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''An Interim Agreement Gives Islamists An Edge In Somalia''
On September 1 in Khartoum, the second round of reconciliation talks began between Somalia's weak and internationally supported Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.), which is headquartered and isolated in the provincial town of Baidoa, and the Islamic Courts Council (I.C.C.), which has established control over much of the country's southern and central regions since evicting warlords from the official capital Mogadishu on June 5.
The talks, which had been expected to last more than a week, concluded on September 4 with the signing of an "interim agreement" that registered little, if any, advance in the process of resolving Somalia's severe domestic conflicts.
The first round of the Khartoum process -- brokered by Sudan and the Arab League (A.L.) -- had ended with an agreement on June 22 between the T.F.G. and I.C.C. in which the rivals granted one another recognition, promised to cease military operations and committed to meet again in order to negotiate a power-sharing deal.
The interim agreement of September 4 reaffirmed those provisions and added commitments by the two sides to form a unified security force and to refrain from accepting military aid from foreign states. The establishment of the security force, however, was made conditional on a power-sharing deal, which it had been the purpose of the second round to forge, but discussions on which were deferred until October 30, when a third round was scheduled to be held. The renunciation of foreign military aid was quickly qualified by the T.F.G., which claimed that it also was not meant to become operative until a power-sharing deal was concluded and did not apply to a proposed mission of regional peacekeepers to defend Baidoa or to Ethiopian forces already in Somalia protecting the T.F.G. that are officially described by Addis Ababa and the T.F.G. as advisers.
The I.C.C. responded through the head of its delegation to Khartoum, Ibrahim Hassan Adow, that if the T.F.G. did not get the Ethiopian troops to leave Somalia, the Khartoum process "could not go any further."
The positions of the I.C.C. and T.F.G. following the signing of the interim agreement leave the situation on the ground exactly where it was before the second round began -- a stand-off between the Courts' militias and Ethiopian forces.
The first agreement had quickly broken down as the I.C.C. continued its advances and the T.F.G. called in the Ethiopians. By mid-August, the conflict had polarized into the present stand-off that carried the potential of open warfare that might spread beyond Somalia's borders.
As polarization set in through August, other external actors with interests in Somalia -- international and regional organizations, Western powers, and neighboring states -- withdrew from the scene, plagued by internal divisions and uncertainty. That picture changed toward the end of the month, when the external players were constrained to position themselves to protect their interests in advance of the second round, which had been delayed for two months by the reluctance of the T.F.G. to negotiate from a deteriorating power position and the I.C.C.'s desire to maintain the momentum of its advance. The collapse of the T.F.G.'s administration in August and the check on the I.C.C.'s territorial advances drove the two sides back to the table, rousing the external players to action and widening the rifts between them.
The domestic and foreign players in Somalia remain under severe duress. The I.C.C.'s successes have placed it face-to-face with Ethiopian forces in the western, central and southern regions of Somalia, whereas Addis Ababa confronts a rising insurgency in its ethnic Somali Ogaden region and has built up its forces in Somalia to the point at which further increments would likely trigger armed confrontation with the I.C.C. and a popular nationalist backlash against its presence. The T.F.G. is riven by internal divisions and is in a state of collapse, completely dependent on external support. The second round of the Khartoum process has, at most, bought a little time, which works to the I.C.C.'s advantage.
The I.C.C. Continues to Consolidate and Reaches Territorial Limits
Through the last two weeks of August and into September, the I.C.C. continued to consolidate its grip over the areas of Somalia under its control and to restore some normalcy, security and effective administration to them, strengthening its case that it should play the major role in, if not become the sole authority of, a future national government in the country.
On August 22, the I.C.C. surprised observers and gained international legitimacy and approval by barring trade in endangered species -- specifically birds of prey exported to the United Arab Emirates -- and in charcoal, the production of which has resulted in deforestation. These pro-environmental policies, which remain difficult to enforce, add credibility to the I.C.C.'s claims that one of its major goals is sustainable development.
On August 23, the I.C.C. opened Mogadishu's seaport and, on August 25, the first commercial vessel docked there -- a freighter from Kenya carrying television sets, coffee and other consumer goods. The I.C.C. called upon businessmen to use the port rather than relying on natural harbors along Somalia's extended Indian Ocean coastline that require porters to wade into the sea to off-load cargo. Restoration of the port promises to lower the prices of commodities and also allows for the importation of military supplies, both of which would enhance the I.C.C.'s power. On September 5, the United Nations World Food Program delivered 3,300 tons of staples through the port, establishing Mogadishu as the pipeline for its humanitarian aid.
In a violent confrontation on August 25, the I.C.C. gained control of the building housing the District Council of the Benadir Region, in which Mogadishu is located, from forces loyal to Abdiqasim Salad Hasan. On August 31, the I.C.C. announced that Somalia's ministry of health was operational and would begin instituting measures to improve public health.
In its continuing efforts to tighten security, the I.C.C. intensified its drive to recruit members for its militias and, according to press reports, was meeting with success. The Courts movement has set up 15 "rehabilitation camps," where former fighters in warlord militias and war orphans are given military training and taught the Quran. At one camp in Hilweyne, north of Mogadishu, 600 recruits were reported to be training with Afghan, Pakistani and Eritrean instructors.
The I.C.C. also persisted in its efforts to impose its version of Islamic law in the areas that it controls. On September 2, I.C.C. "Soldiers of Allah" raided movie theaters in Mogadishu showing "ethically unfit" Bollywood films, making arrests, confiscating equipment and flogging patrons who were caught smoking marijuana. The I.C.C. also issued an edict banning all forms of trade and the operation of public transport during prayer times.
The I.C.C.'s restoration of order and social and political infrastructure reached a tip-over point in late August, spurring an influx of members of Somalia's large and far-flung diaspora into Mogadishu to plan and start up business ventures and to visit relatives.
Building on its successes, the I.C.C. announced on August 20 that it would organize a "National Forum" made up of all sectors of Somali society in order to "chart the country's future." On August 28, the I.C.C. set up an email account -- email@example.com -- soliciting views on Somalia's direction. I.C.C. spokesman Abdirahim Ali Mudey was evasive about whether the Courts were moving to establish a government independent of the T.F.G.; T.F.G. spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said that the I.C.C.'s initiative was a "direct challenge" aimed at undermining the transitional government.
The I.C.C.'s drive to institute its Islamist social experiment met with effective resistance after its minister of social affairs, Sheikh Ahmed Abdullah Farah, declared on August 27 that Civil Society Organizations (C.S.O.) were "bloodsuckers" and would require permission from the Courts to hold meetings. Defining civil society as "vulnerable people among the population who cannot defend themselves," Farah said that organizations claiming to represent civil society were engaged in "suspicious work."
By September 1, the I.C.C. had backtracked and reached an agreement with the C.S.O.s that allowed them to continue working. The I.C.C.'s Sheikh Abdirahman Janaqaw, who was appointed to mediate between the Courts and the C.S.O.s, claimed that the attack on the C.S.O.s was a "misunderstanding" and said that C.S.O.s could provide technical support to development efforts and "participatory" approaches" to governance, and had helped to mobilize society in the struggle against the warlords. Janaqaw even said that gender issues would not be a problem in the operation of C.S.O.s, although everyone would "need to serve our Islamic religion."
The recognition of the C.S.O.s by the I.C.C. is a victory for the moderates in the Courts who believe that the common goal of an Islamic state is best achieved by creating social peace and a favorable international environment. The moderates were able to gain their opening by the need to burnish the I.C.C.'s image internationally as the Khartoum talks drew near.
The I.C.C. also faced dissent in the Lower Shabelle Region, where it had made an alliance with the region's self-appointed warlord governor, Yusuf Indha Ade. Early in August, the I.C.C. had failed to persuade Indha Ade to place his forces under Courts control and acquiesced in the status quo.
Unpopular with the local population, Indha Ade had reportedly been ordering the arrests of people who had appealed to the I.C.C. to establish its own authority in Lower Shabelle. Unwilling to move against Indha Ade, the I.C.C., through the head of its Executive Council, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, said that it would concentrate on setting up an administration in the Banadir Region before it built institutions elsewhere. On August 21, at the opening of a new bridge in the Afgoe District, where support for the establishment of direct I.C.C. rule is strong, Ahmed made the enigmatic comment: "Don't exaggerate on relations [in Lower Shabelle]."
As the I.C.C. generally improved its position in the areas under its control, it ran up against limits in central Somalia, where it met with military resistance.
In early August, the I.C.C. had pressed up against the southern border of the breakaway mini-state of Puntland, which was determined to block penetration of the Courts into its territory. A stand-off ensued around the town of Galkayo, which is the capital of the Mudug region and is divided between Puntland and Somalia, but tensions remained high amid reports that the I.C.C. was reinforcing its positions and that forces loyal to the warlord Abdi Qeybdid, who had been expelled from Mogadishu by the I.C.C., were massing to oppose them, supported by Puntland militias and Ethiopian troops.
A break in the stand-off came on August 22, when the anti-Courts alliance, led by Qeybdid, seized the town of Bandiradley south of Puntland's border between Galkayo and the I.C.C.'s position to the south in Gellinsoor, forcing the I.C.C. to retreat and marking the first time that Puntland had made an incursion into central Somalia.
The I.C.C. responded by warning that a warlord-Ethiopian-Puntland alliance would not be tolerated in central Somalia. Courts spokesman Mudey noted that Puntland had breached an agreement in which each side had promised that its forces would not enter areas controlled by the other.
Puntland's president, Mohamud "Adde" Muse, denied that his forces had helped Qeybdid capture Bandiradley, but admitted that Ethiopian military advisers were in Puntland and that the mini-state had close relations with Addis Ababa. Muse insisted that the mobilization of Puntland forces was purely "defensive" and was in response to indications that the I.C.C. was preparing to enter the mini-state and take control of the key port of Bossasso. He said that the tensions had eased when I.C.C. officials told him that they had no intention of mounting an incursion.
Tensions nonetheless persisted. The I.C.C. claimed that Puntland's security forces were arresting I.C.C. sympathizers and, on August 28, held a meeting in Gellinsoor to discuss how to confront its adversaries. The Courts' spokesman for central Somalia, Mahmud Muhamed Jinale, reported that more Ethiopian troops had entered the central regions, along with the forces of former warlords, and said that some of them had defected.
Fissures opened up in Puntland's administration on August 29, when the first public meeting to discuss the mini-state's relations with the I.C.C. was held in Bossasso. At the forum, a wide range of views were expressed, including support for the I.C.C. On August 31, Muse ordered the house arrest of Puntland's police commissioner, General Yusuf Ahmed Kheir, and its security advisor, Abdillahi Said Samatar, both of whom had participated in the Bossasso forum. He also ordered the arrests of participants in the conference who had expressed opinions favorable to the I.C.C.
On September 3, the I.C.C. claimed that Puntland militiamen had defected to the Courts and had surrendered their weapons. Puntland authorities denied that there was any support for the I.C.C. in the mini-state.
Puntland also faced pressures to its north from the more well-organized mini-state of Somaliland, with which it has boundary conflicts. Puntland's vice president, Hassan Dahir Afqudah, was dispatched to the disputed town of Laascaanood -- the capital of the Sool region -- where he replaced the dissident local administration and threatened that Ethiopian troops would be deployed if there were moves to wrest control of the town from Puntland. Clan elders and political leaders in Sool, which is divided between Puntland and Somaliland, indicated that they would create an administration independent of the Puntland authorities. On August 31, there was a protest demonstration against Puntland's administration in Laascaanood after reports surfaced that Afqudah had been negotiating with Ethiopia with the aim of establishing a training base in Sool.
Somaliland, which also faces autonomist movements in the areas of Sool under its control, responded to the threat of greater Ethiopian intervention on Puntland's side by transmitting a protest note to Addis Ababa's representative to the mini-state, Wubishet Demise, accusing Ethiopia of arming Puntland's forces in Sool. Addis Ababa has lent support to both mini-states and is now being forced to choose sides.
Although the I.C.C. has reached its present limits in central Somalia, its advance has weakened the control of Muse's administration and has opened up tensions with Somaliland, which itself is beginning to feel pressure and is coming into play. The north of Somalia is now becoming destabilized, which works to the advantage of the I.C.C. Caught up in the conflict between Puntland and Somaliland, Addis Ababa's position has been weakened, although it is the only player with the power to check the Courts movement. The I.C.C. remains the protagonist in Somalia's conflicts, although its revolutionary momentum has been slowed.
The T.F.G.'s Collapse Continues
Riven by factions since its inception in 2004 and never able to exert de facto authority beyond Baidoa, the T.F.G. suffered a crisis in early August when mass defections from Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi's cabinet forced him to agree to recast his government with a reduced list of ministers.
The cause of the crisis was Gedi's refusal to negotiate with the I.C.C., which split the T.F.G. and left him without the support of his ally President Abdillahi Yusuf Ahmed. Although Gedi and Yusuf are both pro-Ethiopian -- in contrast to the third major T.F.G. power figure, parliamentary speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan -- Yusuf had judged it to be prudent to pursue the Khartoum process, at least formally. As a result, Gedi was forced to embrace negotiations as the price of keeping his post.
On August 21, Gedi submitted his new list of 31 cabinet ministers, which was approved by Yusuf. The roster included the retention of warlord and I.C.C. opponent Hussein Aideed as interior minister and did not include any I.C.C. supporters, as some local analysts expected it would and some members of parliament had demanded. Although Yusuf swore in the cabinet on August 23, the new government could not function until it gained parliamentary approval.
On August 26, Gedi gained acceptance from parliament of his request for a delay of the vote on his cabinet. No vote has been held since then and Gedi's tenure ends constitutionally on September 7 if his list is not approved by then, which would leave the transitional institutions without a government.
Barely existing and completely dependent on the backing of external actors, the T.F.G. was radically disadvantaged in the Khartoum process. Its actions and fate depend on the orders and support that it receives from outside.
The External Actors Rouse Themselves and Rifts Among Them Widen
Faced with the failure of the T.F.G., the continued momentum of the I.C.C. and the looming possibility of open warfare between the I.C.C. and the Ethiopian-led alliance, external players were constrained to position themselves in advance of the second round of the Khartoum process.
The exceedingly complex geopolitical situation in the Horn of Africa and surrounding regions has made the external players -- save Ethiopia and Eritrea, which have a simmering border dispute and a consequent interest in tipping the balance of power in Somalia in their favor -- reluctant to intervene directly in the conflict between the I.C.C. and T.F.G. for fear of being disadvantaged by the outcome.
Although all the external players, including Ethiopia and Eritrea, officially recognize the T.F.G. and urge dialogue between the T.F.G. and I.C.C., they have been far too divided among themselves to mount a concerted effort to bring the antagonists to the bargaining table and too interested in gaining advantage through Somalia in the regional balance of power to serve as honest brokers acceptable to both sides. The threat of war did not bring the external players into a unified policy; instead, they engaged in intense diplomacy to protect and advance their perceived interests.
Situated between the Arabian Peninsula, which lies north across the Red Sea, and East Africa to the south, and sharing a long western border with Ethiopia, Somalia falls into the potential spheres of influence of Addis Ababa, Nairobi and the Arab states, all of which have economic and strategic stakes in its future and are suspicious of one another.
Until the rise of the I.C.C., Addis Ababa and Nairobi had played the leading roles in Somali state building, brokering the formation of the T.F.G. and supporting a peacekeeping mission to protect it that could only be instituted were the United Nations Security Council to lift its arms embargo on Somalia. The I.C.C.'s success left the frontline African powers at a loss and provided an opening for the A.L. to broker the Khartoum process and for Sudan -- a rival of Ethiopia -- to take the lead. The African states were constrained to acquiesce in the Khartoum process, but they continued with their plans for a peacekeeping mission that has been resolutely opposed by the I.C.C. and receives no support from the A.L.
Facing an insurgency in its ethnic Somali Ogaden region and fearing an alliance of an I.C.C. regime in Somalia with Eritrea, Addis Ababa has sought to contain the Courts' advances through military support of the T.F.G., the Puntland administration and the remnants of the warlords' militias, triggering material and diplomatic support for the I.C.C. from Asmara.
Nairobi, which had appeared to be balancing Addis Ababa by opening channels to the I.C.C., made an about-face in mid-August and weighed in on the side of a peacekeeping mission authorized by the African Union (A.U.) and sponsored by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (I.G.A.D.) -- a regional organization including Somalia and its neighbors.
On August 18, the military chiefs of staff of the I.G.A.D. members -- Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda -- announced a plan for a peacekeeping mission that would deploy in Baidoa at the end of September, with Sudan and Uganda providing the initial battalions.
It soon became clear that the I.G.A.D. decision was not based on a consensus of its member states. Djibouti's minister of foreign affairs, Mahmud Yusuf, warned that deploying a mission before a power-sharing agreement was reached between the I.C.C. and T.F.G. would be an "insult." Eritrea quickly followed suit and sent an emissary to Uganda to petition its president Yoweri Museveni not to sign on to the mission. Museveni responded that the mission was necessary, but promised to contact Kenya's president, Mwai Kibaki -- the current chair of I.G.A.D. -- to call an emergency meeting of the organization.
Encountering denunciation for its reversal from the I.C.C. and dissent within I.G.A.D., Nairobi backtracked and denied that it was trying to break its relations with the I.C.C., stating that the decision on the peacekeeping mission was not its own, but I.G.A.D.'s.
Nairobi's seeming retreat from the mission sparked a new round of diplomacy, this time by Ethiopia's prime minister, Meles Zenawi, who held talks with Museveni and Kibaki in which both presidents affirmed their support for the mission and Zenawi committed to support the Khartoum process, despite earlier statements that it was premature because there were "too many players on the stage."
In advance of Zenawi's visit, Uganda had sent military officers to Baidoa who were tasked with finding a suitable site for a base for peacekeepers and with training T.F.G. security forces. Nairobi denied that I.G.A.D. was a party to the Ugandan mission and said that I.G.A.D. had discussed delaying the deployment of peacekeepers until after the Khartoum process was completed. Kenya's envoy to Somalia, Mohamed Abdi Affey, insisted that there were no "wrangles" in I.G.A.D. and that the organization was not "one-sided."
Nairobi's assurances did not calm A.L. suspicions that Addis Ababa and Nairobi were trying to "derail" the Khartoum process and move the talks to Kenya. Affey replied that Nairobi hoped that the "Arab plan" was successful.
As Ethiopia and the East African members of I.G.A.D. pursued the peacekeeping mission, Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti closed ranks. On August 28, the governing parties in Asmara and Khartoum signed "cooperation agreements" aimed at "frustrating evil schemes imposed by international powers" and preventing "foreign intervention in Sudanese and Somali issues." On August 31, Djibouti's and Eritrea's defense ministers met and issued a statement that I.G.A.D. did not have a "common strategy" and that the Ethiopian presence in Somalia was "destabilizing."
Despite the rupture in I.G.A.D., Nairobi hosted an emergency summit of the organization on September 5 to discuss the peacekeeping mission. In the wake of the deal between the I.C.C. and T.F.G. in Khartoum, which the Courts interpreted as precluding a mission, the Nairobi talks were redefined as a "forum for informal consultation" when Eritrea and Djibouti failed to attend, and Uganda and Sudan sent only their foreign ministers, leaving Yusuf, Zenawi and Kibaki as the only heads of government present.
The participants in the discussions nonetheless persisted in their backing of the I.G.A.D. mission and requested the A.U. and other donors to provide financial support for it, and for the U.N. to lift its arms embargo. Sudan, which tilts toward the I.C.C., signed on to prevent I.G.A.D. from becoming an anti-Courts alliance. On September 6, the A.U. called on the U.N. to lift the embargo to make the I.G.A.D. mission possible. Ugandan forces were reportedly being trained for the mission by British officers who had served in Afghanistan, the Balkans and Iraq.
The I.C.C. responded predictably to the results of the Nairobi meeting, holding a demonstration in Mogadishu attended by 7,000 people, at which Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed -- who had visited Kenya in an unsuccessful attempt to block support for the mission -- said that the reaffirmation of the mission by participants at the Nairobi discussions was a "conspiracy against the Islamic State of Somalia" and that any "foul play" by I.G.A.D. would torpedo the Khartoum process.
On September 6, the nationalist backlash against Addis Ababa and I.G.A.D. surfaced in a meeting and demonstration in Mogadishu attended by members of the former Somali army, including high ranking officers, who pledged to defend their "motherland and the Somali people" and called upon Arab states to support them against military deployments in Somalia by foreign powers.
The I.C.C. found international support for resistance to the I.G.A.D. mission on September 6, when, after talks in Tehran, Djibouti's president, Ismail Omar Guelleh and Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, issued a joint statement warning that foreign interference in Somalia would cause destruction and displacement at a time when that country was moving toward peace and order.
In any case, the probability that there will be a peacekeeping mission is negligible because international organizations and Western powers have placed their bets on the Khartoum process and have recognized the de facto power of the I.C.C. While he was in Kenya, Ahmed met with the U.N.'s envoy to Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, who assured him that the U.N. would deal with the I.C.C. directly and that there would be no lifting of the arms embargo for a peacekeeping mission without the I.C.C.'s consent.
Fall's assurances reflected a shift in the position of Western powers on the resolution of Somalia's conflict. On August 29, the Washington-led Contact Group (C.G.), which is composed of the United States, Scandinavian states, Tanzania and the former colonial powers in Somalia -- Great Britain and Italy -- met in Stockholm and, in a reversal of its former position, tilted toward the I.C.C. In a communiqué following the meeting, the C.G. announced that it was prepared to hold a donor conference in Rome to provide reconstruction aid to Somalia, but only on the condition that there was a "legitimate and legal transition government to deal with."
That the C.G. had withdrawn full recognition from the T.F.G. was made clear by Sweden's state secretary, Annika Soder, who hosted the talks and said that the T.F.G. was "seriously weakened" and that the I.C.C. had "broad and deep public support." The C.G. refused to approve a peacekeeping mission for Somalia and to provide aid directly to the T.F.G., placing itself on the side of the A.L. and against Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Kampala. Rather than simply calling for dialogue -- as it had in the past -- the C.G. stated that in order to "gain the confidence of the Somali people and the international community, the government [T.F.G.] and emerging regional administrations should clearly articulate their joint aspirations."
Given the enhanced position of the I.C.C. within Somalia and the international community, it is unclear why Nairobi has leagued itself with Addis Ababa in an apparently unproductive endeavor and has abandoned its traditional policy of "equidistance" from Somalia's conflicts. Nairobi cooperates on border problems with Addis Ababa and was offended by its exclusion from the C.G., but those considerations do not seem to be sufficient to warrant international isolation and the probable loss of a political foothold in determining Somalia's political future. It is possible that Nairobi's seeming alliance with Addis Ababa is a resurfacing of the longstanding competition between Arab and African powers for influence in the Horn. It is telling that Ahmed did not attack Nairobi after the "emergency meeting" and targeted only Addis Ababa.
Although the stand-off between the I.C.C. and Addis Ababa persisted through late August and early September, the balance of power in Somalia has shifted in favor of the I.C.C., which has continued to consolidate its gains in the areas that it controls, exposed weaknesses in Puntland and Somaliland, caused a rupture in I.G.A.D. and received enhanced support from the A.L., U.N. and C.G. The I.C.C. faces problems in Lower Shabelle and military resistance in Mudug, but overall its position has been strengthened, particularly in light of the T.F.G.'s collapse and Addis Ababa's increasing international isolation.
Addis Ababa, which had enjoyed Washington's support, now finds itself on a limb, as the Bush administration embraces multilateralism through the C.G., outsourcing its diplomacy to European states. Local analysts believe that Addis Ababa would like to withdraw its forces from Somalia, which is why it has been so insistent on an I.G.A.D. peacekeeping mission. With the prospects for a mission dim, Addis Ababa is likely to maintain its presence in Puntland, Baidoa and areas on its eastern border toward which the I.C.C. has advanced. It is less likely to make further incursions and will probably shift to a holding action.
Nairobi's position is enigmatic and it has room to shift back toward the I.C.C., which has not lumped it with Addis Ababa. The other external players are likely to maintain their tilts toward or outright support of the I.C.C.
The I.C.C. -- facing a stand-off on the ground -- chose to attend the second round of the Khartoum process in order to engineer the tilt in its favor by external actors that has occurred. The T.F.G. participated in the talks so that it could retain a shred of international legitimacy. The T.F.G. refused to negotiate on the I.C.C.'s key demands that the T.F.G. replace its clan-based system of representation, forge a power-sharing deal, rescind its support for an I.G.A.D. peacekeeping mission and expel Ethiopian troops from Baidoa. I.C.C. leaders have nevertheless expressed satisfaction with the interim agreement because they believe that time is on their side. Somalia's Radio HornAfrik reported on September 4 that the I.C.C. delegation to Khartoum had presented a "united front" and that the T.F.G. delegation was "divided."
All the players in Somalia's conflict, save the T.F.G. executive, Addis Ababa and, perhaps, Nairobi, seem to have reconciled themselves to a political future for the country in which the I.C.C. will play a dominant role, which means that the threat of a regional war, though still present, has receded.
Still the protagonist, the I.C.C. is entering a period in which its success depends on continuing its progress in restoring order and advancing reconstruction, and on honing its diplomatic skills so that it does not lose its newfound international support. The West seems ready to accept a dominant Islamist presence in Somalia if the I.C.C. plays its cards well.
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