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)

 

An extraordinary meeting: Gulf ministers agree to end tension with Qatar

US releases $450 million Iranian frozen assets

‘Retaliation is life’ group vows to attack Egypt security forces

Gunmen storm South Sudan UN base killing 20

Malaysia activists: Obama you are not welcome here!

Kidnappers of Tunisian diplomat demand jailed Libyans release

Landmine blasts Tunisia soldier amid growing jihadist threat

Marzouki sets an 'example' by cutting salary by two-thirds

Rouhani: Iran does not intend to be aggressive but can defend itself

Turkey to Russia: We demand a gas price revision

For Massacre-scarred Algeria village, peace is worth more than wealth

An act of heroism: Iraq policeman sacrifices himself to shield army recruits

UK ‘determined to catch’ killer of Libya embassy policewoman

Experts: Washington demanded removal of Saudi spy chief

Future of Algeria on wheelchair

Palestinians rally for solidarity with Israel-held prisoners

Turkey may clinch bid to dismantle Italy’s wrecked ship

Israeli, Palestinian negotiators to hold meeting with US envoy

UN ‘gravely concerned’ about South Sudan oil state fighting

South Sudan war: Child soldiers consumed by desire for retribution

Algerians casting their vote for president

Syria world’s most perilous country fro journalists

Egypt jails ex-presidential hopeful for fraud

Egypt leftist leader urges all revolutionary groups to unite

Jordan ‘destroyed’ combat vehicles entering from Syria

South Sudan army loses key oil town of Bentiu

Lebanon parliament soon to elect new president

Zarif to discuss Caspion Sea states in Russia

MERS spreading in Saudi Arabia

Algeria finally opens its piggybank to lure back exiled youth

Suicide bombs rock Ramadi government compound

Three Palestinians killed in Gaza blast

Peace talks delayed after Palestine blamed for fatal shooting

Palestinians clash with Israeli police in Al-Aqsa

Undercover New York police unit that spied on Muslims disbanded

Washington will not issue visa for Iran UN envoy

British paedophile gets 20-year sentence in Morocco

Syria army fights its way into besieged Homs

Invisible Bouteflika urges Algerians to vote

Saudi Arabia replaces powerful intelligence chief

Benflis mobilizes ‘army’ to monitor Algeria election

Syria army advances on rebel-held neighbourhoods in Homs

Egypt court bans any Brotherhood candidacies in upcoming elections

Turkey rights groups sound alarm at plan to build gay-only prisons

Kuwait coup plot video ‘neither genuine nor reliable’