Tuesday, December 19, 2006

WWIII, Theatre 3: Somalia v. Ethiopia

In 1991, there was a famine in Somalia. This tugged on the people of America's collective heart-string through the media. In 1992, President Bush sent troops with humanitarian aid to help the people and in 1993, we fled because we had a weak administration. The attacks on the US Embassies were planned and executed from Somalia. al Qaida was in Somalia and Sudan from at least 1993 until today. This small country has been at war for fifteen years, they have seen famines, and now they are experiencing floods.
The government now holed up in Baidoa was formed in 2004 with the help of the United Nations, but it has struggled to assert its authority. The Islamic network that has emerged to fill the vacuum in much of southern Somalia, including the capital, Mogadishu, has among it radicals who have been linked to anti-Western terrorists and have vowed to bring Quranic rule to Somalia. [Read the whole article.]
That is pretty much the simplified background. Now to bring you up-to-day. For about a year now, al Qaida has been trying to set up a new base for operations. In June they infiltrated and planned a successful coup in Somalia. They have been slowly expanding. This is not good news for anyone, except al Qaida.
Ali Muhammad Gedi, the Prime Minister of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), was reported to have said war with the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which controls the capital, Mogadishu, and much of central and southern Somalia, was imminent and inevitable.
...
The UIC claimed Ethiopian troops were in the country to support the fledgling transitional government. However, Ethiopian officials have denied sending a fighting force to Somalia, but have acknowledged that their "military advisers" were helping the transitional government, which is based in the southern town of Baidoa. [Read this short article.]
These reporters should do more research, however. The Islamists gave Ethiopia one week to leave the area on the 12th of December, 2006. The time was up this Tuesday. As you may well have guessed, shots have been fired.
Indeed, some American officials said the United States supported Ethiopia's military buildup because they felt it was the only way to protect the weak Baidoa government from being overrun, to force the Islamists to the negotiating table and to contain what they called a growing regional threat. [Read the whole article, it is lenghy.]
Finally, there is a man that comes highly recommended who has written an article about this situation yesterday. His name is Douglas Farah, and you will find his article by clicking on his name. Just to give you a sample:
One of the most astonishing statements in today’s Washington Post look at Somalia comes from John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence.
Negroponte said that “I don’t think there are hard and fast views,” on al Qaeda in Somalia, noting that Somalia “has come back on the radar screen only fairly recently,” and the question is whether the Islamist government “is the next Taliban,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve seen a good answer.”

It is hard to know what “only recently” means as far as being on the intelligence communty radar screen, but it has been clear for well over a year that Islamist groups were making a move to take over. It is clear for almost eight months that they have, in fact, defeated U.S.-backed forces, imposed sharia law on much of the country and moved to spread the Islamist revolution.
It is clear to most people who have been watching this part of the world for any length of time (more than a few months) that there is another war in the making. Again, it is not a democratically elected state or entity who has started this war in this theatre. They will, however, expect a response from the USA. Will we wipe them out or will we prove they are correct? That we are weak? Sometimes it is a wonder that anyone even knows the fact that we are at war...God, heal our land.

Update: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross has written a marvelous article at CounterTerrorism Blog about the new video by al-Zawihiri, the ISG and how al Qaida is using it and how they spreading their evil religion to Somalia. I happen to agree with his analysis. We can no more allow the negotiation-side to make al Qaida a legimate actor than we can to write a sharia constitution.

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