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|Clouds Of War Gathering Over Somalia Observers predict sharp escalation in violence as soon as the Nairobi peace talks are concluded|
Nairobi (SL Times) – Regardless of whether the current Nairobi peace talks on Somalia end in success or failure, the outcome is very likely, in either case, to plunge the former Italian colony into a new wave of violence, observers have predicted.
The talks, underway in Kenya since Oct, 2002, were supposed to restore peace to Somalia, but there is little evidence that such an objective will be achieved.
With the exception of the Habargidir Sacad and one small Abgal faction, most of the Hawiye and their friends in the Juba Valley Alliance see the Nairobi process as an attempt to marginalize them in the future political equation in Somalia. Already some key faction leaders such as Abdiqasim Salad, Sudi Yallahow and Barre Hiraale are boycotting the Nairobi talks. Attempts to bring them back to the peace conference have all failed.
The bulk of Darood representation at the conference are Abdillahi Yusuf’s Majerteen. The Ogadeen and Marehaan subclans of the Darood clan are either absent or lightly represented. The two groups indicated that they were going to ally themselves with the Hawiye factions opposed to the talks. Even some of the faction leaders still attending the Kenya conference, have recently expressed their dissatisfaction with the way the talks were being conducted. One of them is Osman Aato, a Mogadisho-based Habargidir Sacad faction leader.
There are foreign powers who are trying to influence the outcome of the process. They fall into two groups. In the first camp are the Ethiopians, Kenyans, Americans, and the British. These four governments view the Nairobi conference through an anti-terrorism perspective and want to make sure that the future government of Somalia is one that will not hesitate to eradicate suspected terrorist influence or presence in the country. The second group is composed of Egypt and Djibouti, which are backed by the Arab League, together with Italy. While the Ethiopian-led camp wants to install Abdillahi Yusuf and A. Addo (Habar-gidir-Sacad) as the new leaders of Somalia, their rivals at the conference are still showing support for Abdiqasim Salad whose term as president of the TNG expired earlier this month.
According to observers at the conference, the Ethiopian-led ad-hoc coalition has already gained ground and it is all but certain that A. Addo and Abdillahi Yusuf will be the next president and prime minister of Somalia. The two have already been heard talking about routing out any opposition that might try to stand in their way after taking power.
According to sources close to the conference, the government that will emerge from the Nairobi process will be seated at Gaalkacayo, in the Mudug region, which is co-habited by Abdillahi Yusuf’s Majerteen and Addo’s Habargidir Sacad. That prospect has already triggered tensions at the talks as well as inside the country. Supporters of both the newly emerging Yusuf/Addo alliance and their rival faction leaders back home are reported to have received new arms shipments, with each side making preparations for war.
Meanwhile Abddillahi Yusuf’s plan for seeking deployment of peace enforcement troops in Somalia has run into trouble. The AU which had sent a military mission to Gaalkacayo a few weeks ago to study the possibility of deployment of African peacekeepers has now recommended against such an eventuality. The AU is expected to issue a statement to this effect in a few days time.
In recent conversations with delegates to the Nairobi conference, Italian diplomats have not ruled out the possibility of convening one more Somalia reconciliation conference. The diplomats indicated Rome as the most likely venue for the next peace talks on Somalia.