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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 19:38 GMT
Three countries fear US wrath
First World War Recruitment poster showing Uncle Sam
Where will the US finger of suspicion point next?
The possibility of American strikes against groups suspected of links to al-Qaeda has brought different responses from Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

With Yemen and Sudan co-operating with the United States, people there are confident that a confrontation can be averted, but fears are running wild in Somalia.

The three countries have all had difficult relations with Washington in recent years - with US deaths involved in each case - but for Sudan and Yemen at least, things seem to be changing.

USS Cole after terrorist attack in Yemen
Al-Qaeda was blamed for the attack on the USS Cole

Eighteen US Rangers were killed in Somalia in 1993, and last year, 17 US sailors died in an al-Qaeda-linked suicide boat attack on the USS Cole anchored off Yemen.

Sudan was the target of US missile strikes in 1998 after the US accused it of ties with al-Qaeda, which Washington blamed for blowing up its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania earlier that year.

Somalia fears the worst

Now Somalia sees itself in the front line.

This is in preparation for an imminent strike on Somalia.

Radio Banaadir

"US Navy pilots have been conducting several surveillance flights over two military camps on the Kenya-Somalia border," Radio Banaadir warned from Mogadishu.

"This is in preparation for an imminent strike on Somalia."

An editorial in the Ayaamaha newspaper blamed Ethiopia for the danger.

"US targeting of Somalia has been inspired by the Ethiopian government's allegations that Somalia is being taken over by Islamic extremists," it wrote.

Citing Ethiopian diplomatic sources, The Washington Post reported on 4 November that "the Christian-dominated Ethiopian government... has offered to use its own troops to attack the al-Qaeda bases."

US soldiers in Mogadishu, Somalia
Will Somalia be the next target?
The idea alarmed Ayaamaha, which questioned whether Ethiopian and US interests were compatible.

"The danger in this proposal is that Muslim countries may see this as a 'crusade' against Muslim Somalia and not simply fighting terrorism," the paper warned.

"A strong and stable Somalia may not be in the interest of Ethiopia but it definitely is for America," it concluded.

Sudan hopes for the best

Sudanese officials, unlike Somalis, were confident that their country, through working with the USA, would not be targeted.

We have nothing that makes us fear an American strike

Sudanese First Vice President Ali Osman Taha

"We have nothing that makes us fear an American strike," First Vice President Ali Osman Taha told reporters on Tuesday.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Mustafa Uthman had explained why.

"The US presence in Khartoum is more extensive than ever before," he was quoted as saying by the London-based Al-Hayat.

"It is a diplomatic, security, political and humanitarian relief presence," Dr Uthman said, according to the newspaper.

Yemen toes the line

Yemen's government is also toeing the line, with sheikhs linked by Washington to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network being hunted by police.

"The Yemeni police are expected to start an arrest campaign against suspects in tribal areas... in the near future," the Yemen Times reported this week.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

07 Nov 01 | Africa
Sudan rebel calls for US attack
10 Dec 01 | South Asia
Q&A: What next in war on terror?
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