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Somalia's new president faces decades of accumulated anarchy

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Somalia's new president faces decades of accumulated anarchy


Violence in Somalia has become a more or less permanent condition.

The internally warring country in the Horn of Africa has not had effective central government since 1991.

The Al Shabaab rebels say President Mohamud serves only Western interests, and they will go on with their jihad.

Somalia is among the world’s most dangerous countries.

Its reputation as a failed state began in 1991, with the overthrow of the president of the merged territories of a former British protectorate and an Italian colony.

Warlords spun out a cycle of violence year after year, and hundreds of thousands of Somalis died in the bloodshed and from famine and disease.

In 1992, under a UN mandate, US troops launched Operation Restore Hope, to make humanitarian work possible. When American lives were lost, the Clinton administration pulled most of the United States troops out.

Other United Nations soldiers remained.

An African Union force is deployed today in various parts of the country.

The Al Shabaab rebels still control swathes of southern and central Somalia, although weakened by internal divisions and financial constraints.

Pirates, regional administrations and local militias try to dominate in other areas.

Seceded states in the north have seen less violence.

Local militias control some zones, with government support and help from Ethiopia.

The majority of the country is controlled by the Islamists.

Mogadishu and two small areas in the west remain in government and African Union hands, and major rebel strongholds have fallen.

Al Shabaab means youth. The jihadists impose a strict form of Sharia Islamic law and say they are fighting against “enemies of Islam”, which they say includes foreign aid workers. Several Western governments consider the group a terrorist organisation.

The new president said his priority would be to create opportunities to persuade Somalis to leave the rebel forces.

The present African Union and UN force of some 12,000 men, under a mandate renewed every six months, has been in Somalia since 2007.

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