Printer Friendly

Arab League efforts toward Somalia negotiations make little headway.

Byline: Daily Star Staff

Summary: The Arab League is trying to broker negotiations between Somalia's fragile UN-backed government and Islamist insurgents, but it said on Saturday that rebel hardliners did not want to talk.AaWestern security agencies say that the drought-ravaged country has become a safe haven for militants, including foreign jihadists, who are using it to plot attacks across the region and beyond.Aa

Abdi SheikhAa

ReutersAa

Aa

MOGADISHU: The Arab League is trying to broker negotiations between Somalia's fragile UN-backed government and Islamist insurgents, but it said on Saturday that rebel hardliners did not want to talk.AaWestern security agencies say that the drought-ravaged country has become a safe haven for militants, including foreign jihadists, who are using it to plot attacks across the region and beyond.Aa

Ibrahim al-Shuwaymi, the Arab League's ambassador in Somalia, said that the body had been trying to broker discussions between the government and the insurgents behind the scenes since the League opened an office in the capital Moga-dishu in July 2008.Aa

"Somalia's politics are very complicated, but we shall never lose hope of reconciling them," Shuwaymi told Reuters in an interview.Aa

"I meet the government and Islamists officials in an effort to bring peace. But the problem comes from the Hizbul Islam and Al-Shabaab [rebel] groups, which do not want dialogue." Al-Shabaab, which Washington says is Al-Qaeda's proxy in Somalia, has vowed to strike Burundi and Uganda's capitals in revenge for Thursday's rocket attacks by peacekeepers from those countries that killed 30 people in Mogadishu.Aa

Burundi and Uganda both have around 2,600 peacekeepers in the Somali capital as part of the African Union's AMISOM force.Aa

Fighting in the failed Horn of Africa state has killed 19,000 Somalis since the start of 2007 and uprooted 1.5 million, triggering one of the world's worst humanitarian emergencies.Aa

Shuwaymi said the worsening insecurity made delivering aid even more difficult for the international community.Aa

"Even local aid workers are killed and groups deprive internally displaced people of food relief," he said. "There is no reliable group through which aid can be delivered."Aa

Despite the lack of progress, the ambassador said his organization would continue its mediation efforts.Aa

"Somalia is a member of the Arab League and it is our duty to play an important role in restoring peace C* We will always be ready to convince the opposition groups," he added.Aa

"Blood must not be shed. What's needed is a Somali government. Later, Somalis can discuss what kind of Sharia or principles the state will adopt. Peace comes before Sharia."Aa

In a separate interview with Reuters in Uganda, Somali Foreign Minister Ali Jama Ahmad said more AU troops would be sent soon to boost AMISOM to its planned strength of 8,000.Aa

"We expect our African brothers to complete the deployment of an additional 2,800 in the coming two months," Ahmad said.Aa

"There are some countries that have indicated that they will be sending peacekeepers and are now being trained by the United Nations because they said they did not have experience in peacekeeping." He did not elaborate. Several African nations had agreed to send troops for AMISOM but have so far failed to do so, some saying in private they are put off by the incessant violence.Aa

AMISOM troops come under near-daily attack from the rebels. Last month, Al-Shabaab hit the mission's main headquarters in Mogadishu with a twin suicide car bombing that killed 17 peacekeepers, including the Burundian deputy force commander.

Copyright 2009, The Daily Star. All rights reserved.

Provided by Syndigate.info an Albawaba.com company
COPYRIGHT 2009 Al Bawaba (Middle East) Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Oct 26, 2009
Words:610
Previous Article:Middle East newspapers struggle in new age.
Next Article:Residents of Ghobeiri suburb exchange gun fire.
Topics:


Related Articles
Mideast-U.S.
Two States or One: The Moment of Truth.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2015 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters