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Islamists vow to fight Somalia peacekeeping plan


MOGADISHU, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Somalia's Islamists warned on Thursday that an African Union plan to send peacekeepers into Somalia risked igniting a regional war which could force them to to invade arch-enemy Ethiopia.

Meeting at its headquarters in Addis Ababa, the African Union on Wednesday endorsed a plan to send peacekeepers into Somalia but said first it would need help from the European Union and others to raise the estimated $335 million cost.

"If the AU deploys the troops by force then we will also use force to remove them," said Islamist spokesman Abdirahim Ali Mudey. "We will consider any country that contributes its troops as an enemy of Somalia, I will personally leave my office, take my gun and join other Somali patriots to fight."

The Islamists took over Mogadishu and a swathe of southern Somalia earlier this year and are engaged in a political standoff with the Western- and Ethiopian-backed interim government based in the provincial town of Baidoa.

"Ethiopians are using the advantage of hosting the AU to push for their agenda to capture Somalia," Mudey told Reuters.

"Once fighting starts we will not stop the war, we will continue until we capture Addis Ababa."

The Islamists say Somalis should be left to sort out their own problems, without foreign intervention. And al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden recently weighed into the controversy by saying the arrival of foreign troops in Somalia would justify jihad.

Somalia's government is militarily weak -- although witnesses say Ethiopian troops have entered the country to bolster its position -- and backs the idea of peacekeepers.

Recalling a disastrous U.S.-led international peacekeeping effort in the early 1990s, depicted in the Hollywood film "Black Hawk Down", Mudey said the AU should spend money instead on funding peace efforts.

"If the AU cares about Somalia it should not deploy the troops, they should remember what happened in the early 1990s when the powerful U.N mission failed to even pacify Mogadishu, let alone Somalia," he said.

Somalia has been without central rule since warlords ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Ibrahim Hassan Addou, in charge of foreign relations for the Islamists, said a peacekeeping deployment would be taken as a sign of aggression towards Somalia.

"This is a project fronted by Ethiopia in order to bring back chaos in Somalia," he told Reuters.

"If the troops are deployed we will consider it as an incursion and we will defend our country."

Former TNG President Abdikasim Lashes Out Ethiopia Over Its Involvement

In an interview with former Somali TNG government president by London seated Asharqalawsat Arabic newspaper, Abdikasim Salad Hassan stressed that if Ethiopia pulls its military personnel out of Somalia and entirely stays out of the Somali affairs, it may conduce to political progress and peaceful co-habitation in the region.

Dr. Abdikasim Salad Hassan who was among the entourage of Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts supreme leader invited by Libya's Kadafi said that he and the Islamic delegation went to Libya in an attempt to soothe the tense situation in the country which, as he said, is being stirred by foreign powers.

Union of Islamic Courts delegation has, on their way back to Somalia, passed by neighboring Djibouti, a country that relentlessly took major role in installing the former TNG government which was encumbered by former defeated faction warlords.

Abdikasim reiterated that no foreign intervention could resolve the situation in Somalia, adding a similar foreign military operation failed back in 1993, referring to UN-US mission that deserted Somalia in 1995 after they got humiliated and embroiled in inter-tribal war.

"Ethiopia had been entering in Somalia for the last 16 years in the country's racial war; disintegrating Somalis, hindering every administration built for Somalia and it's a government still determined to obstruct any Somali government that does not abide by its unlawful policies", said former president Abdikasim.

He complimented the Islamic Courts for restoring some law and order in the capital once a volatile city.

Abdikasim said the preliminary peace accord reached by the Islamic Courts and the Somali transitional government in their second phase had a phenomenon of a good future for Somalia, inciting all neighboring countries including Ethiopia not to infringe the sovereignty of Somalia.

The President's remarks came at a time when Iter-Governmental Authority on Development, IGAD, had come to their decision in Addis Ababa Ethiopia of deploying about 8,000 African peacekeepers in Somalia.

Somalia's Islamic Courts pledged they would confront any foreign forces brought to Somalia.

Gumen target aid plane in Somalia

Gunmen opened fire against a small United Nations plane, probably a Cessna,that was transporting humanitarian aid to the area of Gedo, in southern Somalia, causing the suspension of aid operations.

Local sources said the plane was targeted in Garbaharey, a location not far from the border with Kenya.

Local militias opened fire against the plane as it was landing on a dirt airstrip used mainly by humanitarian flights. There were no casualties.

The incident may have resulted from contrasts between the administrator in the district and tribal elders, who were demanding major security at the airstrip, where for years local armed groups extorted illegal taxes from departing and landing planes.

For the past few months, Somalis has been struck by a harsh drought. To reach the civil populations, aid agencies are often forced to reach compromises with local militias for security guarantees. The majority of Somalia has been without a central authority for 15 years and the districts are administrated by clan alliances. The interim government only controls the territory around the city of Baidoa, while Mogadishu and other locations in the south have for months been under the control of the Union of Islamic Courts.

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