26/05/08 (B449) Conférence de presse de Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed – Press conference Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, ARS, Eritrea, and the Somalis of the Center (En Anglais – Info lecteur)
At a press conference in Djibouti, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Chairman of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), hinted at problems originating from Eritrea´s involvement in the ARS; the foreign involvement is said to have turned some of the alliance members against the rest.
This development was already expected; Eritrea has developed relations with several political organizations and liberation fronts from neighboring countries, Sudan, Abyssinia, and Somalia. In a way, Eritrea helps the struggle for national liberation of various tyrannized nations, notably the Oromos and the Ogadenis, and in the case of Somalia, the fight for pacification and reunification.
However, one must understand beforehand that for Eritrea there are national interests that come first, before those of the Oromos, the Ogadenis or the Somalis. As in every similar case, a foreign help has always its own limits.
To some extent the help offered by a foreign country to a liberation front has its advantages and its disadvantages at the same time. They all emanate from the real needs of the country in question.
Certainly, Eritrea helped last August and September the various Somali formations shape a new force, the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia. But Eritrea´s help is conditioned by the conflict with Abyssinia.
Whereas a strong Somali opposition against tyrant Zenawi´s criminal thugs, who impersonate a national army, is most welcome in Asmara, as it obliges Zenawi to keep more soldiers in the Somali South and thus to limit the scope of operations in the Eritrean warfront, the possibility of a Somali roadmap, an agreement of all the Somali political organizations for the forthcoming elections, the departure of the ´Ethiopian´ army from Somalia, and the pacification and reunification of Somalia are all negative developments for Asmara.
It is easily understandable that with the Abyssinian soldiers removed from Somalia, Zenawi will have the opportunity to transfer his soldiers to the front against Eritrea. It is easy to realize that Asmara would never be enthusiastic with the idea.
This development may look negative for ARS, but in fact it is not. From the first view, an eventual split of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia would look as an extra Somali division and subdivision. In fact, this division could help.
If the Eritrean infiltration pulls some members of the alliance to positions of intransigence and refusal of any negotiation with the TFG and the other political forces of the country, the main part will follow Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. Thus, he will become apparently the central figure in the Somali political spectrum, having on his left side the intransigent and extremist groups and on his right side the various formations of typically westernized Somalis of the Diaspora.