Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Somali Islamist website threatens AU peacekeepers

NAIROBI, Jan 30 (Reuters) - A Somali Islamist Web site posted a message on Tuesday purporting to be from a new insurgency movement that vowed to fight a possible African Union peacekeeping force.

"Somalia is not a place where you can come to earn a salary -- it is a place where you can die," said the self-styled Popular Resistance Movement in a message to the would-be peacekeepers on the qaadisiya.com site.

"The salary you are coming to look for here would be used to transport your coffin back home."

SA will not send troops to Somalia

SA will not send troops to Somalia - SouthAfrica.info
By David Masango, 30 January 2007

South Africa will not be sending troops to Somalia, but is continuing to assess what type of assistance it can offer the conflict-ridden north African country.

Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad told reporters in Pretoria on Monday that South Africa would not be sending any soldiers to Somalia as its peacekeeping force was stretched in other missions on the continent.

These include deployments in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Burundi and Sudan's Darfur region.

Pahad said Nigeria was preparing up to 1 000 troops in case they were asked to participate in an African peace-keeping force.

In addition, Mozambique was reconsidering whether it would contribute troops to peacekeeping forces deployed in Sudan and Somalia.

"Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota is still consulting with relevant departments to determine what other assistance we can provide to the African Union peace-keeping force in Somalia," Pahad said. "He will then make a recommendation to President Thabo Mbeki."

Somalia, which has not had a stable government in over 15 years, came into existence as a state in 1960 but collapsed after the overthrow of Siad Barre in 1991.

It has since seen intermittent periods of fighting among those in power in the now fragmented area.

After 1991, it became divided into various sections, with north-west Somalia proclaiming itself the independent Republic of Somaliland, the Puntland region declaring its autonomy, and parts in the south falling under different clan leaders.

It currently has an interim government, founded in 2004 and recognised by the African Union (AU) and the rest of the world, following negotiations in Kenya among the warring Somali factions.

Source: BuaNews

Somalia focus for African summit

See today's BBC report on Somalia focus for African summit:
On Monday, AU commission chief Alpha Oumar Konare said peacekeepers were needed to prevent chaos in the country [Somalia].

"If African troops are not in place quickly, then there will be chaos," he said in his opening remarks to the summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. "We need 8,000 soldiers, today we have hardly 4,000. We cannot simply wait for others to do the work in our place."

In December, thousands of Ethiopian soldiers were sent to help the weak Somali interim government oust Islamist forces who had controlled much of southern and central Somalia for six months.

But Ethiopia says it is seeking an early withdrawal from the country and has already begun pulling some of its troops out.

The fear, says the BBC's Adam Mynott, is that unless insecurity is contained quickly, then Somalia will slip back to the anarchic misrule which has prevailed in the country for the past 15 years.

So far three countries - Uganda, Nigeria and Malawi - have offered to contribute troops, while a number of other countries are reported to be considering it.

Said Djinnit, the AU's peace and security commissioner, told the BBC that troops from more countries were needed.

"I think we have made some progress because we are at the point where we are putting together conditions for an early deployment of at least the first three battalions," he said.

"And we are also in the process of creating logistical and financial conditions but we do hope that during the debate at the summit there'll be more pledges or more commitment to participate in the African Union mission in Somalia."

Monday, January 29, 2007

Eritrea: BBC And Its Tiny Circle Of Sources

Not yet had time to read this.

BBC And Its Tiny Circle Of Sources

Friday, January 19, 2007

African Union backs Somalia plan

The African Union has approved a plan to send nine battalions of African peacekeeping troops to Somalia to help stabilise the country.

A senior AU official said the troops would be deployed for six months, and eventually be taken over by the UN.

They are to take over from Ethiopian forces, who were sent to Somalia last month to drive out Islamist militias.

Full story BBC 20 Jan 2007.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Somali warlords will disarm militia - official

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said in a statement on a government Web site Friday that U.S. involvement in Somalia is creating turmoil in the Horn of African region and would 'incur dangerous consequences.' Eritrea and Ethiopia are bitter rivals." Full story by AP 12 Jan 07 via ST.

Note, Global Voices - Bloggers warn of insurgency after Ethio-Somali war.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

African peace mission to Somalia urged

JAN 11 2007 Swissinfo African peace mission to Somalia urged by Andrew Cawthorne, Nairobi (Reuters):
The United States appealed on Friday for a speedy deployment of African peacekeepers in Somalia to prevent a "security vacuum" that could spawn fresh anarchy after a war to oust militant Islamists.

U.S. ally Ethiopia, which is the Horn of Africa's major power, wants to withdraw its military in weeks after helping the interim Somali government rout the Islamists over the New Year.

But diplomats fear that would leave President Abdullahi Yusuf's government vulnerable against the multiple threats of remnant Islamists vowing a guerrilla war, warlords who are seeking to re-create their fiefdoms, and competing clans.

"Deploying an African stabilisation force into Somalia quickly is vitally important to support efforts to achieve stability," Michael Ranneberger, U.S. ambassador for Kenya and Somalia, said in a newspaper opinion piece.

"We welcome the Ugandan commitment to send forces and we are urging other African countries to do so as well...(It) will enable the rapid withdrawal of Ethiopian forces without creating a security vacuum."

The African Union and east African body IGAD have expressed willingness in principle to send more than 8,000 troops into Somalia. Uganda has said it is ready to provide the first battalion, but Khartoum is nervous of the risks for its soldiers in a nation in chaos since the 1991 ouster of a dictator.

It is still unclear who would fund the mission, which nations would contribute, and how quickly it could be mustered.

Further, with the precedent of African peacekeepers' failure to stop bloodshed in Sudan's Darfur region, many doubt they would be able to tame the violence and rivalry in Somalia.

Wary of its post-war nightmare in Iraq, Washington is eager to prevent Somalia descending back into chaos after its first policy goal -- ousting the Islamists -- was achieved.

U.S. officials believe Somalia, under the six-month Islamist rule across most of the south, became a haven for foreign radicals including some of its most wanted al Qaeda suspects.


Washington launched an air strike in Somalia on Monday -- its first overt military involvement since a disastrous peacekeeping mission ended in 1994 -- aimed at an al Qaeda cell.

That attack took out up to 10 al Qaeda allies, but missed its main target of three top suspects, the U.S. government says.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that a small team of U.S. military personnel entered south Somalia after the strike to try and determine who was killed.

If true, that would mark the first known case of U.S. military boots on the ground in Somalia since the 1990s mission which ended soon after local militia downed two Black Hawk helicopters and killed 18 U.S. soldiers in Mogadishu.

Washington believes three suspects in 1998 and 2002 bomb attacks in east Africa -- Comorian Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Sudanese Abu Talha al-Sudani and Kenyan Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan -- have been hiding among fleeing Somali Islamists.

Kenyan authorities have arrested the wives and three children of two of those suspects, a Kenyan counter-terrorism source told Reuters on Thursday.

Mohammed and Nabhan's wives and children were caught trying to cross into Kenya from Ras Kamboni, on Somalia's southern tip, long thought by Western and east African intelligence agencies to be the site of a militant training camp.

The U.S. attack on Monday has drawn criticism from the United Nations, many European countries and the Arab League. Analysts say it risks a backlash from Muslims in the region.

But U.S. envoy Ranneberger said: "Somalia will not be stable as long as foreign terrorists are active there."

He also urged the Yusuf government, set up in 2004 in a 14th attempt to restore central rule to Somalia since 1991, to become more inclusive to guarantee stability.

"We are urging the leadership...to reach out to all segments of Somali society -- the business community, all clans and sub-clans, traditional religious leaders, non-governmental groups and others," he said in the article in Kenya's Nation.

Washington has pledged $40 million (21 million pounds) in aid and development assistance, plus to support a peacekeeping mission, he said.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Somalia Govt: US Embassy bombings suspect killed

A senior al-Qaida suspect wanted for the U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa has been killed in a U.S. airstrike in Somalia, a government official said Wednesday, quoting the Americans.

Full report by AP 10 Jan 2007 via Sudan Tribune 10 Jan 2007.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

US launches air strike in Somalia

Somalia's interim Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Aideed said the US 'have our full support for the attacks', the Associated Press news agency reported. - Full story by BBC 9 Jan 2007: US launches air strike in Somalia.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Sudanese president vows to continue Somali mediation

Via Sudan Tribune 6 Jan 2007:
President Omar al-Bashir, who is also the chairman of the Arab League, today said "We shall continue our efforts, and strive because we are not interested in who rules Somalia, what we are interested in is who establishes stability, security, and peace among the people of Somalia."

"We said it from the first day since the first government was formed after Siad Barre, and we even told Abdelqasim Salad Hassan - former president of Transitional National Government - that we will support anyone who comes and achieves security, peace, and stability in Somalia."

Friday, January 05, 2007

Ethiopian forces to pull out of Somalia in 2 weeks - PM

Ethiopia's prime minister said his country will pull its troops out of neighbouring Somalia within two weeks after helping the Somali interim government rout Islamists in a two-week war.

Full story by Reuters via ST 5 Jan 2007.

Al-Qaida urges Somalian Islamists to fight

Al-Qaida's deputy leader urged Somalia's Islamist guerrillas to ambush and raid Ethiopian forces with land mines and suicide attacks until they can reclaim their country from "crusaders," according to an Internet audiotape posted Friday. - Full story by AP via ST 5 Jan 2007.