Sunday, July 30, 2006

Somali Leader Accuses Iran of Supporting Islamic Militants

Boston Herald:
Somalia’s prime minister on Saturday accused Egypt, Libya and Iran of providing weapons for Islamic militants who have seized control of much of this country’s south.

Egypt, Libya and Iran, whom we thought were friends, are engaged in fueling the conflict in Somalia by supporting the terrorists,” Prime Minister Mohammed Ali Gedi said, citing unnamed sources within his government.

The accusations came as Somalia’s already weak government was unraveling. Two lawmakers were shot this week - one fatally - and Gedi was facing a no-confidence vote after 18 lawmakers resigned from his administration. READ MORE

Meanwhile, an Islamic militia with alleged ties to al-Qaida has steadily gained power, raising fears of an emerging Taliban-style regime. The United States accuses the group of harboring al-Qaida leaders responsible for deadly 1998 bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

We call for the international community to put pressure on these countries who want the problems in Somalia to continue,” Gedi said.

Earlier Saturday, the prime minister was among hundreds of people who attended the funeral of Abdallah Isaaq Deerow, the minister of constitutional and federal affairs who was gunned down the day before as he left a mosque.

His assassination enraged hundreds of Somalis who streamed into the streets hours after his death, screaming “We want a government that can restore law and order!” The protesters set fires near the presidential compound in Baidoa, the base of the transitional government.

Seven people have been arrested in Deerow’s death, but authorities provided no further details, police chief Aadin Biid said.

On Wednesday, Mohammed Ibrahim Mohammed, chairman of the parliamentary committee for constitutional affairs, was shot and wounded. It was not immediately clear whether the shootings were connected, although the men had worked together.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other, carving much of the country into armed camps ruled by violence and clan law.

The government was established nearly two years ago with the support of the U.N. but has failed to assert any power outside Baidoa, 155 miles from the capital, Mogadishu.

The militia, known as the Supreme Islamic Courts Council, has rallied even more supporters by condemning reports that troops from neighboring Ethiopia have entered the country to protect the fragile government. Ethiopia is Somalia’s traditional enemy, but Somalia’s president has asked for its support - a decision that infuriated many Somalis.

Deerow, a secondary school teacher before he entered politics in the 1990s, was “an ardent supporter of close ties with Ethiopia,” his friend, Ali Mohamed Ahmed Daon, told The Associated Press.


Associated Press writer Mohamed Sheikh Nor contributed to this report from Mogadishu.