The United States and other western powers have cautioned outsiders against involvement in Somalia, which to date has no single ruling authority. However, rumors about Ethiopia’s movement of troops into Somali territory have caused concern in Washington. Speaking to reporters Tuesday in Washington, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer called on Ethiopia and other countries to exercise restraint. Simon Bereket is the advisor to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty asked him to comment on Secretary Frazer’s remarks.
“In the first place, she didn’t ask for restraint to be applied by Ethiopia. She only asked that we stay cool in this situation, and that’s normal suggestion from a friendly state. I think this was a normal advise from a tense situation.”
Simon again denied that Ethiopia has troops inside Somalia. “I told you that we have no soldiers anywhere in Somalia. We have told them that we will act if they cross the line, but for us, the leaders of jihadists have started ordering their troops to move farthest to the direction of Baidoa, and they have gone back. So we know that they are now in and around Mogadishu. So there’s no reason.”
But Bereket says Ethiopian troops will respond if the Islamists come closer to Baidoa, the seat of the Somali transitional government.
“Definitely that’s we have told them because as you know we have been victims of terrorist activities coming from Somalia in the past, and we just don’t want to be attacked from Somalia once again. You know that the Eritrean government is sending massive arms. Today it is reported that a planeload (of arms) embarked in Mogadishu. So this is a trick and we are cautiously guarding ourselves, and we will act if the jihadists start destabilizing the region.”
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