The United Nations' envoy
to Somalia has urged the country's leaders to put aside their differences and
work together in the face of a rising Islamist insurgency. Ahmedou
Ould-Abdallah appealed to Somalis in the government and opposition -- and other
interested parties -- to think of their country's dignity and future and end
issued the statement today after a warning from President Abdullahi Yusuf that
the government is close to collapse because of internal disputes, mainly over
formation of a new cabinet.
U.N. envoy urged Mr. Yusuf and Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein to agree on the
cabinet quickly. He said a power struggle does not serve Somalia's interests.
insurgents have taken over many towns and cities in recent weeks, including
Elasha, just 18 kilometers outside the capital, Mogadishu. Witnesses say at
least two people died in fresh fighting there today.
David Shinn, adjunct professor at
George Washington University and former ambassador to Ethiopia, explained
the fragmentation of the factions and turmoil in the transitional government
that are complicating the situation.
"You have the so-called Al Shabbab, who
were one time aligned with the Islamic Courts in Somalia. They provided the
muscle, the firepower, the militia for the Courts," he said. "They have essentially split
from the Islamic Courts and are operating on their own and it is not even clear
that they have any real centralized leadership. They may be operating as almost
"In the meantime, the Islamic courts
divided into two groups," he continued. "One is the Asmara faction, the so-called hardliners.
The other is the Djoubti faction, which is negotiating with the Transitional
Federal Government of Somalia to create unity. Then on top of all of this, you have
internal problems within the Transitional National Government because it is now
divided between the president and the prime minister."