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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Somalia Insurgency Gains Strength

Source: CounterTerrorismBlog.

By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
April 16, 2007

The insurgency in Somalia continues to gain strength as attacks have increased throughout the country, and fighting has returned to Mogadishu. A Hawiye clan-brokered ceasefire collapsed on Wednesday of last week in the face of clashes between Ethiopian troops and insurgent forces aligned with the fundamentalist Islamic Courts Union (ICU). The situation has become so dire that Somali deputy prime minister Hussein Aidid has likened it to "another Iraq."

The SITE Institute reports that a faction known as the Young Mujahideen Movement posted a communiqué claiming responsibility for attacks targeting Somali government officials -- including Ibrahim Shaweye, Mogadishu's deputy mayor for security, and Mohamed Nor Qalaad, the deputy mayor for finance. The group had earlier released a video on March 26 claiming credit for a suicide car bomb attack in Mogadishu that killed Ethiopian troops. The Young Mujahideen Movement's statements have been distributed by the Global Islamic Media Front, which has had a strong relationship with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The United States has finally begun to show some interest in the deteriorating situation. For the first time in over a decade, a top U.S. official traveled to Somalia to meet with the transitional federal government (TFG). Assistant secretary of state for African affairs Jendayi Frazer met with Somali president Abdullahi Yusuf, and reported that they "talked about the need for a cease-fire . . . and the return to a political process to try and build support and legitimacy for the transitional federal government and to isolate the extremists."

While this trip is a positive development, far more attention to Somalia is needed. The insurgency shows no signs of losing steam; innocent Somali citizens are being killed and displaced constantly. The TFG still isn't receiving the aid it needs to pay its soldiers and government officials, and to begin to stabilize the country. High-level American intelligence sources have told me that the ICU may intend to recapture Mogadishu by the end of the summer. The situation in Somalia is not yet lost, but the window of opportunity to take positive action is rapidly drawing shut.

Kyle Dabruzzi contributed research to this analysis.

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