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Somali Islamists On The Run

The recent defeat in Somalia of the increasingly radical and coercive Council of Islamic Courts has created a unique opportunity for all Somalis to reconcile differences and to create an effective and inclusive national government. While the threat of Islamic extremists, and the terrorist elements they have been harboring, still remains, there is now a much greater chance that moderates from all sectors can engage each other to return peace, security, and functioning governance to Somalia.

Extremists formerly affiliated with the now-defunct Council of Islamic Courts are on the run. For the first time in more than a decade, a United Nations-backed Transitional Federal Government is operating in Mogadishu. Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf emphasized the Transitional Federal Government's commitment to inclusive governance to members of the International Somalia Contact Group assembled in Nairobi on Friday. The Contact Group, in turn, noted that it is essential that an inclusive process of political dialogue and reconciliation – embracing representative clan, religious, business, civil society, women's and other political groups who reject violence and extremism – be launched without delay.

The U.S. is addressing humanitarian needs in Somalia. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced sixteen million dollars in immediate aid. Some eleven million dollars will be in food aid with more than a million dollars in non-food aid going towards the U-N Children's Fund. The rest of the money will go to help Somali refugees. In Nairobi, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer announced that the U.S. will provide an additional twenty-four million dollars for reconstruction and development assistance to the Somali people and to support the expeditious deployment of a peace support mission. The U.S. urges all donor partners to join in providing immediate assistance to the people of Somalia.

In a written statement, Ms. Rice said, "The Somali people and the international community have a historic opportunity to begin to move beyond two decades of warlordism, extreme violence, and humanitarian suffering."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.