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Arab League Supports "IGAD" Force in Somalia, On Darfur Serious if UN Rejects Egyptian Troops

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, September 28 -- Asked about Somalia, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa on Friday said that "we support the process of conciliation."

            Fine, but how? Those who organized the National Reconciliation Congress excluded most of their opponents; the Transitional Federal Government, put in power by Ethiopian troops, has been accused of war crimes against civilians. Video Analysis here

             Inner City Press ask Moussa about a quote by U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger that "Saudi Arabia 'endorsed' the government's National Reconciliation Conference this weekend when King Abdullah oversaw the signing of the administration's reconciliation agreement in Jiddah. 'What the Saudis have done is signal Arab support of the national reconciliation conference,' because Saudi Arabia is the current chair of the Arab League."

            So does the Arab League entirely side with the TFG over the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia? Moussa answered that "We support the government," the president, the Parliament -- but also "reconciliation... This needs more work by all of us." Video here, from Minute 26:43.

            Part of the work involves taking a closer look.

Amr Moussa at the UN, Re-Liberation of Somalia not shown

            Inner City Press asked about the AMISOM force in Somalia, why it is understaffed, why Ethiopian troops are still in Somalia. Moussa's answer was "that was decided by IGAD, only not included immediate neighbors." While after the briefing, a staffer told Inner City Press that Moussa meant the African Union and not IGAD, this misunderstanding may be significant. The AU was to provide 8000 troops, but less than half have arrived. Ethiopian troops are still in the country. Now the AU is encouraging pledges to the so-called hybrid force for Darfur.

            Inner City Press asked Moussa if it is true, what the Sudanese Ambassador told this correspondent, that the UN was rejecting an offer of 3000 troops for Darfur from Egypt.

            "I hope not," Moussa said. "I see no reason. The Egyptian offer, could it be rejected? If it is, it is a serious act." Video here, from Minute 42:50.

            Acts get more serious all the time...

* * *

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540