Thursday, July 27, 2006

Editorial: The current stalemate In Somalia


The current situation in Somalia is murky and uncertain. Since the takeover of the Capital, Mogadishu, by the militia loyal to the Islamic Union Courts last June, the imminent confrontation between the embattled Transitional Federal Government based in Baidoa and the Islamic Courts in Mogadishu are increasing by the day.

June 15th, the government of Al-Bashir of Sudan invited both sides to attend the Khartoum Peace Conference. The agreement recognizes "the legality of the transitional government and the presence of the alliance of Islamic tribunals", Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa told reporters after heading talks between the two sides. Where Al-Beshir described the accord as "the beginning of the end of conflicts in Somalia".

Both sides agreed to resume talks aimed at resolving outstanding security disputes on July 15 in Khartoum. However, after the Khartoum Accord the Islamic Courts appointment of Sheikh Aweys has re-ignited fears concerning the potential radicalization of Somalia, especially his demand that "any government we agree on would be based on the holy Koran," a position at variance with the UN-backed transitional president, Abdullah Yusuf, who previously fought Aweys's Islamic radicals in his Puntland stronghold.

At the first round of the Arab League-mediated talks in Khartoum, Sudan, the government and the Islamic group agreed to stop all military action — though the Islamic group has been engaged in clashes and military deployments since signing the agreement not to violate the Khartoum Accord.

The government had boycotted the second round, accusing the Islamist of violating the Khartoum accord and the escalation for a possible confrontation is everyone's guess.

The U.S. says it won't deal with Sheikh Aweys because of his alleged ties to al-Qaeda, an accusation he denies. The U.S. has asked the Islamic courts to hand over Islamic extremists in Somalia allegedly involved in the 1998 bombing of American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.

Interestingly, like the Taliban, Somali Islamists originally received backing from local merchants desirous of ending violence in their country; funds from Saudi and Gulf state sources reportedly are behind their military successes.

The parliament on June 14 approved deployment of foreign peacekeepers to the Somalia, a move opposed by newly powerful Islamist militias controlling Mogadishu. Which paved the way for the Ethiopian Troops to enter Somalia, which is a traditional enemy of Somalia.

Sheikh Hassan Aweys, in angry radio broadcast, said Ethiopia deployed troops to the government’s base in Baidoa, to support what he described a puppet regime. “I am calling on the Somali people wherever they are to prepare themselves for a holy war against the Ethiopia and their cohorts” said Aweys, who is among the American wanted list, currently being pursed by the CIA.

Recently the transitional government has requested the United Nations to lift its arms embargo to allow the weak government to arm its militia. The Secretary General Kofi Annan said lifting the embargo would allow more weapons into the nation. Which angered the powerful Islamist militia who vowed to wage a jihad against what they called a puppet government working for the interest of Ethiopia, which the Somalis consider their traditional enemy.

The situation on the ground is tense now, since Eritrea declared that they would send their troops to Mogadishu to protect the Islamic Courts from what they called an illegal incursion to a sovereign nation. The situation is tense now and the current rhetoric between the Government and the Islamist is increasing by the day, which has the potential of turning the whole region into a war zone, which will eventually drag the neighboring countries into the conflict if the International Community choose not intervene.

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