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IGAD Urges International Community Not to Support Somali Rebel Factions


The international community was urged not to support factions outside of the Somali government by a top official in the seven-nation regional grouping Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Kenya's foreign affairs minister Wednesday. The officials also appealed for humanitarian assistance for war-torn Mogadishu.

The comment by IGAD executive secretary Attalla Hamad Bashir and Minister of Foreign Affairs Raphael Tuju is a veiled reference to the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism, a militia that has been battling in recent days with the Islamic Court Union in the Somali capital.

It is widely believed that the United States is backing the counter-terrorism alliance, a charge the U.S. government does not address directly.

Following a courtesy call by Bashir to the Kenyan minister Wednesday, the two urged foreign countries to work with Somalia's transitional government and not with factions or militias operating outside the government.

A joint statement said countries should not resort to what it called "unilateral actions" that contradict positions held by the United Nations, the African Union, and others.

"An uncoordinated intervention in Somalia will result in the warlords running rings around all of us and is an approach that is bound to fail besides compounding the problem and increasing conflict that has resulted in the death of so many," Foreign Minister Tuju explained. "It was also agreed that, as an international community, we should resolve the problem in Somalia using one voice and not send discordant messages to various factions on the ground."

Fighting broke out last week between the anti-terrorism alliance and the Islamic Court Union reportedly after an assassination attempt was made on one of the counter-terrorism alliance's leaders.

Some 150 were killed and hundreds injured in the conflict, prompting hundreds of Somalis to take to the streets Wednesday to call for peace. Bashir and Tuju appealed for humanitarian aid to help those affected by the fighting.

Media reports describe the anti-terrorist alliance, formed three months ago, as being a coalition of warlords who aim to stem what they feel is growing Islamic extremism in Somalia. The Islamic courts are said to want to maintain law and order in the volatile capital.

The United States has not directly said whether or not it is supporting the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack recently told reporters that the United States is "working with individual members of the transitional government to try to create a better situation in Somalia."

The United States has long been concerned that chaotic Somalia could become a haven for international terrorists.

There have been more than a dozen attempts to form a central government in Somalia ever since civil war broke out in 1991. Since then, warlords and their militias have battled with each other and civilians to control different parts of the country.

A transitional Somali parliament was formed in Kenya more than a year ago following a two-year peace process, and recently met for the first time in Somalia.

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