Ethiopian occupiers and Islamist fighters have kicked off another round of fighting in Mogadishu while leadership rivalries paralyze the nascent Somali government.
“Today Mogadishu, the situation: fighting is going on since last night,” my Somali friend Ajoos told me by email on Saturday. Ajoos is slated to be my fixer when I (hopefully) venture to Mogadishu next month. ”A lot of people killed,” Ajoos reported. ”And of course there is many casualties [wounded]. There’s fresh Ethiopian army that has been deployed from two main entrances [into] Mogadishu.”
On Sunday, the mayor asked residents to leave the city.
“Fearful residents cowered behind closed doors as mostly Ethiopian forces supporting the interim government sought again to crush heavily armed insurgents,” Reuters reports:
Marking a major offensive, gun and artillery duels that began in Mogadishu before dawn on Saturday resumed in force. In one part of the coastal city, local media said insurgents had seized a police station after the officers guarding it fled. Elsewhere, scores of angry residents took to the streets to vent their fury at the latest violence, burning piles of tires that sent plumes of thick black smoke into the sky.
There’s more to it than that, Ajoos told me on Thursday: “The current situation is compeletly unadvisable. … [One] reason why, because there is a big political difference between the Somali president and his prime minister.”
As the years-old political standoff in Iraq has proved, it’s impossible for a fledgling government to defeat a determined insurgency, even with the help of an occupying foreign power, if the government can’t settle its own internal differences first.