Islamists reject deployment of African forces

Somalia's powerful Islamists on Friday rejected a proposed plan to deploy African peacekeeping forces, warning that sending any foreign soldiers, whether African or not, would be mercilessly repelled, and that Somalia's east African neighbour, Kenya, who

Islamists reject deployment of African forces

"We thought of Kenya being one of the neighbouring countries taking part in mediating in Somalia's conflict," the local media group Shabelle quoted Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the Islamists' most powerful leader, as saying.

"But Kenya has now joined Somalia's enemies," he added.

Somalia's Islamists fear that deploying peacekeeping force is part of a wider plan to back up the transitional government, which has been hurt by defections and rivalries and is still so weak that its leaders are more or less confined to Baidoa, 150 miles inland from Mogadishu.

East African military leaders met Thursday in Nairobi to discuss a proposed plan to send some 6,000 soldiers to Somalia, which many experts are warning is on the edge of war between the Islamic forces who control the capital, Mogadishu, and a fledgling transitional government based in Baidoa and backed by Ethiopia.

If such war broke out, it could threaten Somalia's neighbors and destabilize the entire region. Military chiefs for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional organization, including Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda, stated that preparations have been made to dispatch the first troops to Somalia by October.

But shortly after officials announced the plan, Islamic clerics in Mogadishu threatened to wage a holy war against the peacekeepers.

"We are Muslims, and we are targeted for that identity," said Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the spiritual head of the Islamic forces.

Imams at Mogadishu's mosques called on worshipers on Friday to join Islamic armed groups and prepare for battle.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16