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Ongoing Somali Violence is a Religious Warfare, Says Analyst 


A Somali political analyst says the escalating clashes between hard line insurgents and the government is a religious war to win the hearts and minds of the youth.

Abdullahi Ali said the hard line insurgents, including al-Shabab are determined to demonstrate that they are more devout Muslims than the government.

This comes after the insurgents rejected a government olive branch gesture calling for a ceasefire during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The insurgents described the gesture as a calculated attempt by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's administration to use religion as a cover to re-arm government troops.

Ali told VOA that the insurgents see President Sharif Ahmed as a traitor.

"The opposition seems to be blaming the government for trying to re-arm themselves during the month of Ramadan. And as Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys told a news conference, they seem not to be in the process of stopping war during the month of Ramadan," Ali said.

He said it is unclear what the insurgents want to prove.

"You ask yourself is this really anything to do with religion or is it to do with power struggle? So it seems that both sides are trying to play more time so that they can settle scores, presumably after Ramadan. So, both are trying to re-arm themselves," he said.

Ali said the insurgents are determined to overthrow the Somali government.

"Al-Shabab is a group of very different clans who have merged to try to oppose the Djibouti-formed government. There are a lot of them who are right wing … so they see the government as infidels who are being propped up by western powers and they see them as non-viable in Somalia," Ali said.

He said the ongoing insurgency should be a lesson for all.

"What the international community needs to understand is why are all these people fighting the government and are not trying to negotiate. Well, you can say its power struggle or you can say it is the difference in Islamic opinion or the interpretation of how to govern by Sharia… so you can distill it to a power struggle," he said.

Ali said the insurgents do not repose confidence in the Somali administration.

"They don't trust the government as such because they see Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, who used to be a former Islamist of the Islamic Courts Union and he has deserted them. So, they see him as being a traitor," Ali said.

Ali said the ongoing clashes could be attributed to failed leadership in Somalia.

Somalia has been without an effective government since the overthrow of former long-time leader Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991.

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