Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Somalia: Ethiopia’s pull out to bear violent struggle for power

The Ethiopian forces that rolled into Somalia to defend the feeble Transitional Federal Government against the powerful Islamic Courts two years ago now began to go back home under the UN-sponsored deal at first reached in Djibouti last June between the secular government and Alliance for re-liberation of Somalia as there is no love lost between the divided Islamists.

Hundreds of heavily armed Ethiopian soldiers vacated their military bases in Mogadishu which gave much pleasure to thousands of people who spent several months in make shift houses outside the capital during the war but yet some fear that the current struggle for power between the Islamist hardliners known as ‘Al-Shabab’ and the ARS might cause another bloodshed.

Few hundreds of Somalis in happy mood gathered around vacant military bases in the neighborhoods singing and dancing but no one knows what is next; to slip back into fresh violence over country’s power.

There is a strong distrust and rivalry between these rebel Islamists; ARS which is now involving in efforts aimed to build a unity government believes that the radical Al-Qaeda linked Muhajideens of Al-Shabab are on the wrong path and conducting anti-peace activities which Al-Shabab leaders who had refused to join process deem that ARS are off the Jihad road and dealt with Allah’s enemy and vowed to continue the war even after the Ethiopian departure.

Already Al-Shabab kicked off new fronts with Islamic Sufi groups known as ‘Ahlu-Suna Wal-Jamea’ and ARS supporters in some parts of the country. The fighting with Sufis broke out when Al-Shabab rebel fighters began to destroy graves of much respected Sheikhs in the areas under their control.

“The war with the Ethiopian troops seem to be finished but what I am worrying about is the possibility of new warfare to go off because there is no good gesture here in Mogadishu according to the variety among the Islamists,” said a local journalist in anonymity of condition. “The effective and working intelligence is that there is no reason to fight anymore but should hold peace by the time the Ethiopians are leaving,”

The Ethiopia’s poll out marked the end of two years long detested military presence in the war-wrecked capital of Mogadishu but will this stop the ongoing political wrangling for power and clan discrepancy that has long been running in Somalia since the fall of former president Siad Barre in 1991.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Somali rival Islamists struggle for power

Whenever it is assumed that Somalia is now on the right track to reach total consensus to end the political stand off there might be another peace killers before millions of already war-suffered Somalis waiting for the restoration of the country’s dignity and sovereignty.

The current outbreak of the much-avoided fighting between the Islamic fighters seem to be a new start of lingering Somalia’s quandary and might increase the human catastrophic with no access to reach the suffering people caught in the cross fire.

According to the sources on the ground, this is all about power struggling between supporters of the Islamic Union specially Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) and Young Islamic Mujahideens known as ‘Shabab’ who previously associated with the ICU during the 6 month rule in southern and central Somalia in 2006.

The political split came when the moderate Islamic leader Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed accepted to sit with the UN recognized Transitional Federal Government and discuss over the matters prevailing in the war torn horn of African nation. Earlier, the Islamists believed TFG as traitors who led the country into Ethiopian occupation but things changed when the international community induced Sheik Ahmed and his group to come to the negotiation table to stop the bloodshed.

But the radical group of the Young Mujahideen ‘Shabab’ saw the talks in Djibouti was a conspiracy aimed to divide the Mujahideens and end the insurgency and in contrary with that, the Al-Qaeda linked Jihadists began expanding their power through the country capturing more key towns which angered the ICU as opposite to the truce reached in Djibouti.

Each group of the Islamists in Somalia is now getting prepared for the post Ethiopian departure to show its real power controlling the capital. To achieve that the rival Islamists continue to challenge in Balad town, 30km north of Mogadishu.

In Mogadishu, the joint operations by the Islamists against the Ethiopian presence have been getting in reduction as distrust is growing more among the leaders.

In other terms, the Ethiopian backed Transitional Federal Government and the Islamic Courts Union who have been hostile to each other now work together in same offices with their security personals are mixing under the protection of the Ethiopian forces. Such extent of trust between ICU and TFG is casting more suspicion into the minds of the Shabab fighters.

The Islamic Courts Union led by Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed now continue to grab more public support inside the country to face against the intensifying military power of Shabab group who he sees it as peace barriers.

After the Ethiopian departure, the ICU want to share power with the TFG and deal with the international community, as Shabab group’s goal to continue the Jihad and impose the Islamic rule through out the country.

ARS official using the local media strongly condemned the Shabab Islamists as group who do not want peace and stability in the country and keeping the Ethiopian forces to remain in Somalia. “These Shabab men are real trouble makers, initially we welcomed their leaders in our regions as they were Muslim brothers and know began opposing our policy and killing our people, it is unacceptable that these so-called Shabab fighters create destabilizations in our provinces,” Sheik Abdirahman Janaqow, the general secretary of ARS said.

Political Analysts say the clash among the Islamists was something that long been waited by Ethiopian government and now it believes the war was diverted from their side. The forces will leave Somalia when the Islamic infighting intensifies and reaches to its worst.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Somalia: Tribal strife parallel with sectarian war

As it is emerging on the ground in Somalia, the country seem to be getting into further and difficult stage according to the current events in some parts of the war-ravaged southern and central regions of Somalia along with the piracy problems off shore.

The evacuation of the resigned president’s special security guards with their families from the volatile city of Mogadishu and Baidoa the seat of the parliament is a sign of clan conflict as the country experienced in 1990s.

Preparations are now under way in the Islamist infested city of Mogadishu and Baidoa, 250km southwest of the capital to safely withdraw all the figures and politicians affiliated with the aging quit president Abdulahi Yusuf as the government by the prime minister Nor Adde is getting bigger public support but facing more growing Islamist group who now confirmed the seizure of much of southern and central Somalia.

When the president vacate the position there could be retaliation on the Yusuf’s family by the Mogadishu residents on what they had been subjected during the last two years fighting as warned by Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the moderate Islamic leader speaking to the local media.

In other words, more freshly the country touched in the quagmire of sectarian war when the powerful Islamic radicals ‘Shabab’ clashed with the Islamist Sufis leaving more human casualty in central Somalia. The war sparked when Shabab group began to destroy more shrines in the country which angered the Sufis who had spiritual influence on the public.

The destruction by Shabab on the shrines was strongly condemned by the leader of the alliance for re-liberation of Somalia Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed who was not known to stand against Shabab fighters. This visualize an imminent showdown between these two Islamist groups, Sheikh sharif said that destroying shrines and grave yards have nothing to do with Islam and is a political motivated.

The usage of the recent strong words by Sheik Ahmed shows that he is unpleasant with the Shabab’s movements and sees them as stumbling-blocks to the peace process in Somalia.

More predictable, Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia will suffer again and would be a place of more bloodshed as the divided Islamist groups are struggling for taking control of the strategy positions that are now to be abandoned by the Ethiopian troops. Earlier the Shabab group vowed that they will not let the Ethiopian force to leave safely the country but will make them humiliated and defeated as the Ethiopian government is taking more precautious steps to take all its troops back home without any damage.

These parallel disasters in the improvised horn of Africa country ‘Somalia’ might cause an other mass influx of refugees and humanitarian crisis that could have a security impact to the neighboring countries like Kenya and Ethiopia.

To the conclusion, gun will rule Somalia as long as the hostile groups with different ideologies are battling for power.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Somalia at cross point

For the past two years, Somalia which hit the worst ever crisis resulted by the Ethiopian occupation propping the weak transitional federal government now at cross point that either heals from the wounds and joins the world stage for self determination or plunge into further blow of dreadful events.

The Addis Ababa administration reiterated the withdrawal of its troops from Somalia is irreversible and conclude the mission at the beginning of January. If the Ethiopian promise that cast suspicion by many of Somalis meets the implementation, the aspiration of the young moderate Islamic leader Sheik Sharif will get public support that he can face the allegedly Al-Qaeda linked Islamists known as ‘Shabab’.

Shabab now controls most of southern and central regions where they impose strict rules which drawn the world criticism on the way they practice the Islamic Sharia like execution remarkably the recent killing of 14-year old girl in Kismayo, the southern part of Somalia where the Islamists accused her of adultery.

Islamists will

Earlier the Islamic militants vowed to continue the fighting even if the Ethiopian troops withdraw the country and indicated to face against the secular government to put an effect the Islamic Sharia law on all corners of the country. There seemed the war yet to be finished as Sheik Ahmed, who Shabab accused him of abandoning the jihad and dictated by the westerners, is now preparing to take the leadership for a government backed by UN and European countries.
There is a great doubt by the Jihadists on what Sheik Ahmed contacts on the ground as something aimed to end the Islamic radicalism in Somalia and facilitate US government to hunt down the Al-Qaeda operatives in the horn of Africa.

The last developments in Somalia envisage a worsening situation where the political squabbling between the fractured parts of the embattled transitional government could spur Islamists like Al-shabab fighters to seize more towns and regions in Somalia. The defunct government led by former warlord Abdullahi Yusuf is doomed to failure if the diplomatic efforts spearheaded by IGAD did not materialize.

There are conflicting reports about the alleged resignation of President Abdullah Yusuf in a bid to put an end to the row between the two camps of the government, after his spokeswomen W.Salleh dismissed his resignation. Political analysts believe that Mr. Yusuf will not resign -albeit mounting international and regional pressure-because his resignation could pave the way to be prosecuted as a war criminal. Abdullahi Yusuf, who the western now see him as peace-barrier was accused of being responsible for the mass killings and arrests carried out by his men and displacing of hundreds of Mogadishu residents as well as inciting hatred between Somali clans.
The Islamic fighters are among whose committed crimes in the country as they caused the deaths of many innocent civilians in the wake of the war with the Ethiopian and Somali soldiers in the densely populated areas. As shown in recent reports by the human rights organizations, all the warring parts in Somalia did acts against human rights law.

US Concern.

The US government has long been worrying that the poor horn of African nation ‘Somalia’ to be safe heavens for the international terrorists as along as it had been stateless for nearly two decades and now closely watching the activities of the Islamic fighters linked with Al-Qaeda network widely believed to be responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks on Washington and New York in America.

Ever since the Islamic Courts came into sight, Washington has been indirectly involving in Somalia as US spy intelligent services were in the region to collect more information on the Islamists’ movements and the possibilities of Al-Qaeda presence in Somalia. The US claim that Al-Qaeda actively operates in Somalia received strong indication in late 2006 when the military wing of Islamic courts called for world Jihadists to join the war with Ethiopia.

The impediments ahead of Islamists operating in Somalia are intensifying after two functions within the Islamists confronted in Beledweyne, Hiran region in central Somalia, its reported that the confrontation is based on the control of this town adjacent to the border between Somalia and Ethiopia, a high ranking military commander of the Islamists is killed during the fighting before traditional elders of the town intervened and succeeded to halt the fighting. This is a clear sign that the fragmentation and political squabbling is not confined to the transitional federal government but it is pervasive as long as Somali politicians are concerned regardless of their political affiliations.

To end current impasse between Somali politicians will necessitate the existence of political determination from Somali leaders and unwavering support from the international community to put an end the bloodshed in Somalia, it seems that the international community especially western powers are more interested in piracy than the political crisis in the country.

The piracy off Somali coast led many powerful countries like Chine to send its navy to protect commercial vessels to be hijacked by the marauding militias in Gulf of Eden and Somali coast, piracy seen as imminent danger to world interests might trigger to exploit the natural resources of Somalia.