[dehai-news] (AP) Somali piracy backed by international network

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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Fri Jan 16 2009 - 09:23:12 EST

Opposition: Somalia doesn't need more peacekeepers

updated 12:52 p.m. ET, Thurs., Jan. 15, 2009

NAIROBI, Kenya - A hard-line Somali opposition leader said Thursday that the
international community should stop calling for more peacekeepers in
Somalia, and urged the African Union force now there to leave the country.

Eritrea-based Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, designated a terrorist by the U.N.,
said there has been no violence in the Somali regions that have not had
foreign troops playing down years of clan-based fighting around the
country since the last functioning government was overthrown in 1991.

Aweys, leader of a faction of the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia,
spoke as the last Ethiopian troops left the Somali capital as part of their
gradual pullout from the country. Ethiopia officially handed over security
duties Tuesday after a two-year deployment.

The United States has circulated a draft resolution calling for a U.N.
peacekeeping force to be deployed in Somalia to replace the small African
Union force made up of 2,400 Ugandan and Burundian troops.

"They should stop the military interference in Somalia especially the
U.S," said Aweys, speaking to The Associated Press by telephone from the
Eritrean capital, Asmara.

"Look at the areas in Somalia where there is no foreign troops. There is no
fighting. People are living harmoniously together," said Aweys, in comments
that were moderate compared with previous calls for attacks on any future

The last U.N. peacekeeping force in Somalia included American troops who
arrived in 1992 and tried to arrest warlords and create a government. That
ended in October 1993, when fighters shot down a U.S. Army Black Hawk
helicopter during a battle that killed 18 American soldiers.

Aweys, who denies he is a terrorist, had called for an Iraq-style Islamic
insurgency when he and his Islamic umbrella group at the time were driven
from power two years ago with the help of Ethiopian troops.

Aweys said he did not think rival Islamic groups will turn against each
other now that their common enemy, the Ethiopian troops, are leaving.

"They have learnt from past lessons of clan-based factions who, whenever
they succeed, fought over the spoils," Aweys said. They know that no faction
will be all able to control it all, "hence the need to work together," Aweys

Aweys went to Eritrea with other Islamic leaders and dissident lawmakers to
form the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia when they were ousted
from their southern Somalia strongholds and the capital in December 2006.
Eritrea and Ethiopia have an unresolved border dispute, over which they have
fought a war.

Aweys is adamant he will not talk with the Somali government because he sees
them as allies of the Ethiopians.

He said the peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi have not brought any change
to Somalia and charged they, as well as the Ethiopians, have killed

The African Union force has always denied deliberating targeting civilians,
saying they have only fired to defend themselves.

"The AU peacekeepers have to return to where they came from. What they are
doing in Somalia?" Aweys said.
The AU force has a limited mandate to guard key government installations
such as the port and airport.

 Somali piracy backed by international network

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