Somali Islamists accuse Ethiopia of war threat

November 25th, 2006 Print Print Email Email

Reuters | November 24, 2006

ZENAWI MOGADISHU, Dissident Somali lawmakers on Friday joined Islamists, who control much of southern Somalia, in accusing Ethiopia of preparing to attack the country and said they were ready for a holy war to defend themselves.

The comments were in response to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s appeal to parliament on Thursday to back plans to fight the Islamists who pose a “clear and present danger” after they declared jihad on Ethiopia.

Meles stopped short of declaring war against Ethiopia’s neighbour and gave no details on what the plans might entail.

Security experts say Ethiopia has been massing troops and preparing for war against the Islamists, who control much of southern Somalia and pose the biggest threat to the Addis Ababa-backed interim government.

“They intend to attack Somalia. This was not the first time that (Meles) Zenawi has admitted it. Zenawi’s dream is to divide Somalia,” said Omar Hashi Adan, a Somali lawmaker, speaking on behalf of 61 MPs who have defected to the Islamist stronghold of Mogadishu since October.

“We Somalis have to defend ourselves,” he added. “This is going to be a prolonged war.”

The Islamists declared jihad against Ethiopia, a key ally in the U.S. war on terrorism, last month, saying its neighbour was pouring soldiers into Somalia to prop up President Abdullahi Yusuf’s government, isolated in the town of Baidoa.

Ethiopia says it has only sent a few hundred military trainers to Somalia.

Senior Islamist leader Sheikh Sharif Ahmed told reporters late on Thursday that the religious movement viewed Meles’ comments as “a declaration of war.”

He also accused Washington of giving its tacit approval to any Ethiopian move and cited a document being floated by U.S. officials calling for a waiver to a U.N. arms embargo that would allow an east African peacekeeping force to be deployed.

“It seems Zenawi is getting the green light from America. Without the consent from America, he would not be able to fight with Somalia,” Ahmed said.

“America’s lobbying to lift the U.N. arms embargo. It is another sign of them giving the go-ahead to Zenawi,” he added.”

“To the Somalis, I urge you to be ready for jihad.”

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