Somalia’s President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed (L) and Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer attend a meeting in Nairobi. The international meeting called for urgent funding for a peacekeeping mission in Somalia which the strife-torn African country’s president said was desperately needed.
Western and African diplomats on Friday called for the urgent deployment of peacekeepers in Somalia as al Qaeda’s deputy leader urged defeated Islamists to launch an Iraq-style insurgency against Ethiopian forces there.
The Islamists took control of much of southern Somalia in June but have now been forced into hiding after being routed from their strongholds by Ethiopian military defending Somalia’s interim government in two weeks of full-scale warfare.
They have vowed to fight on, melting into the hills in Somalia’s remote southern tip where Ethiopian and government forces are hunting hundreds of their fighters.
Nairobi has sent troops to seal its frontier, blocking entry to Somali refugees fleeing the conflict. Many fear the Islamists, who fled a last stronghold on New Year’s Day, will mount a holy war against largely Christian Ethiopia.
The Islamists have been routed now it is time for the United Nations or a consortium of western nations to secure the peace or Ethiopia will be forced to route(meaning hunt down and kill) the remaining Islamists nee insurgents.
Somalia’s former army officers stand guard at a building in the capital Mogadishu January 5, 2007. Western and African diplomats called for the urgent deployment of peacekeepers to Somalia as al Qaeda’s deputy leader urged defeated Islamists to launch an Iraq -style insurgency against Ethiopian forces there.
“You must ambush, mine, raid and (carry out) martyrdom campaigns so that you can wipe them out,” Ayman al-Zawahri, deputy to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, said in his message.
“As happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, when the world’s strongest power was defeated by the campaigns of the mujahideen, troops going to heaven, so its slaves shall be defeated on the Muslim lands of Somalia,” he said.
Al-Zawahri’s message, posted on a Web site used by militant Islamist groups, is likely to reinforce Washington’s belief that the Somalia Islamic Courts Council is linked to and even run by an al Qaeda cell, a charge the Islamists have denied.
In Nairobi, the International Contact Group on Somalia, which includes the United States, European and African nations, pushed for a fast deployment of foreign peacekeepers approved by the
United Nations before the war.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer said the security vacuum had to be filled, but played down the significance of the al Qaeda tape.
“I think a lot of bold statements were made by extremists in the Courts, that they were going to kill Somalis, that they were going to stand and fight … and they just ran,” she said.
Easy for al-Zawahri to day since he is hiding in some cave in Pakistan. Make no mistake about it, Ethiopia will not fall prey to an Iraq like insurgency that has stymied the United States.
In the meantime, Somali and Ethiopian troops are preparing to launch a major assault on the last stronghold of Islamic movement militiamen.
Somali troops backed by Ethiopians prepared to launch a major assault Friday on the last stronghold of Islamic movement militiamen. U.S. Navy warships were patrolling off the Somali coast to prevent the militiamen from escaping by sea.
The Somali and Ethiopian force captured a southern town near the Kenyan border Thursday evening. Col. Barre “Hirale” Aden Shire, the Somali defense minister, said Islamic militiamen were dug in with their backs to the sea at Ras Kamboni at the southernmost tip of Somalia.
“Today we will launch a massive assault on the Islamic courts militias. We will use infantry troops and fighter jets,” said Shire, who left for the battle zone on Friday. “They have dug huge trenches around Ras Kamboni but have only two options: to drown in the sea or to fight and die.”
Somali government and Ethiopian troops routed the Council of Islamic Courts militia last week, driving them out of the capital and their strongholds in southern Somalia. The Islamic movement had wanted to rule Somalia by the Quran and some of its leaders had been linked to the al-Qaida terrorist movement.
Former Somali soldiers in different rank uniforms listen to the Transitional Federal Government Prime Minister, Ali Mohamed Gedi, unseen in Mogadishu, Somalia, Friday, Jan. 5, 2007. Over the past 15 days, troops of Somalia’s transitional government and Ethiopian forces routed the Islamic movement, which had controlled most of southern Somalia. Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi has said he believes major fighting was over. But the Islamic movement has declared it would keep fighting, raising the specter of an Iraq-style guerrilla war.
Islamic fighters hiding in Mogadishu since their movement’s main force was driven from the Somali capital say they will heed al-Qaida’s call for guerrilla attacks and suicide bombings against Ethiopian troops whose intervention was key to the Islamists’ defeat.
“I am committed to die for the sake of my religion and the al-Qaida deputy’s speech only encourages me to go ahead with my holy war,” 18-year-old Sahal Abdi told The Associated Press, referring to an audio message posted on the Internet on Friday.
Troops of Somalia’s transitional government, backed by the Ethiopian military, routed the Islamic militia from much of southern Somalia, ending their six months in power. The group had brought a semblance of stability here but terrified residents with a version of Quranic rule that included public executions and floggings of criminals.
Interviews with militants who fought with the Council of Islamic Courts and went underground when most of their comrades fled Mogadishu last week suggest their movement is fractured and cut off from its leaders but still motivated for battle.
And does anyone REALLY think that Ethiopia will allow the Islamic Court folks an opportunity to organize an insurgency?
Ethiopian soldiers patrol Somalia’s port city of Kismayu, January 5, 2007.
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