Sunday, May 24, 2009

Eritrea behind attack on Somalia: AU

FIGHTING FOR ISLAM: At least 45 people were killed and 182 injured in heavy fighting in Mogadishu on Friday. The African Union accuses Eritrea of supporting Islamist militants.

From The Guardian, London (via Tapei Times)
Eritrea behind attack on Somalia: AU
Monday, May 25, 2009
The African Union (AU) is calling on the UN to impose immediate sanctions on Eritrea for supporting Islamist insurgents attempting to overthrow the Somali government. The demand follows heavy fighting between two formerly allied Islamist factions in Mogadishu, as the UN-backed government forces have tried to push the hardline al-Shabab group out of its positions in the city.

Heavy fighting on Friday in the capital killed at least 45 people and wounded 182, the highest day’s death toll in more than two weeks of intense battles.

The fighting saw government troops — bolstered by the recent defection of a prominent warlord to their side — attack al-Shabab positions in police stations and the area of the Bakara market, also a rebel stronghold.

Justifying the new offensive, Somali Defense Minister Mohamed Abdi Gandi. said government forces had retaken control of insurgent strongholds: “We started the fighting and we intend to defend the Somali people … we were forced to fight as there was no alternative.”

Al-Shabab is led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a former ally of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, who was elected earlier this year, becoming the country’s 15th president in 18 years of conflict.

“We are not fighting for positions, but for Islam,” Aweys said, describing the country’s president as a “Westerner.”

“It is agreed within Islam that Christians and those they support are the same — so war is incumbent upon us, like prayer,” he said.

Although Eritrea has denied arming al-Shabab, Aweys — who returned from exile there in April to lead the fight against the new government — said in an interview on Friday that the struggle was supported by Eritrea and also confirmed that foreign fighters had joined the insurgents.

“It [the UN Security Council] should impose sanctions against all those foreign actors, both within and outside the region, especially Eritrea, providing support to the armed groups,” the 53-member AU said in a statement late on Friday.

The statement echoed demands made on Thursday by the east African regional bloc the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, made up of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

Eritrea suspended its membership of the bloc in 2007.

“[We want] the imposition of a no-fly zone and blockade of sea ports to prevent the entry of foreign elements into Somalia, as well as flights and shipments carrying weapons and ammunitions to armed groups inside Somalia,” the statement said.

Aweys and Ahmed ruled Mogadishu and most of southern Somalia in late 2006 as leaders of the Islamic Courts Union, before Ethiopian troops drove them from power.

The two Islamists — Aweys was always considered the more hardline — went into exile in Eritrea and formed the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, which aimed to oust the western-backed government. But Ahmed joined a UN-hosted peace process in Djibouti last year and was elected president in January. Parliament has since voted to introduce Shariah law throughout the country.

Neighboring states and Western security forces fear that Somalia, which has been mired in civil war for 18 years, could become a haven for militants linked to al-Qaeda.


Anonymous Simon said...

You have to love the AU/UN
Where were they when Somalia was flooded by arms from Ethiopia paid for by uncle sam
And what have they done about Ethiopia when it was running rampage butchering its own people and invading neighbouring countries.
Somalia Crisis worse than Darfur, says UN
Ethiopia’s ‘own Darfur’ as villagers flee government-backed violence
Ethiopia: Army Commits Executions, Torture, and Rape in Ogaden
Donors Should Act to Stop Crimes Against Humanity
No wonder the Horn of Africa is in such a mess.

Sunday, May 24, 2009  

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