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Somali Government Denies Ethiopian Troops Return


The Somali Federal Transitional Government (TFG) is sharply denying reports suggesting the return of Ethiopian troops despite a scheduled withdrawal. This comes after Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein recently met with Ethiopian leaders in the capital, Addis Ababa. Some Somalis claim to have spotted several convoys of Ethiopian troops coming into the country. But the government denied the reports without giving reasons. Some political analysts say Ethiopia might have changed its exit strategy to counter ever-increasing threats by Islamists, including al-Shabab. Somali political analyst Ali Abdullahi tells reporter Peter Clottey that it is apparent Ethiopia is making friends with some warlords.

"What is happening with the reinforcement, or perhaps I should call it the re-arrangement rather than reinforcement because it was just removing them from one area and putting them in another area. The troops are being drawn from Mogadishu, and they seem to be going south. It is a matter of trying to prop up one warlord apparently who has an alliance with the Ethiopians. But there is also the threat of al-Shabab in the Kismayu area. So it is a very fluid area, and I think they are trying to get their presence felt in that area," Abdullahi noted.

He said the transitional government has been quiet on the development of the return of Ethiopian troops, although there seems to be an effort not to create a power vacuum after Ethiopian troops withdraw.

"Coming to the issue of an al-Shabab threat and the rearrangement of Ethiopian troops, these are strategic military issues, which I presume are very secret to the Ethiopian presence because they have been there for quite some time. And you cannot pull out of an area overnight. Leaving a vacuum can trigger destabilization. So they are trying to make sure that they do not create a vacuum," he said.

Abdullahi described the Somalia situation as sad, and blamed the international community for not doing enough to alleviate the suffering of the ordinary Somali because of a growing instability.

"The stability of the country relies on the coming president of Somalia. However, the international community as it has always done it has ignored the Somalia issue at a time of its need. We need a president that can lead Somalia out of this current crisis. We need a president that can see beyond clanism, and we need a president that can understand how the global system works. And we need the assistance of the international community so that Somalia comes back as a country. If that doesn't happen, then there is going to be more chaos," Abdullahi pointed out.

He said although Ethiopia has helped in bringing some stability into the country, it might end up being bedeviled with clan fights.

"This is an issue that is very secret to the government and that is that Ethiopia has the right to choose its friends, even if they would choose a warlord to come back again to run Jubaland, which apparently covers the bigger area of Somalia. Well, that is their choice. But you have to understand that Ethiopia has been involved in very tactical maneuvers in Somalia, which from time to time are counterproductive. I'm looking at it from a strategic point of view because the more you get bogged down with clannish warfare, then you become another warlord," he said.

Meanwhile, Nairobi declined to send peacekeepers to neighboring Somalia, which has not had an effective central government after the overthrow of former President Mohamed Siad Barre. But after meeting the Somali speaker of parliament, who also doubles as the acting president , Kenya's foreign minister Moses Wetangula said Nairobi is willing to play a crucial role in rebuilding Somalia. Wetangula adds that Kenya will continue training Somali customs officials, immigration officers, army personnel and border guards to help them safeguard their country.


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