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Somalia's Fighting: Hitting The Right Target?

Issue 320
Front Page

Rayale Imposes New Restrictions On Press Freedom

NEC Announces Tender For Supply Of Voter Registration Equipment And Material

Thirst In Wajaale

Sool Election Commission Sworn

Somali Islamist Fighters Seize 2nd Town

QARAN’s Letter To The Representatives Of The International Community

Pentagon Says Somalia Air Strike Targeted Terrorist Suspect

'Muslims are being massacred': Dobley mayor

Somali Capital Reportedly on Brink of Starvation

Brussels Wants US To Protect Hirsi Ali

Revealed: trap that lured the merchant of death

The perception of gender in education

US State Dept Daily Press Briefing

The Era of the Coward Warriors

Regional Affairs

Aman, A Magazine Published By Women For Women

Girls’ Education Will Shape Progress For Somalia Says UNICEF

Uganda short of money to boost Somalia force

Special Report

International News

Latin American Crisis "Made In The USA

IOM’s Busatti: We’re fighting the ugly face of globalization

African war crimescourt would also consider trying alleged Russian arms dealer


Somaliland Residents Express High Hopes for Independence

Why AFRICOM Is Critical For Our Security Interests

How To Start Your Own Country In Four Easy Steps

Missing Ex-Supermodel Found In Brussels

Mental Health Fears Fed By Somali 'Khat' Culture

Rapid Increase In Radio And TV Channels In Africa, Says New Report

We are not that bad, are we?

Food for thought


Educational Collaboration Between Somaliland & South Africa

Wearisome Time for the Emerging Nation of Somaliland

Silanyo’s whined to Dr. Frazier is an indicative of a larger slump

Obama Barrack, Arabs & Muslims on the middle name

KULMIYE Party Dilemma: Why it’s getting difficult for Kulmiye chairman to hold the party convention?

Double standard policies of funding agencies ( The case of Somaliland Red crescents Society)

Somalia gets no better—and America may be making matters worse

NAIROBI, Mar 6th 2008 – THOUSANDS have been killed in Somalia in the past year, mostly in skirmishes between Somali government and Ethiopian troops on one side and loosely grouped insurgents, jihadists included, on the other. The death toll rose this week when at least one American Tomahawk cruise missile, apparently fired from a submarine off the Somali coast, obliterated a shack in a village called Dobley a few kilometers from the border with Kenya.

Some sources suggest the target was Saleh Ali Nabhan, a Kenyan alleged to have been involved in an al-Qaeda bombing in Mombassa, Kenya's main port, in 2002. Perhaps more likely, it may have been Hassan Turki, a Somali jihadist commander on America's terrorist list. If he was indeed at the end of the missile, the Americans will have done a big favor to Ethiopia, which has been hunting him down and may even have tipped them off. Mr. Turki is said to hail from the ethnically Somali Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia and has long been bent on setting up an Islamist caliphate of greater Somalia that would take in chunks of Ethiopia plus Djibouti and bits of north-eastern Kenya. Yet another reason for the attack may have been to stop jihadists from establishing a permanent camp near Dobley with the intention of infiltrating fighters into Kenya.

Since being crushed in conventional warfare at the beginning of last year, remnants of the Somali Shabaab (meaning youth), the armed wing of a short-lived Islamic Courts regime, have regrouped. Together with secular insurgents who want to rid the country of Ethiopian troops and win more power for the disgruntled sub-clans that are ill-represented in Somalia's government, the jihadists have kept Mogadishu, the battered capital, unstable and continued to launch hit-and-run attacks on towns across southern Somalia.

Feeble though it is, the Somali government does not seem under serious threat of being overthrown soon. Helped by the Ethiopians and the CIA, it has kept the jihadists on the hop. All the same, European and other diplomats monitoring Somalia have criticized the latest American attack. “This just isn't the way,” said one. There is no evidence that either Mr. Nabhan or Mr. Turki was killed. If, as villagers in Dobley say, children were among the victims, the jihadists' propaganda will benefit. Their idea of a caliphate may be fanciful, but they will be hard to defeat by missiles alone. They are certainly fervent, often shooting fellow Somalis for playing music or watching Western videos.

That is one reason why Somalia's new prime minister, Nur Adde Hussein, has been trying to woo more mainstream Islamists. After talks in Cairo last month, some Islamists, including former hardliners, broke with the Shabaab and indicated a willingness to accept the Somali government if there were a mechanism for the phased withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops who have been stationed in Mogadishu since the fall of the Islamic Courts government. Previously the Islamists had demanded unconditional Ethiopian withdrawal before talking. The Ethiopians say they are keen to go but do not want to leave a security vacuum. An American bid for UN peacekeepers looks unlikely to bear fruit before 2010, if ever. The present African Union force, led by Uganda, is unlikely to expand beyond 4,000 troops, a fraction of what is needed.

Somalia 's leonine president, Abdillahi Yusuf, may be undermining Mr Adde's efforts by refusing to compromise with even milder Islamists. Mr Yusuf wants to persuade Saudi Arabia that he has made enough progress to warrant the release of the large sums it has pledged. If the obdurate president were dislodged, it might prompt more fighting, with parliament breaking up into ever more acrimonious factions. Or it might open the way to more serious talks with the milder Islamists and help isolate the jihadists, wherever they may be hiding.

Source: The Economist Newspaper


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