Somali premier accuses Iran, Libya and Egypt of supporting Islamic militants
BAIDOA, Somalia – Somalia’s prime minister charged Saturday that Egypt, Libya and Iran are arming the Islamic militants who challenge his rule, lengthening the list of countries accused of fueling this country’s political chaos.Premier Mohammed Ali Gedi and the militants have been trading allegations that Ethiopia – Somalia’s traditional rival – is backing the prime minister and Eritrea – Ethiopia’s enemy – is helping the militants.Gedi’s weak government, meanwhile, has been unraveling. Two lawmakers were shot this week – one fatally – and Gedi faces a no-confidence vote after 18 members of parliament resigned from his administration, saying it has failed to bring peace.”Egypt, Libya and Iran, whom we thought were friends, are engaged in fueling the conflict in Somalia by supporting the terrorists,” Gedi said. He cited unnamed sources in his government and offered no proof.The leader of the Islamic militia, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, denied receiving support from foreign countries and said Gedi was “trying to distract attention from his own troubles.”Egypt’s foreign ministry denied claims Cairo was helping the militants, saying it supports peace and stability in Somalia.The Islamic militia has rallied its supporters by condemning reports that Ethiopian troops have entered the country to protect the government. Somalia’s president has asked for Ethiopia’s support – a decision that infuriated many Somalis.The government, in turn, accuses the Islamic militia of receiving weapons from Eritrea. Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bloody border war from 1998-2000, and have since backed rebel groups to destabilize each other.Somalia has had no real government since 1991, when its longtime leader was overthrown.The interim government was established nearly two years ago with the support of the U.N. but has failed to assert any power outside its base in Baidoa, 155 miles from the capital, Mogadishu.The militia, known as the Supreme Islamic Courts Council, has seized control of Mogadishu and much of the nation’s south, raising fears of an emerging Taliban-style regime. The United States accuses the group of harboring al-Qaida leaders responsible for deadly bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.Abdallah Isaaq Deerow, the politician who was killed Friday, was “an ardent supporter of close ties with Ethiopia,” his friend, Ali Mohamed Ahmed Daon, told The Associated Press. Deerow was a secondary school teacher before entering politics in the 1990s.Nine people have been arrested in Deerow’s death, but authorities had no further details, according to Police Chief Aadin Biid.On Wednesday, Mohammed Ibrahim Mohammed, chairman of the parliamentary committee for constitutional affairs, was shot and wounded. It was not immediately clear whether the shootings were connected, although the men had worked together.Deerow’s funeral Saturday forced officials to postpone the no-confidence vote against Gedi. Nobody spoke at the funeral.—Associated Press writer Mohamed Sheikh Nor contributed to this report from Mogadishu.