January 07, 2007

Somalia's TFG riding on its Ethiopian backers

TFG riding on its Ethiopian backers (ION News)
It was the superior force of the Ethiopian army rather than the effectiveness of the Somalian Transitional Federal Government (TFG) services that upset militias of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in record time. The Islamist heads and their partisans are trying to take refuge in Kenya or in the Somalian hinterland. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of the TFG, Ali Mohamed Gedi, came to Mogadishu on board an Ethiopian military helicopter.
This former vet who lived for many years in Kenya, is little known in Mogadishu. He is surrounded by men close to the Ethiopians, such as his backer Mohamed Dheere, who has once more become the strong man in Jowhar, and the chairman of the TFG, Abdillahi Yussuf. Today, almost all the cards are in the Ethiopian hand. In spite of its military victory over the Islamists, the TFG is too weak and divided to govern in Mogadishu without the support of its Ethiopian backer. The risk is that the Ethiopian army would therefore be obliged to stay for some time in Somalia, to provide security for the TFG, at least until an inter-African force arrives to take its place. This is the trap that is in store for the Addis Ababa strategists, and also for the United States who de facto gave the green light for this military intervention. Gedi's instauration of martial law for three months in order to disarm all the clans' militias would almost certainly be wishful thinking if it were not for the presence of the Ethiopians. Even then, their presence gives no absolute guarantee that this operation to disarm the militias will be effective. Particularly as the Somalian clans and their militias, which had been more or less quelled by the ICU, are now beginning to rear up their heads.
These clans' militias have been reinforced by disoriented Islamist combatants who have come under their protection. All this fuels the insecurity and violent power struggles in Mogadishu. In addition, the small local potentates and authentic warlords, who were ousted by the ICU in June 2006, have perked upagain.Hence, the partisans of the TFG's Minister for Internal security, Hussein Mohamed Haideed (the son of General Haideed who had fought the American operation at the beginning of the 1990s) have regained possession of Villa Somalia (the presidential building) in Mogadishu. Similarly, Mohamed Furruh has set up in the port of Mogadishu, which his clan considers its legitimate property. Whether or not they are members of the TFG, these warlords who brought ruin on the country for more than a decade, are making their comeback in a big way. Hence, Mohamed Qanyare Afrah has returned to Mogadishu. He had headed the Somalian anti-terrorist coalition supported by the United States until he was ousted by the Islamists.Now, he heads a thousand-strong militia and has a dozen vehicles armed with machine guns at his disposal.

Source: The Indian Ocean Newsletter, January 2007

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