From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sun Dec 20 2009 - 15:54:49 EST
Somalia threatens to degenerate
December 20th, 2009 |
By FRED OLUOCH | <http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke> The East African
The insecurity in Somalia is fast threatening regional peace, with calls for
international intervention to avert a continental crisis.
Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti are at most risk because of their porous
borders, the proliferation of small arms and the ongoing recruitment of
young people from these countries into the Al-Shabaab militia.
As the militia group pull off a flurry of takeovers of areas previously
controlled by the government, the United Nations-supported African Mission
in Somalia (Amisom) are in danger of being overwhelmed.
While Al-Shabaab is getting stronger, the Sheikh Sharif Ahmed-led
transitional government currently controls only two of the 16 districts in
Mogadishu - Wadajir and Darkabley.
Al-Shabaab's strongholds are Bakara market, Heliwa, Yaqshid.
Amison controls the airport, the seaport and the area around the
President Sheikh Shariff Ahmed, Speaker of the National Assembly Osman Elmi
Boqore and the Prime Minister Omar Abdulrashid Sharmarke are all guarded
around the clock by Amisom.
According to the director of communications at State House, Abdulkadir
Osman, the crisis in Somalia is getting out of hand and the international
community should assist the country with both logistics and finance to save
the region from possible anarchy.
"If we fail to contain the Al-Shabaab, it will be hard for the continent and
the world to restore peace in the region," said Mr Osman.
"We need financial support to train our armed forces and the intelligence in
order to stand on our own feet," said Mr Osman
Morale is low among government soldiers as most must go without pay.
Meanwhile, some officials are supplying Al-Shabaab with arms diverted from
the government troops.
Recently, Kenyan authorities arrested seven Somali nationals at Kilindini
harbour with an assortment of arms including rocket launchers, grenades and
AK-47s, clear evidence that small arms from the war-torn Horn of Africa
country are already flowing within the region.
Despite the threat, Kenya and Ethiopia, as the frontline states, were barred
by the 2004 peace agreement from direct military intervention in Somalia
because of conflict of interest.
The Ethiopian intervention in 2006 went against this mutual agreement.
Amisom losing out in Somalia
Posted Monday, December 21 2009 at 00:00
The insecurity in Somalia is fast turning into a global issue as Al Qaeda
support transforms the once disorganised Al Shabaab insurgents into a "super
terrorist group," the African Union Mission in Somalia has warned.
"The situation is getting out of hand. It is going to affect everybody in
this region, not only Somalia. But it looks like neighbouring countries are
waiting for Al Shabaab attacks before they treat the situation as very
serious," said Wafula Wamunyinyi, Deputy African Union Representative to
He said Al Qaeda is increasingly turning to Somalia as Nato troops intensify
pressure on its bases in Afghanistan.
Already, Al Shabaab has issued threats to bomb Kampala and Bujumbura, the
only two countries with a peacekeeping force in Mogadishu.
Sources close to Amisom said that, with Al Qaeda logistical support at their
disposal, the attacks could happen at the least expected time.
Unlike previous and current militia factions in Somalia, Al Shabaab is not
based on clans.
A radical faction that emerged from the remnants of the Union of Islamic
Courts routed by the Ethiopian forces that invaded Somalia in 2006, the
group has with Al Qaeda's help acquired the financial muscle to recruit
Amisom peacekeepers in the country say many Somali Americans, Somali
Canadians, American nationals, Pakistani nationals, Afghan, Ugandan and
Kenyan youths have been recruited into Al Shabaab and are receiving training
from Al Qaeda commanders in suicide bombing, remote control roadside
bombings and bomb manufacturing.
US and Canadian intelligence, investigating a spate of recent disappearances
of their Somali nationals, are concerned that these individuals, who hold
genuine passports, will return home to spread terror after having received
training from Al Shabaab.
Reports show that already three American nationals have been killed fighting
alongside Al Shabaab.
In a recent confidence-building workshop for peacekeepers held in Kampala,
Amisom called on AU members to fulfil their pledges made in 2007 to deploy
their troops immediately.
The countries had pledge to raise up to 8,000 troops but only Uganda and
Burundi came through with 5,000 troops, leaving a shortfall of 3,000 troops.
"If we had 8,000 troops on the ground, the situation would have been quite
different, because we are still in the first, Mogadishu phase. We are
supposed to graduate from Mogadishu to Kismayo, and proceed to other areas
in the north, but we are constrained by lack of troops; the solution to this
problem lies in building local capacity," said Amisom Force Commander
Maj-Gen Nathan Mugisha.
Maj-Gen Mugisha said it will require at least 20,000 troops to maintain
peace in a country where Al Qaeda has found a safe haven and Al Shabaab
controls most of the 3,000-km long coastlines.
"They are now putting in training camps managed by Al-Qaeda leaders. Till
recently, they were an undisciplined lot, untrained, inexperienced. But now,
they are being trained by experienced fighters, they are being trained in
combat; they are being trained in terrorism - kidnappings and suicide
bombings". Mr Wamunyinyi said.
At the meeting, it was announced that Djibouti, a country with less than a
million people, is ready to deploy troops while Uganda will add more men.
If Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone also deploy quickly, it could make a
"The work that can be done by 20,000 now, if you leave it for two years, it
will require 100,000," Maj-Gen Nathan Mugisha said.
As countries continue to delay deployment, the insurgents are becoming more
organised on the ground and on the water as piracy increases by the day.
Said Maj-Gen Mugisha, "Unless we get stability on the land, a government
that is fully in control, we cannot fight piracy effectively - the coastline
of Somali is over 3000km, so where are you going to start from?
You need the co-operation of local people who know who is who, who can tell
us who is on the water, because they have to come back to land," he said.
He said Amisom's limited achievements so far include making internal entry
ports safer, with commercial flights now landing; securing over 440 ships
and dhows from pirates; and facilitating peace talks.
Indeed, he said, being in Mogadishu itself is an achievement - should the
Amisom troops pull out, it will be extremely difficult for any other force
to deploy in Mogadishu.
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