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13 May 2006

Report: Foreign Islamic militia control 80 percent of Mogadishu

medium_10000000000.jpgWASHINGTON — Islamic forces loyal to such countries as Iran, Libya and Saudi Arabia have been gaining control in the the streets of Somalia's capital. A United Nations Security Council report said that militias,

bolstered by weapons from regional states, control 80 percent of the Somali capital, Mogadishu. The report said Islamic forces have gained control over the city as they overcome U.S.-backed militias, Middle East Newsline reported.

"Three fundamental sources feed this [weapons] flow: a widening circle of states — each with its own agenda — arms trading groups and economically powerful individuals, and the business elite," the report said.

The report was released as more than 120 people were killed in militia violence in Mogadishu this week. The battles have centered on the rivalry between Islamist units and those aligned with the United States. Both oppose the so-called Transitional Federal Government.


"There appears to be a correspondingly greater volatility of the security situation, particularly in central and southern Somalia," the report said. "The pattern of militarization and the trend towards increasing volatility greatly increases the chances of more fighting and the resulting loss of life."

On May 10, the Security Council renewed the mandate of a group established to investigate an arms embargo on Somalia, without a central government since 1992. The council determined that despite the 15-year embargo, foreign countries continue to pour weapons in an attempt to expand influence in the Arab League state.

"Arms, military materiel and financial support continue to flow like a river to various actors, in violation of the arms embargo," Qatari ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz Al Nasser, chairman of the sanctions committee, said.

The Islamic militias have improved their skills in combat and organization, the report said. The Security Council said these militias employ foreign fighters and use shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons.

The report said the U.S.-backed alliance — entitled Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism — has been on the defensive. The UN monitoring group said it had received credible information that the Islamists have captured and beheaded several U.S.-financed militiamen.

Islamic militias have emerged as a third "ideologically motivated and now independent" force, the report said. The other actors were identified as the U.S.-backed militia and the Transitional Federal Government.

Western diplomats have determined that the Islamic militias have invited Al Qaida-aligned groups to use Somalia as a base. Al Qaida was also said to have established training bases in southeastern Somalia.

The report did not identify countries that support the militias in Somalia. But diplomats identified some of them as Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

"The clandestine support of individual states is narrowly defined and motivated by self-interest," the report said. "As a result, the [UN] Monitoring Group sees no end to the trend of continued clandestine state support and, therefore, no end to the ongoing militarization in the near future."

Copyright © 2006 East West Services, Inc.

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