Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Somaliland Deal with UAE "Corrupt, Illegal" - Voice of America

February 14, 2017 6:25 PM

FILE - President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo stands to salute troops during a street parade to celebrate independence day for the breakaway Somaliland nation from Somalia in the capital, Hargeysa, May 18, 2015.
FILE - President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo stands to salute troops during a street parade to celebrate independence day for the breakaway Somaliland nation from Somalia in the capital, Hargeysa, May 18, 2015.

Officials in Somalia and breakaway Somaliland took bribes in exchange for authorizing a United Arab Emirates military base in the port city of Berbera, according to Somalia's auditor general.
Auditor General Nur Jimale Farah is one of several observers questioning the propriety of the UAE base deal, which Somaliland's parliament overwhelmingly approved Sunday.
In an interview with VOA's Somali service, Jimale accused senior officials in Somaliland and the government of Somalia's former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of backing the deal for the sake of “illegitimate private gains.”
He also questioned Somaliland's right to reach an agreement with the UAE. Somaliland considers itself independent from Somalia, but is not recognized by any country.
“The deal has none of the legal provisions needed and did not go through Somalia's legitimate public procurement, financial institutions and the parliament. Therefore, it is corrupted and illegal,” Jimale said.
“We know that individuals within the leadership of Somalia and Somaliland were invited to Dubai and that they were corrupted with bags full of cash to sign the agreement,” he added.
Deal looked 'very secretive'
Jimale would not specify the individuals allegedly involved in the deal, and VOA could not independently verify the allegations.
Somaliland's representative to the UAE, Bashe Awil Omer, denied the bribery accusation. “It is baseless and we categorically deny it,” he told VOA. “If they have an evidence for such allegation, they should show to the public.”
Speaking to VOA on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on this issue, a senior official in Somalia's foreign ministry refused to deny or confirm the corruption allegations, but said neither the ministry nor the Somali cabinet was given a chance to discuss the UAE deal.
“We heard about the deal, which looked very secretive,” the official said. “It was not brought before the cabinet and the foreign ministry office. When we asked about it, we were told that the president and the prime minister's offices were dealing with it.”
Somali's former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is escorted as he leaves a meeting in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 30, 2017.

Somali's former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is escorted as he leaves a meeting in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 30, 2017.
Abdiwahab Abdisamad, an independent Nairobi-based Horn of Africa analyst, said he also heard the agreement got a secret green light from the outgoing Mohamud administration.
“As the reliable sources we are getting from the ground indicate, before Somaliland, authorities within the administration of the former head of state Hassan Sheikh Mohamud signed the agreement and Somaliland put it into vote at its parliament, only to send a message that it is a Somaliland project rather than a Somalia project,” Abdisamad said.
Somaliland's Wadani and OCID opposition parties have described the agreement as illegal and unconstitutional.
A ship is docked at the Berbera port in Somalia, May 17, 2015.

A ship is docked at the Berbera port in Somalia, May 17, 2015.
Strategic importance of base
The agreement calls for the UAE to operate a base in Berbera for 25 years. Previously, Somaliland signed a deal with a UAE international port operator DP World. That deal would upgrade the port of Berbera, the largest in Somaliland.
Being part of a coalition that has been fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, the UAE already has a military facility at Eritrea's Assab port for use. The Berbera base, which is only 90 kilometers from the shores of Yemen, will help it tighten the coalition blockade on the rebels.
Somali analysts say the base will be less of a headache for the UAE than the one in Eritrea, which is under United Nations sanctions.
Speaking at the parliament session, Somaliland's President Ahmed Silanyo said that the military base would benefit Somaliland and help create jobs.
In an interview with VOA on Monday, Somaliland Aviation Minister Farhan Adan Haybe said the deal has gone through all the Somaliland legal channels and therefore would be valid.
“The base is on a lease. It can't be used by any other nation except the UAE, and can't be subleased.” Haybe told VOA.
However, Jimale called on the UAE to back out of the deal, saying it violated Somalia's national and territorial integrity.
“UAE has already violated our national sovereignty and airspace because of its plans to come to Somaliland without paying air space tax and without the permission of Somalia's legitimate government,” Jimale said. “We ask UAE to respect the international code of conduct.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

UAE to open second military base in east Africa | Middle East Eye

UAE to open second military base in east Africa

Somaliland would be the second military base after the UAE facility in Eritrea, which has been used against the Houthis in Yemen
Ships being loaded in the port of Berbera, Somaliland in December 2015 (AFP)
Shazar Shafqat's picture
Last update: 
Monday 13 February 2017 16:15 UTC
The United Arab Emirates is going to set up a second military base in the Horn of Africa, sparking concern among some governments in the region.
The Somaliland parliament approved the deal for the northern port of Berbera on Sunday, with 144 lawmakers voting for, two against and two abstentions.
Under the 30-year deal, the Emirati government will have exclusive rights to Somaliland’s largest port and manage and oversee operational activities.
DP World, the UAE’s ports operator company, will supervise the port, which will gain a naval base as well as an air base. The lease of the port is contingent on the $442 million deal with DP World.
In return, Somaliland will get investment as well as international recognition: no other country has yet recognised the breakaway territory – which separated itself from the rest of Somalia in 1993 - as an "independent state".
The Emirati port operator will manage the operational activities, but there's no official word on the time it will take for the military base to become fully operational.
UAE’s military is considered a formidable force in Africa, particularly after the establishment of its military base at Assab in Eritrea in 2015.
The Eritrean base has been used by the UAE in the Yemen war against the Houthis. It is not known whether the facility at Berbera will have a similar purpose.
Osman Abdillahi, minister of information and national guidance, told Somaliland Press, the country’s official news agency, that the “UAE military base will bring investment which will open the flood gates for countries to recognise Somaliland.”
Abu Dhabi is reaching out to countries in and around the Horn of Africa, as it looks to increase its non-oil revenue through other avenues including real estate, trade and financial services.
Abdillahi said: “The Berbera to Wajale highway will cost about $230-300 million, not forgetting the creations of thousands of jobs for our people, which will alleviate the endemic joblessness that has incapacitated our people.”
It is significant because the UAE will be engaging in trade across the port, and for this, it would require a sustainable road network across Berbera. Hence, as the minister said, it will create opportunities for the local people on infrastructure development.

Tension with Ethiopia

But the Somaliland deal has angered Ethiopia, one of the regional powers in the Horn of Africa, which itself has economic ties with the UAE.
As recently as last year, the UAE and Ethiopia signed several investment deals, under the terms of which the UAE is legally bound to protect the economic interests of Ethiopia.
Last January, Ethiopia's prime minister rebuked the UAE government for having established the base in Eritrea.
Hailemariam Desalegn said: “We have also stressed that they will bear the consequences of our response if their operation in the area supports the Eritrean regime’s destabilisation agenda against Ethiopia."
There is still tension between the two east African nations after they fought a war from May 1998 to June 2000.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ethiopia’s Electioneering in Somalia for Sheikh Mohamud

By: Abukar Mohamed-Wardi
Let’s start with the basic facts: Ethiopia is desperately trying to get Hassan Sheikh Mohamud re-elected as a president of Somalia. The evidence of this effort was encapsulated in a recent report by a think-tank affiliated with Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry and external intelligence. Ethiopia’s renewed agenda goes against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the Somalis and their members of the Federal Parliament, as we witnessed in the recent parliamentary leadership election, where President Mohamud’s choice for first and second deputies of the House of the People were soundly defeated.
There’s a simple logic to Ethiopia’s calculus: always work against the wishes of the Somali people by trying to impose your leadership choice upon them, because, as a deeply clannish, polarized and savage people, Somalis must be under the arm pit of the enlightened Tigray junta in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia’s electioneering in Somalia is nothing new. What’s new, however, is their tactic. When, in 2004, Ethiopia successfully strong-armed the warlord-infested parliament it concocted in Kenya to elect Col. Abdullahi Yusuf as the President of Somalia, its narrative was that the “Hawiye clan is reviled by Somalis and thus unfit to lead Somalia.” Hence the installation of a Daarood President who, at the time, couldn’t even set a foot in Mogadishu until after two years while riding an Ethiopian tank. At the time, Ethiopia’s propaganda machine, aided and abetted by Somalis suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, portrayed the Hawiye clan as a murderous, extremist and even terrorist bunch who are bent on pilfering both public and private resources, and who are inherently anti law and order.
Fast forward a decade, and Ethiopia is selling the exact opposite narrative: that the Daarood clan are uniquely unqualified to lead Somalia, because they’re irreparably meek and periphery squatters. Furthermore, Ethiopia is framing the Daarood as super weak vis-à-vis Al-Shabaab, notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence that, in the Daarood-controlled regions (Puntland and Jubbaland), Al-Shabaab is either routed altogether, or being chased. Ironically, Ethiopia is now depicting the Hawiye as the only bulwark against Al-Shabaab and people of law and order, despite the overwhelming evidence that the terrorist organization is thriving in Hawiye-controlled regions (Galmudug, Hirshabelle & Benadir). And despite the fact that, the Hawiye outnumber any other clan among the top brass of Al-Shabaab.
The point is not that Daarood is better than Hawiye or vice versa; it’s Ethiopia’s naked attempt to exploit the deeply clannish mentality of the Somali people by pitting major clans against each other to produce the same desired result: a perpetually weak and fragmented Somalia at war with each other.
Externalizing domestic crisis
A major motivation of Ethiopia’s renewed intervention in Somalia is to externalize domestic crisis that has rocked the 100-million nation in 2016. Since 1991, Ethiopia is dominated (both literally and figuratively) by the Tigray minority, which, per official figures, are fewer than Somalis. They have a stranglehold on the politics, economics and, crucially, the security apparatus.
Through the EPDRF, the ruling party, which now controls 100% of Ethiopia’s rubberstamp “parliament”, the Tigray minority exploits its position of power to manipulate the rest of the major ethnic groups, principally the Oromos and Amharas. Increasingly, however, the TPLF (Tigray party) is looking for ways to distract both domestic and international attention away from the burning crisis at home.
Somalia is the perfect theater of operations to do this, having been involved in various capacities since 1996 when Ethiopia’s troops first invaded Gedo region. Since then, Ethiopia’s stated foreign policy agenda towards Somalia was simple, if quintessentially colonial in nature: divide and rule.
The Implementing Network
No one is more qualified to implement this momentous task than Gen. Gabre, a cantankerous diminutive who’s been the de facto case officer for Somalia since 1991. Gen. Gabre rapidly rose through the ranks and, in 2006 as Ethiopia’s fully fledged military occupation got underway, he was promoted to the title of “Head of the Political Bureau for Somalia,” a rank that’s superior to both the ambassador and the commander of their forces. In recent years, Gen. Gabre, who freely roams around Mogadishu’s posh hotels and homes of power bases, has changed uniform. He was made the Special Envoy of the IGAD (another Ethiopian outfit) to Somalia, an assuming role where he could operate seamlessly within Somalia and among IGAD member states, to advance the stated objective of Ethiopia.
But Gen. Gabre needs local enablers. Over the past few years, he has found three perfect moles to get his objectives across: Farah Sheikh Abdiqadir, an MP and President Mohamud’s closest ally, Mustaf Sheikh Ali Dhuhulow, an MP and a former minister known for his showmanship and Mohamed Jama Mursal Geelle, a new MP, Minister of Telecoms and, for several years, Gen. Gabre’s aide. Farah is the ringleader, assisted by Geelle and Dhuhulow.
The Network is working hard to get President Mohamud re-elected, but their test case (Farah’s bid to be elected as 11st Deputy Speaker of Parliament) failed spectacularly. And they know that Ethiopia’s political projects have an unmistakable record of failure: Abdullahi Yusuf failed in 2004, so did their 2006/2007 invasion. Their 2009 attempt to get PM Nur Adde elected as president failed, as did their 2012 attempt to get PM Abdiweli Gaas elected President.
In 2015, they tried to install Ahmed Abdisalam Aden (a former ally now backing PM Sharmarke’s bid for president) as the President of Galmudug failed miserably. In 2016, they tried to get Ali Abdi Waare as the President of Hirshabeelle, and it also failed. And now, in 2017, the writing is on the wall: their choice for President will also fail.
With such a terrible track record, one would hope that Gen. Gabre and his Tigray bosses would learn a dear lesson: that Somalis, despite their deep divisions, have consistently rejected Ethiopia in the ballot box (and in the bullet box, too).
2017 Presidential Election
Now that the prospects of Hassan Sheikh’s re-election are practically nonexistent, it’s incumbent upon the newly formed Federal Parliament to elect a leader who will not kowtow to Ethiopia’s misogynist policy toward Somalia. In fact, that should be a litmus test for all aspirants. Credible candidates must make their stance against Ethiopia unequivocally.
It’s very clear that the results of the 2017 Presidential Election will be the final coffin on Ethiopia’s meddling in Somalia. On behalf of the Somali people, I call on all MPs to not vote for Ethiopia.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Ethiopia denies Somalia troop withdrawals linked to unrest at home | News24

2016-10-27 07:50

Addis Ababa - Ethiopia on Wednesday denied that a string of withdrawals of troops from towns in Somalia were connected to the state of emergency declared in response to nearly a year of anti-government protests.
Government spokesperson Getachew Reda insisted the removal of troops from a string of Somali towns -including at least three since Ethiopia declared a six-month state of emergency on October 9 - was to do with the "financial burden" and "lack of support" rather than the need for more troops at home.
"It has nothing to do with the state of emergency," Reda told a press conference in the capital Addis Ababa.
"We have been making a very conscious and responsible decision to evacuate our forces from many parts of Somalia. We cannot remain there indefinitely."
Reda said the domestic challenge represented by the unprecedented months of sometimes deadly anti-government protests was not "enormous enough for us to shift our policy in Somalia".
Ethiopian troops deployed to fight Shabaab militants in Somalia have left towns in the western Bakool and Hiraan regions in recent weeks, allowing the insurgents to immediately reclaim them.
Most recently, Tiyeeglow in Bakool region was abandoned on Wednesday and hours later Shabaab fighters moved in.
"We were informed about the pullout of the Ethiopian troops and this morning they have proceeded with their plan to vacate the town," said Abdulahi Moalim Hassan, a security official in Hudur, the nearby district capital.
"We are not sure about the fate of Hudur as well," he added. "People are worried and they are not relying on the Ethiopian troops anymore."
Reda said the withdrawn troops were not from Ethiopia's 4 400-strong contingent of the internationally-funded African Union peace-enforcement mission, Amisom, but rather were some of the "few thousands" deployed in Somalia unilaterally for which his government is "paying all the expenses".
"These troops are not under Amisom and unfortunately are not being helped in their efforts to assist the Somali national army," said Reda.
He said Amisom troops were not affected and neither were all non-Amisom forces being withdrawn.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Shabaab 'takes Somali town' after Ethiopia troop pullout | Daily Mail Online

Fighters from the Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab group said Sunday they had retaken control of a town in central Somalia after hundreds of Ethiopian troops serving with the African Union's AMISOM force withdrew.
It was the third time this month that the Islamist group moved into a town in the region after the departure of Ethiopian forces.
Al-Shabaab said on the smartphone app Telegram that their fighters had "stormed the town (of Halgan) soon after the enemy pulled out" on Sunday.
Somali security forces guard the site of a suicide blast in Mogadishu in August 2016

Somali security forces guard the site of a suicide blast in Mogadishu in August 2016 ©Mohamed Abdiwahab (AFP/File)
"The brave fighters of Islam have taken full control of the town, the Islamic flag is waving over the station and the district headquarters," the statement added.
After leaving Halgan together with Somali army soldiers, situated at a key junction on the road to the capital Mogadishu, the Ethiopian troops headed towards the provincial capital, Beledweyne, according to several sources.
"The Ethiopian soldiers pulled out of Halgan town this (Sunday) morning. We are getting (reports) that they have destroyed their bases and trenches around the town before heading for Beledweyne," said Mohamed Nur Adan, a security official in Beledweyne.
"The Ethiopian soldiers vacated their bases this morning, we saw them heading towards Beledweyne. There were tanks and big trucks in their convoy," witness Osman Adan told AFP by phone.
Halgan, situated about 70 kilometres (40 miles) from Beledweyne, came under assault from the Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab in June.
The Islamists then attacked the Ethiopian army base with a suicide car bomber and gunmen. Scores were reported killed on both sides, however casualty numbers are impossible to verify.
The fall of Halgan is likely to increase pressure and attacks on AMISOM forces in Buloburde, which is the second largest town in the central Hiran region.
Earlier this month hundreds of Ethiopian troops pulled out of El-Ali -- also in the Hiran region -- after also withdrawing from nearby Moqokori.
Shabaab forces moved back in to both towns after the Ethiopians left.
No explanation has been given by the Ethiopian military or AMISOM.
The Shabaab was forced out of the capital, Mogadishu, five years ago but continues to carry out regular attacks on military, government and civilian targets in its battle to overthrow the internationally-backed administration.
Somali security forces patrol the scene of a suicide car bomb blast in Mogadishu in August 2016

Somali security forces patrol the scene of a suicide car bomb blast in Mogadishu in August 2016 ©Mohamed Abdiwahab (AFP/File)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

US escalating covert war in Somalia - World Socialist Web Site

By Jordan Shilton 
17 October 2016
The Obama administration has covertly deployed hundreds of US troops to Somalia to wage a secret war in the impoverished East African country alongside private contractors and soldiers from African allied states, a New York Times article revealed Sunday.
Under the pretext of protecting US and African troops from terrorists in the al-Shabaab Islamist militia, the Obama administration has authorized the use of air strikes in the country.
As the Times bluntly noted, the mission, which is referred to in military circles as the “Somalia campaign,” has several hundred troops in the country at any one time and is “a blueprint for warfare which President Obama has embraced and will pass along to his successor. It is a model the United States now employs across the Middle East and North Africa—from Syria to Libya—despite the President’s stated aversion to “boots on the ground” in the world’s war zones.”
The revelation, coming just days after government officials informed the public that the US had launched missile strikes in Yemen, demonstrates that the Obama administration has dragged the American people into yet another war without even a semblance of public debate.
The Somalia operations come on top of large-scale military interventions in Afghanistan, where US military forces have been waging war since 2001; Syria, where Washington is backing Islamist extremists to overthrow the Russian-backed Assad regime; and Libya, where US Special Forces have been deployed and air strikes have been carried out since August under the pretext of targeting the Islamic State.
In total, the Times notes that the US military has carried out air strikes in seven countries this year and special forces operations in “many more.”
The US is waging war in Somalia in support of the shaky Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which barely controls territory outside of the capital, Mogadishu. The regime was only able to establish itself following a brutal US-backed invasion by neighboring Ethiopia and thanks to ongoing support from African Union (AU) soldiers.
Between 200 and 300 US Special Forces under the control of Africom (African Command) collaborate regularly with Somali National Army units and soldiers from Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti and Kenya to plan and conduct ground operations against al-Shabaab.
According to Obama’s semi-annual briefing to Congress on foreign military operations, the US forces are not only present to target al-Shabaab, which is aligned with al-Qaida, but also to provide “advise and assist” support to regional counter-terrorism efforts. This has been one of the favored formulations to justify the deployment of US soldiers to war zones around the world, such as in Iraq, where the alleged advisers frequently operate on the front line in fighting against ISIS.
Africom has repeatedly dismissed reports that its frequent air strikes, including at least 13 this year, have led to civilian casualties. In one of the most recent incidents Africom denied claims by officials in the autonomous region of Galmudug that a US drone strike killed 22 local soldiers and civilians last month in the city of Galkayo.
Even strikes authorized to support offensive operations launched by Somali forces in conjunction with US soldiers are routinely labelled as “self-defense” actions.
Significantly, the US forces are not only fighting but also engage in joint interrogation sessions with Somali forces. Ominously recalling the methods employed in Afghanistan and Iraq, where US troops worked hand-in-glove with local authorities guilty of torture and abuse of prisoners, the Timesmerely noted in passing that after such sessions, US forces hand over prisoners to be interned in Somali prisons.
The suggestion that the US war in Somalia is defensive is absurd. Control over the strategically-important country, which lies adjacent to some of the most important sea lanes in the world for the transportation of oil and other commodities, is seen as essential by the US ruling elite if Washington is to retain its global hegemonic position.
The Times’ attempt to cast the catastrophic conditions in Somalia, which has not had a functioning government for over two decades, as the result of the actions of the al-Shabaab Islamist militia is highly disingenuous. In truth, the US bears chief responsibility for the more than a quarter century of bitter fighting and endemic poverty that has gripped the strategically-located country in the Horn of Africa.
In 1991, Washington withdrew its longstanding support for the regime of Siad Barre, leading to its collapse. It then seized on a famine crisis to legitimize the deployment of 30,000 troops to the country in a bid to establish a US client regime. After the Battle of Mogadishu, in which 18 US soldiers were killed, President Clinton withdrew the troops.
But the US withdrawal did not mean it remained on the sidelines. In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration established the first permanent US military base in Africa in neighboring Djibouti, from where air strikes and drone operations have been flown.
In 2006, the US played a key role in backing an Ethiopian invasion to topple the moderate Islamic Courts regime, which had ousted the US-backed TFG. The ensuing fighting killed tens of thousands, and the brutality of the Ethiopian occupiers fueled increased support for al-Shabaab. The invasion included more than a week-long shelling campaign against Mogadishu, which reduced large parts of the capital to rubble and turned hundreds of thousands into refugees. US air strikes and naval bombardments were organized to back Ethiopia’s military operations.
After capturing Mogadishu and reinstating the TFG, the Ethiopian force was supplemented by troops from Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti and Burundi under the auspices of an African Union “peacekeeping” mission.
US “advisers” were in Somalia almost without interruption from 2006. It only came to light in 2014 that around 120 US soldiers had been operating there since 2007, first alongside the Ethiopian invasion and later as part of the AU mission.
US operations in Somalia are only part of a vastly expanding array of military deployments organized by Africom across the continent.
In an annual briefing to the Senate Armed Services Committee, it was noted earlier this year that in fiscal year 2015, Africom “conducted 75 joint operations, 12 major joint exercises, and 400 security cooperation activities.” As well as its permanent military base in Djibouti, the US military has drone bases in Uganda, Seychelles, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Niger.
The dramatic expansion of US military activity in Africa since Africom was established in 2007 reflects Washington’s determination to subjugate the resource-rich continent, consolidate its geostrategic and economic hegemony and block the emergence of its rivals in Africa, above all China but also the European imperialist powers, which are seeking to reestablish domination over their former colonial possessions.
The ever more aggressive character of the operations conducted by Africom was demonstrated earlier this year with the appointment of General Thomas Waldhauser as its new commander. The four-star Marine Corps general has led US operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
During an appearance in front of the Armed Services Committee, Waldhauser vowed to expand the “war on terror” throughout Africa and stated he would request the authority to carry out targeted killings without presidential approval.
One area of major focus for Africom is the Sahel region south of the Sahara. US forces have been deployed to Cameroon and Niger, where they have been engaged in training the country’s armed forces using the pretext of combatting the terrorist group Boko Haram.
The Intercept reported two weeks ago based on secret documents obtained via a Freedom of Information request that the Obama administration is planning to spend an additional $100 million to establish a new drone base which will be capable of hosting MQ-9 Reaper drones, which are larger and considered more lethal than the notorious Predator drones used to rain death and destruction down on thousands throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Just days before the Times revealed the covert operations in Somalia, the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes confirmed that a fleet of F16 fighters have been deployed in Djibouti since July in preparation for a possible “crisis response” mission in South Sudan.
The country, which gained its independence from Sudan in 2011 with Washington’s backing, has substantial energy resources and is crucial to the US strategy of preventing expanding Chinese influence. But it has been gripped by civil war almost since its independence.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Ethiopia withdraws from Somalia el-Ali in Hiran region

  • 7 hours ago
  • From the sectionAfrica

Ethiopian soldiers ride an army vehicle on their way to Mogadishu, 28 December 2006.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionEthiopia deployed its troops to Somalia to strengthen the weak UN-backed government

Ethiopian troops fighting militant Islamist group al-Shabab have withdrawn from a key military base in central Somalia's Hiran region, residents say.
Al-Shabab fighters have taken control of el-Ali village following the withdrawal, the residents added.
Ethiopian forces had destroyed the base before abandoning the area, a radio station run by al-Shabab said.
The troops withdrew after the base came under artillery fire, a Somali security official said.
Ethiopian has not commented on the withdrawal.
In recent weeks it had also withdrawn its forces from the nearby town of Moqokori, AFP news agency reports.
In June, al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, said it had killed 60 Ethiopian soldiers in an attack on a base in Halgan town, also in central Somalia.
The withdrawal from el-Ali has made a large and strategic area vulnerable to occupation by the militants, reports the BBC's Ibrahim Aden from the capital, Mogadishu.

Al-Shabab fightersImage copyrightAP
Image captionAl-Shabab militants say they attacked an African Union base in central Somalia

Some Ethiopian soldiers are in Somalia as part of a 22,000-strong African Union (AU) force while others are there as a result of a bilateral deal with the weak Somali government.
The Ethiopian soldiers in the AU mission are responsible for securing Bay, Bakool, and Gedo regions but are also present in Hiran, which borders Ethiopia.
Somali security official Abdirisak Moalim Ahmed confirmed to AFP news agency that al-Shabab had occupied el-Ali, and the Ethiopian troops had headed for the regional capital, Beledweyne, about 70km (43 miles) away.
Most traders had fled the village following its seizure by al-Shabab, resident Osman Adan told AFP.
Ethiopia has a long and porous border with Somalia, and has been anxious to stop the infiltration of Islamist militancy into its territory.
Earlier this week, a state of emergency was declared in Ethiopia itself to quell the worst unrest in the country since the government took power in 1991.
Opposition groups in Ethiopia are demanding more political and economic rights, accusing the government of being repressive.
The government has blamed the unrest on "terrorists", accusing them of trying to break up the East African state of more than 86 million people.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is currently visiting Ethiopia, where she called on the government to allow protests, Reuters news agency reports

About Me

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Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change &  Liberation  in Europe, Africa and Americas. He has obtained  Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva.   A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies.  He wrote on the  problematic of  the Horn of  Africa extensively. He Speaks Amharic, Tigergna, Hebrew, English, French. He has a good comprehension of Arabic, Spanish and Italian.