Wednesday, May 13, 2009
In an interview today with the Voice of America's Somali service, I commented that the recent violence in Mogadishu is a continuation of long-standing efforts by various groups to seize power from the weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG) now headed by Sheikh Sharif. Most of the opposition comes from the extremist al-Shabaab organization and several allied groups that want to replace the TFG. The United States continues to support for the TFG, which explains why the State Department issued a brief statement on 11 May that condemned the 9-10 May attacks on the TFG and urged support for the Djibouti process. The United States also called on all governments to cease support for the "spoilers" who are attempting to undermine the peace process and the TFG. The spoilers are clearly al-Shabab and their allies. I acknowledged that al-Shabab, which receives much of its funding from non-Somali sources and has a small number of foreign jihadis supporting it, might be able to topple the TFG. Even if it does overturn the TFG, however, I doubted that it would ever gain the support of most of the Somali people who would eventually become alienated by al-Shabab's extremist policies. The African Union forces from Uganda and Burundi still perform a useful function of keeping the Mogadishu port and airport out of the hands of al-Shabab and guarding the headquarters of the TFG presidency. Many Somalis oppose all foreign forces in the country, however, and I doubted that increasing the number of AU troops would strengthen the position of the TFG. In the final analysis, the TFG must prove that it has the support of most Somalis and that it can extend its writ beyond the small amount of territory that it now controls. Image: "Mogadishu has seen some of the fiercest fighting in years in recent days." Source: BBC.