From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Mon Nov 17 2008 - 07:08:53 EST
Somali government says it may collapse to Islamists
Reuters | November 17, 2008
MOGADISHU - Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf has admitted Islamist insurgents now control most of the country and raised the prospect his government could completely collapse. Skip related content Related content Somali government says weakened by Islamist onslaught
The Horn of Africa country has had no effective government since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other. Here are some details on aspects of the conflict.
* INSURGENTS RETURN:
-- Al Shabaab fighters, who are on Washington's list of foreign terrorist groups, moved into Elasha town overnight, 2 km (1 mile) from Sinkadheer, where Ethiopian troops are based. Sinkadheer is 15 km (9 miles) southwest of Mogadishu.
-- Last week Islamist rebels captured the port of Merka. Given its proximity to Mogadishu, Merka was a significant territorial gain by the insurgents. They already captured the larger Kismayu port, which lies further south, in August. Different Islamist groups now control most of south Somalia.
* ISLAMIST RULE IN 2006:
-- In June 2006, Islamist militia called the Somalia Islamic Courts Council seized Mogadishu after defeating U.S.-backed warlords. Washington accused the Islamists of al Qaeda links.
-- With tacit U.S. approval, Somalia's neighbour Ethiopia sent troops to defend the government against an Islamist attack on Baidoa in December 2006. The force advanced rapidly, taking Mogadishu and driving the Islamists to Somalia's southern tip.
* INTERIM GOVERNMENT:
-- Lawmakers had elected warlord Abdullahi Yusuf president and Ali Mohamed Gedi prime minister to run the 14th attempt at government since the fall of Barre. They entered the capital after the fall of the Islamists.
-- Gedi resigned in October 2007 and was succeeded by Nur Hassan Hussein as prime minister, but a rift also opened between Yusuf and Hussein.
* PEACE EFFORTS:
-- The government signed a peace deal with some opposition figures in August 2008. The deal, initialled in June, called for the rapid deployment of U.N. peacekeepers.
-- But the agreement was rejected by Islamist Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who now says he represents the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia. The deal was also rejected by the rebels and other opposition hardliners.
-- Somalia's government signed a cease-fire agreement with some opposition figures on October 26, meeting an opposition demand by giving a date for the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces backing the interim administration. But the deal was again rejected by hardliners, who said it would have no effect on the ground.
* BLOODSHED AND HUNGER:
-- Violence in Somalia has killed over 10,000 people since the beginning of 2007 and uprooted 1 million. The U.N. says 3.2 million people may need food aid later this year but donors have only funded about a third of a $637 million aid appeal.
-- The African Union has said it is incapable of stabilising Somalia through its African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and urged the United Nations to take over the force. The AU had wanted an 8,000 strong force, but only has 3,000 from Uganda and Burundi.
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