Ethiopian forces under attack in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- Gunmen attacked Ethiopian troops supporting the Somali government, witnesses said, sparking a firefight in the second straight day of violence in a city struggling to emerge from more than a decade of chaos.
Farah Abdi Hussein, who witnessed Sunday's attack, said gunmen launched grenades on Ethiopians about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the airport. One Somali soldier was wounded, according to a Somali military official who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.
Ethiopian soldiers, tanks and warplanes intervened in Somalia on December 24 to help defeat an Islamic movement that threatened to overthrow the internationally recognized government, which at the time controlled only the western town of Baidoa.
But many in predominantly Muslim Somalia resent having troops from neighboring Ethiopia, which has a large Christian population. The countries fought two brutal wars, the last in 1977.
On Saturday, hundreds of furious protesters took to the streets, burning tires and smashing car windows while denouncing the presence of Ethiopian forces and shouting defiance at the Somali government's call for disarming Mogadishu.
Two people died in Saturday's violence, including a 13-year-old boy.
On Sunday, a similar protest took place about 350 kilometers (215 miles) away in Belet Weyne, after Ethiopian troops there detained a Somali military commander who refused to hand over an Islamic militiaman, witnesses said. That protest also turned violent, killing a 20-year-old civilian, Abdi Nor Salah Gedi told The Associated Press by telephone.
It was not clear who shot the man or the teenager on Saturday.
On Sunday, Somali troops increased patrols in Mogadishu, setting up six extra checkpoints.
Dahir Abdi Kulima, a chieftain of the Hawiye, the dominant and influential clan of southern Somalia, said the government's reliance on Ethiopia is clearly backfiring.
"Since the Ethiopians arrived people are sleeping and waking with worry about what will happen next," Kulima told The Associated Press during a break in his meeting with about a dozen other Hawiye elders. "This is a sign of upcoming problems in Somalia."
The most senior U.S. diplomat for Africa said Sunday that the United States would use its diplomatic and financial resources to support Somalia's government. Jendayi Frazer, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa, has repeatedly accused al Qaeda of infiltrating and taking over the Islamist movement in Somalia.
"I think we are pushing uphill as an international community, as well as the Somali people themselves, to try to overcome their history," Frazer told the AP in Nairobi, Kenya.
Frazer was planning a surprise visit to Mogadishu on Sunday but called it off because the details of her visit were made public, sparking serious security concerns in a city known for its unpredictable violence.
The African Union has begun planning for peacekeepers and Uganda has promised at least 1,000 troops. Frazer has said she hopes the first troops will begin arriving in Mogadishu before the end of the month.
The mission will be modeled on a peacekeeping force that recently concluded duty in Burundi. African troops there provided security for political leaders and key facilities while a new government took over the country. Like the AU mission in Burundi, a mission to Somalia could be switched to a United Nations operation if necessary, Frazer said.
Frazer said Somalia is important to the United States because of its strategic location in the Horn of Africa, where the Red Sea opens into the Indian Ocean. The U.S. also wants to make sure international terrorists do not take advantage of the chaos to establish a safe haven.
There have already been three terrorist attacks in the region. An al Qaeda cell blew up the U.S. Embassies in Kenyan and Tanzania in 1998 and attacked the USS Cole in 2000 across the Gulf of Aden in Yemen. The same cell that destroyed the embassies stuck again in 2002, bombing a Kenyan hotel and attempting to shoot down an Israeli airliner.
Somalia's Islamists have vowed from their hideouts to launch an Iraq-style guerrilla war.
Also Sunday, a top Somali politician with ties to leaders of Somalia's militant Muslim movement urged remnants of the routed Islamic militia to surrender and join the peace process.
Sheik Sharif Hassan Aden, speaker of Somalia's transitional parliament, dropped his opposition to having foreign peacekeepers in Somalia, calling on Somalis "to welcome, to hail, to respect, to accommodate them in a peaceful manner."
Aden has been a strong critic of Somalia's government and is closely linked to leaders of the Council of Islamic Courts, who have scattered into the countryside and promised a guerrilla war after being defeated on the battlefield last week.
Hold hands Ethiopians! Block the evil road that leads to hell.
Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (Kinijit)
Voice Mail/Fax 1-206-203-3974
January 07, 2007
Times have changed. The genie of freedom is out of the bottle and has made its home in the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian people. Citizens of the nation of Ethiopia have realized that no human is divinely ordained to rule them without their consent. This means the era of ruling by brute force alone is gone forever. It is only a matter of time that the current lords who still live by the values of the era of princes (Zemene Mesafint) are replaced by democratically elected leaders. The spectacle of freedom as evidenced by lining up in long queues, the matured deliberation in casting votes and the patience and dignity displayed against all forms provocation by those who were terrified by the surge of freedom shown by the Ethiopian people, should have been a warning to current and aspiring dictators. The May 2005 national election proved to all of us that, it was not the people that were not ready for democracy but the so-called liberators who had no notion of what liberty is. Now it has become clear that it is successive seizure of power by undeserving, most backward and unenlightened sectors of the country's political elite that has stood between the aspiration of the Ethiopian people for freedom, democracy, good governance, economic development and social regeneration and its realization. Yet the ruling TPLF/EPRDF party has failed to see the writings on the wall announcing the end of tyranny in Ethiopia.
The warning letters bold, crimson red, blood drawn from the broken flesh of martyrs of freedom mowed down by the brutal regime of Meles Zenawi while protesting against deceit, treachery, hatred, greed and vindictivness does not seem to deter this brute of a ruler from perpetrating more heinous crime and all recent signs do indicate, once again, that Meles is determined to lead Ethiopians in to the abyss. All astute observers note the deliberate and innocuous sounding rumours being spread in the city of Addis Ababa about the imminent release of leaders of CUDP and the use of the good name of Professor Ephraim Isaac as a go between for negotiation between Zenawi and the unjustly incarcerated leaders of Kinijit. This deliberate act of deceit has all the whole mark of TPLF's way of dealing with its "adversaries", i.e. let its protagonists lower their guard only to come back and hit them hard. Recent experiences have proven to us just how cunning the Woyane beast can be.
In November 2005, when Kinijit called for a peaceful stay-at-home protest against the vote rigging and it became apparent the entire country was about to heed the call, Zenawi begged the Ambassadors of the Donor Countries to serve as mediators and proposed to talk to Kinijit without any precondition except the lifting off the threat of the strike. Kinijit, ever so willing to find common ground to solve the political crisis, called off the strike and Zenawi betrayed the magnanimity and trust of the civilized leaders of Kinijit to hatch his vindictive plan. We, Ethiopians and the entire world, have witnessed the blood and the tears that followed this deceit.
When Kinjit instructed the newly elected Addis Ababa City Councillors not to take up the administration of the City and it became clear that no amount of coaxing or coercing by the regime will deter Councillors from obeying the order of their imprisoned leaders, it was Bereket Simon, the then Minister of Information, who personally approached the individuals assigned by the imprisoned leaders to legally register Kinijit and offered them an olive branch. He was willing, with out any preconditions, to assist them to accomplish the legal registration of Kinijit. When Bereket realized that the Councillors would not fall for the ruse, he hastily abandoned those whom he approached for talks without decorum and within weeks he and his colleagues produced their cloned (teletafi) CUDP/Kinijit.
Currently, the same actor, Bereket Simon, is out on the stage with the same old trick tucked under his sleeves. He has taken the initiative to talk to those he believes are affiliated to kinijit and to the imprisoned leaders. Projecting falls hopes to all who want to see the unjustly imprisoned out of prison a very ugly is being enacted by Bereket Simon. . This game is being played subtly to show the goodwill of the regime.
While all this artistry and cunning is going on a mass imprisonment of kinijit supporters has continued. Courts have been instructed to extend the detention without charges of all those who were rounded up for no reason except for being Kinijit supporters. Just two weeks ago Menbere Tsegaye, Saba Mekonen and Hirut Mekonen were detained after visiting Eng. Hailu Shawel in Kaliti prison. No charges have been filed against the three ladies and they have been denied bail. Mass arrests and tortures of men and women has become a daily occurrence in Ethiopia. We have passed to human rights organizations, the detailed report of a seventy year old man that was savagely beaten and tortured by the security men of EPRDF. And all this happened after Bereket Simon had gone into all that trouble to comfort us with his benign mission.
The savage attack and false accusations labelled against Kinijit by Meles Zenawi in his recent outburst in parliament and the extensive coverage by Ethiopian television, on January 5, 2007 to Ayele Chamiso’s slander against Kinijit the party, its leaders in prison and its supporters abroad is a clear manifestation of a more sinister plot regarding the upcoming court date of February 19, 2007 for the unjustly accused leaders of CUDP/Kinijit.
We cannot see Bereket’s hovering around as nothing else but, “the dance of the devil to bewitch the Ethiopians and to steal their souls”. Our imprisoned leaders are that soul. We strongly advise those individuals or groups approached by Bereket to tell him to negotiate directly with those imprisoned unlawfully even by the rules of TPLF’s constitution. If Bereket and his cohorts are too embarrassed to face those whom they have betrayed, we can assure them that the civility of Kinijit leaders is too high to snub them provided they go to Kaliti with the humility of a guilty man very much conscious of his crime. Unless the prisoners are allowed to sit together in a room and collectively deliberate, no one else should negotiate with TPLF officials on behalf of the imprisoned Kinijit leaders. The one and only request by those who are approached for negotiation must be to ask for free and unfettered access to meet and talk with the prisoners in Kaliti.
Ethiopians at home and abroad must realize the dirty games TPLF has been playing for the past few months. The verdict on Mengistu Hailemariam, the razzmatazz and over the topspin on the millennium celebration, and finally the invasion of Somalia by EPRDF troops, has all been meticulously orchestrated to prepare us for the coup de grace the predetermined guilty verdict on Kinijit leaders. The judgment has already been pronounced by none other than Meles Zenawi himself, long before the trial began. The kangaroo court proceeding is a smoke screen for the will of the tyrant to materialize itself in the form of a lawful verdict.
Like all corrupt and decadent ruling classes that insulate themselves from realty and live in their own fantasy world, Meles and his associates believe that they can get away with yet another crime. All freedom loving Ethiopians must not be confused by the shenanigans of a regime bent on leading Ethiopia and Ethiopians into the abyss. We should never let our guards down until the tin walls of Kaliti are flung open and we see Kinijit leaders, journalists, civic society advocates and all prisoners of conscious freed from the jail houses of TPLF across the length and breadth of our beloved Motherland.
By mounting a monumental campaign of resistance both at home and abroad, Ethiopians have to make it clear to Meles and the ruling cabal that the immediate and unconditional release of the prisoners of conscience and the start of good faith negotiations with the freed leaders of Kinjit and all other concerned political groupings is the only way out of the political impasse that may soon turn into a hellish nightmare. The unanimous conclusions reached by lawyers representing Western government that the trial of CUDP/Kinjit leaders is a show trial by a kangaroo court came as no surprise to Ethiopians who have lived under the absence of the rule of law for the past sixteen years. Hence, no verdict other than a NOT GUILTY verdict will be acceptable to Ethiopians on February 19, 2007.
Though it may be difficult for the steadfastly uncompromising nature of Meles, the only redeeming course of action to take for the “prisoner-ruler” in the palace of Minilik is to free himself by freeing those whom he has unjustly incarcerated in subhuman condition in the dungeons of Kaliti.
Ethiopians demand the freedom of our Leaders
Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party
Seven Oromo Liberation Front members sympathizing for fundamentalists detained- ENA
January 6, 2007
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia(ENA) - Kenyan authorities detained seven men claiming to belong to the Oromo Liberation Front who are sympathizers of the routed fundamentalists in Somalia.
The Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation reported that the seven surrendered at the closely monitored border town of Liboi.
Seven more militias were arrested on Friday at the Kenyan border town of Liboi.
The seven claim to belong to the Oromo Liberation Front, who by virtue of opposing the Ethiopian government, have become sympathizer of the fundamentalists, the report said.
Prime Minister Meles hold talks with Somalia President
January 7, 2007
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ENA)Prime Minister Meles Zenawi held talks with President of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, Abdullahi Yousuf Ahmed on Saturday.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Seyoum Mesfin told journalists that the two sides have held discussions on the current political and military situation in Somalia.
Seyoum said the demolition of the extremist forces in Somalia shows the liquidation of the terrorist danger that had been threatening Somalia, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa region as a whole.
Though it is not time to say the terrorist group would not commit any damages in the future, it is possible to say that the danger posed by the terrorist forces on Ethiopia has been eliminated, he said.
Seyoum also indicated that the two leaders noted that Somalia, which was stateless for the past 16 years, has now entered the path to peace and stability, and added that the two sides have exchanged views on activities due to be carried out in the future.
President Abdullahi Yousuf Ahmed on the occasion indicated that he would attach due emphasis on ways of ensuring peace and stability in that country through bringing about consensus among and accommodating various political powers in Somalia.
The President also indicated his readiness to carry out activities aimed at forming a strong central government with the participation of the Somali people.
Prime Minister Meles on his part said the Ethiopian government would provide the necessary assistance for the realization of targets set by the Somalian TFG.
Meles also told the President that Ethiopia would support the efforts of the TFG aimed at bringing about peace and stability through establishing security, defense and police force that involves all sections in Somalia.
As Ethiopian defense forces are winding up their mission in Somalia, the two sides have agreed to jointly appeal for the deployment of African peacekeeping force in a bid to avoid possible security vacuum.
The discussion between the two leaders was effective and conducted with mutual understanding, the Minister said.
Meles Zenawi: Betting on a losing horse
By Jamal Madar
Jan 7, 2006 — Meles Zenawi may be celbrating in his palace in Addis Ababa for his lightning victory over the poorly armed and ill-trained forces of Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) but his victory may soon prove to be hollow.
Zenawi’s US backed war aim was essentially two folds: First, to disrupt or destroy the ruling apparatus of the UIC and, depending on the success of combat operations, decapitate the whole UIC regime. Second, to replace the UIC with the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) headed by Abdillahi Yusuf, which is more receptively attuned to the Ethio-US interests and provide protection to it until such time when it has reasonably attained the capability to defend itself from Islamists.
Undoubtedly, Zenawi, under instructions from his US benefactor, has succeeded to remove the UIC from power, for the time being at least, but he has not been able to decapitate the UIC. The UIC forces hastily abandoned Mogadishu to spare civilian population from death and destruction and dispersed their militia and heavy weaponry around the country to fight another day. Conversely, the so-called extremist elements within the UIC, which Ethiopia and the US longed to capture or kill, are still out there in the wilderness, thumping their noses at Melez Zenawi.
As part of its on-going war against what George Bush described as “Islamo fascists”, Washington gave Addis Ababa the green light to invade Somalia and topple the UIC, which it [Washington] views “a new Taliban and al-Qa’ida sympathisers who were turning Somalia into a haven for terrorists including those responsible for the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998,” according to The Australian.
"Washington encouraged Addis Ababa to go ahead. They provided the same sort of diplomatic cover they did for Israel going into Lebanon last summer, and for similar reasons — to keep a foothold in the region," said analyst Michael Weinstein according to The Daily Nation.
The TFG, which Zenawi staked so much of Ethiopia’s credibility, is not only ineffectual and unpopular, but it is also powerless militarily and cannot protect itself from the Islamists without prolonged Ethiopian military presence in Somalia- something, which Zenawi cannot afford at the moment because of the growing ONLF insurgency in the Somali region of Zone 5, his current hostilities with Eritrea coupled with the ever-increasing domestic opposition to his authoritarian rule and the international pressure on Addis Ababa to pull back its troops. Moreover, the perception in the Somali street is that ‘the TFG is nothing more than ‘a motley collection of traitors and mercenaries who are at the beck and call of Meles Zenawi’ and has little or no popular support in the country. Surely, if the TFG had any support among the Somali people, it wouldn’t have needed Ethiopia to fight for it. The only credible support that the TFG has until now comes largely from the heartlands of Abdillahi Yusuf’s hometown- the self-autonomous region of Puntland.
The TFG may be recognised by some 88 countries but, in the eyes of the Somali people, it is a discredited and reviled government associated with warlords. Most, if not all, of the blood–thirsty warlords who wreaked death and destruction across Mogadishu and its environs for the past one-and-a-half-decades were cabinet ministers that belonged to the TFG.
These warlords include: former ministers such as Security minister, Mohamed Afrah Qanyare, Trade minister, Muuse Sudi Yalahow, Religious affairs minister, Omar Mohamoud Mohamed and minister for Militia and Rehabilitation, Botan Isse Alin
Other warlords, without portfolio, inlcude Mohamed Dheere whose reign of terror in Jowhar- the seat of the TFG- put him in collision course with Abdillahi Yusuf and Ali Mohamed Gedi over government’s meagre resources. Eventually, Mohamed Dheere had to kick out the Ethiopian backed TFG from Jowhar forcing the government to flee to Baidao. Ironically, when the Islamists expelled him from Jowhar, Zenawi took Mohamed Dheere to his bosom and trained him and his followers in Feerfeer, Ethiopia.
Needless to say, these TFG warlord-ministers caused untold misery and mayhem right across the country.
It was only in June 2006 when the Islamists fully seized control of Mogadishu and defeated the TFG warlord-ministers that Prime Minister Gedi had actually sacked the four ministers in question for their involvement in the Somali bloodshed.
With the backing of Ethiopia, it is now business as usual for these same warlords. Mohamed Dheere is now back to Jowhar to restore and re-establish his warlord ship. Another warlord, Mohamed Afrah Qanyare, returned to his old hunting ground, Dayniile, Mogadishu, to re-exert his authority in there.
There is no doubt that the TFG lost its mantle of legitimacy when it allied itself with Ethiopia. It would be hard for the TFG to shrug off its image of subservience to Meles Zenawi as well as its past era of jungle mentality and warlordism.
On the contrary, the UIC forces brought about peace and stability throughout much of central and southern Somalia. They re-opened Mogadishu airport and seaport for business, both of which closed for more than one-and-a-half decades. They cleaned and collected mountains of garbage from the streets of Mogadishu, restored law and order, expelled all blood-thirsty warlords who killed, maimed and destroyed the lives of thousands upon thousands of Somali people and sold innocent muslim clerics by the dozen to the US as part of the CIA extra-ordinary rendition. The UIC authorities removed all barricades erected by TFG warlord-ministers in the main roads between townships and cities. More importantly, they evicted all squatters who occupied properties owned by other people and returned them back to their rightful owners.
If there were any blunders and mistakes to which the UIC authorities fell victim, it was that they have over reacted with their approach to certain sensitive and contentious issues, such as the banning of Khat where thousands of people’s livelihoods depended on, their empty rhetorical threats against Ethiopia [though Ethiopia occupied Somali territories] and the break-away republic of Somaliland where they could have won friends rather than enemies.
Such is the stark difference between the TFG and the UIC. It simply defies the conventional wisdom as to how the people who suffered so much for so many years under the warlord-ministers of the TFG would suddenly welcome back and offer support to their tormentors.
Given its past record of warlordism and its unholy alliance with Ethiopia, it is hard to imagine how the TFG would ever govern the country without popular support, which is the key to its success. If the past is any guide, the prospect of a protracted guerrilla war tactics against Ethiopia’s occupying forces and its puppet TFG is now a more realistic scenario than ever before. Surely, Zenawi is betting on a losing horse.
* The author is a Somali-Briton based in London, UK. He can be reached at email@example.com
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