12 December 2006

Somalia: Islamist Chair to Fly to Yemen As Tension in the Country Runs High

Mogadishu — The chairman of Union of Islamic Courts Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed is due to fly to Yemen on Tuesday.

Ahmed's trip to Yemen arrived after Somalia's parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden has had meetings with Yemeni president Ali Abdalla Salah over the tense situation in Somalia.

Sheik Ahmed said he received an invitation letter from Yemeni government.

He is expected to present Islamic Courts view over the developments of Somalia's political turmoil to authorities of Yemen.

Following the approval of the UN Security Council resolution to deploy regional peacekeeping troops to Somalia, Ethiopian backed government forces and Islamists fighters clashed beyond Dinsor district, 120 km south of Baidoa, a seat for the transitional government. The fighting in which more than 20 persons were killed and dozens more wounded sparked military momentum in the country's borders along side with Ethiopia.

Large number of Ethiopian forces was massed along the border with central Somali regions where Union of Islamic Courts has fighters within a striking distance of the Ethiopian barracks.

Military build up of both sides triggered fears of possible clashes any moment.

There were rumors that Islamic Courts fighters heading to capture a fresh territory (Tiyoglow) that is administered by neither the government forces nor Islamists. Tiyoglow is 90 miles northeast of Baidoa.

The government released a press release on Monday, accusing the Islamic Courts of bringing Eritrea troops in the country. The press release welcomed the approval UN decision to lift arms embargo on Somalia partially and let African peacekeepers, IGASOM, enter the country to protect the fragile Somali government and train its security and military forces.

Ali Ahmed Jangali, the government's information minister, said Eritrean troops were positioned at strategic areas like the main airport and the seaport of the capital, admitting that there were several hundred Ethiopian forces in Baidoa to coach the government forces.

The transitional government, which barely administers beyond its small town of Baidoa, southern Somalia, was formed with the help of UN in 2004 after prolonged negotiations and participation of all Somalia's warlords.

Yemen has doubled its trial to arbitrate Somalia's vying parties after UN incited it to help soothe the rising tension in Somalia.

Somalia has been without central effective government for sixteen years when President Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.

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