Posted to the web November 19, 2006
General Kofi Annan warned Somalia’s neighbours to stay out on Wednesday, as
UN experts painted an alarming picture of foreign and extremist intervention
in a nation on the brink of all-out war that could engulf the Horn of Africa.
have a very serious situation in Somalia, » Annan told reporters at a
UN climate change conference in the Kenyan capital, urging the country’s weak
government and powerful Islamist movement to return to peace talks.
As a new
report emerged detailing « rampant arms flows » to both Somali sides
in violation of a 1992 UN arms embargo, he also called for other nations to
keep clear and prevent the situation from deteriorating into full-scale war.
« It is already a difficult and volatile situation, » Annan said.
« We do not need to see it further complicated by neighbouring countries
rushing in with troops or guns to support one side. It will only compound
the problem. »
to be presented this week to the UN Security Council, says that seven nations
and the militant Lebanese movement Hizbullah have sent military aid to the
Islamists, while three countries are backing the government. It says the « unprecedented
and highly exacerbated » situation contains « all of the ingredients
for the increasing possibility of a violent, widespread, and protracted military
conflict » in most of Somalia.
there is the distinct possibility that (it) may spill over into a direct state-to-state
conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, as well as acts of terrorism in other
vulnerable states of the region, » it says.
Ethiopia and Eritrea, still at odds over their 1998-2000 border war, have
thousands of combat troops in Somalia, according to the report. Both countries
deny this, although Ethiopia admits to sending military advisers. Backing
the Islamists are Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria
and Hizbullah, while Ethiopia, Uganda and Yemen are supporting the government,
according to the report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.
all of the named nations deny violating the arms embargo but the report provides
detailed information about weapons shipments, including shoulder-fired surface-to-air
missiles and other sophisticated equipment, and the provision of other military
report covers the period from May to October, during which time the Islamists
seized Mogadishu from US-backed warlords and took control of much of southern
and central Somalia, imposing a harsh brand of Sharia law. The Islamists and
government are now girding for battle in two areas, one around the government
seat of Baidoa and the other near the border with the semi-autonomous enclave
of Puntland, north of Mogadishu.
records names, dates and locations of such transactions, including a donation
to the Islamists of one million dollars by Libya and the creation of a reciprocal
relationship between the Islamists and Hizbullah.
it says, provided the Islamists with « at least 28 separate consignments
of arms, ammunition and military equipment, » including a July 23 delivery
of the surface-to-air missiles and infrared-guided anti-tank weapons. Shipments
to the Islamists from other countries, notably Iran, Egypt and Syria are also
detailed, as is the July 27 departure of 200 Muslim gunmen from Somalia to
Syria « to undergo military training in guerrilla warfare. »
said the Islamists sent about 720 battle-hardened fighters to Lebanon in mid-July
to wage war against Israel alongside Hizbullah.
80 returned to Somalia, the report says. In exchange, according to the report,
Hizbullah arranged for additional support to be given to the Islamists by
Iran and Syria, both of which are accused by the United States and others
of supporting terrorism.
in the Somali Islamist movement are believed to have ties with al-Qaeda and
earlier this month the United States warned US citizens in neighbouring Kenya
and Ethiopia of suicide attacks by Somali extremists. Somalia has been without
a functioning central authority since the 1991 ousting of strongman Mohamed
Siad Barre and the two-year-old transitional government has been unable to