Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Mogadishu Will Not Fall – Gov’t Aide | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- As the masses of Islamist rebels near the outskirts of the Somali capital Mogadishu, a high-level official in the Somali Government told Asharq al-Awsat that the capital Mogadishu would not fall into the hands of the rebels seeking to overthrow Sheikh Sharif.

The official, who spoke to Asharq Al- Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said the principal battle for control of Mogadishu would not be easy at all and underlined the government forces’ ability to defend it. He said the capital would mark what he called the beginning of the end for the rebels who include forces from the Somali opposition alliance, the Mujahidin Youth Movement [MYM], and the remnants of the Islamic Courts organization. He pointed out that the African Union’s peacekeeping forces (AMISOM) would take part in the fight if the city came under attack.

The Somali official denied that Sheikh Sharif might ask for Ethiopian forces to come to protect the interim authority saying this scenario is absolutely out of the question. He added: “The Ethiopians did their role in a previous stage and there is no need for them now. It is true that the rebels are getting unlimited logistic support from Eritrea which is supplying them with military equipment, but we are capable of crushing them.”

Mogadishu is waiting anxiously for the battle which observers are calling the decisive one as it will determine the fate of the interim authority. The masses of the MYM fighters are nearing the city after succeeding yesterday in seizing control of Mahadday town north of the city, the second strategic town the hard-line organization seized in the past two days after having seized the town of Giohar which lies 90 km to the north of the capital.

Local town citizens told Asharq al-Awsat by telephone that the government soldiers fled from the town as soon as the vanguards of the attacking MYM forces arrived and seized it without a fight and in an unexpectedly quick time. The rapid advance of the Islamist hardliners toward the capital upset the Somali parliament’s session when a large number of deputies preferred to move outside the country in expectation of more violence in the capital.

Leaders in the Islamic Party, which includes four organizations opposed to Sheikh Sharif, are saying his interim authority is on the verge of collapsing while figures close to him are saying that these expectations are totally baseless.

In other news, the bloodshed has forced many Somalis to flee west across the porous, desert border into Kenya. A charity said yesterday that more than 270,000 refugees in Kenya were facing alarming shortages of food, water and adequate shelter in overcrowded camps that many of them were considering returning to the Somali war zone.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said some 5,000 people were arriving every month at three camps in Kenya’s Dadaab area.

“The situation is simply scandalous,” said Joke Van Peteghem, MSF head of mission in Kenya.

“These refugees have risked everything to escape the fighting in Somalia. Now some are telling us they would rather take their chances in Mogadishu than die slowly here.”