SAN’AA: Yemen will not send troops to Somalia..

Halkaan ka akhri

SAN’A’A, June 28 — Yemen does not intend to send any military troops to interfere in the conflict in neighboring Somalia, said high ranking official yesterday.

The source confirmed that, although Yemen supports the current government of Somalia, Yemen is not going to send any troops or peacekeeper soldiers.

Yemen and other African countries are under intense pressure from Somalia to send troops into Somalia to keep the Shabab, Islamist militants, from taking power.

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed declared last week a state of emergency, following weeks of intense fighting between Shabab and pro-government forces.

Somali parliamentary speaker requested help from troops in neighboring countries, including Yemen, Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia, to stabilize the nation, while the Shabab, who reportedly have ties with Al-Qaeda, have warned against any foreign intervention.

Somalia’s call for help came hours after top politicians were killed in ongoing fighting in the capital.

Although Yemeni has not announced a defined official response to Somalia’s request, the diplomatic procedures between the two countries have not been suspended.

Two telephones calls were reported between the Yemeni president and his counterpart in less than five days. According to Yemen’s state-run news agency, during the two calls President Saleh asserted Yemen’s strong stand with Somalia to achieve national unity and return peace and stability to the country.

The Somali president assured that “extremist forces would not achieve their evil goals to destroy the unity of Somali people,” the agency quoted.

Like Yemen, Djibouti hasn’t given an official response about the Somali request for troops.

Ethiopia, however, said that it would only intervene under a mandate from the international community. Ethiopia ended a widely unpopular military occupation of Somalia in January under a UN-sponsored peace deal signed in Djibouti.

Kenya also rejected to send its troops after a direct warning from the Shabab, which is listed as terrorist origination at the UN.

Last week, the Shabab warned against any foreign military intervention in the Somali conflict.

“We are sending our clear warning to the neighboring countries. Send your troops to our holy soil if you need to take them back inside coffins,” Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage, a Shabab spokesman, told a news conference in Mogadishu.

“We tell you that our dogs and cats will enjoy eating the dead bodies of your boys if you try to respond to the calls of these stooges, because we wish to die in the way of God more than you wish to live,” he said.

More than 4,300 soldiers are already deployed in Somalia as part of an African Union (AU) force, protecting strategic sites such as the presidential office, the port and the airport. But the troops are not allowed to fight alongside government forces and are authorized only to retaliate if they come under direct attack.

The US government has provided about 40 tons of weapons and ammunition to shore up the besieged government of Somalia in the past six weeks and has sent funding to train Somali soldiers, said the Washington Post on Saturday.

US officials said that Somalia has become a haven for Al-Qaeda operatives.

More than 300 people have died since the clashes in early May. An estimated 18,000 civilians have been killed in the insurgency since early 2007, while over a million have fled.

The insurgency, combined with drought, has left over 4 million Somalis -up to one third of the population- dependent on food aid and has allowed piracy to flourish off the coast of the Horn of Africa nation.

Repercussions in Yemen

Yemen has been impacted directly by the ongoing war in Somalia which has had no effective government since 1991.

Yemen is the only country on the Arabian Peninsula to be signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol. Yemen has traditionally adopted an open door policy to Somalis, gathering them prima facie refugee status.

In 2008 more than 50,000 new arrivals landed on the shores of Yemen – a 70 percent increase on the previous year. The exodus of hundreds of refugees from the Horn of Africa crossing the Gulf of Aden in Yemen exerts pressure burden the limited economic sources of Yemen, according to the Yemeni experts.

Yemeni former prime minister Abdulkarim Al-Eryani has previously pointed out that such an exodus could lead Yemen to suffer famine.

Moreover, Yemeni economic experts have warned of the major risks to local economy caused by ongoing Somali piracy in the Gulf of Aden, threatening one of the world’s busiest waterways through which 20,000 vessels and ships pass a year.

Piracy also has paralyzed the movement of fuel tankers in Yemen, causing a grave fuel shortage across the country.

According to the Yemen General Corporation for Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources the recent increase in pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden has previously halted oil and gas tankers transporting fuel from the Aden refinery to distribution branches throughout the country.

Though many pirate attacks were foiled and dozens of pirates captured by the international anti-pirate forces, the African Union commission chairman, Jean Ping, suggested that more ships would be hijacked unless the conflict is Somalia is resolved.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia was, he said, “a clear indication of the further deterioration of the situation with far reaching consequences for Somalia, the region, and the international community.”

Sourse: Yemen Times

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