Thursday, September 30, 2010

Who is fuelling Somalia conflict?

The Somali Republic gained independence on 1 July 1960. Somalia was formed by the union of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland, while French Somaliland became Djibouti. A socialist state was established following a coup led by Major General Muhammad Siad Barre. Rebel forces ousted the Barre regime in 1991, but turmoil, factional fighting, and anarchy ensued. The Somali National Movement (SNM) gained control of the north, while in the capital of Mogadishu and most of southern Somalia, the United Somali Congress achieved control. Somalia had been without a stable central government since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre fled from the country in 1991.

Subsequent fighting among rival faction leaders resulted in the killing, dislocation, and starvation of thousands of Somalis and led the United Nations to intervene militarily in 1992. In 1992, responding to the political chaos and humanitarian disaster in Somalia, the United States and other nations launched peacekeeping operations to create an environment in which assistance could be delivered to the Somali people.

By March 1993, the potential for mass starvation in Somalia had been overcome, but the security situation remained fragile. On 3 October 1993, US troops received significant causalities (19 dead over 80 others wounded) in a battle with Somali gunmen. - Black Hawk Down-

When the United States and the UN withdrew their forces from Somalia, in 1994 and 1995 respectively, after suffering significant casualties, order still had not been restored.

Established in 2004 and internationally recognized, the Transitional Federal Government's (TFG) support in Somalia was waning until the United States-backed 2006 intervention by the Ethiopian military, which helped drive out the rival Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in Mogadishu and solidify the TFG's rule.

Following this defeat, the ICU splintered into several different factions. Some of the more radical elements, including Al-Shabaab, regrouped to continue their insurgency against the TFG and oppose the Ethiopian military's presence in Somalia.

Throughout 2007 and 2008, Al-Shabaab scored military victories, seizing control of key towns and ports in both central and southern Somalia. At the end of 2008, the group had captured Baidoa but not Mogadishu. By January 2009, Al-Shabaab and other militias had managed to force the Ethiopian troops to withdraw from the country, leaving behind an underequipped African Union (AU) peacekeeping force.

A power sharing deal ensued between an Islamist splinter group led by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia Djibouti faction (ARS-D) and TFG Prime Minister Nur Hassan in Djibouti. Al-Shabaab, which had separated from the moderate Islamists of the insurgency, rejected the peace deal and continued to take territories. It was joined by Hizbul Islam, which is an amalgamation of four Islamist group including the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia - Asmara faction.

Another Islamist group, Ahlu Sunnah Waljama'ah, which was allied with the TFG and supported by Ethiopia, continues to attack al-Shabaab and take over towns as well although they have been effective only in the central region of Galguduud, where they ousted al-Shabaab from most of the region.

After the parliament took in 275 officials from the moderate Islamist opposition, ARS leader Sheikh Ahmed was elected TFG President on January 31, 2009. Since then, the al-Shabaab radical Islamists have accused the new TFG President of accepting the secular transitional government and have continued the civil war since he arrived in Mogadishu at the presidential palace in early February 2009.

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