The Fall of the Islamic Courts
The Somalia Battlefield on 12/27/2006.
Aweys, Sharif, resign; the TFG and Ethiopian forces are on the outskirts of Mogadishu
Nine days after the onset of open warfare between the al Qaeda backed Islamic Courts and the Ethiopian backed Transitional Federal Government, the Islamic Courts have surrendered. "After having crucial and urgent meeting tonight in the capital, the leaders of executive and Shura councils of Islamic Courts Union and deputy leader of executive council of ICU, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed and Sheik Abdirahman Janaqow resigned and issued a joint press statement over the current situation in Somalia particular in Mogadishu," reports SomaliNet
Prior to resignation of Aweys and Sharif, the Islamic Courts were in full retreat. The TFG and Ethiopian forces have taken the cities of Jowhar and Balad. Balad is just 20 miles north of Mogadishu. The fighting around Jowhar was described as "heavy," and fighting is said to be ongoing in the town of Lego, where the Islamic Courts had set up a military base.
Inside Mogadishu, elements of Islamic Courts militia threw in the towel. In four Mogadishu neighborhood, the Islamic Courts have transferred their weapons over to pro-Transitional Federal Government clans. "Islamist officials told their militiamen to leave the barracks and return to civilian life. Witnesses reported seeing young Islamist fighters change to civilian attire and walk away with personal weapons, such as the AK-47," reports Garowe.
Mohammed Dheere, the warlord formerly in charge of Jowhar, has stated the final assault on Mogadishu will occur tomorrow. "We will attack Mogadishu tomorrow from Balad and Afgoye", said Dheere. This has not been confirmed by either the TFG or Ethiopian authorities. With the surrender of the ICU, an assault on Mogadishu is not needed.
The Ethiopians are looking for a quick exit from Somalia, and have indicated they will leave soon. "Once we accomplish the mission - half is already over and the rest will not take long - we will leave," said Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
The Islamic Courts are signaling they will conduct an insurgency. The call for its fighters to blend into the population with their AK-47s is one sign. ICU leaders are giving all of the indications an insurgency is in the works. "Our snakes of defense were let loose, now they are ready to bite the enemy everywhere in Somalia," said Sheik Mohamoud Ibrahim Suley. "We will fight Ethiopia for a very long time, and we expect the war to reach everywhere," according to an ICU statement. Even the resignation of the ICU leaders in Mogadishu indicated the ICU still wants to enforce sharia and calls for its fighters to "secure the stability and get ready in the police stations and other security stations."
The ICU may also be working to integrate its security forces and other elements of the organization into the new, TFG led government to destroy it from within.