Somalia's government and the international community must deal with Islamists to avoid a security crisis when Ethiopian troops withdraw later this month, a think-tank said on Tuesday.
Ethiopia has been an occupier in Somalia since December 2006.
In its report, "Somalia: To Move Beyond the Failed State", the International Crisis Group (ICG) says that Ethiopia's withdrawal may offer a chance for a credible political process.
"Despite the reluctance of the international community to engage with the Islamist opposition, there is no other practical course than to reach out to its leaders in an effort to stabilise the security situation with a ceasefire and then move on with a process that addresses the root causes," ICG said.
Ethiopia invaded its neighbour to prevent the Islamists from gaining strength.
ICG said "opposition to the Ethiopian occupation has been the single issue on which many elements of the fractious Islamist insurgency could agree, boosting its nationalist appeal as the interim government has fast been losing support."
"When that glue is removed it is likely that infighting will increase making it difficult for the insurgency to obtain military victory or at least sustain it, creating opportunities for political progress," the report said.
The decision to pull out comes at a time the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is on the verge of collapse, due to a deep rift between President Abdullahi Yusuf and the man he sacked as prime minister, Nur Hassan Hussein.
Washington and the European Union have sided with Hussein and countries in the region have called for immediate sanctions to be imposed on Yusuf for hindering the peace process.
"Yusuf should be encouraged to resign," the ICG said.
Last Mod: 24 Aralık 2008, 13:58