Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, one of the most important leaders of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) in Somalia, surrendered to the Kenyan authorities three weeks after his movement’s defeat at the hands of the Ethiopian and Somali forces.
Official and diplomatic Kenyan sources said that Sheikh Sharif and three other Somalis have been detained by the police since Sunday at the Hulugo border post between Kenya and Somalia. A Western source confirmed to Agence France Presse that “Sheikh Sharif is in Kenya.”
Somali Government sources stated to Asharq Al-Awsat: The official announcement of the arrest of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the UIC’s second in command, yesterday on the Somali-Kenyan borders followed negotiations that an American delegation held with Sheikh Sharif under Kenya’s sponsorship to ensure his participation in any peace talks between the Somali Government and the UIC’s remnants. The sources also said that the US administration believes that dealing with Sharif might ensure the surrender of the remaining UIC militias and agreement to merging and rehabilitating them in the forces loyal to the Somali president.
An official who took part in the negotiations stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat” that Sheikh Sharif expressed his willingness to join the political process and stop resisting the Ethiopian military presence in the country. He pointed out that “Sharif is not wanted by any party for involvement in terrorist activities or for association with the Al-Qaeda organization as is the case with Sheikh Hasan Daher, the UIC leader and top official.”
An American official in Kenya admitted to Asharq al-Awsat that Washington views Sharif as a reformer whose hands are not covered in blood or violence. He pointed out that “Sharif will later move to reside in Yemen according to an agreement that has not fully finalized yet.” The American official revealed that the American forces and the Ethiopian and Somali ones that were pursuing Sharif before his arrest on the border with Kenya had received instructions earlier on to keep him alive.