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 Islamic forces take Mogadishu 
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Post Islamic forces take Mogadishu
Protests in Mogadishu as Islamist forces advance north

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Hundreds protested today against the Islamist takeover of the capital of Somalia.



Reports described the city fracturing along familiar tribal lines as surrender talks between Islamist fighters and defeated warlords broke down.

Yesterday the Islamic Courts Union, a coalition of militants with alleged links to al-Qaeda, said it had taken control of Mogadishu. Today militias intent on instilling Islamic law started to push out of Mogadishu to overrun nearby towns

At least 1,000 protesters, from the Abgal clan, a faction of the Hawiye tribe that used to control much of northern Mogadishu, rallied in a football stadium and on the streets.

"We want to establish an Abgal sub-clan defence line, politically and militarily," said Hussein Sheikh Ahmed, an Abgal leader. "Advances into Abgal territory should be halted immediately."

Tribal factions have fought over Mogadishu for more than a decade after the fall of the dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and the subsequent collapse of the US mission to the country in 1994 left Somalia in a state of anarchy.

But in recent months, the stop-start conflict had hardened into a running battle between the Islamic Courts Union, which has won support by building schools and clinics and enforcing Islamic law through Sharia courts, and a "counter-terrorism" alliance thought to be backed by the US.

Around 350 people, most of them civilians caught in the crossfire, have been killed since February, as guns, armoured vehicles and heavy weaponry poured into the capital and its notorious Bakaraaha Arms Market.

Today's protests, which were left unhindered by Islamist militias, came as the interim Somali Prime Minister, Mohamed Ali Gedi, congratulated the Muslim forces on taking control of the city.

Although Somalia's fragile, UN-sponsored Government opposes making the country an Islamic state, Mr Gedi recently fired four secular warlords from his Cabinet to distance himself from the unpopular US-backed coalition, known as the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT).

Mr Gedi called the Islamist victory, which the US fears could lead to the development of a Taleban-style African state, "an excellent step forward" today, telling Radio France Internationale that the fallen warlords had been "hurting the reconciliation, stabilisation and pacification of Somalia".

Meanwhile, Islamist forces pushed north today, seeking to cut the lines that supply their rivals in Mogadishu. Siyad Mohamed, a leader in the Islamic Courts Union, told Reuters that his fighters were advancing on Jowhar, a warlord stronghold about 90km (56 miles) north of the capital.

"We are just waiting for orders from our leaders to capture it," he said.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0, ... 14,00.html

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June 6th, 2006, 11:07 am
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ST Coordinator – Joe Marciano

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"It was before "Black Hawk Down," before Somalia became the only country in the world without a government, that I took my first trip there. It changed my life. This was in the mid-1980s, when the United States was underwriting a warlord dictator in support of our Cold War interests, at the clear expense of basic human rights. As a young, wide-eyed activist-in-training, I couldn't accept the idea that my government would use defenseless Somali civilians as pawns on its strategic chessboard -- in a strategy that ultimately produced only state collapse, civil war and famine.

Twenty years later the enemy has changed, but the plot is hauntingly similar. In recent trips to the capital, Mogadishu, I have seen evidence of U.S. support to warlord militia leaders in the name of counterterrorism operations. Since the beginning of the year, pitched battles between U.S.-backed warlords and Islamist militias in Mogadishu have claimed hundreds of lives and displaced thousands of families.

Now "our" warlords -- and by extension our counterterrorism strategy -- have been dealt a crushing defeat by the Islamists, as the latter have consolidated control of Mogadishu. Our short-term interest in locating al-Qaeda suspects has thus been undermined, and the risk of a new safe haven being created for international terrorists has been greatly increased."

New AQ Haven?

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June 7th, 2006, 3:16 pm
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Did you have a problem when we worked with warlords in Afghanistan? You play the hand you're dealt.


June 8th, 2006, 10:33 am
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