Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Stakes Get Higher

The Somali government has confirmed the Islamic insurgency in the country is now being commanded by a well-known Al Qaeda figure. Aden Hashi Ayro trained in Afghanistan, and is now said to be personally directing operations as heavy fighting with Ethiopian-backed government troops rages for a second day in Mogadishu.

The Somalis are hoping to paint this conflict as part of the wider war on terror. They believe the best way to attract more international support, especially from Washington, is to emphasise the Al Qaeda links of the rebels they're fighting. The US won't commit any troops to Somalia - not after its disastrous intervention there in 1993 - but the Somalis presumably reckon at least having American sympathy will help them. And they might be right. The more established the fledgling government becomes in international eyes, the better their chances of seeing off the Islamic rebels.

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