Somali Gov’t Calls for End to Arms Embargo

Posted February 13th, 2012 at 9:05 am (UTC-5)
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Somalia's government has called for an end to the international arms embargo on the country so it can better fight the militant group al-Shabab.

In a statement Monday, the government said al-Shabab's union with al-Qaida, announced last week, will increase insecurity in Somalia and East Africa, and that Somalia risks becoming a base for the terrorist network.

The government said it wants an end to the U.N.-backed embargo, which was imposed in 1992 soon after Somalia's last stable government fell and the country descended into chronic violence.

It also asked for reinforcements to the Somali national army and for direct assistance to the government, so “it may fulfill its obligation to bring back peace and stability to the country.”

Several hundred people attended an al-Shabab-organized rally west of Mogadishu Monday. An al-Shabab spokesman, Ali Mohamud Rage, said the group is happy with the merger.

He said an upcoming international conference on Somalia in London is being organized to, in his words, colonize the country.

Al-Shabab was recently pushed out of the capital by government and African Union troops but continues to carry out attacks, including a deadly suicide car bombing last week.

The group still controls large sections of southern and central Somalia, though it is facing pressure from Ethiopian troops in the center and Kenyan troops in the south.

Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri welcomed the group into al-Qaida last week through a video message posted to jihadist websites.

Al-Shabab had previously pledged allegiance to al-Qaida, and the group has long been suspected of receiving al-Qaida-trained fighters from abroad.