Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"Finding an end to the Somali crisis," IRIN, August 18, 2006.

The impact of the UIC victory has been the collapse of the warlords' power and of their militias. Security improved markedly in Mogadishu and the re-opening of Mogadishu airport to international flights, after 11 years, offered a concrete illustration of the changes the UIC [Union of Islamic Courts] claims to want to bring to Somalia.

The immediate reaction of the Western world to the success of the UIC was concern that it may emerge as the Taliban of Africa. The chairman of the UIC, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, as well as the leader of the policy-making body of the UIC, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, have denied they intend to force any particular type of government on their people, or forge new links with al-Qaeda or international terrorism.

Aweys is considered by US officials to have terrorist links, and according to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), on 26 June the US ruled out any diplomatic contact with him.

The US is widely perceived as supporting the TFG [Transitional Federal Government]....The European Union, African Union and UN are publicly backing the TFG as the only legitimate authority in Somalia. Having invested years of negotiations and peace-building aspirations in the process that led to the establishment of the TFG in 2004, few foreign states are prepared to see it as a flawed process, or one that can be rejected by Somalis themselves. peacekeeping force is about to arrive in Somalia. The UIC has the upper hand in terms of military control and popular support outside of the south-central town of Baidoa, where the TFG is based. The warlords have been emasculated and the UIC is set to control most of central and southern Somalia.

For as long as the UIC opposes a foreign military presence, any such deployment will necessarily act as a protection force for the TFG, rather than a peacekeeping force for southern Somalia.
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