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Old 01-03-2006   #1
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Default Commander Says Terror at Bay in E. Africa

2 Jan. Associated Press - Commander Says Terror at Bay in E. Africa.

Quote:
Al-Qaida is active in Somalia, but U.S. counterterrorism forces are succeeding in keeping its influence from spreading in East Africa _ using shovels as their weapons, a commander said Monday.

Maj. Gen. Tim Ghormley, who assumed command of the task force in May, said his troops are focusing on humanitarian projects including drilling wells and refurbishing schools and clinics to improve the lives of residents in the region and keep them away from the terror network.


"We know that al-Qaida al-Itihaad is in Somalia," Ghormley told reporters in an interview at his base in the impoverished nation of Djibouti. "They'd like to export that ... if we weren't there they would be."

While the al-Qaida linked group al-Itihaad was largely destroyed or disbanded by Ethiopian troops fighting inside Somalia by 1997, some of its members have regrouped under new guises and have begun to grow in strength, according to an International Crisis Group report released in July.

Somalia, divided into warring fiefdoms and with no central government, remains fertile ground for terrorists.

The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, set up in this former French colony in June 2002, is responsible for fighting terrorism in nine countries around the Horn of Africa: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Somalia in Africa and Yemen on the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula.

"I believe we're winning," Ghormley said, sitting on a wicker sofa under ceiling fans in a reception hall. "You can't contain them (al-Qaida), but we can take away their recruiting pool and deny them access and that's what we're trying to do."...
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Old 01-08-2006   #2
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Default The Quiet War in the Horn of Africa

9 Jan. Christian Science Monitor - To Fight Al Qaeda, U.S. Troops in Africa Build Schools Instead.

Quote:
... In 2002, more than 1,500 US troops were sent to this former French colony in East Africa to hunt followers of Al Qaeda throughout the region. Now, under General Ghormley, their mission has evolved to preempt the broader growth of Islamic militancy among the area's largely Muslim population.

"We are trying to dry up the recruiting pool for Al Qaeda by showing people the way ahead. We are doing this one village, one person at a time," says Ghormley, commander of the joint task force based in Djibouti. "We're waging peace just as hard as we can."

Previously East Africa has hosted an array of Islamic militant groups. In 1998, Al Qaeda bombed the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing more than 220 people. The group has also tried to shoot down an Israeli airliner in Mombasa, Kenya, and sink oil tankers and US navy vessels in the Red Sea.

Now many analysts worry that trouble is again brewing as rising poverty combines with the anti-Western ideologies of hard-line Islamic missionaries in a region already dogged by porous borders, plentiful weapons, and poor governance...

Unable to find or strike at any visible Al Qaeda members, US forces based in Camp Lemonier - Djibouti's former French Foreign Legion base - have instead begun to work to tackle the factors that might contribute to the growth of extremism in the future.

Ghormley's men have so far built more than 30 schools and 25 clinics, as well as new wells and bridges. They are focusing particularly on the mainly Muslim areas close to the porous Somali border where poverty and dissatisfaction with pro-Western central governments might make many receptive to extremist teachings...
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Old 05-19-2006   #3
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Default Horn of Africa historical (pre-2011): catch all thread

19 May London Times - Is U.S. Using Enemy to Fight a Proxy War?.

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... in Somalia, where rising turmoil has killed 150 in the past month, the interim government has accused the US of sliding quietly back into the fray on the warlords’ side, more than a decade after they drove out US forces.

The Somali government claims that the US is backing the kind of warlords who were its old enemy, and who make the country ungovernable, to keep al-Qaeda, its worse enemy, at bay.

This week two senior spokesmen from the Bush Administration refused to answer direct questions about US backing, but acknowledged fears that al-Qaeda would profit from the chaos. “In an environment of instability, al-Qaeda may take root. We want to make sure that al-Qaeda does not establish a beachhead in Somalia,” Tony Snow, White House spokesman, said...

To credit Somalia with a “government” is stretching a point; it has only a United Nations-backed gesture of hope. For 15 years, since the overthrow of Mohammed Siad Barre, the long-time dictator, Somalia has had no central rule.

The interim government, headed by President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, clings to the shadow of power, but must meet in neighbouring Kenya or in the southern town of Baidoa, as Mogadishu is too dangerous...
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Old 05-29-2006   #4
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Default Ethiopia - Eritrea

29 May Boston Globe editorial - Fester in Africa's Horn.

Quote:
The war that killed 70,000 people between 1998 and 2000 has stopped, but the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea has not ended. The UN Security Council would encourage resumption of fighting if it reduced the 3,000-man peacekeeping force on the border.

Council members, led by the United States, are irked that the dispute hasn't been resolved. An international commission decided that a sliver of land claimed by Ethiopia should be part of Eritrea, and that demarcation was to have been the cornerstone of a peace settlement, but Ethiopia has refused to cede the land. The United States and other nations need to persuade the government to accept the ruling.

At the same time, Eritrea needs to end its estrangement from its neighbor. It should normalize relations by giving Ethiopia every opportunity to use the port at Assab and by safeguarding the rights of Ethiopian expatriates...
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Old 05-29-2006   #5
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Good background on the situation, from ICG, published last December:

Ethiopia and Eritrea: Preventing War
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The 1998-2000 war has frequently been described by pundits as being as pointless as “two bald men fighting over a comb”, but for the belligerents the issues are deadly serious. Ironically, it is the peace process itself that has produced a stalemate from which renewed fighting is now feared.

The disputed border was the proximate cause of the war. Arguably, however, the root causes went deeper, including to the legacy of friction between the two former allies from their struggle against the regime (1977-1991) of Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam and the overdependence on relations between leaders and parties rather than institutions in managing bilateral relations.

Many differences arose between the neighbours over migration, labour, and trade. Particularly controversial was Eritrea’s introduction of its own currency in November 1997, despite Ethiopia’s strong protest. Tension also developed over the use of the port of Assab, which Ethiopia had ceded to Eritrea at independence. Its loss cost a suddenly landlocked Ethiopia significant revenues, and resentment smouldered.

On both sides, however, the dusty border village of Badme, where the war began, has now acquired a symbolic importance entirely out of proportion to its size and population...
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Old 05-29-2006   #6
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Default Thanks Jedburgh...

Africa should be on our radar screen... Asia also...
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Old 06-05-2006   #7
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Jamestown Foundation, 31 May: Warlords or Counter-Terrorists: U.S. Intervention in Somalia
Quote:
As the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to dominate headlines, a new front in the war on terrorism has opened in Somalia. At a brutal cost to Mogadishu's civilian population, once-discredited warlords have reinvented themselves as "counter-terrorists," seeking and apparently gaining U.S. support by characterizing their Islamist opponents as agents of al-Qaeda. The warlords have grouped together as the Anti-Terrorism Alliance (ATA) and insist they are dedicated to expelling foreign al-Qaeda members they allege are sheltered by the Islamic Court Union (ICU). Although nearly all the ATA warlords are cabinet ministers in the new Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) located in Baidoa, they have abandoned the TFG to pursue an unauthorized war against their Islamist rivals in Mogadishu. Allegations of U.S. funding for the unpopular ATA leaders are undermining U.S. efforts to stabilize the region...
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Old 06-15-2006   #8
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...another one from the Jamestown Foundation, dated 13 June:

Leadership Profile: Somalia's Islamic Courts Union
Quote:
The crisis in Somalia may be entering a new phase. A union of Islamic courts has taken control of the lawless capital, Mogadishu. On June 4, after months of intense fighting, militiamen loyal to the Supreme Council of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), headed by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, expelled the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT) from Mogadishu. Last week, after pushing the ARPCT warlords out of the capital, the ICU asserted its authority by establishing three new Islamic courts in Mogadishu in areas previously controlled by warlords (Somaliland Times, June 6). They also advanced toward the warlord stronghold of Jowhar, a town 90 kilometers north of Mogadishu, sending fears that Somalia was headed for extremist Muslim leadership...
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Old 06-16-2006   #9
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From the Swiss-based ISN, 16 June: Washington's tactical error in Somalia
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After 15 years of relative anarchy - with warlords controlling much of the country and an impotent-at-best interim government that was forced to hide itself away 250 kilometers from the capital city - the Islamic militias have won control of Mogadishu and the last key warlord strongholds.

This has come to fruition despite US backing for the warlords' opportunistically named "Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism" - an alliance the majority of the population has grown to loathe for being synonymous with violence, complete lawlessness, and chaos.

Aside from stoking the fires of anti-American sentiment and creating enemies out of potential allies in a geostrategically significant location, Washington is being blamed by African and Western diplomats for the four months of bloodshed that ended in the Islamic militias' victory and claimed the lives of some 350 people, mostly civilians...
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Old 06-20-2006   #10
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...and again from ISN: A High-Stakes Game in Somalia
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...With allegations and denials abounding that Ethiopian army regulars crossed into Somalia on 17 June, the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) -Islamic Court Union (ICU) talks scheduled for Yemen this week will take on added bite.

And with a UN official suggesting that arms are flowing into Somalia in contravention of an embargo, security in Somalia and in the Horn of Africa region could be set to deteriorate in the coming days and weeks...
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Old 06-25-2006   #11
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Default CJTF-HOA: Countering Terror at the Source

25 June Stars and Stripes - Djibouti Mission Fights Terror at its Source.

Quote:
... “Doing goodness for goodness’ sake is OK, but what we’re really trying to do is ameliorate the conditions that give rise to terrorism,” says U.S. Navy Capt. Stephen Johnson, chief of staff of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

“We are investing a relatively small amount of resources in order to help African nations build peace and stability throughout the region. If we’re successful, we may just be able to avoid expending the huge amounts of resources that we have in Afghanistan.”

Or Iraq. Indeed, U.S. military officials openly call the Horn of Africa mission one of avoidance and pre-emption — keeping a low profile, providing small-scale community projects and training local militaries.

The task force was formed in late 2002 and has operated from Camp Lemonier in Djibouti since May 2003. The force’s area of responsibility includes Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, the Seychelles, Sudan, Yemen and, technically, Somalia....

The task force has some 1,500 military and civilian personnel working in an area covering more than 2 million square miles with more than three times the population of Iraq and Afghanistan combined. More than half of the region’s population live in extreme poverty; there are 3.3 million refugees from war and famine; there are 10 million internally displaced persons; and 26 million people have HIV.
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Old 06-25-2006   #12
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For those who have access, there are two older reports that provide good background on CJTF-HOA:

CALL IIR 04-28, CJTF-HOA (AKO Log-in Required)
Quote:
Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) is tasked with conducting operations in the Horn of Africa (HOA) region to defeat transnational terrorists, their networks, to stimulate and assist in the long-term effort to develop a stable environment that is non-conducive to extremist ideologies. This region is large, covering 167,000,000 square miles, roughly two-thirds of the area of the continental United States. This region contains six countries and one failed state as well as numerous ethnic and religious groups that straddle borders. The HOA area if responsibility (AOR) is over three times larger than Afghanistan and Iraq combined, yet it has only slightly more than 1,300 CJTF-HOA personnel. As one of the fronts on the global war on terror (GWOT), HOA provides an effective capability for a relatively modest sized organization. CJTF-HOA has a lower priority for resources than either Iraq or Afghanistan. This presents an overarching problem for the task force in the GWOT. The often used mantra “Do more with less” may not be truer anywhere than with the CJTF-HOA.

The CJTF-HOA mission has evolved into a mission centered on civil affairs (CA) operations. Many non-CA officers from other staff elements agree the centerpiece of the CJTF is the CA effort. CA is a force multiplier in the fight against terrorism. CJTF-HOA views CA as a method to shape the battlespace and create favorable conditions to enhance stability. To do this, CA assesses areas for projects, hires locals, while involving and publicizing host nation (HN) support for projects. The key is to gain access, establish presence, and in the process empower HN government and non-government organizations. The CA effort in HOA is a good template for the future; it is important the HN takes those steps seen in its national interests. The end-state is to establish a CJTF with sustainable HN capability.
MCCLL, AAR - Visit to CJTF-HOA, Mar-Apr 05 (MCCLL Registration/Log-in Required)
Quote:
...The non-kinetic and preventative nature of this mission lends it some unusual characteristics. For instance, an important aspect of the task force itself is simply its presence in what is potentially a highly volatile region. Although the task force consists of about 1200 personnel in Camp Lemonier, at the “pointy end of the spear” are, at any given time, less than one hundred US military personnel forming civil affairs and mobile training teams. These teams are primarily involved in building relationships with both the militaries and the civilian population of adjacent countries, namely, Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen (the task force has a liaison element in the embassy in Sudan but has not yet initiated any engagements in that country). There are no clearly tangible measures of effectiveness for this type of operation, no body counts, weapons caches or captured insurgents to provide physical evidence of success. However, the personnel involved are, from my observations, having a very positive effect on the local populace’s perception of the US military in the regions where they are operating. This, in turn, undoubtedly has beneficial effects on US relations with countries in the region – constituting what is essentially a strategic information operation...
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Old 06-26-2006   #13
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Default Parts 2 and 3...

... of the Stars and Stripes CJTF-HOA article series:

Building Projects Part of Race to Win Over Horn of Africa

Battle for Beliefs Fought in Slums of Djibouti City
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Old 07-03-2006   #14
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...keeping the Somalia thread alive:

Joint Hearing: Somalia: Expanding Crisis in the Horn of Africa

J. Peter Pham of the Nelson Institute: Background, Challenges, and Opportunities
of an Islamist Takeover


Ted Dagne, CRS: The Current Crisis in Somalia and Threat of Terrorism

John Prendergast from ICG: More than Counter-Terrorism: Rethinking U.S. Policy toward Somalia
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Old 08-12-2006   #15
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From ICG, 10 Aug 06: Can the Somali Crisis Be Contained?
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...The Islamic Courts’ success, and the rise to prominence of hard-line jihadi Islamists within them, has alarmed neighbours and sent shock waves through the broader international community. Ethiopia, which suffered terrorist attacks by al-Itihaad al-Islaami (AIAI) in the mid-1990s, considers the Courts a direct threat. Kenya is alarmed by links between key figures within the Courts and individuals of concern within its own borders. The U.S. believes jihadi Islamists within the Courts shield al-Qaeda operatives responsible for bombing two of its embassies in 1998. All share determination not to allow Somalia to evolve into an African version of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the Transitional Federal Government is increasingly perceived within Somalia as a faction rather than a national authority and is so wracked by internal dissent and the accelerating defections of cabinet ministers that it threatens to fall apart.

The TFG and Ethiopia paint the Islamic Courts – far too simplistically – as a terrorist umbrella, backed by thousands of foreign jihadi fighters, and Ethiopia has threatened to “crush” them if they move against the TFG. The Courts have responded to Ethiopian deployments in Somalia by calling for a defensive jihad and breaking off peace talks under Arab League auspices. Skirmishes between TFG and Islamic Court forces south of Mogadishu in late July were widely perceived as the first exchanges of a coming conflict. Unless the crisis is contained, it threatens to draw in a widening array of state actors, foreign jihadi Islamists and al-Qaeda. Moreover, Eritrean assistance to the Courts has made Somalia an increasingly likely proxy battlefield between long-feuding Eritrea and Ethiopia...
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Old 11-02-2006   #16
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The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, 31 Oct 06:

Somalia Hostilities Threaten Outbreak of Regional War
Quote:
After years of mutual hostility, the armed forces of two states and the armed militias of one failed state are poised to unleash a potentially devastating war in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia are each moving troops up to their borders in preparation. All parties have agreed to a third round of Arab League-brokered peace talks in Khartoum this week. The negotiations may represent the last opportunity to avoid the outbreak of a general war in the turbulent and highly strategic Horn region. The importance of these talks is reflected in the decision to invite the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to join mediation efforts (Shabelle Media Network, October 22). IGAD is an important regional assembly of seven East African countries that negotiated the formation of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in 2004. The TFG is now isolated in the Somali town of Baidoa, where its existence relies on the support of Ethiopian troops and various Somali militias. Soldiers of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), Somalia's coalition of militant Islamists, are now poised for an attack on the makeshift capital where TFG leaders are engaged in bitter disputes with each other. Fighting has already broken out between the Islamists and combined TFG/Ethiopian forces for control of the approaches to Baidoa...
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Old 11-27-2006   #17
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ICG Somalia Conflict Risk Alert, 27 Nov 06:
Quote:
The draft resolution the U.S. intends to present to the UN Security Council on 29 November could trigger all-out war in Somalia and destabilise the entire Horn of Africa region by escalating the proxy conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea to dangerous new levels...

...The proposed resolution, which has the backing of African members of the Security Council, would authorise deployment of a regional military force (IGASOM) in support of the TFG and exempt that entity and troop contributing countries – Ethiopia, Uganda and possibly Kenya, amongst others – from the existing UN arms embargo. While its objectives are to strengthen the TFG, deter the CSIC from further expansion and avert the threat of full-scale war, it is likely to backfire on all three counts...

...As so often in Somalia, the consequence of an ill-considered intervention is likely to be more conflict, not less. Military measures must remain a weapon of last resort.
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Old 12-04-2006   #18
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The Economist, 30 Nov 06: The Rumbling Rumours of War
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Fighters loyal to Somalia's Islamic courts last week took positions along the border with Ethiopia; this week they pushed further north than ever before, consolidating their grip on Bandiradley (see map). Tinny loudspeakers in Somali towns under Islamist control blared out holy war against Ethiopia. Those on the front line professed themselves ready to die fighting the “forces of the devil”—Ethiopia, that is. Businessmen in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, were told to hand over their weapons for the cause; many did. Intelligence sources say the Islamists are still getting more arms from their allies, especially Eritrea, which may now have 2,000 of its own soldiers inside Somalia.

Meanwhile, 6,000-plus Ethiopian troops continue to mass on their own side of the border, with some commando, infantry and air force units already inside Somalia. A convoy of around 130 Ethiopian military lorries got past Islamist positions last week to reach the central Somali town of Baidoa, seat of Somalia's internationally recognised but powerless transitional government. Locals said the many Ethiopian troops in the town were busy digging trenches. Skirmishes, mostly won by Islamists, are taking place across the country every day. Ethiopia would probably overrun the Islamist positions in a conventional war. The question is whether Ethiopia's prime minister, Meles Zenawi, will order his army to attack....
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Old 12-20-2006   #19
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Looks like major fighting has broken out between Ethiopian regulars and the Islamic Courts Union:

Quote:
Islamic commander Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim Bilal told AFP news agency: "I can confirm to you that heavy fighting has already started around several front line areas."

Government commander Ibrahim Batari accused the Islamists of mounting the attack. "There is shelling everywhere... our forces are facing Islamists, hell is going on," he said.


Islamic militias have attacked us and the fighting is continuing

Salad Ali Jelle
Deputy defence minister


Q&A: Islamist advance
Peacekeeping conundrum

"I can hear sounds of bullets, rockets from the side where the defence lines of the Islamic courts and the government are," a resident in the government's military base in Daynunay, southeast of Baidoa, told Reuters news agency.

Islamist spokesman Abdirahin Ali Mudey says the base is now in UIC hands, which residents talking to the BBC confirm.

...

But the BBC's Adam Mynott says that as he drove to the airport in Baidoa, he was stopped by a huge convoy of Ethiopian military armour.

There were about 10 large artillery cannons, several vehicles - clearly marked with Ethiopian insignia - loaded with ammunition and many hundreds of soldiers.


He was detained for about an hour by Ethiopian soldiers who appeared on edge and very nervous.
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Old 12-20-2006   #20
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Default A Lot of Moving Pieces Right Now in the HOA...

Fighting Breaks Out in Somalia During Envoy Visit - NY Times. Heavy fighting broke out near the base of the transitional government of Somalia Wednesday, just as European diplomats were shuttling between rival leaders in yet another effort to avert an all-out war. According to United Nations officials, the Islamist clerics who control Mogadishu, Somalia’s battle-scarred seaside capital, launched an offensive on two fronts against the transitional government’s forces.

E.U. Envoy: Somali Government, Islamists Agree to New Peace Talks - VOA. A European Union envoy says Somalia's interim government and the rival Islamist movement have agreed to a new round of peace talks. The announcement by E.U. official Louis Michel came as the two sides' fighters traded gunfire and mortar shells near the government's home base of Baidoa.

Diplomat Pushes Peace Talks in Somalia - AP. Somali fighters clashed with artillery, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns Wednesday, even as a European diplomat persuaded both the government and a rival Islamic movement to resume peace talks. The heavy fighting outside the only town the government controls dragged on into the evening and underlined the difficulties of securing peace in this desperately poor country in the Horn of Africa.

Heavy Fighting Spreads in Somalia - VOA. In Somalia, heavy fighting has broken out between Islamists and interim government forces in several towns near the government's outpost of Baidoa. The fighting comes in the wake of an Islamist threat to launch a major attack if Ethiopian troops did not leave Somalia by Tuesday. The fighting on Wednesday flared in the towns of Bur Hakaba and Daynunay, where large numbers of Islamist fighters and government forces have been massing in recent weeks.
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