Intelligence Brief: I.C.U. Expels Warlords from Mogadishu
After intense fighting between the Islamic Court Union (I.C.U.) and the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (A.R.P.C.T.) during the past month in Mogadishu, reports from Somalia claim that the capital has largely fallen to the I.C.U.
Militia part of the A.R.P.C.T., an umbrella group of warlords and businessmen who have dominated the city since Somalia lost an effective central government in 1991, have been pushed from their positions by I.C.U. fighters. On June 4, the warlords lost the strategic city of Balad, which is 30 kilometers (19 miles) north of the capital; Balad had acted as a supply town for the warlords. With the warlords fleeing north to the city of Jowhar, which is controlled by Mohamed Omar Habeb Dheere -- one of the A.R.P.C.T.'s main leaders -- it is expected that Somalia will face increased instability in the months ahead.
The success of the I.C.U. in Mogadishu has caused concern in Washington. The United States fears that increased control by the I.C.U. will allow its Islamist leaders to shelter al-Qaeda militants and other religious fighters who ascribe to al-Qaeda's ideology of attacking the United States and its allies.
While Washington has publicly announced that it does not support the recent power gains by the I.C.U., it is not clear what current U.S. policy is in Somalia. There are accusations that the United States has been supporting the warlords who make up the A.R.P.C.T., but this has not been confirmed publicly (although some journalists claim U.S. officials have confirmed their financial support to the A.R.P.C.T. privately).
Despite the threat that the I.C.U. may pose to U.S. interests, it is not likely that they will be able to gain control over the majority of the country. As explained in a recent in-depth PINR assessment on the stability situation in Somalia, "At present, Somalia is not faced with the immediate prospect of an Islamist takeover; the country's politics are far too fragmented for that -- the web is too segmented, dense, knotted and crisscrossed." [See: "Somalia's Tangled Web Becomes Contorted"]
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