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ICC NOTE: Islamic clerics have called for a “holy war” against peacekeepers that are concerned for the region of the Horn of Africa. In their own words, African or not, “they would be mercilessly repelled.” The IUC has given repeated promises of stability in the Somalia , however their threats of war against anyone who defies them or is not aligned with them are quite contradictory.

August 19, 2006

For the full article go to the New York Times

Islamists in Somalia Sharply Rebuff Plan for African Peacekeepers



On Thursday, East African military leaders met in Nairobi and floated a plan to send more than 6,000 soldiers to Somalia . The country seems to be teetering on the edge of war between the Islamic forces who control the capital, Mogadishu , and a fledgling transitional government based in Baidoa and backed by Ethiopia . Many fear that such a war could drag in Somalia ’s neighbors and destabilize the entire region.

Military chiefs for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional organization that includes Djibouti , Eritrea , Ethiopia , Kenya , Somalia , Sudan and Uganda , said they would like to dispatch the first troops to Somalia by October.

But less than 24 hours after the announcement, Islamic clerics in Mogadishu called for a holy war against the peacekeepers.

“We are Muslims, and we are targeted for that identity,” said Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, the spiritual head of the Islamic forces.

Somalia ’s Islamic leaders fear that the peacekeeping plan is simply a ruse to back up the transitional government, which has been hurt by defections and rivalries and is still so weak that its leaders are more or less confined to Baidoa, 150 miles inland from Mogadishu .

On Friday, imams at Mogadishu ’s mosques urged followers to join Islamic militias and prepare for battle. One said, “The mosque will be the industry that will produce heroes,” according to a Somali reporter who did not want to be identified because of safety concerns. The militias recently began a recruitment drive for teenage boys, and many war-orphaned children have been signing up.

Similar fervor swept through Mogadishu last month when reports circulated that Ethiopia , Somalia ’s longtime rival, had dispatched troops to Baidoa to protect the transitional government from collapsing. Ethiopia denied the reports, but the effect was to solidify support for the Islamic clerics, who have cleaned up the capital and restored a degree of law and order after more than 15 years of anarchy.

Somalia ’s transitional government is energetically supporting the plan for African peacekeepers and seems to have won over military leaders in Kenya .

On Thursday, Jeremiah Kianga, Kenya ’s chief of general staff, told reporters in Nairobi , “There’s an urgency in this deployment and we need to move faster to make the plan a reality.”