Somalia: Ethiopia accused of “genocide”

Hussein Aideed, a veteran Somali warlord who is now deputy prime minister of the transitional government, accused Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu of committing “genocide” since arriving in December. Ethiopia dismissed the comments as an absolute fabrication. Hundreds of residents have been killed and thousands forced to flee since Ethiopian troops arrived in the Somali capital at the transition government’s invitation. Aideed, an influential leader of the Hawiye clan, many of whose members are joining the armed resistance. (BBC, April 13)

Sheikh Hassan Dhahir Aweys, fugitive leader of Somalia’s ousted Islamic Courts Union, threatened to target African Union peacekeepers, telling the Arabic nternational daily Asharq al-Awsat that insurgents “would not allow the African peacekeepers to remain on Somali land.” However, he expressed readiness to talk with interim President Abdullahi Yusuf “if he agreed to get the Ethiopian and African forces he brought to Somalia to leave.”

“If there is a good reconciliation that is accepted by all Somalis, then I am one of them and I do not reject reconciliation,” he said from a secret hide-out on the Somali-Kenyan border. Aweys blamed Washington for the violence in Somalia by encouraging Ethiopian intervention. (Reuters, April 14)

Aweys reiterated his threat to target peacekeepers in a phone call to AlJazeera, which identified him as “chief of the Supreme Islamic Council of the Somali Islamic Courts. “The Somalis are…proving that they are one nation against the Ethiopian invaders,” Aweys said, adding that “Somalia is a 100% Islamic nation.” He also accused the Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu of committing “genocide.”

On April 13, a mortar fired by Ethiopian-backed transitional government troops landed on a camp for Mogadishu residents whose homes have been destroyed in the fighting. Hundreds of makeshift canvas shelters burned to the ground.

That same day, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the other main leader of the Islamic Courts Union, met with President Isaias Afwerki in Asmara, the Eritrean capital. It was the first time an African leader has met with the ICU since it was driven out of Mogadishu. In an implicit acknowledgement of Eritrean support, Aweys said: “We welcome any effort by any party to support the Somali people in the face of the Ethiopian occupation of Somalia.” (AlJazeera, April 14)

See our last post on Somalia and the struggle for the Horn of Africa.