Somalia first commercial flight in a decade.
Africa: If you can ignore the fact the Islamists will be the Taliban of Africa, this is a good deal and will give at least short term the fantasy that these guys are not such a bad deal to the people.
|MOGADISHU, Somalia — The first commercial flight in a decade departed Mogadishu's newly reopened international airport Sunday, demonstrating how Islamic militants have pacified the once-anarchic capital and much of southern Somalia. Local airlines had been operating from private airstrips outside the capital. Now, Islamic militiamen are guarding the airport for commercial passengers, said Sheik Muqtar Robow, deputy defense chief for the Islamic group. "This is a historic flight for me," passenger Hawa Abdi Hussein said before boarding the Somalia-based Jubba Airways plane to the United Arab Emirates. "I think we at last gained peace and security." The prime minister of Somalia's largely powerless government, meanwhile, survived a close no-confidence vote that exposed the divisions in his administration, which watched helplessly as the militants seized power. The Islamic militia imposed strict religious courts after taking hold of the capital and surrounding areas last month, raising fears of a Taliban-style hard-line regime. The United States accuses the group of harboring al-Qaida leaders responsible for deadly bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Somalia had been without an effective central government since warlords deposed dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, plunging the country into chaos. Mogadishu, home to an estimated 1.2 million people, disintegrated into a looted shantytown with no public services. News of Sunday's flight gratified Hussein Osman Kariye, a secondary school teacher in Mogadishu. "I remember in the older days, happier times, when I would welcome my relatives from abroad. The airport was very beautiful then, well-lit, decorated and green," Kariye said.|