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UIC menyusun langkah di Saudi, Eritrea dan Yemen

US says Somalia’s Islamists begin regrouping in Saudi Arabia, Eritrea and Yemen

Aweys Osman Yusuf

Addis Ababa 01, Feb.07 (Sh.M.Network) - The United States believes that Somalia’s hard-line Islamists forcefully driven out of the country by government troops backed by Ethiopian military forces may reorganize themselves in Saudi Arabia, Eritrea and Yemen, Jendayi Frazer, US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said on Wednesday.

Speaking to the Financial Times in Addis Ababa, Ms Frazer said it was too early to tell who among the Islamist leadership had survived Ethiopia's invasion last month and subsequent US air strikes on alleged affiliates of al-Qaeda.

"It is going to take some time for the fog of war to clear up and we have an ability to see who is still operating and how they are operating," she said.

But she was "very concerned" that extremist elements from among the defeated Islamists were "trying to reconstitute themselves either out of Saudi Arabia or Eritrea", and that international jihadist networks would see this as an opportunity.

"We have to engage with the Saudi government and their services to try to prevent that from happening as well as engage regionally."

Ms Frazer described Eritrea, with whom the US has deteriorating relations, as a "source of regional instability".

The news comes as Al-Khaleej newspaper based in the United Arab Emirates reported the US ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, was negotiating with Islamist leader in the Kenyan government custody over the release of 11 US soldier reportedly seized in southern Somalia.

Ethiopia, the US's major ally in East of Africa, alleges that Eritrea supported hardline elements within the ousted Islamists by supplying them with arms, fighters and military advice.

"Eventually Eritrea will see the limits of its actions to destabilize the Horn," said Ms Frazer.

Ms Frazer said the key to ensuring Somalia did not provide a haven for international terrorist networks now lay with the Transitional Federal Government, which emerged from peace talks in Kenya in 2004.

"They have to do it by reaching out. They have to do it through inclusive dialogue," she said.

According to Al-Khaleej news agency, Mr. Ranneberger has asked the Islamist leader in the custody of Kenyan authority to order the release the US soldiers who were seized during heavy ground skirmishes between the Islamists and the American soldiers accompanied by Ethiopian troops nearly three weeks ago in southern Somalia.

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