First Published: 2006-12-27

 
Experts: Ethiopia seeks to capture Beledwein
 

Globe Research says Ethopian forces do not intend to conquer Mogadishu after bearing heavy losses.

 

Middle East Online

A change of strategy

ROME - As Ethiopian forces on Wednesday drew closer to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, a second division of light infantry was present in the northern Guldug region, its sights set on the town of Beledwein, the director of Rome-based Globe Research think tank, Nicola Pedde, told Adnkronos International.

"Its task is to divide the country in two. The aim is to capture Beledwein and prevent supplies reaching the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) from it," he said, citing unnamed sources.

"They are afraid of two things - of outside aid reaching the Islamists and of possible reinforcements from Eritrea," said Pedde.

Soldiers from the Ethiopian engineering corps are extending the airport in the southern town Badaoia - the seat of Somalia's largely ineffectual transitional government - to enable Ethiopian fighter planes to land and take off.

"Work is progressing slowly, although they have installed radar towers," Pedde commented.

Globe Research sources have confirmed that the Ethopian forces have sustained heavy losses, Pedde stated. "This has occurred because they entered Somalia without armoured vehicles, just trucks, and they only have light infantry," Pedde said.

Owing to these losses, the Ethiopian military command has removed the transitional government's generals, accusing them of having under-estimated the size and preparedness of the UIC afilliated Islamist militias, Pedde told AKI.

The security expert said he believes the Ethopian forces do not intend to conquer Mogadishu but to seize the strategic southern port of Kismayo.

"One of their divisions is advancing towards Kismayo, with the objective of capturing the port," he said, citing sources.

"Ethopian troops in Somalia have received no orders to take Mogadishu. Their instructions are to reach its outskirts but not to advance on the city, unless for example the Islamist forces sally forth," he added.

Ethopian troops on Wednesday seized the strategic town of Jowhar, 90 kilomentres from the capital, from Islamist militias during a dawn attack.

This followed a major offensive begun by Ethiopia over the weekend against the UIC, which since June had increased its control to much of central and southern Somalia.

Jowhar is a former UIC stronghold, and its loss leaves the Islamists with control of little more than the coast. The Ethiopian army has called on remaining Islamist fighters to surrender.

"Ethopian offensive is three-pronged at present. The newly reinforced main phalanx in Badoia contains 12,000 troops without heavy weapons. They are backed up by a squadron of helicopter gunships.

Fighter jets are making incursions from Ethiopian soil against the airports controlled by UIC ," said Pedde.

Somalia has been in the grip of warlords and militias for years and has been without an effective national government since 1991 when military dictator Siad Barre was ousted.

The transitional government was formed with UN assistance two years ago, but has failed to establish any real control outside the southern provincial town of Baidoa, where it is based.

(AKI)

 

Islamist protesters, police clash in Cairo

New Israel party created amid rumours of early elections

French lawmakers to debate recognition of Palestine

Oil prices nosedive in Asia after OPEC refuses to cede ground to US shale

Well-loved Lebanese poet dies aged 102

Jordanians protest against Israel ‘Jewish’ status law

Foreign workers will get more protection in Gulf

Syria, Russia support UN in suspending Aleppo fighting

Powers to push for Iran nuclear deal before new deadline

Iraqi forces, tribesmen battle IS jihadists in Ramadi

Egypt jails 78 minors for pro-Morsi protests

OPEC meets for pivotal decision on oil output

US slams Assad regime for ‘continued slaughter’

Pope to rebuild bridges with Islamic world in Turkey visit

Regime indiscriminate strikes kill scores in Islamic State 'capital' in Syria

Putin meets with Syria Foreign Minister in Black Sea retreat of Sochi

Egypt, France agree to step up cooperation against terrorism

Britain rushes to fight terror with controversial bill

Gunmen kill 3 Egypt policemen in fresh terrorist attack

Iran lawmakers finally approve third Rouhani science minister pick

Turkey clears only suspect in alleged poisoning of former president

Huthis humiliate Al-Ahmar clan with capture of Sanaa headquarters

Christians hold out in Syria second city despite Daesh threat

Libya’s Derna emerges as new IS stronghold

Egypt to reopen Rafah border crossing Wednesday

Egypt leader begins two-day trip to France

Tribesmen blow up Yemen’s main oil pipeline

Russia trims oil output

Lebanese diva Sabah passes away

UN chief calls for halt to Libya air strikes

Syrian air strikes on Raqa kill 63 civilians

17 killed in fatal Cairo building collapse

Egypt nabs five Salafist leaders

Essebsi leads Tunisia presidential vote

Paris pushing for 'safe zones' in war-torn Syria

New air strike hits Tripoli’s sole operational airport

Pentagon chief steps down

Saudi seeks to ‘knock out’ shale oil competitors from oil market

Death toll rises from Morocco flash floods

Yemen troops free 8 hostages from Al-Qaeda

Italy hails Egypt as 'strategic partner'

US Congress skeptical of Iran nuclear talks extension

Khartoum, Darfur rebels open ceasefire talks

Time runs out for biggest chance to resolve Iran nuclear standoff

Egypt leader heads to Italy