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07 Mar 14. Ethiopian-AMISOM forces seized Bakool region town of Dhabdhure of southern Somalia from Al Shabaab fighters after heavy fighting raged between the two sides in the outskirts of the liberated town on Wednesday, Garowe Online reports. According to witnesses, infantry divisions from the neighboring country of Ethiopia and battle tanks poured into Dhabdhure. Somalia Federal Government officials in Baidoa say, dozens of Al Shabaab militants were killed in the battle: “Dhabdhure was a key stronghold for Al Shabaab, they were orchestrating armed violence from hideouts in and around the town,” Somali military commander who asked to remain anonymous told the local media during Wednesday interview. A spokesman for the Al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab group confirmed that the fighting was fierce but refused to give further details on the seizure of Dhubdhure town. He said Al Shabaab fighters repeled an attack on their bases. Independt sources in Bakool region tell GO that Somali government forces in company with Ethiopian-AMISOM forces are advancing on Hudur where Al Shabaab captured in March 2013 following a surprise Ethiopian troops pullout.(Source: African Armed Forces)

06 Mar 14. A diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar could pose problems for US foreign policy in the Arabian Gulf, according to analysts. On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar for the first time since the formation of the 33-year-old Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in what was described as Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and the gulf state’s involvement in regional conflicts. The trio said in a joint communique that Qatar has failed to implement a GCC security agreement adopted in November to refrain from involvement in other nations’ politics and supporting organizations that threaten the gulf’s stability. The communique added that the move was made to protect GCC security. “The diplomatic strife between Qatar and the GCC is troubling for the US in regards to its plan to sell weapons to the GCC as a unified block,” said Matthew Hedges, military analyst at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis. The GCC, with Qatar involved, will not be able to effectively cooperate on defensive programs due to the low level of trust, he added. A US State Department spokesman said the agency is monitoring the situation. “We hope the countries involved — with which we enjoy strong relations — can resolve their differences as soon as possible, for the benefit of regional security and cohesion,” the spokesman said. In December, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced in Manama that the US will sell weapons to the GCC as a block. Following that announcement, the council announced the formation of a joint military command that could have as many as 100,000 soldiers. Hagel added in Manama that the US will be pushing for cooperation to establish a unified missile defense shield in the region. The UAE, Oman and Qatar have purchased terminal high altitude area defense systems while Kuwait has been upgrading its Patriot systems. “If this spat develops, the US may be faced with a position [of dealing] with Doha independently of the remaining GCC nations, this would be a success for the US defense industry but a disaster for US foreign policy,” he said. On Tuesday, GCC foreign ministers met in Riyadh to discuss a signed security agreement and try to persuade Qatar to implement it, accordion to the statement from the three countries. The statement said GCC members had signed an agreement on Nov. 23 not to back “anyone threatening the security and stability of the GCC whether as groups or individuals — via direct security work or through political influence, and not to support hostile media,” Hedges said. “Where this diplomatic move may well be a protest aimed at pushing Qatar to get in line with the rest of the GCC in regards to these issues, if Qatar does not tu

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