Global News Journal

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from Africa News blog:

Somalia’s new chance

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How times change. Somalia’s new Islamist president has been feted in Ethiopia, whose army drove him from power two years ago - with Washington’s backing - when he headed a sharia courts movement.

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed was greeted with a standing ovation from African Union leaders at a summit in Ethiopia, which pulled the last of its troops out of Somalia last month, leaving the government in control of little beyond parts of Mogadishu. The hardline Islamist al Shabaab militia control much of the rest of southern Somalia.

Somalia was far from being a prominent front in former President George W. Bush’s “War on Terror”, but the reverse Washington suffered there appears to be among its most dramatic. Meanwhile, the past two years have brought at least another 17,400 civilian dead in Somalia and more anarchy that has fuelled a wave of piracy.

Ahmed’s former administration was marked out by both the United States and Ethiopia as being little different to Afghanistan’s Taliban. Hardline members of the group were accused of links to al Qaeda. Now he is widely described by the international community as a “moderate” and he himself has welcomed the new U.S. stance as positive.

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