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Mogadishu Calm but Tensions Remain High

The weekend witnessed a violent clash between supporters of the Islamic courts and a secular alliance, reportedly killing dozens and wounding many others. Mohammed Amin Osman is chairman of Somali Relief and Rehabilitation and the former vice minister for foreign affairs of the Somali government formed in Djibouti in 2000. From Nairobi, Kenya Mr. Osman told Voice of America that this conflict is different from any other that Somalia has known in recent years.

“I can tell you what happens now is that the conflict in Mogadishu and the previous conflicts in southern Somalia or Mogadishu are different because of the ideological stance taken by the religious group and those groups calling themselves anti-terrorist alliance.”

Osman says previous clashes were characterized by clan power struggles. However, presently, religious groups are united in support of Islamic militias because they believe the secular alliance is supported by foreigners. Osman says allegations that Somalia might turn into a terrorist haven are untrue.

“What happens is a lot of people maybe their intention is Somalia to rule Sharia Islam. That is what we know 100 percent. But we don’t know if Somalia has the terrorist, and we never hear that any terrorist training camp in Somalia. We know that some groups they are highly organized and these fellows are interested in being part of the Somali political group and to take over the country and to rule the Sharia Islam. But that one is the normal case for Islamic countries and countries which have no central government. Therefore I think those countries who are involved are wrong because Somalia needs the reconciliation through clan-based approach. Somalis need to solve their problems through negotiations.”

Osman says since the 1991 overthrow of Siad Barre, the international community has frequently misinterpreted Somalia.

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