US Navy blockades Somalia
Jan 10, 2007
Somalia’s interim federal government of President Abdulahi Yusuf Ahmed is tightening its grip on the strategic troubled Horn of Africa country with the assistance of Ethiopian troops and the US Navy.
Having moved into Mogadishu after Ethiopian and government troops routed forces loyal to the Union of Islamic Courts, who are now holed up in the extreme south of the country, the president has revealed that he supports American air bombardment on suspected UIC hideouts.
Earlier a US AC130 gunship flew from Djibouti to strafe several positions where suspected al-Qaeda activists are believed to be hiding. At the same time the US aircraft carrier USN Dwight D Eisenhower has taken up position in the Arabian Sea after leaving the Persian Gulf to provide air cover.
Other ships of the US Navy are in position off the Somali coast to prevent activists from escaping by sea. It is believed that a number of foreign Arab fighters are present in the south of the country and might try to make their escape either across the border into Kenya or in small boats by sea. Kenya has placed its troops on alert across the border.
According to the US al-Qaeda operatives linked to the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa had found shelter with the Somali Islamists and are still present in the country. Ethiopia’s prime minister Meles Zenawi said that his forces acting alongside government forces have captured a number of foreigners including fighters from Canada, Eritrea, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Sudan and Yemen.
According to President Yusuf his government has extended an amnesty to Islamist fighters but not to foreigners who were involved with the UIC. Nor did an amnesty apply to the Islamist organisation’s leaders. He said that the warlords should also give their loyalty to the new government. “We will not allow warlords to empower themselves in the capital and recruit militias,” he said.
Attempts to pacify Mogadishu and disarm the people is now underway but with mixed success and the next few weeks should determine whether the country can look forward to having law and order introduced or whether it will again slide into anarchy.
Meanwhile plans are being mooted to raise an African Union (AU) force to act as peacekeepers in Somalia. South Africa has been asked to provide troops and expertise.
Meanwhile in Washington US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice announced that that US is providing US $ 16.575 million as an initial “robust” response to meet humanitarian needs in Somalia following the re-establishment of control over the country by the Transitional Federal Institutions.
In a 4 January statement, Rice says Somalia has a "historic opportunity to begin to move beyond two decades of warlordism, extreme violence and humanitarian suffering” and calls on the international community to join the United States in supporting humanitarian and reconciliation efforts there.
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