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.



Iraq forces make gains against IS near Mosul

Italian PM blocks EU sanctions threat against Russia over Aleppo

US officials: Iran boosting arms sales to Huthis via Oman

Pentagon chief in Turkey for talks on tensions with Iraq

Food crisis reaching critical levels north of South Sudan

Islamic Jihad stages show of force in Gaza

UN says 'crimes' in Aleppo are 'of historic proportions'

IS sniper kills Iraqi journalist in Kirkuk

US official says coalition should target IS in Raqa after Mosul

Moscow extends Aleppo ceasefire

Italy PM says officials should have voted against UNESCO Jerusalem resolution

Syrian ‘Toy Smuggler’ accused of fraud

UN: IS may use civilians as human shields in Mosul

Armed men attack refugee boat off Libya

US says will work with Turkey to deal IS 'lasting defeat'

Moscow ‘highly concerned’ at jihadists’ refusal to leave Aleppo

Four Palestinians arrested by their security forces for settlement visit

Mauritania president says no change to two-term limit

UN delays Aleppo evacuations due to lack of security assurances

Oman denies reports of arms smuggling to Yemen

Israel looking to buy three more German submarines

83 migrants rescued off Cyprus

Under pressure in Mosul, IS fighters attack Kirkuk

Air strikes hit Yemen rebels despite ceasefire

Arab coalition accuses Yemen rebels of breaching truce

Israeli occupation troops kill Palestinian teenager

Iraqis flee IS-held Mosul for war-torn Syria

Five years after his death, Kadhafi's 'Green Book' is ridiculed in Libya

Iraq issues warrant for former governor of Mosul

EU leaders threaten sanctions against Assad allies

Syria army urges residents to evacuate Aleppo during ceasefire

British warships shadow Syria-bound Russian naval force

Turkey unexpectedly keeps interest rate steady

British PM urges united EU response to Russia over Syria 'atrocities'

UN gets ‘green light’ from all parties for Aleppo evacuations

Iran president: we must be hospitable to foreign businessmen

British Al-Jazeera reporter freed in Somalia

Turkish planes raid US-backed Kurdish militias

Scattered clashes undermine fragile Yemen truce

Iraq PM: Mosul offensive moving ‘faster than expected’

Former army commander Aoun to be Lebanon president

Israel PM concerned Obama may act before leaving office

Trump in unprecedented assault on US political convention

Kurds launch fresh push against IS around Mosul

Russia's Aleppo ‘humanitarian pause’ takes effect