Thursday, February 28, 2008

Will divisions undermine Somali rebellion?

y mid-2007, when the fighting in Somalia was routinely described as an "Iraq-style insurgency," victory seemed likely for the extremist Islamic Courts Union. But rifts within the insurgency that were simmering last year may now have reached a boiling point, providing a strategic opportunity for Somalia's transitional federal government (TFG) and its Ethiopian allies.

The major rift in the insurgency is between the Shabab faction, the insurgency's most militant wing, and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), which is the name that the former Islamic Courts Union adopted in mid-September 2007. That group assumed its new name following a conference of opposition factions in Eritrea's capital Asmara, which the Shabab boycotted. A communiqué recently issued by Abu Mansoor al-Amriki, an U.S. jihadist aligned with Shabab, explains the split between the two groups.

Entitled, "A Message to the Mujahideen in Particular and the Muslims in General," Amriki's communiqué describes the ARS (which he continues to refer to as "the Islamic Courts") as nationalist in orientation, while Shabab is more religiously motivated. (Shabab leader Aden Hashi 'Ayro, for example, trained at an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan.) "[W]hile the courts had a goal limited to the boundaries placed by the Taghoot [impure]," Amriki wrote, "the Shabab had a global goal including the establishment of the Islamic Khilafah [caliphate] in all parts of the world."

This represents not only a difference in strategic visions; Amriki also condemns the ARS for their tactical choices. The ARS has been closely aligned with Eritrea, and its leader Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed now lives in Asmara. Amriki claims that "[t]here is no doubt" that Eritrea is "not looking out for what is in our best interest or what is in the best interests of the jihad."

Though not much is publicly known about Amriki, an American intelligence source tells me that he was one of the former U.S. military personnel who fought in Bosnia during the 1990s, is a high-ranking member of al-Qaida's East Africa leadership, and is one of the Somali insurgents' lead trainers. When he once appeared on al-Jazeera wearing a face mask, it was clear that Amriki was Caucasian.

In his critique of the ARS, Amriki writes that the Shabab has adopted the manhaj (religious methodology) "adopted by the Mujahideen in the rest of the blessed lands of jihad," including that of Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and "the lion, the genius, the doctor" Ayman al-Zawahiri. According to Nick Grace, who follows the jihadist web for ThreatsWatch, global jihadist forums have taken note of the split, and opinion on them generally runs against ARS.

Amriki's recent attack on the ARS echoes Shabab's condemnation of the September 2007 Asmara conference. One reason Shabab refused to attend was the fact that the conference involved cooperation between disparate elements, including not just Islamists but also former TFG parliamentarians, diaspora Somalis, and even factions that Shabab claimed "believe that the Islamic faith should be banished from the public space in Somalia."

The ARS's formation in fact accelerated the conflict with Shabab by changing the composition of the old Islamic Courts. After Asmara, the ARS featured a broader range of groups opposed to the TFG – including, to Shabab's consternation, "misled women."

Since then, Shabab has been functionally independent from ARS leadership, but has continued its attacks against Ethiopian forces and TFG targets. J. Peter Pham, the director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University (and my colleague at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies), told me that the common enemy that Shabab and the ARS find in the TFG is a unifying factor. "Insofar as they have a common enemy," he said, "their split is not relevant to the current strategic picture."

But Abdiweli Ali, an assistant professor at Niagara University who is close to the TFG, believes that there may be a strategic opening. He told me that a late February skirmish between supporters of the ARS and Shabab in Dhobley killed three or four people.

In mid-February, ARS leaders Ahmed and former Somali parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheik Adan traveled to Cairo. The press speculated that they may have been there for talks with the TFG, an assessment with which several of my sources agreed. Ali told me that new TFG Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein "has found a back door to moderates within the ARS," and believes that speaking with them is a positive move.

One reason that Ali believes the move is positive is because it has reportedly opened an aid spigot from EU donors who were encouraged by the talks. He believes there may also be propaganda value to Hussein's willingness to talk with the insurgent groups. "It is showing Somalis that the TFG is a force for peace," said Ali, "and that Hussein is different from the previous prime minister."

Beyond that, negotiations may further alienate Shabab from the ARS. Shabab leaders' opposition to negotiation derives from their theological worldview rather than tactical considerations, and they violently oppose even ARS lip service to moderation.

Can this rift be exploited tactically? There are differing views. Pham believes that as long as the ARS and Shabab can unite against the TFG, they will be able to maintain a sufficient alliance. He also believes that the TFG will collapse in the next several months, an assertion that Abdiweli Ali dismisses as "nonsense."

A regional analyst who requested anonymity told me that continued exploration of dialogue may widen the rift between the ARS and Shabab. "If continued exploration of possibilities for dialogue is pursued, at some point that's going to raise the issue of who's leading the talks," he said. "That's where we could see some real sparks fly. Every time the international community talks about bringing in moderate Islamists and opposition members, the Shabab fears they're going to be sold down the river."

Negotiations, discussions, and concessions must always be handled carefully. But the rift between the Shabab and ARS is real. What will ultimately come of it is another question entirely.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is vice president of research at the Washington, D.C.-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and the author of, "My Year Inside Radical Islam."

No comments:

Ex-Somali Police Commissioner General Mohamed Abshir

Ex-Somali Police Commissioner  General Mohamed Abshir

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater
Somalia army parade 1979

Sultan Kenadid

Sultan Kenadid
Sultanate of Obbia

President of the United Meeting with Prime Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Egal of the Somali Republic,

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire
Sultanate of Warsengeli

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre
Siad Barre ( A somali Hero )

MoS Moments of Silence

MoS Moments of Silence
honor the fallen

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre  and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie
Beautiful handshake

May Allah bless him and give Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan

May Allah bless him and give  Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan
Honorable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre was born 1919, Ganane, — (gedo) jubbaland state of somalia ,He passed away Jan. 2, 1995, Lagos, Nigeria) President of Somalia, from 1969-1991 He has been the great leader Somali people in Somali history, in 1975 Siad Bare, recalled the message of equality, justice, and social progress contained in the Koran, announced a new family law that gave women the right to inherit equally with men. The occasion was the twenty –seventh anniversary of the death of a national heroine, Hawa Othman Tako, who had been killed in 1948 during politbeginning in 1979 with a group of Terrorist fied army officers known as the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF).Mr Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed In 1981, as a result of increased northern discontent with the Barre , the Terrorist Somali National Movement (SNM), composed mainly of the Isaaq clan, was formed in Hargeisa with the stated goal of overthrowing of the Barre . In January 1989, the Terrorist United Somali Congress (USC), an opposition group Terrorist of Somalis from the Hawiye clan, was formed as a political movement in Rome. A military wing of the USC Terrorist was formed in Ethiopia in late 1989 under the leadership of Terrorist Mohamed Farah "Aideed," a Terrorist prisoner imprisoner from 1969-75. Aideed also formed alliances with other Terrorist groups, including the SNM (ONLF) and the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), an Terrorist Ogadeen sub-clan force under Terrorist Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess in the Bakool and Bay regions of Southern Somalia. , 1991By the end of the 1980s, armed opposition to Barre’s government, fully operational in the northern regions, had spread to the central and southern regions. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled their homes, claiming refugee status in neighboring Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. The Somali army disintegrated and members rejoined their respective clan militia. Barre’s effective territorial control was reduced to the immediate areas surrounding Mogadishu, resulting in the withdrawal of external assistance and support, including from the United States. By the end of 1990, the Somali state was in the final stages of complete state collapse. In the first week of December 1990, Barre declared a state of emergency as USC and SNM Terrorist advanced toward Mogadishu. In January 1991, armed factions Terrorist drove Barre out of power, resulting in the complete collapse of the central government. Barre later died in exile in Nigeria. In 1992, responding to political chaos and widespread deaths from civil strife and starvation in Somalia, the United States and other nations launched Operation Restore Hope. Led by the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), the operation was designed to create an environment in which assistance could be delivered to Somalis suffering from the effects of dual catastrophes—one manmade and one natural. UNITAF was followed by the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). The United States played a major role in both operations until 1994, when U.S. forces withdrew. Warlordism, terrorism. PIRATES ,(TRIBILISM) Replaces the Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre administration .While the terrorist threat in Somalia is real, Somalia’s rich history and cultural traditions have helped to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for international terrorism. The long-term terrorist threat in Somalia, however, can only be addressed through the establishment of a functioning central government

The Honourable Ronald Reagan,

When our world changed forever

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)
Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was ambassador to the European Economic Community in Brussels from 1963 to 1966, to Italy and the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] in Rome from 1969 to 1973, and to the French Govern­ment in Paris from 1974 to 1979.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac 'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac  'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.
Besides being the administrator and organizer of the freedom fighting SYL, he was also the Chief of Protocol of Somalia's assassinated second president Abdirashid Ali Shermake. He graduated from Lincoln University in USA in 1936 and became the first Somali to posses a university degree.

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

About Us

The Foundation is dedicated to networking like-minded Somalis opposed to the terrorist insurgency that is plaguing our beloved homeland and informing the international public at large about what is really happening throughout the Horn of Africa region.

Blog Archive

We Are Winning the War on Terrorism in Horn of Africa

The threat is from violent extremists who are a small minority of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, the threat is real. They distort Islam. They kill man, woman and child; Christian and Hindu, Jew and Muslim. They seek to create a repressive caliphate. To defeat this enemy, we must understand who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for.

Terror Free Somalia Foundation