Somalia: Current Conditions and Prospects for a Lasting Peace

Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress

In October 2002, the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) launched a peace
process designed to end factional fighting in Somalia, led by the government of Kenya. In
September 2003, the parties agreed on a Transitional National Charter (TNC). In August 2004, a
275-member Transitional Parliament was inaugurated in Kenya. In October 2004, parliament
elected Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed as the new president of Somalia. In June 2006, the forces of the
Islamic Courts Union (ICU) took control of the capital, Mogadishu. During the six-month rule by
the ICU, Mogadishu became relatively peaceful, but efforts to bring peace did not lead to a major
breakthrough. On December 28, 2006 Ethiopian troops captured Mogadishu with little resistance
from the ICU.
The Ethiopian intervention has led to more chaos and instability in Somalia over the past two
years. Humanitarian, political, and security conditions continue to deteriorate across south-central
Somalia. In the past two years, more than 10,000 civilians have been killed, an estimated 1.1
million people displaced, and 476,000 Somalis have fled to neighboring countries. In 2008,
fighting between insurgent groups and Ethiopian-TFG forces intensified, and by late 2008, the
TFG had lost control of most of south-central Somalia to insurgent groups. In November 2008,
the Ethiopian government announced that its forces would pull out of Somalia by the end of
2008. In mid-December 2008, President Yusuf fired his prime minister, although he did not get
the approval of the Somali Transitional Parliament.
In June 2008, the TFG and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), a group
dominated by members of the ICU, signed an agreement in Djibouti mediated by United Nations
Special Envoy Ahmedou Ould-Abdullah. The parties agreed to a cease-fire, the withdrawal of
Ethiopian forces, and the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force. Several towns are
now administered by the ARS, including Jowhar and Beledweyne. A number of other towns,
including the third largest town, Kismaayo, are now under the control of the Al-Shabaab, a group
opposed to the TFG and the ARS-Djibouti faction. The next phase of the Somali conflict is likely
to occur between the ARS and the Al-Shabaab. In February 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice designated Al-Shabaab as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Meanwhile, Somali pirates have intensified their attacks in the Gulf of Aden, carrying out attacks
on over 90 commercial ships, and successfully hijacked over 35 ships in 2008. Currently an
estimated 14-18 ships are under the control of the pirates, including a Saudi-owned supertanker,
Sirius Star, and a Ukranian-owned ship, MV Faina, with 33 T-72 tanks and other weapons. The
pirates have earned more than $50 million in ransom payments, and have released a number of
the ships and crew members. The United States, Russia, India, and several other countries have
deployed warships to tackle piracy in the Horn of Africa region, although the problem still
persists. Some insurgent leaders have warned the pirates to end their illegal activities and to
release crew members and ships that they currently control. This report will be updated as
circumstances warrant.

Recent Developments................................................................................................................1
Political Developments.......................................................................................................1
Security Conditions...................................................................................................................2
Human Rights and Humanitarian Conditions...........................................................................3
Somali Piracy in the Horn of Africa..........................................................................................3
Overvi ew ....................................................................................................................... ...... 3
Who Are the Pirates?..........................................................................................................4
The Views from Somalia.....................................................................................................5
Policy Options in Dealing with Piracy................................................................................5
Policy Options in Dealing with Political and Security Problems.......................................6
The Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia...................................................................6
Background: 2006-2008..................................................................................................................8
Peacekeeping Mission: Background..............................................................................................10
The Islamic Courts Union..............................................................................................................11
The Leadership of the Somali Council of the Islamic Courts......................................................13
The Top Leaders of the Courts......................................................................................................14
The Executive Council............................................................................................................14
The Legislative Council or Shura............................................................................................14
Leadership of the Transitional Federal Government.....................................................................15
Ethiopia-Somalia Relations...........................................................................................................15
Somalia: Background (1991-2006)...............................................................................................17
Peace Processes.......................................................................................................................17
National Reconciliation Conference.................................................................................18
Somalia: Safe Haven for Terrorist Groups?...................................................................................19
Al -Ittihad ..................................................................................................................... ............ 20
Figure 1. Major Somali Clans and Subclans.................................................................................21
Figure 2. Map of Somalia..............................................................................................................22
Table 1. The Leadership of the Executive Council of the ARS Before the Split.............................7
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................23

Humanitarian and security conditions continue to deteriorate in south-central Somalia, despite
some political progress and a recent peace agreement between the Somali Transitional Federal
Government (TFG) and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), a group formed by
former members of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and Somalis from different backgrounds. The
ouster from power of the ICU by Ethiopian forces in December 2006 created a security vacuum
that was soon occupied by the more radical elements of the ICU’s military factions. The moderate
leadership of the ICU became marginalized, splintered, and weakened over the past year. U.S.,
TFG, and Ethiopian officials labeled the entire leadership of the ICU as extremist and terrorist in
2006. Eighteen months later, however, the same officials supported the inclusion of some former
ICU members in a U.N.-led peace process.
In May-June, 2008, TFG and ARS officials met in Djibouti under the auspices of the United
Nations. Officials from the United States, Europe, the African Union, the Arab League, the
Organization of Islamic Conference, and regional governments took part as observers during the
talks in Djibouti. The parties agreed on a wide range of issues, including cessation of hostilities 1
and a commitment to find a durable peace agreement. The parties agreed to support the
deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force and the phased withdrawal of Ethiopian
forces from Somalia. The agreement, however, links the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces with the
deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping force, although Ethiopian forces have already withdrawn
from some areas. In addition, in November 2008, the Ethiopian government announced that its
forces would pull out of Somalia by the end of 2008. The parties also agreed to provide
unhindered humanitarian access to civilians in need and to establish a Joint Security Committee 2
to ensure implementation of security arrangements and create an interim joint security force. The
parties established a High Level Committee, chaired by the United Nations, to deal with political,
justice, and governance issues.
The Djibouti agreement is complicated and has repeatedly been undermined by in-fighting within
the TFG, insecurity, growing influence of insurgent groups, and limited support by the
international community. The TFG forces are weak, ineffective, and seriously debilitated by
defections. Over the past year, an estimated 40% of the police force, trained by the United
Nations, left the force due to lack of payment. Some donor governments have withheld funds
pledged to the TFG due to lack of transparency and human rights abuses. Infighting within the
TFG, especially between Prime Minister Nur Adde and President Yusuf, also has weakened the
TFG. In November 2007, Prime Minister Nur Adde replaced Ali M. Ghedi, a man seen by many
Somalis as ineffective and highly partisan.
Prime Minister Nur Adde, who is seen by many Somalis and Somali observers as a key actor to
bridge the gap between the TFG and the opposition, often clashed with President Yusuf. In July

2008, the prime minister dismissed the mayor of Mogadishu and Governor of Benadir region,

Mohamed Dheere, because of mismanagement of funds. In protest, ten pro-Yusuf ministers
resigned, triggering a crisis within the TFG. In August 2008, the prime minister and the president

1 CRS interview with senior TFG officials and members of the Somali opposition in Kenya, May and August 2008.
2 United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), August 2008.

met in Ethiopia, and later reached an agreement on a number of issues. In Mid-December 2008,
President Yusuf fired Prime Minister Nur and named Mohamed Mohamud Guled as the new
prime minister. The prime minister has rejected his dismissal arguing that President Yusuf lacked
the legal authority to dismiss him and that only Parliament has the power to dismiss the prime
minister. On December 15, 2008, a majority of the Somali Parliament voted in support of Prime
Minister Nur Adde. The government of Kenya imposed a travel ban and asset freeze against
President Yusuf.
The ongoing Djibouti peace process aims to establish a new, inclusive government in 3
Mogadishu. The primary objective is to form a new National Unity Government made up of
Somalis from different backgrounds, including former members of the ICU. The parties also
reportedly plan to expand the current 275-member parliament. The Somali Parliament has been
inactive due to insecurity, defections, and infighting. The Djibouti peace process, however, faces
serious challenges. The balance of military power on the ground has shifted in favor of the Al-
Shabaab “The Youth”, a group determined to expand its influence and control beyond Mogadishu.
The Al-Shabaab, if successful in capturing Mogadishu, is likely to seek control of Somaliland and
Puntland by military means.
Some of the military commanders of the ICU are likely to join forces with the Al-Shabaab. A
negotiated settlement between the ICU and the Al-Shabaab is possible, with the withdrawal of
Ethiopian forces and intervention by clan elders. Some of the Al-Shabaab leaders are currently
engaged in talks with some members of the ICU. But the leaders of the Al-Shabaab are not fully
known, with the exception of some. Some of the key commanders and leaders of the Al-Shabaab
come from Somaliland. Ahmed Abdi Godane, who is on the U.S. terrorism list, is a key
commander, who trained and fought in Afghanistan and comes from Somaliland. Mukhtar
Robow, who is on the U.S. terrorism list, is the spokesman of the Al-Shabaab. Another key leader
is Ibrahim Haji Jama, who is on the U.S. terrorism list, reportedly trained and fought in
Afghanistan. In February 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice designated Al-Shabaab as a
Foreign Terrorist Organization and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.
In 2008, insurgent groups have stepped up attacks against Ethiopian and TFG forces in south-
central Somalia. In some cases, TFG forces simply withdrew from some areas. As of late
November 2008, insurgent groups were in control of most of south-central Somalia, including the
third largest town, Kismaayo. Ethiopian and TFG forces, as well as the African Union Mission to
Somalia (AMISOM), do not have control or presence outside Baidoa and Mogadishu. Even in the
case of Mogadishu, the insurgents control some parts of Mogadishu and some of their forces are
active outside the capital. The forces of the ARS are reportedly in control of Beledweyne and 4
Jowhar, with some support from Ethiopian and TFG forces. The Al-Shabaab forces also have
expanded their military operations to other parts of Somalia and routinely assassinate opponents
and government officials.
Security conditions are likely to deteriorate further in the coming months, despite the peace
agreement between the TFG and the ARS. In late October 2008, simultaneous and well-

3 CRS interview in Kenya with U.N. Special Envoy Ould-Abdallah, August 2008.
4 CRS interview with a leader of the Islamic Courts, November 2008.

coordinated suicide attacks in Puntland and Somaliland reportedly killed an estimated 20 people
and injured many more. The targets of the attacks were the Ethiopian Consulate, the office of the
United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and a security office close to the Presidential
Palace. The suicide mission was reportedly carried out by members of the Al-Shabaab, although
no organization claimed credit for the attacks. One of the suicide bombers is an American-Somali
from Minneapolis, who, according to press reports, left the U.S. to take part in the suicide attacks.
Reportedly, over a dozen Somali youth from Minneapolis have left the U.S, and some community
leaders believe they went to Somalia to join the insurgency. There is no clear evidence of how 5
many and for what purpose these Somalis left Minneapolis. Over the past decade, many Somalis
have returned to Somalia to work as journalists, humanitarian workers, and teachers. A number of
these Somalis have been killed in the past two years by insurgents and security forces.
In 2008, humanitarian and human rights conditions became worse than previous years, according
to United Nations officials and Somali humanitarian workers. An estimated 1.1 million people
have been displaced and more than 475,000 have fled to neighboring countries in the past two
years. Human rights groups and Somali observers estimate more than 10,000 people have been
killed over the past eighteen months. Civilians, humanitarian workers, journalists, and human
rights advocates have been the primary targets of the insurgents, TFG, and Ethiopian security
forces. According to Amnesty International, “rape, killings and looting have become widespread. 6
Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed.” A number of Somali journalists covering the crisis
in Somalia have been assassinated by insurgents and security forces over the past eighteen
months. Dozens of humanitarian and human rights advocates have been killed, injured, or
imprisoned by TFG and Ethiopian security forces. Because of these targeted attacks, many human 7
rights advocates and journalists have fled Somalia to neighboring countries for safety. Somalis
working for international NGOs and foreign media have also been attacked by insurgents and
TFG/Ethiopian security forces.
Somali pirates have intensified their attacks in the Gulf of Aden, carrying out attacks on over 90
commercial ships, and successfully hijacked an estimated 40 ships in 2008. As of late November
2008, an estimated 14-18 ships were under the control of the pirates, including a Saudi-owned
supertanker, Sirius Star, and a Ukranian-owned ship, MV Faina, which is carrying 33 T-72 tanks
and other weapons, according to press reports. The pirates have reportedly earned more than $120
million in ransom payments, and have released a number of ships and crew members. The United
States, Russia, India, and several other countries have deployed warships to tackle piracy in the
Horn of Africa region, although the problem still persists. Some insurgent leaders have warned
the pirates to end the piracy and to release crew members and ships currently controlled by the

5Young Somali Men Missing from Minneapolis,” International Herald Tribune, November 27, 2008.
6Routinely Targeted Attacks on Civilians in Somalia,” Amnesty International, May 2008.
7 CRS interviewed a number of journalists and human rights advocates in Kenya in 2007 and 2008. In November 2008,
CRS met with a group of Somali human rights advocates, who fled Somalia for safety.

pirates. In December 2008, the Indian Navy reportedly arrested 23 Somali and Yemeni pirates. On
December 16, 2008, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution authorizing the use
of “all necessary measures” by foreign military forces to stop piracy in Somalia. The resolution
authorizes military operations inside Somalia and in its airspace for one year, with the consent of
the TFG.
The number of Somali pirates is unknown. While there are more pirates now than previous years,
the pirates do not seem to have a unified organization with clear command structure. Many of
these pirates are reportedly fishermen and former militia members of the Somali warlords. The
pirates primarily come from Puntland region of Somalia and are members of different clans.
Some press reports have suggested that the pirates are being controlled and directed by the
Islamic insurgents in south-central Somalia. There is no evidence, however, to support this
assertion, and during the six months the ICU was in power, the leaders took measures to end
piracy and other criminal activities. In November 2008, one of the top leaders of the insurgents,
Sheik Hassan Aweys, called on the pirates to end their criminal activities, and other insurgent
leaders threatened to take military action against the pirates. The pirates, however, are not
operating alone, according to a number of Somali and regional sources. Some Somali
businessmen and officials in Puntland are reportedly behind the piracy. The pirates are reportedly
receiving valuable information about the types of ships, cargo, and timing from Somalis in the 8
Persian Gulf. They also possess sophisticated technology, including Global Position Systems
(GPS), Automatic Identification System (AIS), and satellite phones.

8 CRS interviews with Somali officials, opposition leaders, and regional officials.

Some Somalis view the piracy crisis as a Somalia: Facts & Statistics
foreign problem with little impact on their
daily life. Some argue that the piracy problem Population: 9.5 million (2008 est.)
will continue as long as the shipowners are Growth rate: 2.85% (2008 est.)
willing to pay the pirates ransom. In the face
of difficult economic conditions and growing Life expectancy: 49.2 years
humanitarian crisis, many Somalis resent the Approximate size: slightly smaller than Texas
fact that the piracy problem has received a Capital: Mogadishu
great deal of international attention. Some
Somali community leaders contend that some Infant Mortality Rate: 110.97 deaths/1,000 live births
Somalis get involved in criminal activities in (2008 est.)
order to survive, while many others have made HIV/AIDS, adult prevalence rate: 1% (2001 est.)
these kinds of criminal activities a lifetime GDP, per capita: $600 (2007 est.)
profession. Since the collapse of the Siad GDP, real growth rate: 2.6% (2007 est.)
Barre government in 1991, Somalis have been
principal victims of criminals. Somalis had to Ethnic groups: Somali, 85%; Bantu & other non-Somali,
pay “taxes” to warlords in order to pass from 15% (including Arabs, 30,000)
one neighborhood to another. Humanitarian Religion: Sunni Muslim
assistance convoys are routinely targeted by Official language: Somali
criminal elements, forcing humanitarian

agencies to hire gunmen for protection. Many
Somalis contend that in the absence of a better 9
alternative, they have come to accept life with all the difficulties they face daily.
Some Somalis argue that the fishermen have become pirates because their way of life was
destroyed by illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping that has been ignored by foreign
governments. In 2005, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released a report
documenting the damages done as a result of toxic waste dumping on Somalia’s shores.
According to a UNEP spokesman, “there’s uranium radioactive waste, there’s lead, there’s heavy
metals like cadmium and mercury, there’s industrial waste, and there’s hospital wastes, chemical
wastes, you name it.” According to the report, the primary reason for toxic dumping in Somalia is
cost. The report states that it costs $2.5 per ton to dump toxic waste in Africa compared to $250 10
per ton to dump waste in Europe. In July 2008, United Nations Special Envoy Ould-Abdallah
stated that “because there is no (effective) government, there is so much irregular fishing from
European and Asian countries.” The Special Envoy argued that it is important to tackle these 11
illegal activities by some countries, and not to solely focus on the problem of piracy.
The international community has responded to the threat of piracy by deploying warships to the
Gulf of Aden. The United Nations Security Council has passed resolutions on piracy in the Horn
of Africa. Since the deployment of these warships to the region, however, the number of hijacked

9 Ted Dagne interviewed many Somalis in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya in 2007-2008.
11 Ted Dagne interview with U.N. Special Envoy in Kenya, August 2008.

ships has increased. Moreover, there has been no rescue operation as of November to free crew
members and ships still under the control of the pirates. Somali community leaders and regional
analysts argue that the groups most capable and best positioned to handle the piracy problem are
the Islamic insurgents and the clan elders. The Islamic Courts dealt with this problem effectively
when they were in power, according to senior leaders of the Islamic Courts and independent
observers. The Islamic insurgents claim that they are opposed to these kinds of criminal activities
for religious reasons. The Islamic leadership sees the piracy problem as a source of concern
because they fear that they could erroneously or deliberately linked to the piracy phenomenon and
become targets of punitive action by the international community. Another option is to provide
quick and robust economic incentives to lure the unemployed away from piracy and other
criminal activities.
The international community may consider engagement with the Islamic insurgents and clan
elders to deal with the political and security problems facing Somalia. According to some
observers, it is pivotal to strengthen the moderate elements of the Islamic movements discretely.
Most observers believe that the Al-Shabaab can only be contained by another Islamic movement
supported by clan elders. Some of the most influential leaders in the Al-Shabaab are on the U.N.
and U.S. Terrorism List. Some observers argue that removing some of these individuals from the
Terrorism List in exchange for some concessions, including an end to the insurgency and
acceptance of a negotiated settlement, should be considered as an option. One of the key players
in facilitating the Djibouti talks was a Somali man on a United Nations Terrorism List. According
to U.N. officials, that man is no longer on the Terrorism List.
Some of the leaders in the Al-Shabaab are determined to continue their military campaign and not
inclined to participate in negotiations. According to some experts, targeted measures, including
sanctions and assassination of the most extreme elements of the Al-Shabaab, could pave the way
for other moderate leaders to emerge. However, others believe that this option is likely to backfire
in the short term and increase anti-western violence. Another option is to refer some of these
individuals to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes. The most effective way of
containing the extremists, most observers contend, is to look for a Somali-led solution, both
political and military. The TFG, Islamic Courts, Somaliland, Puntland, and other moderate Somali
forces could form a coalition to contain the advances of the most extreme elements of the Al-
Shabaab politically and militarily. Such a coalition is likely to get the support of the Somali
population rather than a peacekeeping force. The coalition can be assisted by neighboring
countries. A Somali-led initiative would take away one of the most powerful justifications used
by the Al-Shabaab to wage war, the presence of foreign forces. A unified regional approach is
pivotal, however. Most believe that Eritrea has leverage over some of the influential Islamic
leaders, some of whom are in Eritrea. The ARS was founded in Eritrea, and some of its leaders
are now engaged in the U.N.-led negotiation in Djibouti.
In September 2007, Somalis from the Diaspora, civil society, opposition groups, and former
members of parliament met in Eritrea and formed the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia
(ARC). More than 400 people participated at the founding conference. The Al-Shabaab, the
Youth, did not participate, and later condemned the leadership of the Alliance. The Alliance
significantly reduced the dominance of the Council of the Islamic Courts and brought into the

leadership people from civil society, women’s groups, and former members of the TFG. The
Alliance also brought into the coalition people from different regions and clans of Somalia. In
addition, individuals, such as Hassan Aweys, considered by the west as extremists or terrorists,
were not given leadership positions. According to the Alliance, the main objectives of the
coalition are:
• The liberation of Somalia from Ethiopia.
• Somali solutions by Somali-stake-holders through dialogue and peaceful means.
• To establish a National Government “completely devote its utmost care to the
welfare of the people, protect its rights, properties and promote its spiritual and 12
material development.”
• Fighting crimes and violence targeted against civilian population, such as killing,
raping, pillaging, dislodging and displacing.
• Resettlement of displaced people.
• Organize general elections once peace and security is established.
In March 2008, the Chairman of the Alliance in a letter to the President of the Security Council
wrote “A peacekeeping mission would be possible only after the departure of the Ethiopian
troops. Experience has shown that when peacekeepers are unilaterally imposed by the Security
Council, they turn into peace enforcers. To avoid such a situation, the consent of the parties to the
conflict is essential.” In January 2008, the Alliance leadership informed a congressional
delegation that the Alliance will accept a humanitarian cease-fire, zones of tranquility, and
negotiations with the TFG and others once Ethiopian forces are replaced by a neutral force. This
position led to a split of the Alliance. Many of the top leaders of the Alliance left Eritrea for
Djibouti to participate in the U.N.-sponsored negotiations.
Table 1. The Leadership of the Executive Council of the ARS Before the Split
Name Title Affiliation
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed Chairman Somali Council of the Islamic
Courts (SCIC)
General Jama Mohmed Galib Vice Chairman Civil Society
Zakaria Hagi Mohamud Abdi Vice Chairman Parliament
Prof. Ibrahim Hassan Addou, Ph.D. Foreign Affairs Advisor SCIC
Dr. Mohamed Ali Dahir Administration Consultant Somali intellectual
Prof. Abdirahman Ibrahim Ibbi Assistant to the Parliament
Ambassador Yusuf H. Ibrahim Foreign Affairs Parliament
Ahmed Abdullahi Sheikh Information Secretary Civil Society
Col. Omar Hashi Aden Interior Secretary Parliament
Ahmed Abdullahi Sheikh Information Secretary Civil Society

12 Political program of the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia.

Name Title Affiliation
Col. Omar Hashi Aden Interior Secretary Parliament
Abdifitah Mohamed Ali Finance Secretary SCIC
Yusuf Mohamed Siad Defense Secretary SCIC
Dr. Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed, MD Health Secretary Civil Society
Dr. Mohamed Ali Ibrahim, Ph.D. Justice Secretary SCIC
Dr. Mohamud Abdi Ibrahim Relief and Rehabilitation Secretary
Mrs. Fowsia Mohmed Sheikh Human Rights Secretary Parliament
Mohamud Ahmed Tarzan Planning & Training Secretary Diaspora
Abdulkadir Mohmed Dhakane Education Secretary Parliament
Mohmed Ibrahim Garyare Social Affairs Secretary Diaspora
Ahmed Abdulle Hussain Reconciliation Secretary SCIC
Abdullahi Sheikh Auditing Secretary SCIC

On December 24, 2006, Ethiopian and TFG forces launched a military campaign against the
forces of the ICU, a group that took over power in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, in June
2006. On December 28, 2006 Ethiopian troops captured Mogadishu with little resistance from the
ICU. The ICU leadership decided a day before the Mogadishu attack to leave the city in order to 13
avoid bloodshed and the destruction of Mogadishu, according to a senior official of the ICU. On
January 1, 2007, the ICU lost its last stronghold, Kismaayo, after its forces withdrew to an area
near the Kenyan border, although most of its fighters and leaders either simply melted into
society throughout Somalia or fled to neighboring countries. Some of the top leaders of the ICU 14
are in Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, and Somalia. In late January, the Chairman of the Executive
Committee of the Somali Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC), formerly known as ICU, Sharif
Sheik Ahmed, traveled to Kenya. On January 24, 2007, the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya,
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, reportedly met with Sheik Ahmed. Other leaders of the Courts
have also been approached by U.S. officials as part of a new strategy to reach out to Court
officials and others to participate in proposed negotiations among Somali groups and the TFG.
The Ethiopian military intervention, while it has accomplished its military objective of ousting
the Courts from Mogadishu and other areas the Courts controlled, has been criticized by
governments and regional organizations. The African Union, the European Commission, the Arab
League, and others have called for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force.
Ethiopian officials argued that their military action is justified because the Islamic Courts posed a
serious threat to Ethiopia and regional stability, and because the Islamic Courts is an extremist,
Jihadist group. Ethiopian and U.S. officials also have accused the Courts of being influenced or
tied to well known terrorist individuals and Al Qaeda. Islamic Courts officials have repeatedly
rejected these allegations and on a number of occasions have offered to work with U.S. officials,
according to one senior Courts official. Allegations about the presence of the three suspects

13 Author interview with senior ICU official in late December 2006.
14 Author interview with senior ICU official and regional sources in the Horn of Africa.

involved in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 have been made
on many occasions over the years. However, the Islamic Courts did not exist as an organized
group when these allegations were made. Those in charge of Mogadishu and other areas in
southern Somalia were the warlords who were and in some cases still are ministers in the current
Transitional Federal Government.
On January 8, 2007, the United States Air Force, using AC-130 gun ships, attacked several
locations in southern Somalia, reportedly to kill the three terror suspects in the 1998 U.S.
embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Reportedly, the United States launched another attack
the following day, although U.S. officials deny any further attacks by its forces. The British
humanitarian group, Oxfam, stated in a press release that an estimated 70 people were killed in
the bombings and vital water resources were destroyed in Afmadow district. A number of
governments criticized the U.S. attacks, including officials in Europe and the Government of
Djibouti, where U.S. forces are currently stationed. Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali
Yusuf told the BBC that the raid was counterproductive to achieving peace. He also stated that his
government had not been informed about the air strikes. According to a New York Times article,
the United States actively coordinated with Ethiopian forces in targeting suspected terrorists and 15
Islamic Union forces. U.S. Special Operations troops from Task Force 88 were reportedly
deployed to Ethiopia and entered Somalia. Moreover, the United States reportedly shared
intelligence with Ethiopian military and used an airstrip in Eastern Ethiopia to launch attacks
inside Somalia. A senior Ethiopian government official denied that there was any coordination
with U.S. forces.
Ethiopian troops have come under attack, and a number of Ethiopian soldiers have been killed by
snipers or in ambushes. Some Somalis and human rights advocates are concerned over what some
people refer to as a witch hunt by TFG and Ethiopian security forces. Ethiopian and TFG security
forces reportedly have been going house to house arresting Oromos (an Ethiopian ethnic group),
supporters of the Islamic Courts, and members of the TFG considered not supportive of the new
Somali government and the Ethiopian intervention. The government of Kenya has deported
dozens of Somalis and other nationals to TFG officials and Ethiopian security forces, according to
Kenyan sources. In one particular case, Kenyan officials reportedly blindfolded and handcuffed
30 individuals and returned them to Mogadishu, where these detainees were taken by Ethiopian
and TFG security personnel to unknown locations, according to Somali sources and government
officials in the region. A number of Kenyan Muslims that were in Ethiopian detention were
released in 2008.
On January 17, 2007, the Transitional Federal Parliament ousted the Speaker of Parliament,
Sharif Hassan Sheik Adan, from his position. The former Speaker, who has been a vocal critic of
the Ethiopian intervention and the U.S. air strike, has a strong following in Mogadishu and has
been active in reaching out and engaging the Islamic Courts officials when they had control over
Mogadishu. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Jendayi Fraser stated in mid-January

2007 that “the no-confidence motion brought against the Parliament Speaker is likely to have a 16

negative impact on this process of dialogue.” In late January, the TFG elected Sheikh Adan
Mohamed Nur Madobe, a former warlord and an ally of President Abdullahi Yusuf, as Speaker of

15 Michael Gordon and Mark Mazzetti. “U.S. Used Base in Ethiopia to Hunt Al Qaeda,” New York Times. February 23,

On December 6, 2006, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1725, “reiterating
its commitment to a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the situation in Somalia through the
Transitional Federal Charter, and stressing the importance of broad-based and representative
institutions and of an inclusive political process, as envisaged in the Transitional Federal
Charter.” U. N. Security Council Resolution 1725 further called for “all Member States, in
particular those in the region, to refrain from any action in contravention of the arms embargo and
related measures, and should take all actions necessary to prevent such contravention.” Moreover,
the Security Council expressed its “willingness to engage with all parties in Somalia who are
committed to achieving a political settlement through peaceful and inclusive dialogue, including
the Union of Islamic Courts.” The Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of
the United Nations, authorized the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and
the African Union to establish “a protection and training mission in Somalia.” U. N. Security
Council Resolution 1725 specifically stated that countries bordering Somalia “would not deploy
troops to Somalia.”
At the African Union Summit in late January 2007, several African countries pledged to
contribute troops for a peacekeeping mission in Somalia. Ghana, Nigeria, Burundi, Uganda, and
Malawi have pledged troops. The African Union is facing difficulties getting governments to
make serious troop contributions for the mission. Observers contend that without a negotiated
settlement with groups still outside the TFG, it will be difficult to maintain peace and stability in
Somalia. As of November 2008, there were an estimated 3,400 AU peacekeeping troops in
Somalia from Uganda and Burundi. The African Union peacekeeping mission is mandated to:
• support dialogue and reconciliation in Somalia, working with all stakeholders,
• provide, as appropriate, protection to the TFIs and their key infrastructure, to
enable them carry out their functions,
• assist in the implementation of the National Security and Stabilization Plan of
Somalia, particularly the effective reestablishment and training of all inclusive
Somali security forces, bearing in mind the programs already being implemented
by some of Somalia’s bilateral and multilateral partners,
• provide, within capabilities and as appropriate, technical and other support to the
disarmament and stabilization efforts,
• monitor, in areas of deployment of its forces, the security situation,
• facilitate, as may be required and within capabilities, humanitarian operations,
including the repatriation and reintegration of refugees and the resettlement of
IDPs, and
• protect its personnel, installations and equipment, including the right of self-17
On February 20, 2007, the U.N. Security Council passed resolution 1744 reiterating its support
for the Transitional Federal Institutions and authorizing the African Union to establish a mission

17 Communique of the African Union Peace and Security Council 69th Meeting, January 19, 2007.

in Somalia. Resolution 1744 calls for “a national reconciliation congress involving all
stakeholders, including political leaders, clan leaders, religious leaders, and representatives of
civil society.” The resolution, while it welcomed the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from
Somalia, did not include a provision that restricts the participation of Somalia’s immediate
neighbors in the peacekeeping operation as resolution 1725 did.
The Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1772 on August 20, 2007, authorizing the
African Union to maintain its operation in Somalia for an additional six months. The resolution
also authorized peacekeeping forces on the ground to take all necessary measures to support and
protect those involved in the Reconciliation Congress. Finally, Resolution 1772 called on all
Member States, especially those in close proximity to Somalia, to comply with the arms embargo
that was established in 1992 by Resolution 733.

In early 2006, factional violence in Mogadishu once again erupted, killing hundreds of civilians
and displacing many more people. The surge in violence was between militia loyal to the Islamic
Courts and a self-proclaimed anti-terrorism coalition backed by powerful local warlords. The
fighting in Mogadishu erupted when the forces loyal to a well known warlord and then Minister
of National Security of the TFG, Mohamed Qanyare, attacked one of the Courts. The fighting
received unusual attention in Somalia and in the region due, in large part, to reports that the
warlords were backed by the United States government. The Bush Administration acknowledged
that Washington was assisting “responsible individuals” to help bring stability and fight terrorism
in Somalia. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Jendayi Fraser reportedly stated that the
United States “will work with those elements that will help us to root out Al Qaeda and prevent 18
Somalia becoming a safe haven for terrorists.” In late June 2006, Fraser stated that the United
States has three major policy goals in Somalia: counter-terrorism efforts, creation of an effective
government, and responding to the humanitarian needs of the Somali people.
On February 18, 2006, the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT)
was created. Very little is known about ARPCT, although the founders of the Alliance are known
warlords who contributed to numerous armed clashes and instability in Somalia over the past
decade. Members of the Alliance reportedly include Bashir Rage, Mohammed Qanyare Afrah,
Muse Sudi Yalahow, Omar Finnish, and Abdirashid Shire Ilqyete. These actors were seen by
many Somali groups as major obstacles to the creation of central authority in Mogadishu, as
agreed to by all major Somali groups under the IGAD peace agreement in 2004. In early June
2006, Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi dismissed four ministers from the Transitional Federal
Government belonging to ARPCT.
These ministers include Mohamed Qanyare (National Security Minister), Musa Sudi Yalahow
(Commerce Minister), Issa Botan Alin (Rehabilitation Minister), and Omar Finnish (Minister for
Religious Affairs). The warlords were dismissed because they reportedly ignored calls by Prime
Minister Ghedi’s government to stop the fighting in Mogadishu. The Islamic Courts leaders
argued then that the TFG did nothing to challenge these warlords and kept them in senior
positions in the TFG until the Islamic Courts defeated the warlords in Mogadishu. In late July

18 Peter Goodspeed, “Somalia Looking Like Pre-Taliban Afghanistan: U.S. Backed Warlords, Al Qaeda-Linked Thugs
Kill Dozens” National Post, with files from News Services. May 16, 2006.

2006, members of the TFG parliament complained that the U.S. government bypassed the TFG
and provided support to the warlords, the same warlords who obstructed peace in Somalia. A
member of the TFG parliament told a U.S. Congressional delegation in August 2006 that “you 19
cannot fight terrorism by supporting warlords.”
In early June 2006, the forces of the Islamic Courts captured Mogadishu, forcing ARPCT militia
to flee the capital. The chairman of the Islamic Courts, Sharif Shaykh Ahmed, stated that his
group would negotiate with the TFG. In response to accusations that the Islamic Courts Union
was associated with or had harbored international terrorist elements, Shaykh Ahmed stated that
“we are not terrorists and we will not allow anyone to hijack the capital. We have said hundreds
of times that America’s talk of terrorism in Somalia is fabricated and serves suspicious political 20
The forces of the Islamic Courts Union strengthened and expanded areas under their control after
the defeat of the warlords in Mogadishu. The Islamic Courts forces captured the towns of Jowhar
and Beledweyne in mid-June 2006. Moreover, for the first time in years, Mogadishu became
relatively peaceful, and the Islamic Courts received support from the population in areas it
controlled. The level of support enjoyed by the Islamic Courts is difficult to measure, although
the group had constituencies from multiple sub-clans and had broad support among Somali
women. According to Somali sources in Mogadishu and Islamic Courts officials, the people
provided crucial support by feeding their forces and working with Islamic Courts officials in
bringing peace and stability. During the Mogadishu fighting, women supporters of ICU played
important roles. Since the Islamic Courts largely functioned as providers of social services, the
Courts did not maintain a large fighting force. The warlords maintained a robust force in different
parts of Mogadishu, with heavy weapons and “technicals” (machine-guns mounted on pickup
trucks). The Islamic Courts group had only four technicals when the fighting erupted with
Qanyare and other warlords, according to a senior Courts official. The ICU success in Mogadishu
effectively led to the collapse of the ARPCT and forced the warlords to flee.
Negotiations between the Transitional Federal Government and the Islamic Courts in Sudan did
not lead to a major breakthrough, although the talks ended speculation that the Islamic Courts
rejected negotiations. The Islamic Courts leaders stated that they would work with the Baidoa-
based transitional government, although disagreement on key issues remained. In June 2006, the
transitional parliament voted in favor of a foreign peacekeeping force. But this move was rejected
by some Islamic Courts leaders as being unnecessary and counter-productive. Earlier, in 2005, the
African Union had approved a proposal for Uganda and Sudan to deploy a peacekeeping force to
Somalia under the auspices of the IGAD. The deployment did not take place in large part because
of the refusal of the United Nations Security Council to remove a United Nations arms embargo
on Somalia. The Bush Administration did not support the lifting of the arms embargo, although
the United Nations Security Council did provide the necessary exemption in December 2006.
In mid-June, an International Somalia Contact Group, consisting of the United States, Norway,
United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, Tanzania, and the European Union, was formed and met to
discuss the unfolding Somalia crisis. The United Nations, the African Union, the Arab League,
and IGAD were also invited as observers. The Contact Group did not invite Somalia’s immediate

19 The author met with several Members of Parliament and the TFG Foreign Minister in Kenya in August 2006.
20 “Somali Islamic Courts Leader Comments on Domestic Situation, Future Outlook.” Al-Ashraq Al-Awsat. June 6,

neighbors, in part due to Somali opposition and international concern that these countries are
engaged in activities in support of or against some groups in Somalia. In a press release after its
first meeting, the Contact Group stated that “the goal of the International Contact Group will be
to encourage positive political developments and engagement with actors inside Somali to
support the implementation of the Transitional Federal Charter and Institutions. The Contact
Group will seek to support efforts, within the framework of the Transitional Federal Institutions,
to address the humanitarian needs of the Somali people, establish effective governance and
stability, and address the international community’s concern regarding terrorism.” Meanwhile, in
early January 2007, the International Contact Group on Somalia issued another communique
strongly urging that it is “essential that an inclusive process of political dialogue and
reconciliation embracing representative clan, religious, business, civil society, women’s, and
other political groups who reject violence and extremism be launched without delay.”
The Islamic Courts, while well received by the people in the areas the Courts controlled, received
bad press coverage, especially in the West. The Courts’ activities were often characterized as
extremist and jihadist. The ICU was accused of shutting down cinemas and prohibiting women
from working. Some of these measures were taken by the Courts, although for different reasons
and not because of the Courts’ alleged jihadist and extremist ideology. For example, movies were
banned in the morning in response to requests from parents because Somali children were going 21
to movies in the morning instead of school. The ban on television did not take place, except for
restrictions on watching soccer games late at night, according to Islamic Courts officials and
Somali residents in Mogadishu. This measure was reportedly taken because of disturbances and
fighting late at night. There is no evidence to support the allegation that women were prohibited
from working. Islamic Courts officials point out that in the short time they were in power, they
did more than restore law and order. Properties taken by warlords were returned to the rightful
owners. For example, the family of President Yusuf reportedly returned to Mogadishu after
almost sixteen years when the Courts restored order in the capital, according to an Islamic Courts
official. Most important, they argue, they gave hope to the people of Somalia that after over a
decade of violence they can live in peace.

General knowledge of the top leadership of the Somali Council of the Islamic Courts (SCIC) is
sketchy. The leadership was often referred to as jihadist, extremist, and at times terrorist by some
observers without much evidence to support the allegations. For example, the assessment of the
Islamic Courts by U.S. officials was that less than 5 percent of the Islamic Courts leadership can
be considered extremist, according to a senior State Department official. In late June 2006, the
Courts established a consultative body to function as the legislative (Shura) arm of the Courts.
Hassan Dahir Aweys was elected to head the Legislative Council. Aweys was one of the top
leaders of the now-defunct Al-Ittihad Al-Islamiya (AIAI—for more see below) and was
designated by the Bush Administration as a terrorist. Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the leader of the
Courts, was appointed chairman of the Council’s Executive Committee to lead the day-to-day
affairs of the Courts. Some observers and government officials have erroneously described Aweys

21 The author had over 25 conversations between July 2006 and March 2007 with senior Islamic Courts officials and
Somali residents in Mogadishu.

as the leader of the Courts. However, the moderate leader of the Courts, Sharif Sheik Ahmed, was
never replaced by Aweys. Some observers argued that referring to Aweys as the leader of the
Courts was deliberately designed by some groups and governments to give the Courts a bad
The leadership of the Islamic Courts remained largely under the control of religious scholars and
academics (see below). The focus by some observers and officials on three individuals, Aweys,
Hassan Al-Turki, and Aden Ayro, may have been to show the Islamic Courts as a group controlled
and influenced by these individuals. Al-Turki, a man born in the ethnically Somali Ogaden region
of Ethiopia, was listed by the Bush administration as a terrorist because of his membership in Al-
Ittihad. According to Courts officials, Al-Turki did not even hold a leadership position within the
organization. Both Aweys and Al-Turki were placed on the list because of their membership in
Al-Ittihad. There is no public record to support that these individuals were engaged in terrorist
activities against U.S. or western interests. Ayro’s role within the Courts was highly exaggerated
since he did not have a leadership position in the organization. Ayro was often referred to as the
leader of the Shibaab, the Youth, although there is no evidence to support that he was the leader
of that group. Ayro was suspected of killing four aid workers in the breakaway region of
Somaliland as well as a Somali scholar in Mogadishu named Abdulqadir Yahya. In May 2008,
Ayro was killed in a U.S. air strike. Since the killing of Ayro, the insurgency has intensified its
attacks and is now in control of many parts of south-central Somalia.

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. Received a Law Degree from a University in Libya; served as President
of Somali Intellectuals Associations; President of the District Court in Jowhar; President of
Somali Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC); never been active in politics; married with two
children. Now, Chairman of the ARS.
Abdurahman Muhamoud Farah. Vice President of SCIC. Studied in Mogadishu; a longtime
advocate of peace and clan unity; never active in politics.
Abdulqadir Ali Omar. Vice President of SCIC. Longtime advocate of clan unity; religious
scholar, and advocated against abuses by the warlords.
Ibrahim Hassan Addou. Foreign Secretary and a member of the Shura (Legislative Council) of
the SCIC; Ph.D., MA, BA from American University, Washington, D.C.; Worked at American
University from 1981 to 1992; held several positions at Benadir University in Mogadishu,
including Vice President for Academic Affairs and President; married with three children.
Hassan Dahir Aweys. Speaker of the Shura. Former army officer in the Somali Armed Forces;
fought in the Ethiopia-Somalia wars in the 1970s; former senior member of Al-Ittihad; fought
against Ethiopia and Abdullahi Yusuf in the mid-1990s.

Omar Imam Abubakar. Number two in the Shura and effectively the most influential and active
member of the Shura; received his Ph.D. from a University in Saudi Arabia; lectured in
Mauritania and Somalia for many years.
Abdulahi Ali Afrah. Senior leader in the Shura. Holds a BA in Agriculture, longtime civil
servant in the Siad Barre government; received an MA from a University in the U.S. and lived in
Canada for many years.
Muhamoud Ibrahim Suleh. Senior member of the Shura, son of a well known religious leader.

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed. President of the TFG. A former senior army officer in Somalia;
imprisoned by Siad Barre; attempted a coup against Barre in 1978 and later fled Somalia; led one
of the first armed groups against Siad Barre with Ethiopian support; imprisoned by Ethiopian
military dictator Mengistu Hailemariam in 1985 and released in 1991 after the ouster of the
Mengistu regime by the current government; leader of the autonomous northeastern region of
Puntland until 2001.
Ali Mohamed Ghedi. Prime Minister of the TFG. Studied in Somalia and Italy; A veterinarian by
training; a lecturer and researcher at the Somali National University; no affiliation with warlords
or political groups. Ghedi was replaced by Mr. Nur Adde in late 2007.
Sharif Hassan Sheik Adan. Former Speaker of Transitional Federal Parliament. Ousted from his
position in January 2007; vocal critic of Ethiopia’s intervention; had serious disagreements with
President Yusuf; initiated negotiations with Courts leadership; a businessman and an advocate of
reconciliation efforts. He joined the ARS in 2007.
Adan Mohamed Nur Madobe. Speaker of Parliament of the TFG. A former warlord and served
as the Deputy Chairman of the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) and as Justice Minister of the
Hassan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud. Minister of Finance of the TFG; a known warlord and
Chairman of the RRA.
Barre Adan Shire Hiiraale. Minister of defense. Served as the Chairman of the Juba Valley
Alliance; Studied at West Point and served as army Colonel in the Barre regime; former
commander of the Somali National Front (SNF).
Hussein Farah Aideed. Minister of Public Works and Housing. Served as Minister of Interior
from 2005 to February 7, 2007; son of former faction leader Mohamed Farah Aideed; studied and
lived in the United States; succeeded his father after his death in 1996. He left Somalia in 2007.

For over four decades, relations between successive Ethiopian governments and Somalia have
been poor. Somalia invaded Ethiopia twice in the 1960s under Emperor Haile Selassie and in

1976 during the Mengistu Haile Mariam military rule. In the first war, the Ethiopian military

commander General Aman Andom defeated Somali forces, but his request to go inside Somalia
was rejected by the Emperor, and he was ordered to remain behind the border. The 1976 invasion
of Ethiopia by Somali forces and Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF) initially succeeded,
leading to the capture of many Ethiopian towns by Somali forces. Somali forces briefly captured
the third largest city, Dire Dawa, in Eastern Ethiopia. However, Ethiopian forces, with the support
of Cuban and South Yemeni forces, were able to defeat the Somali forces, although elements of
the Somali rebel forces remained in control of remote areas in the largely Somali inhabited areas
of Ethiopia.
Both Ethiopian and Somali governments intervened in the internal affairs of the two countries,
and successive governments on both sides supported each others’ armed opposition groups. The
current president of the Transitional Federal Government, President Abdullahi Yusuf, was one of
the first to receive Ethiopia’s assistance after he fled Somalia in the late 1970s. He was one of the
first senior officials to challenge the Siad Barre government. Ethiopia was also the principal
backer of the Somali National Movement (SNM), the group that liberated the northwest region of
Somalia, currently known as Somaliland. The change of government in Ethiopia did not end
Ethiopia’s intervention in Somali affairs. The current government of Ethiopia became a key
backer of a number of Somali factions and leaders, including the current president of the TFG,
Abdullahi Yusuf, Hussein Aideed, and other Somali factions.
The Barre government was also a major sponsor of Ethiopian armed rebel groups. The current
ruling party of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF),
received assistance from Somali authorities and a number of the EPRDF leaders reportedly
carried Somali-issued passports. Other rebel groups, including the Ogaden National Liberation
Front (ONLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), also received assistance from Somalia.
The ouster of the Siad Barre government and the absence of a central government in Somalia
ended support for Ethiopian armed groups, although some Somali factions continue to support the
ONLF. For most of the 1990s, Ethiopia’s primary concern was Al-Ittihad in Somalia and its
activities in support of the ONLF.
Al-Ittihad and ONLF carried out a number of attacks against Ethiopian targets, and Ethiopian
security forces have violently retaliated against these groups and their supporters. The fighting
with Al-Ittihad was triggered in the early 1990s when Ethiopian security forces brutally cracked
down on the Ogaden National Liberation Front, a member of the first transitional government of
Ethiopia. The ONLF joined the transitional government of Ethiopia in part because the Ethiopian
Transitional Charter provided nations and nationalities the right to self determination; however,
the ONLF push for self determination created tension between the ruling EPRDF and the ONLF.
In the early 1990s, Ethiopian security forces assassinated a number of ONLF leaders, cracked
down on the organization, and moved the Ethiopian Somali Region capital from Gode to Jijiga, a
central government stronghold. Members of the ONLF fled to Somalia and were embraced by Al-
Ittihad, a fairly new group at that time. Hence, some observers view Al-Ittihad as a group largely
concerned with domestic issues. Ethiopia’s principal interest at that time was to ensure that a
united Somalia did not pose a threat to Ethiopia and that the Somali-inhabited-region of Ethiopia
remained stable. Ethiopian forces attacked Somalia a number of times over the past decade and
often maintained presence inside Somali territory. Ethiopia’s relationship with the current
president of the TFG was strengthened when Yusuf backed Ethiopia’s efforts against Al-Ittihad in
the 1990s. The Ethiopian government’s animosity towards the ousted Shura leader of the Islamic
Courts, Sheik Aweys, is linked to Aweys’ role as one of the leaders of Al-Ittihad fighting against
Ethiopia and that of Abdullahi Yusuf.

In 2004, the government of Ethiopia released a report, the Federal Democratic Republic of
Ethiopia’s Foreign Policy, Security Policy and Strategy. The 158-page report covers a wide range
of issues, including Ethiopia’s assessment of its relations with Somalia. The report states that
Somalia attacked Ethiopia twice in pursuit of its Greater Somalia ambition. The report notes that
“at this time the Greater Somalia agenda has failed.” Moreover, the Greater Somalia agenda no
longer poses a serious threat to Ethiopia. The report contends that the factionalization of Somalia
has allowed anti-peace and extremists elements to become strong, posing a threat to Ethiopia. In
order to reduce the threat from some parts of Somalia, the Ethiopian government must pursue a
policy of engagement and support to Puntland and Somaliland, according to the report. The report
also recommends a policy of targeting those armed elements that threaten Ethiopian security. This
report was released two years before the Islamic Courts emerged, although the report gave the
same labels of extremist, terrorist, and anti-peace to groups that were dominant at that time.

In 1991, General Mohamed Siad Barre, who came to power through a military coup in 1969, was
ousted from power by several Somali armed groups. Following the collapse of central authority in
Mogadishu, rival Somali groups engaged in armed struggle for personal political power and
prevented food and medicine from reaching innocent civilians suffering from drought and famine.
An estimated 500,000 people died from violence, starvation, and disease as Somalia was wracked
by continued internal chaos. On November 9, 1992, then-President George H.W. Bush authorized
Operation Restore Hope, using the U.S. military, to safeguard non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) and their efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the suffering Somali civilian
The U.S.-led United Task Force (UNITAF) successfully subdued the warlords and armed factions
and enabled NGOs to safely provide humanitarian relief to Somalis. In May 1993, UNITAF
handed over the operation to the United Nations. The U.N. effort was known as United Nations
Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) II. In May 1993, UNOSOM II coalition forces were attacked
by one of the factions in Mogadishu. On October 3, 1993, after a seventeen-hour battle between
U.S. troops and Somali factions in Mogadishu, in which 18 U.S. Rangers were killed, President
Clinton ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Somalia. In March 1994, the United States
completely pulled out of Somalia and, one year later, the United Nations pulled out the remaining
peacekeepers. Since the withdrawal of United Nations forces in March 1995, Somalia has been
without a central government and has been splintered into several regions controlled by clan-
based factions.
There have been 14 Somali reconciliation or peace conferences to bring an end to the fighting in
Somalia since the early 1990s. Some were held under the auspices of or were supported by the
United Nations, or governments in the Horn of Africa. These efforts have largely failed to bring
about lasting peace in Somalia. Moreover, competing efforts by international actors contributed to
the failure of peace efforts in Somalia. In 1996, the Government of Ethiopia convened a peace
process in the resort town of Sodere, Ethiopia. Many political actors and armed factions
participated, although a few boycotted the peace process. The Sodere process collapsed when the
government of Egypt convened another meeting of the Somali groups in Cairo in 1997.
Subsequently, the Cairo initiative failed when yet another peace conference was convened by

Somali factions in Bosaso, Somalia in 1998. In February 2000, IGAD approved a peace plan
proposed by the government of Djibouti. In May 2000, the Somali Reconciliation Conference
opened in Arta, Djibouti in which 400 delegates took part for several months of deliberation. The
Arta process was boycotted by several powerful warlords, as well as the governments of
Somaliland and Puntland.
On August 13, 2000, participants agreed to the creation of a Transitional National Government
(TNG) and a Transitional National Assembly (TNA). On August 26, 2000, participants nominated
Abdulqassim Salad Hassan as president of the TNG. In October 2002, the Inter-Governmental
Authority for Development launched another peace process, led by the government of Kenya. An
estimated 350 delegates from different regions of Somalia participated in the opening session of
the conference in the Kenyan town of Eldoret. The Government of Somaliland boycotted the
conference. In the first phase of the conference, the parties signed a temporary cease-fire, and
agreed to respect and honor the outcome of the conference. The parties further agreed to establish
a federal system of government and committed themselves to fight terrorism. In September 2003,
the parties agreed on a Transitional National Charter, paving the way for a National Unity
In August 2004, a new Transitional Somali Parliament was inaugurated in Kenya. The 275-
member parliament consists of the major political factions and seems to represent all the major
clans of Somalia. The Transitional Charter allocated 61 seats for the major four clans and 31 seats
for the small clans. The Charter also allocated 12% of the seats to women. The Charter accepted
Islam as the national religion and agreed that Sharia law would be the basis of national
legislation. In fact, previous Somali constitutions had similar provisions. In October 2004, the
Somali Transitional Parliament elected Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed as the new president of Somalia.
The swearing in ceremony was attended by 11 heads of government from African countries and
representatives from regional organizations and the United Nations.
In November 2004, President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed appointed Professor Ali Mohamed Gedi as
prime minister. The transitional government, however, was not able to function effectively or
move to Mogadishu in large part due to opposition from the warlords in Mogadishu, even though
some of these warlords signed the agreement and were ministers in the government. The inability
of the transitional government to establish effective control allowed warlords and clan factions to
dominate many parts of Somalia until late December 2006. Some observers contend that the
defeat of the warlords by the Islamic Courts paved the way for the establishment of central
authority in Mogadishu.
Somalia’s recent peace effort, the National Reconciliation Congress, convened in the Shagaani
district of Mogadishu on July 15, 2007 after being postponed twice for logistical and security
reasons. The first phase of the conference came to an end on August 30, 2007. Somali
Ambassador to Kenya Mohammed Ali Nur spoke optimistically about the results of the first
phase of the conference at a news conference in Nairobi, Kenya: “I am happy to announce the
declaration of peace agreement between major clans who are participating in the congress has
already been signed…The transitional government has done and will continue doing its best to
lead the process of reviving Somalia from the ashes of the vicious civil war.” Whereas the first
phase of the conference focused on the resolution of clan conflicts and disarmament, the second
phase focused on issues such as power sharing, governance, sharing of natural resources, sea

piracy, welfare, and internally displaced persons. The TFG did not take steps to address these
issues since the Congress ended its meeting in late 2007.

The United States, Somali neighbors, and some Somali groups have expressed concern over the
years about the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in Somalia. In the mid-1990s, Islamic courts
began to emerge in parts of the country, especially in the capital of Mogadishu. These courts
functioned as local governments and often enforced decisions by using their own Islamic militia.
Members of the Al-Ittihad militia (see background below) reportedly provided the bulk of the
security forces for these courts in the areas AIAI had a presence. The absence of central authority
in Somalia created an environment conducive to the proliferation of armed factions throughout
the country. Ethiopian security forces invaded Somalia on a number of occasions to disrupt the
activities of Al-Ittihad and its allies or in support of certain armed factions.
Somali factions, including the so-called Islamic groups, often go through realignments or simply
disappear from the scene. Very little is known about the leadership or organizational structure of
these groups, including Al-Ittihad. There have been three known Islamic groups in Somalia
whose prominence has alternately waxed and waned: Al-Ittihad Al-Islamiya (mentioned below),
Al-Islah (Reform), and Al-Tabligh (Conveyers of God’s Work). In 1995, a group called Jihad al-
Islam, led by Sheikh Abbas bin Omar, emerged in Mogadishu, and gave the two main warlords,
General Mohamed Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi, an ultimatum to end their factional fighting. The
group claimed at that time that it maintained offices in several countries, including Yemen,
Pakistan, Kenya, and Sudan. Not much was heard subsequently from Jihad al-Islam, although a
group of Somalis later formed the Sharia (Islamic law) Implementation Club (SIC) in 1996.
SIC’s principal objective was to establish Sharia courts throughout the country. Some members of
the Mogadishu-based former Transitional National Government (TNG) reportedly were key
players in the establishment of these courts. Very little is known about al-Islah, although it is
perceived as a group dominated by Hawiye clan businessmen. According to the State
Department’s 2006 Country Reports on Terrorism, “while numerous Islamist groups engaged in a
broad range of activities operate inside Somalia, few of these organizations have any known links
to terrorist activities. Movements such as Harakat al-Islah (al-Islah), Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa
(ASWJ), and Majma Ulimadda Islaamka ee Soomaaliya (Majma’) sought power by political
rather than violent means and pursued political action via missionary or charity work. Missionary
Islamists, such as followers of the Tablighi sect and the “New Salafis” generally renounce explicit
political activism. Other Islamist organizations became providers of basic health, education, and
commercial services, and were perceived by some as pursuing a strategy to take political power.”
U.S. officials have long expressed concern about the presence of known terrorist individuals in
East Africa. Some observers contend that Somalia is being used as a transit and hiding place by
some of these individuals, including Haroon Fazul, the leader of the 1998 and 2002 bombings,
Saleh Nabhan, and Talha al-Sudani. But no Somali group has been directly linked to any terrorist
attacks against the U.S. or its allies.

Al-Ittihad was perhaps the most active and at one point most successful of all the Islamic groups.
Al-Ittihad is an Islamic group whose principal ideology was to establish an Islamic state and to
bring law and order by utilizing the Islamic court system. Founded in the late 1980s and early

1990s, Al-Ittihad unsuccessfully sought to replace clan and warlord politics with an Islamic state.

In the early 1990s, Al-Ittihad had modest successes; for example, it administered territories under
its control in the south. But Al-Ittihad never emerged as a major military or political force in
Somalia. The clan-based groups and factions led by warlords in Mogadishu are secular and have
been at odds with Al-Ittihad, even though some of these groups maintained tactical alliances from
time to time with Al-Ittihad. Al-Ittihad’s failure to maintain control over territories and spread its
ideology led to a shift in strategy in the mid-1990s. Al-Ittihad abandoned its ambition to spread its
ideology through military means and began to concentrate on providing social services to
communities through Islamic schools and health care centers.
Al-Ittihad’s social activities and religious objectives in Somalia seemed inconsistent with its
activities in support of armed groups in the Somali-inhabited region of Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, Al-
Ittihad was reportedly engaged in military activities in support of ethnic Somalis. Several anti-
Ethiopian groups are active in the Somali region and Al-Ittihad cooperated with these groups in
carrying out attacks against Ethiopian targets. In 1999, the Ogaden Islamic Union under the
leadership of Muhammad Muallem Omar Abdi, the Somali People’s Liberation Front under the
leadership of Ahmed Ali Ismail, and the Western Somali Liberation Front under the leadership of
Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Hussein formed a coalition called the United Front for the Liberation of 22
Western Somalia, their term for the Somali-inhabited region of Ethiopia. The Ogaden National
Liberation Front was engaged in military activities in the region, and in the past formed alliances
with other Ethiopian opposition groups.
Many Somali watchers believe that Al-Ittihad’s strength was highly exaggerated and that
information about its alleged links with international terrorist organizations is unreliable. The
State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism stated in 2006 that “in recent years the
existence of a coherent entity operating as AIAI (Al-Ittihad) has become difficult to prove.” There
is no reliable information or pattern of behavior to suggest that Al-Ittihad had an international
agenda as was the case with the National Islamic Front (NIF) government of Sudan. Some
observers note that if Al-Ittihad had a clear internationally-oriented agenda, its obvious ally in the
region would be the NIF regime in Sudan or the Sudanese-backed Eritrean Islamic Jihad. The
Sudanese regime did back regional extremist groups and international terrorist organizations, but
there was no apparent relationship between the NIF and Al-Ittihad. Many Somalis often refer to
Al-Ittihad’s social services and the peace and stability that prevailed in the areas it controlled.
In late September 2001, the Bush Administration added Al-Ittihad to a list of terrorism-related
entities whose assets were frozen by an Executive Order. Bush Administration officials accused
Al-Ittihad of links with Al Qaeda. The Administration did not publicly offer evidence supporting
its allegations, but some officials asserted that links between AIAI and Al Qaeda date back to the
U.S. presence in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope (1992-1994). This assertion, however,
seems inconsistent with the reality on the ground at that time, according to some observers. Then,
the dominant players in Mogadishu were the warlords and not Al-Ittihad. In early November

22 Foreign Broadcast Information Services (FBIS). “Islamists Regroup Their Forces After Ethiopian Preemptive
Strike,” May 17-23, 1999.

2001, federal authorities raided several Somali-owned money transfer businesses in the United
States operated by Al-Barakaat Companies.
The Bush Administration ordered the assets of Al-Barakaat frozen because of its alleged links to
Al Qaeda. U.S. officials, however, later seemed to back off from their earlier assertion that Al-
Barakaat and individuals associated with the money transfer business sector are directly linked to
Al Qaeda. In September 2002, U.S. officials cleared three Somalis and three Al-Barakaat
branches accused of ties with Al Qaeda. The three individuals and businesses were removed from
the U.S. Treasury Department list of terrorist supporters and their assets were also unfrozen.
Nonetheless, the Bush Administration remains concerned about terrorist activities in Somalia,
although no attacks against U.S. interests have been carried out by any known Somali groups.
The United States has had no presence in Somalia since Washington pulled out of the
peacekeeping operation in 1994. In September 2008, the European Court of Justice annulled the
decision taken by the EU Council to freeze the assets of two Somalis and Al-Barakaat
International Foundation of Sweden.
Figure 1. Major Somali Clans and Subclans

Figure 2. Map of Somalia
Source: Adapted by CRS. Cartographic Section, United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Map
No. 3690 Rev. 7, January 2007.

Ted Dagne
Specialist in African Affairs, 7-7646