March 5, 1995 in Nation/World

Somali Warlords Are Divided On Departure Of U.N. Troops

Associated Press

Ali Mahdi Mohamed, one of Somalia’s main warlords, lamented the departure of U.N. troops Saturday, a day after his leading rival rejoiced at it.

Ali Mahdi described the end of the international intervention as “a major failure facing the future of the Somali people.”

The last of 2,400 U.N. troops still in Somalia last week left Mogadishu on Thursday, protected by 1,500 American and 350 Italian marines.

The withdrawal ended the two-year, $2 billion intervention that left Somali clans divided as ever and, in Mogadishu, poised to battle for control of sea and air ports - sources of revenue from landing and docking fees.

The troops were part of a force that began entering the country in December 1992 and at one point totaled 38,000 soldiers from 21 countries.

It is credited with saving many Somalis from starvation that, along with war and disease, killed 350,000 people.

Ali Mahdi, who controls northern Mogadishu, praised United Nations humanitarian efforts, but said they failed in “restoring law and order and disarming the factions.”

On Friday, Ali Mahdi’s rival, Gen. Mohamed Farah Aidid, welcomed the departure of U.N. soldiers.

Aidid, who controls most of southern Mogadishu, said that with the departure of the U.N. military mission, a government would soon emerge from his talks with allied clan leaders.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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