Dec 3 (Reuters) - Ethiopia has a massive military
force of 15,000 men in Somalia and will be to
blame for any war in the chaotic Horn of Africa
state, the speaker of parliament in Somalia's
interim government said on Sunday.
Hassan Sheikh Adan rejected a U.S. draft resolution
before the United Nations that would relax an arms
embargo in order to let regional peacekeeping forces
enter Somalia, saying it could jeopardise talks between
his government and rival Islamists.
one of the top leaders of the weak Western-backed
Somali administration, has been making efforts to
reconcile it with the newly powerful Somalia Islamic
Courts Council (SICC).
was scathing about Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles
Zenawi, who he said was destabilising the country
by sending in a "massive military force"
of men and equipment.
by experts say there are around 15,000 (Ethiopian)
troops now in Somalia," Adan told Reuters in
are not just sending a fighting force but the families
of these fighters as well ... If war takes place now,
it will be the responsibility of Ethiopia and its
Ababa is the main backer of Adan's fragile government,
which has been confined to the provincial town of
Baidoa by the rapid territorial gains of the Mogadishu-based
denies sending any troops over the border, and says
it only has several hundred armed military trainers
Thursday, parliament in Addis Ababa voted to let Meles'
government take "all necessary" steps to
any Islamist invasion.
said Ethiopia had a free hand in Somalia for years,
selling weapons to warlords whose militias carved
up the country following the fall of former dictator
Siad Barre in 1991.
avert war, Ethiopia must withdraw its troops without
conditions and support the ongoing negotiations between
the Somali sides to create peace," Adan said
through a translator.
flew to Mogadishu last month to meet the Islamists
to try to restart Arab League-sponsored talks between
them and his government that collapsed on Nov. 1 in
Sudan's capital Khartoum.
the deal he agreed with the SICC -- to resume discussions
on political and security issues and power-sharing
-- was rejected the next day by his own cabinet, which
said it saw his meetings with the Islamists as a "personal"
whose good relations with the SICC and some of their
businessmen backers has put him at odds with President
Abdullahi Yusuf and Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi,
said his position allowed him to negotiate in the
"best interest" of all Somalis.
the time, diplomats hailed the speaker's backchannel
initiative as the best chance Somalia had of avoiding
war, which experts fear could suck in the armies of
said he was hopeful negotiations between the two sides
would resume in Sudan in mid-December.
he echoed the concerns of European experts that a
draft proposal by the United States at the U.N. Security
Council to let east African peacekeepers enter Somalia
put that at risk.
about the arms embargo should come later, he said.
timing of this proposal is not right ... It is not
possible to solve Somalia's crisis by military means,"
he said, adding that if the U.N. adopted the resolution,
it would be seen as legitimising the Ethiopian military
presence in Somalia.
next Khartoum talks are only 10 or 15 days away. Unless
we make sure they resume, the worst consequences will