(IP)– “Al Qaeda has not taught us religion and they have nothing for us. Now, we have an all-inclusive government and hope for lasting peace,” Reuters reported Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed to have stated.
The press conference in the president’s home addressed an alleged call by Osama bin Laden for local extremists to continue opposing the government and peace process and to depose the elected president.
This and similar calls are contrary to Islamic tenets which command adherence to peace treaties and shun violent rebellion against an elected government.
The 12-minute audio recording purporting to be the voice of bin Laden entitled “Fight on, champions of Somalia,” was claimed by Voice of America news to have been released to the media by Al Qaeda accompanied by a photograph of Osama bin Laden and a map of Somalia in the background.
But the Qaeda affiliated Al Shabab group in Somalia are not widely considered champions. Local officials report Shabab recruitment of youth to have fallen and the majority of Somali people “sick” of Al Qaeda-type antics.
More clashes were reported in the town of Wabho involving fighters from the al-Shabab group and its rival the, Ahlus Sunna Wal Jamaat, who reportedly attacked the Shabab-held village.
Clashes sparked by extremists seeking to impose their interpretation of Islam on the population are not unusual.
The Somali government also recently attacked a base belonging to the militant group.
Sources: Reuters, VOA
By Tracey Boddie
Islamic Post Staff Writer
As warships from US, UK, Canada, France, Turkey, Germany, Russia, China and India, to name a few, continue their efforts to curb piracy by patrolling the coastal waters of Somalia, the unlawful industry continues to flourish. A UN Security Council resolution authorized countries to chase and seize pirates when they flee into the territorial waters of Somalia “for the purpose of repressing acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, in a manner consistent with such action permitted on the high seas with respect to piracy under relevant international law.
Gulf Of Aden
Pirates have consistently plagued the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, and Somalia coastal shipping lanes and have collected more than $150 million in ransoms over the past year including ‘MV Sirius Star’, the huge 25 crew member Saudi supertanker loaded with $100 million worth of crude oil in November, making it the largest tonnage vessel ever seized by pirates.
The Somali pirates are said to have the support of their communities and rogue members of the government. Often dressed in military fatigues, typically armed with automatic weapons, anti-tank rocket launchers and grenades weaponry; pirates travel in open skiffs with outboard engines, working with larger ships that tow them far out to sea, clambering aboard commercial vessels with ladders and grappling hooks.
Seven Arab states, including host state-Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and Saudi Arabia met in Cairo in November in a bid to find an effective response to the growing threat of piracy in the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal was quoted as saying at an Oslo news conference the only way to deal with pirates like those who captured his country’s supertanker MV Sirius Star is “by eradicating” them, piracy is “not something you can negotiate or justify in any way, means, or manner.” “Like terrorism, it is an evil that has to be eradicated…”
China, one of the world’s major trading nations, has lost as-many-as seven vessels due to the piracy in the Gulf of Aden with one still said to be in the hands of pirates. With the deployment of two warships and one supply ship it is China’s first naval mission outside its territorial waters in centuries. The Middle East provides about 60 per cent of China’s oil imports thus providing it with incentive to respond.
Last year Somali pirates hijacked over 100 ships. Most are released after the payment of a ransom, generally by ship owners not governments, but over a dozen are still being held.
By Muhammad Hasib
Islamic Post Staff Writer
African Union head, Jean Ping, has expressed his opposition to African Union peacekeepers being withdrawn from what is widely seen as an uncontrollable Somalia. Ping emphasized that this was “something unacceptable.”
At a news conference in the Ethiopian capital, Ping was optimistic that the AU could find time from its strained schedule to address and avoid the seemingly unpopular suggestion that the 3,400 Burundian and Ugandan peacekeepers would be leaving the country this month.
African Union members and numerous governments worldwide did not expect the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s statement to parliament, which cited the desire of both countries to quickly withdraw their troops.
According to Ping, the African Union was focusing on making serious diplomatic efforts to increase forces so as to offset the planned pullout of Ethiopian forces this month. “We have asked the African countries to increase their participation in Somalia, asked the UNSC (UN Security Council) to join us there, and to the AU partners to help us financing this force… A withdrawal from Somalia is something we cannot accept, not only the AU, but also the rest of the world,” he said. The withdrawal this month will leave the ill-equipped and under-staffed peacekeeping force on its own to face a growing opposition from rebel forces.
Ping remarked that certain conditions must be met before a withdrawal because of the absence of a political agreement between Somalia’s warring factions, and the continued absence of reinforcements for the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM)peacekeeping force. The force was to originally have a full operational strength of 8,000.
Ethiopia has said it is prepared to delay its pullout by a “few days” in January so as not to expose the AU forces to an onslaught by the Shebab –the insurgents who control large parts of Somalia and have been closing in on Mogadishu. The AU has meanwhile been scrambling to avoid a “security vacuum” in Somalia, which has been without a well-functioning government since 1991. Ping has called on the UN Security Council to authorize the deployment of UN forces instead.