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Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 18:05 GMT
Analysis: Somalia's powerbrokers
Prime Minister Hassan Abshir Farah
Prime Minister Farah is looking for a united government

Somalia has been without a recognised central government since the collapse of Mohamed Siad Barre's regime in January 1991.

Recent attempts to establish a new authority, based in the capital Mogadishu, have had mixed results. And much power still lies with armed factions and warlords who are notorious for switching allegiance.

Click on the links below to find out more about the country's main powerbrokers, as profiled by BBC World Affairs correspondent Peter Biles.

The Transitional National Government - TNG

The TNG emerged out of a peace conference of Somali clan leaders in Djibouti in 2000.

It is led by President Abdulkassim Salad Hassan and Prime Minister Hassan Abshir Farah.

However, few warlords have recognised the government.

President Abdulkassim Salad Hassan
The president controls little territory
An idea on widening the TNG to include opposition warlords in a national unity cabinet received little backing in December 2001.

The TNG controls only parts of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and pockets elsewhere in Somalia.

The Somalia peace process is a result of the involvement of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development - IGAD - which is made up of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Sudan and Somalia.

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The Somali Reconstruction and Restoration Council - SRRC

The main challenge to the TNG comes from the SRRC - a loose coalition of opposition warlords from southern Somalia, many of whom have backing from Ethiopia.

The coalition began fracturing when some of its members signed the peace pact on a national unity government in Nakuru, Kenya.

The SRRC has its headquarters in the town of Baidoa.

Its leaders say the transitional government is not representative of Somali society and has little control over the country.

They have called on the international community to intervene in Somalia and set up a transitional government just as they have done in Afghanistan.

SRRC leaders say they can no longer rely only on neighbouring countries in the region - which are "fighting each other" - to help bring an end to over a decade of factional fighting.

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Hussein Mohammed Aideed

Based in Mogadishu, Hussein Aideed leads the United Somali Congress/Somali National Alliance (USC/SNA).

Hussein Aideed
Hussein Aideed controls parts of Mogadishu
He is a former US marine and son of the late General Mohamed Farah Aideed - the warlord who helped to remove President Siad Barre from power, and then fought US forces in Mogadishu in 1993.

His son - Hussein Aideed - arrived in Somalia with the Americans but then left the US military and became a local militia leader.

He now controls southern areas of Mogadishu.

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Muse Sudi Yalahow

Muse Sudi is also based in Mogadishu, but enjoys support from Ethiopia.

He leads the United Somali Congress/Somali Salvation Alliance (USC/SSA).

He was once a close ally of Ali Mahdi Mohammed, Somalia's interim president after Siad Barre's overthrow.

His forces were involved in fighting in south Mogadishu in December 2001.

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Mohammed Said Hirsi Morgan

General Morgan is based in Baidoa

General Morgan: The
General Morgan: The "butcher of Hargeisa"

He is allied to the southern-based Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM).

A former army commander and son-in-law of Siad Barre, he became known as the "Butcher of Hargeisa" in the late 1980s when he conducted military operations against Somali National Movement (SNM) rebels in northern Somalia.

Morgan is also supported by Ethiopia.

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Hassan Mohamed Nur Shatigudud

A professional soldier based in Baidoa, he is Commander of the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA) and controls the regions of Bay and Baykol.

Hassan Mohamed Nur Shatigudud
General Shatigudud wants foreign intervention
One a supporter of the TNG, Shatigudud became a strong opponent of the interim administration in October 2001.

His move caused a split in the RRA.

Along with Hussein Aideed and Aden Abdullahi Nur Gabyow, he has called for international military intervention to stop what he describes as "extremist groups" from going underground in Somalia.

He also has Ethiopian backing.

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Aden Abdullahi Nur Gabyow

Aden Abdullahi Nur Gabyow
General Gabyow controls southern areas
A defence minister in the Siad Barre era, Gabyow now leads the southern-based Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM).

Hussein Aideed, Shatigudud and General Gabyow say they can no longer rely only on neighbouring countries in the region to help bring an end to over a decade of factional fighting.

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Omar Haji Mohammed Masaleh

Leads the Somali National Front (SNF) - now split into pro- and anti- Ethiopian factions. His power-base lies in the southern Gedo region.

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Osman Hassan Ali Atto

Osman Hassan Ali Atto
Ali Atto has signed national unity government deal
Ali Atto did sign the Nakuru peace deal on a national unity government in December 2001.

He is also based in southern Mogadishu.

He was once the late General Aidieed's financial backer, but they later split and fought.

He is now leader of a dissident faction of the USC/SNA.

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Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed
Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed: Locked in power struggle with rival

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed recently retook power in Puntland - the autonomous state in north-eastern Somalia, which was established in 1998.

The administration in Puntland does not recognise the transitional government in Mogadishu.

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Jama Ali Jama

Jama Ali Jama's hold on power in Puntland was ended in May 2002.

His forces were defeated by fighters loyal to Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed. (click here to return)

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Click here to see where some of the powerbrokers are based

Foreign player: Ethiopia

Ethiopia and Somalia have often had a troubled relationship.

The two countries went to war in the Ogaden in the late 1970s, when Somalia tried to capture territory to which it believed it had an historical claim.

Ethiopia only succeeded in pushing back the Somali army when Soviet and Cuban forces came to the aid of Addis Ababa.

President Siad Barre
President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991
It now suits Ethiopia to have a chaotic and fragmented country without a proper national government on its south-eastern border.

The population of the Ogaden - Ethiopia's "Zone Five" - consists largely of ethnic Somalis and the region is a source of opposition to the Ethiopian Government.

Ethiopia is worried about the possible spread of Islamic fundamentalism in the Horn of Africa.

In recent years, Addis Ababa has intervened quietly in Somalia's internal affairs to keep Somalia weak and divided.

There is general agreement that this Ethiopian influence has increased over the past year or so, with activity around Baidoa in the south and in Puntland in the north-east.

In January 2002, the TNG said Ethiopia had sent troops across the border into Somalia to train militia groups opposed to it.

Somalia's transitional government also said that 70 Ethiopian officers had been despatched to Puntland in support of the ousted leader, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed.

Ethiopia denies these claims.

The overall situation is further complicated by the fact that the United States acknowledges that some of its military intelligence comes from Ethiopia.

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Al Itihaad al Islamiya

Meaning Islamic Union, the fundamentalist group was founded in the late 1980s and is based in the southern Gedo region.

There have been unconfirmed reports of al Itihaad activity in Puntland.

It is rumoured to be linked to al-Qaeda, the terror network believed to be behind the September 2001 attacks on the United States. The US has since listed it as a terrorist organisation.

Despite the allegations of al-Qaeda links, some observers say al Itihaad has been a spent force since 1996 and has not been active for some years.

The general feeling now is that al Itihaad's influence is vastly overblown.

However, there are suggestions that individual Somalis or even groups of Somalis may have, or have had links with the al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden.

There are reports that such people could be hiding in camps in Ras Kamboni near the Kenyan border and at El-Wak, near Somalia's border with Kenya and Ethiopia.

In the past, Ethiopia has blamed al Itihaad for bomb attacks in Addis Ababa and elsewhere, apparently carried out in support of Ethiopian opposition groups.

This has led to low-profile Ethiopian military incursions into Somalia in recent years.

The US believes that al Itihaad also had links with al Barakaat - the main remittance bank and telecommunications system in Somalia.

Al Barakaat's assets have been frozen by the US following allegations of money-laundering on behalf of al Qaeda.

Al Barakaat strongly denies these allegations, and the United Nations Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Somalia, Randolph Kent, says there is little evidence to link al Barakaat with al-Qaeda.

The warlords have a strong self-interest in fuelling stories of possible links between Somalia's transitional government and al Itihaad.

By spreading rumours of an al Qaeda presence, Somali politicians are hoping to harm their opponents.

It is clear that the factions are using the general anti-terrorist rhetoric to demonise each other.

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Terrorist haven?

See also:

21 Dec 01 | Africa
13 Dec 01 | Africa
27 Nov 01 | Africa
13 Nov 01 | Africa
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