Tuesday, June 06, 2006


From The Financial Times : "Islamic militias claimed on Monday to have seized control of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, after months of fighting against an alliance of warlords alleged to have been backed by the US as proxies in the war on terror.

"Several hundred people are reported to have been killed in recent months in the worst violence in Mogadishu for a decade.

"The capture of Somalia’s war-ravaged capital, if enduring, would mark another US policy failure in the Horn of Africa nation, which has been without an effective government for 15 years and is cited by the Bush administration as a potential haven for terrorists.

"The US, which does not deny allegations that it has funded the alliance of warlords, alleges that a small number of suspected al-Qaeda members, including some suspected of having taken part in attacks in Kenya in 1998 and 2002, have used Somalia as a hideout and transit centre.

"Most Somalis follow a moderate form of Islam, and Islamic courts, which the militias are loyal to, have operated for years, providing services the state would normally provide.

"However, analysts say a number of courts have become dominated by extremists. The US suspects that some have sheltered foreign terror suspects. Allegations that the US backed the unpopular warlords increased local support for the Islamic militias."

From The New York Times : "Islamic militias declared victory today over Somalia's traditional warlords in the battle for control of Mogadishu, quelling months of fierce fighting in the lawless capital but raising new questions about whether this regime, which American officials have accused of sheltering terrorists, will steer the country down an extremist path.

"The (Somali warlords) had been defeated by militia fighters allied with the Islamic courts that have grown in influence throughout Somalia in recent years, filling a void left by the lack of a central government. The Islamists are a loose coalition of leaders who have put forward Islam, the universal religion in Somalia, as the way out of anarchy.

"Washington has been widely accused of secretly financing the warlords, who fashioned themselves into a counterterrorism alliance to root out Al Qaeda elements in Mogadishu.

"Although American officials have yet to confirm giving payments to the warlords, the widespread belief that money was changing hands only seemed to strengthen the hands of the Islamists among many Somalis.

"Backing the Islamists have been business leaders eager to end the arbitrary rule of the warlords, as well as freelance gunmen willing to work for anyone who pays them a salary and supplies them with a daily fix of khat, a leaf that many Somalis chew as a natural stimulant.

"More than 300 people have been killed and 1,700 wounded in the recent fighting, according to figures provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross."

'Somalia's Tangled Web Becomes Contorted' - An Indepth Intelligence Analysis