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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Somalia: Hawiye Council Spokesman 'Threatened' By Al Shabaab

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Garowe Online (Garowe)

5 October 2008Posted to the web 6 October 2008

The spokesman for a self-appointed Somali clan union - the Hawiye Tradition and Unity Council - told reporters Sunday that council members have been threatened by local insurgents.
Ahmed Dirie, spokesman for the Hawiye Council, said al Shabaab fighters had issued an order calling for the death of council members.


"I don't know what this group [al Shabaab] who threaten us want, but they are not ones working for the religion or the interests of the Somali people," Dirie said.

He accused al Shabaab spokesman Muktar Robow "Abu Mansur" of being "an obstacle" to the delivery of humanitarian aid in Mogadishu and the central regions.
Dirie said that, while airplanes and foreigners land safely at airports in Bay and Bakool regions,
"Abu Mansur has refused for airports in Mogadishu and the central regions to operate and it appears to me there are hidden agendas."

Mogadishu and the central regions are predominately home to Hawiye clansmen, while Abu Mansur is a member of the Digil and Mirifle clans that traditionally inhabit Bay and Bakool regions, including the town of Baidoa.

Al Shabaab insurgents have targeted Mogadishu's airport with mortars at least four times since September 16, when the guerrilla group issued a threat to shoot down airplanes using the airport.

Airport-related violence has killed upwards of 80 people and helped drive a deeper wedge among the insurgents, who were already reeling from the armed resistance's split into pro-peace and pro-war camps. [ READ: Islamic Courts, al Shabaab 'on verge of war']

Hawiye Council members have opposed the airport attacks, along with airline companies, civil society groups and the Islamic Courts.

"If we are killed, we were already waiting for death. But those who pointed us out and use small children who don't know anything [to kills us] will follow us and will be killed," Dirie said defiantly.

Recently, al Shabaab member Fu'ad Shangole declared inside Mogadishu's Bakara Market that Hawiye Council members will be shot after accusing them of "working to divide up the muqawama," a reference to the armed resistance.

It is a change of fortune for Mr. Ahmed Dirie, who was arrested in November 2007 by the Somali government for allegedly supporting the insurgents. He spent more than two months in jail.

In recent weeks, Dirie and Hawiye Council Chairman Mohamed Hassan Haad led a council delegation that visited towns between Galkayo and Beletwein.

Local sources reported that the council elders pushed for the establishment of a regional government for Hawiye-inhabited areas in the central regions during their road trip, but received "mixed reaction" from region to region.

According to insiders, the idea for a Hawiye-based regional administration originated after the Djibouti Agreement between the Somali government and an Islamist-led opposition alliance.

A former government official in Puntland, who is an insightful analyst of southern politics, tells Garowe Online that "a process of Hawiyism" is going on in Mogadishu and the central regions."The intention is to drive out al Shabaab from Hawiye-dominated Shabaab's major bases are in the Jubba regions, the Shabelle regions and also in Bay and Bakool," said our source, who did not want to be named for security-related reasons.

He described al Shabaab fighters as "without clan," while noting that the Islamic Courts factions were originally conceived in the 1990s as clan-based courts protecting sections of Mogadishu.

According to the analyst, "c lan-based groups within the Islamic Courts umbrella now support the peace process and want a share in the government, a move that largely alienates al Shabaab.

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