Somalia’s Islamic Courts Reach a Cross-Roads

By taking control on August 22 of the strategic port city of Kismayo – the nerve center of Somalia’s deep south – the Islamic Courts movement brought its increasingly successful armed resistance against the Ethiopian occupiers of Somalia and the country’s faltering Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.), which depends on the Ethiopian presence for its very existence, to a higher stage at which it has become the current protagonist in Somalia’s ever more complicated conflicts. Although Kismayo was not occupied by the Ethiopians and its administration was run by Marehan clan militias led by ex-warlord and member of the transitional parliament, Barre Hirale, and was not beholden to the T.F.G., the takeover of the prize of the south confirmed a shift in the balance of power in Somalia.
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