Awash with arms

 

Somalia has been awash with small arms since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled in 1991. Different sides turned on each other and carved much of the country into armed camps ruled by violence and clan law.

 

A transitional government was established two years ago with the support of the UN, but the leadership wields no real power outside the western city of Baidoa.

 

With fears Somalia could once again be plunged into war, African diplomats have proposed a regional peacekeeping force, which the Islamic Courts Union bitterly opposes, to try to restore order.

There are fears the Islamic Courts and the Ethiopian-backed transitional government may go to war for control of Somalia.


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On Monday, the International Crisis Group, an independent think tank, said in a report that the deployment of peacekeepers could plunge the nation into all-out war.

 

The Belgium-based group said a draft resolution supporting regional peacekeepers would be presented to the UN Security Council on Wednesday by the US. However, the US State Department says it was not presenting a resolution despite supporting the idea of a peacekeeping force.

 

Peacekeeping plan

 

Somalia's foreign minister told reporters in Paris that a plan to bring in peacekeepers to the country has the support of "most of the UN Security Council, particularly the five permanent members".

 

Ismael Mohamoud Hurreh, the foreign minister in Somalia's transitional national government, said that critics of the peacekeeping plan were "somehow thinking that this thing is simply going to go away, [which is] wishful thinking".

 

The foreign minister also said he believed that the Islamic Courts Union movement was "spread thin" and lacked the power to seize Baidoa, the only town controlled by the government.

 

"We are very certain that attacking Baidoa would be suicidal," he said.