The parliament broadened by the Djibouti peace process elected Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, chairman of the executive council of the Islamic Courts Union, as President of Somalia. The Ethiopian occupation alone had failed to shore up the Transitional Federal Government, so Washington had to try a new tack. Al Jazeera’s report, however, indicates trouble ahead for Somalia’s new president: “hard-line” Islamist fighters, including Al Shabab, control “much of the south of the country,” and they refuse to recognize the election. Zakaria Haj Mahmoud Abdi of the Alliance for Re-liberation of Somalia was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying: “There are serious deficiencies in the latest Djibouti-elected regime, namely, the denial of the resistance victory ending the Ethiopian occupation, and depriving the Somali people of the fruits of the victory.” One of Ahmed’s first acts as president, moreover, was to attend the African Union summit in Ethiopia and to request more AU peacekeepers to be deployed in Somalia — the move likely to harden the opposition of the Islamist fighters, who reject the presence of foreign troops on Somali soil.
In the videos below, Nick Clark of Al Jazeera interviews three experts on the prospects for peace and reconciliation in Somalia: Abdi Kusow, Associate Professor of Sociology, Oakland University; Abukar Arman, a writer and activist on Somali affairs; and Stig Hansen, Author, The Borders of Islam.
“Daunting Challenges,” a segment of Inside Story, was broadcast by Al Jazeera on 1 February 2009.