(Reuters) – The leader of the al Qaeda-aligned Islamist group al Shabaab has urged Somalis to wage holy war against Ethiopia, Somalia’s Horn of Africa neighbor whose forces are preparing to lead an African Union offensive against the militants.
Ethiopia fought an ill-fated war in Somalia in 2006-09 but sent troops back in 2011 to fight al Shabaab. In 2013 it became part of AMISOM, a 22,000-strong AU peacekeeping force that includes troops from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Sierra Leone.
Ethiopian forces have in the past two weeks pushed al Shabaab out of several towns, including Hudur, the capital of the Bakool region in south-central Somalia. Analysts say these advances could presage a planned countrywide offensive.
In a recorded voice message released on Sunday, Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane, also known as Mukhtar Abu al-Zubayr, said Mogadishu’s Western-backed government and Ethiopia were acting at the behest of the United States and would be defeated.
“Somalis, your religion has been attacked, your land divided, your resources looted directly and indirectly through the puppet government – our victory lies in Jihad (holy war),” Godane said in a recorded message, pointing to the historic rivalry between mainly Christian Ethiopia and Muslim Somalia. Continue reading on Reuters…