Somalis Expect US, Ethiopian Intervention

Publication time: 9 June 2006, 12:44
Ethiopia and the US are expected to intervene militarily in Somalia especially after the Joint Islamic Courts (JIC) fighters have seized full control of the capital Mogadishu following four months of fighting with a US-backed warlord alliance, well-placed sources told IslamOnline.net on Tuesday, June 6.

"Ethiopia has put its troops along the borders with Somalia on maximum alert and might push them into its Horn of Africa neighbor to stem further advances by the JIC fighters," said the sources, which spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The Ethiopian government will try everything in its power to prevent the JIC fighters from capturing the strategic central city of Jowhar, some 90 kilometers north of the capital, they added.

The JIC announced Monday, June 6, seizing control of nearly all of the lawless capital and a key supply line for the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT) on its northern outskirts.

In a statement read over local radio stations, the chairman of the city's Joint Islamic courts, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad, said 15 years of warlord control of Mogadishu was over and urged residents to accept the new leadership.

"We are not against any group and will deal with the outside world in a manner that takes the interests of our country and people into account first," he said.

At least 347 people have been killed and more than 1,500 wounded, many of them civilians, in fierce battles between the JIC fighters and the ARPCT since February.

The alliance was created in February with US support in a bid to curb the growing influence of Mogadishu's 11 Islamic courts, accusing the JIC of harboring Al-Qaeda members.

The courts have repeatedly denied the charges and denounced US funding of the ARCPT.

Strikes

The Somali sources are also expecting successive American air strikes against the JIC fighters.

American warplanes have increasingly been flying over Mogadishu at lower altitudes, they noted.

US Navy warships, which have been patrolling Somali coasts since 2001, recently stepped up their activities, according to witnesses and press reports.

The US, still nursing painful memories from its disastrous intervention in Somalia 12 years ago, was quick to voice concern about the situation in the Horn of Africa country.

"We don't want to see Somalia turn into a safe haven for foreign terrorists. We're very concerned about that," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Monday, refusing to comment directly on events in Mogadishu.

Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso said Washington must not provide aid to warlords.

Sassou, current rotating head of the 53-nation African Union, discussed with US President George W. Bush Monday Somalia and how the US and other countries could do more to help end the ongoing violence.

The interim government has accused the US of fanning the flames of civil war by backing the warlords, not only financially but also militarily.

Warm Reception

Residents of the Mogadishu's southern Daynile neighborhood, where the ARPCT was based, gave the JIC fighters a warm reception amid anti US slogans.

"I'm really happy with the new reality, which put a full stop to months of bloody fighting that claimed the lives of many of our loved ones," one local, Mokhtar Sheikh, told IOL.

"It is a victory from God to the Somalis, who have been suffering for the past 15 years under the warlords," he added.

Tribes chieftains have also welcomed the start of a new era in Somalia.

"We urge each tribe nationwide to bid farewell to alliance members in a peaceful manner," Sheikh Mohammad Ahmad, a tribesman, said.

Tribesmen convinced warlord Mohamed Afrah Qanyare, a founding ARPCT member who had served as national security minister in the transitional government, to save face and leave the country for Kenya when it became clear that he was losing grounds.

"We are delighted that Qanyare handed over his weapon to our tribe," Mohammad Yuglo, from the tribe of Nugaal, told IOL.

"We fully back this popular revolution, which seeks to implement Shari`ah and topple the warlords."

Fighters loyal to Qanyare turned over about 25 machine-gun mounted pick-ups to the JIC fighters in Daynile Monday.

Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi has sacked Qanyare and three other ministers, all warlords, for involvement in the deadly fighting.

Source: Islam Online By Abdul Rahman Yusuf, Ebedi Yusuf, IOL Correspondents

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