[dehai-news] (Garowe Online): Somali opposition group warns against 'war among Islamists'

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sat Dec 13 2008 - 06:25:36 EST

Somali opposition group warns against 'war among Islamists'
Dec 13, 2008 - 7:27:34 PM

MOGADISHU, Somalia Dec 13 (Garowe Online) - A senior member of a Somali
rebel group based in the Eritrean capital of Asmara has warned against the
eruption of war among Islamist factions fighting against Somalia's
government, Radio Garowe reported Friday.

Sheikh Hassan Mahdi, the judicial secretary of the Eritrea-based Alliance
for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), told journalists in Mogadishu that
recent events across the country indicate "a worsening situation."

"It is un-Islamic to destroy administrations built by local communities, in
places where there are no Ethiopian soldiers," Sheikh Mahdi said.

He admitted that Somalia' s Islamists have broken up into different factions
and appealed for unity in fighting against the Ethiopian army.

But he warned that "war among Islamists" could erupt if Islamist factions
attack "liberated regions," adding: "The public will be disappointed [with
such a war]."

Sheikh Mahdi did not directly name a single Islamist faction for the alleged
actions, but his comments come at a time the Islamist Al Shabaab group
captured key towns in central Somalia's Galgadud region.


Galgadud is the native region of Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the legislative
head of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) that rose to power in 2006 with a
military victory over warlords in Mogadishu.

Sheikh Aweys has lived in Eritrea ever since Ethiopian-backed Somali
government forces overthrew the ICU from Mogadishu two years ago, forcing
the Islamists to scatter and ignite a bloody anti-Ethiopia insurgency that
rages to date.

The Islamist factions maintain strongholds in different parts of Somalia,
with Galgadud and Lower Shabelle regions long considered Sheikh Aweys'

But Al Shabaab insurgents, who are based in the Jubba regions, recently
seized both Galgadud and Lower Shabelle and prompted the Eritrea-based ARS
group to issue a public warning about the possibility of open hostilities
among the Islamists.

A third opposition group, led by ICU executive chief Sheikh Sharif Sheikh
Ahmed, recently inked a peace pact with the Somali government that includes
incorporating the fighting force of the two parties into a single national
security force.

More destruction?

A war among Islamists could potentially worsen Africa's worst humanitarian
crisis. Currently, the insurgency is largely limited to towns where there
are Ethiopian troops present.

But Islamist factions control different regions in Somalia and all-out war
among them would plunge the Horn of Africa country back into a cycle of
violence reminscicent of the clan wars.

Elman Human Rights group, based in Somalia, recently issued a report on
casualty figures collected over the past two years of a deadly insurgency.

16,210 people were killed and upwards of 29,000 others wounded in fighting
during the insurgency, Elman reported.

Somalia has been mired in civil war since 1991 and a number of international
efforts to restore order in the country have failed, including the
U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion of 2006.


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