Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ethiopia and Somalia at war

While we were celebrating the birth of the Prince of peace, Ethiopia went to war against the Islamic fascists in Somalia in defense of the secular government in Somalia:

Ethiopian warplanes attacked the airport in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, on Monday in another major escalation of fighting between the Ethiopian-backed Somali government and the Islamic Courts movement that in recent months has taken over much of the country.

In Mogadishu, businesses shut down and thousands of enraged Somalis loyal to the Islamic movement rallied in the streets, once again proclaiming holy war against Ethiopia, a bitter enemy that is widely perceived to be supported by the U.S. government. Witnesses said young Somali men who have grown up in a country awash with AK-47 assault rifles continued to pour into recruiting centers to sign up to fight.

And 150 miles away on the front lines near Baidoa, seat of the fragile interim government, sources said that fighters from Eritrea and Pakistan, among others, had joined the Islamic movement's battle against Ethiopia in a conflict that analysts fear could engulf the Horn of Africa.


Meanwhile, Ethiopian officials said on state-run television Monday that they would continue the assault against the Islamic movement and vowed to push toward Mogadishu, clearing the Islamic fighters out of every town they control over the next five days. By Monday night, Ethiopian forces, which are vastly superior to the Islamic movement in conventional military terms, had secured the strategically important town of Beledweyne, which is near the Ethiopian border and along a main road to Mogadishu. The Associated Press reported that Ethiopian and government forces had also captured three villages in a push toward Jowhar, about 60 miles north of Mogadishu.
And all those who want to negotiate with the terrorists so that we can surrender in Iraq should take note:
Negotiations between Somalia's weak but internationally recognized interim government and the Islamic movement have fallen apart in recent months as the Islamic group has become stronger and advanced its control. The current conflict began even as the two sides had signed an agreement to de-escalate fighting and resume talks.
They will negotiate as they build up strength and when they are ready, they will attack. Their desire isn't for a peaceful co-existence, it's domination.

Though "analysts" (unnamed and therefore we can't verify their credentials or determine how credible their expertise) believe that this is an attempt to push the Islamic fascists into negotiation but they fear that this tactic won't work:
But some analysts have expressed fear that Ethiopia's military calculation is seriously flawed, and that even if its superior military initially routs the Islamic movement, the ideologically driven militias will become only more motivated to pursue a guerrilla-style war or terrorist attacks across the region
So, let me get this straight, you can't fight the militias because that will anger them and make them even more determined to fight but didn't they initiate this fight in the first place? What was Ethiopia suppose to do, sit on the sidelines while the secular government gets replaced by an Islamic government and then wait as half their own population plots to do the same (even though Ethiopia is considered a Christian nation, half its population is Muslim)? The Prime Minister seems to be thinking something similar:
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has maintained, however, that this is a war of self-defense and that dialogue has only bought the Islamic movement time to expand its control. He has repeatedly accused the Islamic movement of supporting secessionist Somali groups inside Ethiopia, and, along with the United States, has accused the movement of harboring terrorists, an allegation it has denied.
And it appears that there wouldn't have been too much Ethiopia could have done to avoid a guerrilla war since this is what the Islamic fighters were planning:
Islamic fighters were in a tactical retreat Tuesday, a senior Islamic leader said, as government and Ethiopian troops advanced on three fronts in a decisive turn around in the battle for control of Somalia.

Somalia's internationally backed government called on the Council of Islamic Courts to surrender and promised them amnesty if they lay down their weapons and stop opposing the government, spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said from Baidoa, the seat of the government.

Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, leader of the Council of Islamic Courts' executive body, said the group had asked its troops to withdraw from some areas.

"The war is entering a new phase," he said. "We will fight Ethiopia for a long, long time and we expect the war to go everyplace."

Ahmed declined to explain is comments in greater detail, but some Islamic leaders have threatened a guerrilla war to include suicide bombings in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.
Though the Prime Minster of Ethiopia appears to think that this conflict will drive them to negotiate:
But Meles has said he does not intend to keep his forces in Somalia for long, perhaps only a few weeks. He has told visiting dignitaries in Addis Ababa that his goal is to severely damage the courts' military capabilities, take away their sense of invincibility and allow both sides to return to peace talks on even footing.


The Islamic group, which wants to rule the country by the Quran, has been a source of grave concern by largely Christian Ethiopia. Since June, the group has seized control of the capital and much of southern Somalia.
Too bad that victory never seems to be an option because total victory is the only way conflict will end. Even if they did negotiate, the Islamists would only be waiting for the opportunity to build up strength to fight another day.

And then there's this:
Analysts said the current crisis stems from another failure of U.S. policy in an increasingly vulnerable region. "All this could have been averted," Prendergast said. "If the U.S. joined a serious diplomatic effort aimed at finding a compromise between Ethiopia and the Courts, negotiations could have had a much better chance. Once the serious punching has started, it's going to be increasingly difficult to stop this brawl."
Somehow if we had gotten involved, the militia would decide to accept a secular government and not be ruled by Sharia law. Yeah, that sounds like it would have worked.