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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Saturday, October 22, 2005


Al Qaida's new safe haven - -- Somalia -- again!

Despite the U.N. Security Council's prolongation of a weapons embargo (extending it by six months) on Somalia no more than a week ago, a move that gained very little media attention, it has had no real impact on the gunrunners; and the arms business proceeds to prosper in the lawless Horn of Africa.

Sources say at least three governments are actively involved in shipping weapons and other military equipment to Somalia. Ethiopia and Eritrea denied any involvement.

However, the Yemeni government divulged that its air force participated in nine missions -- flying to Somalia 5,000 guns, magazines and ammunition, and 15,000 sets of uniforms. They made these shipments to the "Somali interim federal government," a vacuous body habitating principally in Kenya, where you will also find the Somali parliament.

This wildly disordered state of affairs has been going on for 14 years -- ever since the 1991 downfall of Muhammad Siad Brre, the dictator (and olympian washout of the U.N.), to establish peace in the country. Prime Minister Yussuf Abdulhai, age 72, and a former warlord of Puntland, and "his government" continue to play the role, not only of a legitimately elected government, but also as the official body representing an alleged "national agenda" to the 3.5 million Sunni Muslim population divided (not surprisingly) into groups and clans.

This unstable situation is causing further deterioration and is slowly developing into a serious security threat, a concern to those fighting global terrorism, predominantly that of the jihadi kind.

As if dealing with a government in control of a real army and real law enforcement agencies, the Yemeni government received new orders from Abdulhai and his chief of staff. Their extensive list included an undisclosed number of RPG anti-tank rocket launchers, anti-aircraft SAM-7 shoulder operated rockets, 85mm anti-tank guns, mortars and even a number of helicopters, all available in Yemen’s military storage or junkyards.

Against the backdrop of illegal arms shipments landing in Somalia it is obvious supplying governments and independent gunrunners, some of whom fly over the Indian Ocean or from North Africa via Niger, Chad, Sudan and Ethiopia, to Somali destinations, have more clients in mind. Among them are Somali breakaway governments, warlords and jihadi elements, setting up shop in the country.

The most important concern is over Somalia becoming a strong supplier of hardware, training and recuperation, for African al-Qaida supporters. The independent breakaway republic of Somaliland, the only well organized and democratic entity in the once united Somalia, announced its police force had arrested al-Qaida operatives, among them a Comoro Island native by the name of Fazul Abdullah Muhammad with at least four of his colleagues. Immediately following the September 29 elections, Somaliland sources said they had apprehended more al-Qaida and Jamaa Islamiah loyals who were on a mission to assassinate leading members of the Union of Democrats Party, UDUB. No details were given about the hit team’s full identity but a source in the capital Hargeisa told visiting analysts from Kenya the assassins had also targeted leaders of other political parties in the 82-seat parliament.

The nature of al-Qaida’s involvement became clear as a leading Muslim clergy, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, said in Mogadishu he and other hard line clergy envision a Somali Muslim entity based on the Taliban model -- in other words a new al-Qaida stronghold.

Local warlords and gang leaders in Mogadishu and in the countryside say Sheikh Aweys is gradually receiving a legendary Osama bin Laden-like image. One gang leader involved in the weapons’ business as well as in piracy and robbery said, according to a British analyst: “Aweys is the only one who can bring all of us together and even lead a jihad, not only in Somalia but also against the traitors in breakway Somaliland and Puntland, who cooperate with the Christians of Ethiopia and Eritrea.”

According to Shabtai Shavit, a former head of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, quoted by Michel Moutot on a South African news website, there is a growing danger Somalia will become an al-Qaida stronghold. Shavit warned that sooner or later terror leaders such as Jordanian born Musab al-Zarqawi, the man behind most of the terror campaign in Iraq, will have to move out of Iraq or even opt to do so voluntarily since “a terrorist organization cannot exist without territory, al-Qaida cannot stay in Iraq forever, they (will) have to find another place.” Jiuseppe Pisano, Italy’s interior minister, expressed similar views in the same article, cautioning the Horn of Africa is becoming al-Qaida’s next comfort zone and said: “…where, in stateless lands, al-Qaida has arrived and settled and from where it tends, in various ways, to dispatch its followers into Europe and the rest of the world.”

Sitting idle, watching a brewing disaster in the making, is an unfortunate and dangerous position to hold. It is possibly not too far fetched to assume the need to re-enter Somalia with a full force, under a U.N. or coalition flag, will dictate some sort of pre-emptive action to eradicate a new al-Qaida territorial safe haven before it dominates the whole country. --- G2 Bulletin


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