December 26, 2006

ICU Chairman Says the Duels With Ethiopia Will Be Long And Unending

December 26, 2006

Aweys Osman Yusuf

In a press conference held in the capital Mogadishu, Islamic Courts chairman Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed told reporters that the war between the ICU and the Ethiopian troops backing the Somali government will be long and unending.

Ahmed said, "There was a meeting in Emirates between us and the Ethiopian government. They put forward conditions that we should cut our relations with countries like Eritrea, Sudan and other world countries and that we should give up Ethiopian rebels whom they said are in Somalia." Ahmed reiterated that there were no al-Qaeda members in Somalia.

Ethiopian prime minister Males Zenawi said on Sunday, that meetings between Ethiopia and Islamists in Somalia ended in failure, and that his country was forced to go into war with Islamic movements.

United States says Somalia's Islamic Courts include radicals and moderates.

Ethiopian fighter jets bombed Mogadishu's international airport and Baledogle, which is 100 km away from the capital Mogadishu. Islamists retreated many key towns in central and southern Somalia where Ethiopian backed government troops soon occupied.

The Somali government in Baidoa announced that it would extend forgiveness to Islamic Courts forces that surrender.

Experts believe the only way Somalia could get out of turmoil is that Islamists and the transitional government should compromise over power-sharing. Mat Brayton of ICG said the internationally-recognized government and Islamists should negotiate, indicating that the Ethiopian military invasion against Islamic Courts would be no solution to the current political crises in Somalia.

Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed repeatedly said the Islamist fighters changed their strategic military tactics, retreating in several areas in the country.

Hundreds of people living near the capital's seaport and airport have fled on Tuesday in fear of Ethiopian air bombing. An Islamic Courts organized demonstration that was supposed to occur in Mogadishu on Tuesday has not happened.

Copyright © 2006 Shabelle Media Network.

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