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Attacks Against AU Peacekeepers in Somalia No Surprise, Says Analyst

Attacks continue against AU peacekeepers in Mogadishu, with the commander of Ugandan troops calling on other AU nations to send more troops.

Among those following developments in Somalia is David Shinn, professor of political science at George Washington University and former US ambassador to Ethiopia.

He spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the continuing attacks against US peacekeepers in Mogadishu.

“First, I don’t think anyone should find this very surprising. The conditions have been in place for several months now for a situation in Mogadishu particularly to deteriorate. Until the Transitional Federal Government makes some tough decisions about broadening the base of the government it’s just not going to have much success in obtaining the widespread support of the Somali people. And that hasn’t happened yet.

“There is the promise to hold a reconciliation conference starting on April 16th, some 3,000 people in Mogadishu. The chances of that occurring under these conditions are exceedingly small in my view. And that therefore puts in question whether that effort could go forward at all,” he says.

The former ambassador says a different approach is needed. “That’s basically having one on one meetings with key people and try to bring them and their political base into the Transitional federal Government so that it can be accepted and actually work.”

Ambassador Shinn it’s vital to talk to the moderate elements in the clans and the former Islamic Courts, but exclude the extremists. So far, he says “with a few exceptions that hasn’t happened…my fear would be that even if you invited some of them in they would refuse to join.” He says that one of the most important groups is the Ayr sub clan that controls much of Mogadishu.

Shinn says that Ugandan troops are probably feel beleaguered and that Ethiopian forces are still doing most of work.