So­ma­lia fight­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

Mil­i­tarysourcesclos­e­tothe­fight­ing­inSo­ma­li­atel­lusthattheSo­mali tran­si­tion­alfed­er­al­go­v­ern­men­tand the Ethiopian forces are win­ning bat­tles against the pro-al Qaeda Is­lamic Courts Union (ICU).

How­ever, the long-term so­lu­tion is “in ques­tion” be­cause of the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the Is­lamists and the sup­port they are get­ting from rad­i­cals out­side the Horn of Africa.

One for­mer mil­i­tary of­fi­cial told us that it is hoped the Ethiopian mil­i­tary forces will with­draw once they have de­feated the ICU forces in So­ma­lia and the forces of the tran­si­tional fed­eral gov­ern­ment (TFG) can hold on.

The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity then will need to step up and “get in there and strengthen the So­mali po­lit­i­cal process and pro­vide hu­man­i­tar­ian aid,” the for­mer of­fi­cial said.

“All So­mali in­sti­tu­tions are go­ing to need to be ramped up quickly, to in­clude po­lice and emer­gency ser­vices, border con­trols, hos­pi­tals and med­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture, com­merce, etc.,” he said.

“If the TFG has the agility to fill the void cre­ated by the col­lapse of the ICU, then So­ma­lia and the Horn will be fairly stable. It all de­pends on how the TFG ne­go­ti­ates a set­tle­ment with the ICU.”

The goal for end­ing the con­flict is to reach a ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment be­tween the TFG and ICU by peel­ing off some cen­trist el­e­ments of the ICU while iso­lat­ing hard-line lead­ers such as Sheik Has­san Dahir Aweys, head of the ICU’s le­gal coun­cil, and his key pro­tege, Aden Hashi Ayro. Both are con­sid­ered key al­lies to al Qaeda ter­ror­ists in north Africa.

So­mali troops en­tered Mo­gadishu un­op­posed on Dec. 28 to the cheers of their coun­try­men.

A quick Ethiopian mil­i­tary with­drawal will be key to sta­bil­ity.

“The big­gest con­cern for So­ma­lis in gen­eral has been the con­tin­ued in­volve­ment of out­siders within their coun­try and I be­lieve that if Ethiopia gets out quick then So­ma­lia may well be on its way to sta­bil­ity,” the for­mer of­fi­cial said.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary have been slow to rec­og­nize the grow­ing dan­ger of a new al Qaeda-aligned regime in So­ma­lia and have done lit­tle in the way of back­ing the anti-al Qaeda forces, we are told.

Covert U.S. sup­port would have pre­vented the Ethiopian in­cur­sion, which still may fail if ex­trem­ists from Eritrea, Iran and Su­dan step up sup­port for the ICU. “Al Qaeda may seek to in­tro­duce ad­di­tional forces into the area now,” the for­mer of­fi­cial said, not­ing that the sup­port will be a key test to see how much “throw weight” the group still has left glob­ally.

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