[dehai-news] ww4report.com: Ethiopia begins Somalia withdrawal -chaos or peace next?

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sat Jan 03 2009 - 06:20:45 EST

Ethiopia begins Somalia withdrawal -chaos or peace next?

Submitted by WW4 Report on Sat, 01/03/2009 - 01:32.

Ethiopia began pulling its military forces out of Somalia at the beginning
of the year, having pledged to withdraw from the country by the end of 2008.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's office said the withdrawal would
take several days. A convoy of about 30 Ethiopian vehicles loaded with
troops and equipment left the Somali capital, Mogadishu, as some 3,400
Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers from the African Union began taking up
positions the positions vacated by the Ethiopian forces. Hours before the
withdrawal began, a roadside bomb killed two Ethiopian soldiers and a number
of civilians died when troops opened fire. (WP
2172.html> , Jan. 3; BBC News
<http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7808495.stm> , Jan. 2)

The Ethiopians could be leaving behind chaos. The "official" Transitional
Federal Government (TFG) they were backing up controls little more than a
few blocks of downtown Mogadishu. In the last week of December the TFG's
president, Abdallah Yousuf Ahmad, resigned, and scores were killed in
sectarian violence. While the TFG has an official peace deal with the rebel
Alliance for Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), some rebel factions-notably
al-Shabab- have refused to lay down arms.

ARS spokesman Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad, in an interview with Middle East
Media Line, expressed cautious optimism. "The Djibouti peace pact makes
clear the need for the withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops from Somalia and
that is what the opponents desire-an end to Ethiopia's presence. Secondly,
the Somali people have experienced other problems that an inclusive
government should be able to tackle under a comprehensive reconciliation. Do
the opponents have something better than the peace pact? We've seen what
fighting is."

He also decried recent factional violence between al-Shabab and Ahl A-Sunna
wal-Jama'a (a Sufi militia which has armed to resist the fundamentalist
al-Shabab). "It's deplorable to fight one other, especially as the Ethiopian
troops are expected to leave. To seize new areas, to kill civilians in the
name of religion-those matters are dangerous and can lead the country into a
new crisis. Those battles are out of place today, as are their motives. The
fighting should be stopped. It's not right to spill the blood of Somali
people... I'm urging the warring sides to end their disputes around the
negotiating table."


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