel this slipping away," admitted government
representative at the US Mohamed Abdirizak.
Failed US Policy
The looming failure is raising questions about
Washington's strategy of installing the interim
government by force.
"The policy has failed," said Representative Donald M.
Payne, Chairman of the US House of Representatives
Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global
"Were Baghdad-izing Mogadishu and Somalia," he said.
The Ethiopian military intervention in neighboring
Somali was backed and supported by the Bush
Washington reportedly supplied the Ethiopian with
intelligence on SICS forces and oppositions, making it
easy to defeat them in a couple of weeks.
US gunships had targeted Somali resistance leaders in
a series of air strikes.
A recent US strike on the southern Somali city of
Dobley targeted Aden Hashi Farah Ayro, the leader of
Al-Shabaab group, the SICS military wing, but instead
claimed the lives of many civilians.
The strike was the fourth by the US on Somali
territories in the past 14 months.
On January 8, 2007, a US AC-130 gunship killed ten
civilians in a failed attack on figures in southern
A few days later, the US launched another raid on
fleeing SICS fighters.
The US Navy carried out a third strike last June
against what it described as "Islamist fighters"
hiding in the mountains in the northern Puntland
To counter the resurgent resistance, the US State
Department earlier this month designated Shabaab a
The move was questioned not only by many Somalis but
also European diplomats and critics in Congress.
They fear it will only raise the group's profile among
the increasingly disillusioned populace.
"Were making people feel wrongly treated and pushing
them toward more radical positions," said
Somali Fighters Reject Terror Label
IslamOnline.net & News Agencies
Fri. Mar. 21, 2008
MOGADISHU Somali resistance fighters have bristled
at the US designation of their group as a terrorist
organization, vowing not to lay down their arms until
the Ethiopian invaders withdraw from their homeland.
"We were not terrorists," Mukhtar Ali Robow, the
commander of the Al-Shabaab group, the military wing
of the Supreme Islamic Courts of Somalia (SICS), told
Reuters by phone from an undisclosed location.
The US State Department designated Shabaab on March 18
as a terrorist organization, accusing it of having
close links with Al Qaeda.
Shabaab is leading the Somali resistance against the
western-backed interim government and its Ethiopian
It is carrying out an Iraq-style guerrilla war,
including ambushes and roadside bombs.
Backed by the United States, the Ethiopian army
invaded Somalia late in 2006 to topple the Islamic
Courts at the request of the weak interim government.
The Islamic Courts, which ruled Somalia for six months
after routing a Washington-backed alliance of
warlords, managed to briefly restore unprecedented
order and stability on most of the Somali territories
after more than 15 years of unrest.
But since their ouster, Somalia has descended into
chaos with almost daily attacks against Ethiopian
troops and government forces.
Somali experts have said that the Islamic Courts
fighters have grown more powerful in recent months,
regaining control of at least one-third of Somalia
thanks to sophisticated attacks and unified ranks in
the face of the weak government.
The US accuses the SICS of providing a safe haven to
Al Qaeda suspects wanted for the bombings of US
embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
It also claims that many Shabaab members trained and
fought with Osama bin Laden's group in Afghanistan.
Washington had further designated as terrorist many
members of the SICS and its military wing.
The SICS has repeatedly denied Al-Qaeda links,
dismissing the charge as a pretext to justify foreign
intervention in Somalia.
"The Americans labeled me a terrorist and God knows
that was a lie," Sheikh Hassan Dahir, a senior SICS
leader now in exile in Eritrea, told Reuters.
"I didn't do anything to them ... it's the habit of
Americans who found themselves rich and powerful and
handed the leadership of their country to crazy
US gunships had targeted Somali resistance leaders in
a series of air strikes that killed civilians.
Shabab leader Aden Hashi Farah Ayro survived a US air
strike in January 2007.
A US strike targeted earlier this year a meeting of
senior resistance leaders but instead claimed the
lives of nine civilians.
US launches Somalia attack 'against terrorist'
By Pauline Jelinek, AP
Monday, 3 March 2008
The US launched a military air strike in Somalia to go
after a group of terrorist suspects, defence officials
"It was a deliberate, precise strike against a known
terrorist and his associates," one US military
official said, speaking on condition of anonymity
because he was not authorized to comment on the
He gave few other details, except to say the targets
were believed staying in building known to be used
regularly by terrorist suspects.
Somali police said three missiles hit a Somali town
held by Islamic extremists, destroying a home and
seriously injuring eight people early today.
The strike follows one last year in which the US
shelled suspected al-Qa'ida targets in Somalia, using
gunfire from a US Navy ship off the shore of the East
Somali Opposition in Egypt Talks
By Abdulgadir Osman, IOL Staff
Wed. Feb. 13, 2008
CAIRO At an official invitation, the Somali
opposition leader is in Egypt for talks with officials
as part of perceived Egyptian effort to mediate a
solution to the conflict in the horn of Africa
"Cairo has invited the Alliance for the Liberation of
Somalia for consultations with Egyptian officials, the
Arab League and Western diplomats on Somalia
developments," Taher Geli, a leader of the Alliance,
The seven-member delegation is led by the Alliance
leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad.
It also features leading figures including the head of
the Alliance Shura Council, former parliament speaker
Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, and deputy leader Gamai
Formed last September as an umbrella for resisting
Ethiopian forces, the Alliance comprises politicians
from a wide spectrum, including liberals and
Three Ethiopian soldiers were killed on Tuesday,
February 13, in an attack on an Ethiopian base in the
city of Afgooye, 30 kilometers from Mogadishu.
Somalia has been ravaged by violence since Ethiopian
and interim government troops ousted the Islamic
Courts, which restored rare law and order for six
months after routing a US-backed alliance of warlords
The capital Mogadishu has plunged into a deadly
vicious cycle of violence which has killed hundreds
and displaced more than 400,000.
The visit is seen as part of Egyptian mediation
"Egypt wants to fashion a formula to bridge gaps
between the opposition and government," Abdullah
Balak, editor-in-chief of Al-Ayam newspaper, told IOL.
"Cairo will listen to the alliance's view."
He notes that Egypt has always played a leading role
in Somalia, recalling that it helped the African
country win independence from Briton.
"This gives a special importance to the visit and
serves the Alliance."
The veteran reporter said that Egypt and the European
Union share similar views on the Somali issue.
"Therefore, a meeting between the Alliance's
delegation and European diplomats in Cairo would give
momentum to reconciliation efforts."
Observers believe that the delegation's visit signals
that the Alliance is widening its diplomatic relations
with heavyweight Arab countries.
European diplomatic sources had earlier told IOL that
several Arab countries changed hearts after an initial
support for Ethiopian presence and were diplomatically
and financially supporting Somali resistance.
The visit coincides with reconciliatory statements
from the rival Somali parties.
Sheikh Sharif, the opposition leader and a central
figure of the ousted Islamic Courts, has signaled
readiness for talks with the interim government.
Somali Premier Nur Hassan Hussein also said hat his
government was ready to start talks with opponents.
"From now on we are planning to elaborate a strategy
of conciliation that will be all-inclusive," he told
Reuters Tuesday during a trip to Brussels.
"Everyone now is asking when, when the real
discussion, when the real agreement will take place.
... so it will not be very far away now."