Saturday, February 6, 2010

Foreign Fighters Fleeing Somalia

There has been a beehive of military activity in Somalia for the past few weeks. According to media reports, the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) headed by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has been mobilizing thousands of militias loyal to his government and contingents of well-trained troops who recently completed military training in friendly African countries for a final onslaught against forces opposed to his administration. Forces rivaling Somalia’s infant government include the theologically-driven Al-shabab supported by hundreds of foreign fighters. Al-shabab recently joined forces with the militia of Ras Kiamboni headed by hard-line Sheikh Hassan Turki. Hizb-ul-Islam, a faction headed by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and funded, supported, and advised by the Government of Eritrea is suspected to fight the Somali government should the war turn out to be full scale war. Eritrea has been a target of African Union condemnations because of its flagrant violation of Somalia peace and security and has been absent from the Union’s summits in Addis Ababa for the last ten years.

Somalia media is now abuzz with the drumbeats of war with some reporting that residents have seen foreign fighters fleeing the areas they previously frequented. These fighters have been mostly impacted and frightened by the continuous flights of foreign reconnaissance planes that have been flying over Somali airspace for the past few weeks. Somalia’s foreign fighters who have been drawn from all over the world have been providing rebellious factions with military expertise, bomb making skills, intelligence gathering, and have been vanguards of targeted assassinations against high profiles and most importantly oversaw almost all suicide bombing operations. By fighting alongside the rebels, in return, these foreign fighters get the free will to marry Somali women of their choosing while enjoying unconditional protection from international manhunt and prosecution.

Somalia’s president has run out of patience with those wrecking devastation in his besieged nation. Sheikh Sharif Started clasping his fists as a form of practicing pugilism and tightening his belt after his administration celebrated its first year in office. For the past year he has been globetrotting seeking assurances and gathering support from friends and allies of Somalia. Residents of Mogadishu reported seeing the young president in military garrisons fuming and clad in military fatigue-a sign the next few weeks will turn the tables upside down. The alternating interviews he gave to foreign and local media houses, the various communiqués he is said to have issued, and the movement of troops and hardware he is said to be overseeing should be enough to signal the end of a bleak era for Somalia and the start of peaceful reconstruction.

Ahl-sunna-wal-jama’a (ASWJ), the Sufi-led faction that controls the central regions and allied to the TFG, has its forces in high alert. ASWJ with support from Ethiopia could inflict devastating blows to Al-shabab and Hizb-ul-Islam forces fleeing to Ethiopia’s Somali region. The Government of Kenya, having amassed thousands of troops along its border with Somalia and having officially closed all border crossings could act as a detriment against fleeing terrorists. To the north, the tiny nation of Djibouti with support from French and American forces could deter fleeing rebel forces. Massive aerial bombing by western powers will undoubtedly bring about shock and awe to the rebels military installations. Those running away in decrepit dhows and headed for the Gulf of Aden could be blockaded by the combined international navies currently battling piracy along the coasts of Somalia. Such concerted efforts could usher in the defeat of international terrorism in the Horn of Africa.

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