Somalia could be Ethiopia’s quagmire

December 26th, 2006 Print Print Email Email

A more involved military offensive might pose the same problems the U.S. is facing in Iraq, observers say.

By Edmund Sanders, LA Times Staff Writer

December 26, 2006

NAIROBI, KENYA “” Ethiopia’s attacks against Islamic forces in Somalia may have delivered a short-term military victory, but analysts warned that a longer offensive could present the U.S. ally with some of the same challenges facing American forces in Iraq.

Airstrikes against the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and other towns Sunday and Monday demonstrated Ethiopia’s military superiority over the Islamic forces that seized most of southern Somalia during the summer.

But Ethiopia would be hard-pressed to dispatch enough troops to capture and occupy Islamic-held areas of Somalia.

“I don’t understand what Ethiopia’s objective is,” said David Shinn, a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and now a political science professor at George Washington University. “I can’t imagine their objective is to occupy and hold Somalia. It was a very limited victory.”

Most experts agree that Ethiopia’s battle-tested army, numbering as many as 150,000 troops, could easily beat Somalia’s ragtag Islamic fighters, which are believed to total under 10,000.

But Islamists say they would compensate for their lack of numbers and sophisticated weaponry by pursuing an unconventional war, including suicide attacks and other insurgency-style tactics that U.S. and allied troops face in Iraq.

“The Ethiopians could get bogged down into a hopeless, long-term guerrilla campaign with enormous supply lines,” Shinn said. “I don’t see how they ‘defeat’ the Islamists in the long run.”

The attacks Sunday and Monday marked the first time Ethiopia has publicly acknowledged taking direct military action against Somalia’s Islamists.

Ethiopian officials said they acted to preempt threats by Islamic forces to launch a “holy war” against them. Ethiopia is also moving to protect Somalia’s weak transitional government, which has been battling with Islamists over who will control the Horn of Africa nation.

Somalia has been without a functioning government since 1991.

Anger over the Ethiopian airstrikes reverberated Monday throughout Mogadishu. Local radio stations flooded the airwaves with nationalist songs, recalling the history of tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia, which last went to war in 1977.

Angry youths rioted in several Somali cities, urging all adult males to join the Islamic forces.

The Ethiopian attacks appeared to be bolstering support for the Islamists.

“I used to think that the Islamic courts were just another interest group, but now I recognize that they are standing up for the country and religion,” said Muse Ali Omar, a banana vendor in Mogadishu.

“Ethiopia is my enemy, I will not sell bananas anymore,” he said. “I will take my gun and go for jihad. Otherwise I am sure they will kill me in my banana kiosk if I wait for them here.”

Mohammed Ibrahim Mohammed, a moderate Muslim, said, “As long as the West is supporting Ethiopian invasion, it will open the door for Islamic courts.”

The Ethiopian strikes have helped unify the Islamic Courts Union, an alliance of religious leaders that came together to defeat U.S.-backed warlords this year. In recent months, some cracks were beginning to appear inside the alliance over how rigorously to implement Islamic law.

But more recently, U.S. and Ethiopian officials have concluded that extremists have seized control of the courts. They accuse court leaders of having links to terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda.

Last weekend, one Islamist leader issued an invitation to Muslims worldwide to join the fighting in Somalia. Eritrea is also believed to have dispatched as many as 2,000 troops to aid the Islamists.

U.S. officials Monday called on Somali groups to end their fighting, but they did not call for an Ethiopian withdrawal.

“Ethiopia has genuine security concerns,” said one U.S. official, adding that State Department officials have urged the Ethiopian government to use “maximum restraint.”

The U.S. has worked closely with Ethiopia, including training elements of its military, in its four-year effort to contain the spread of Islamic extremism in the Horn of Africa. U.S. officials repeatedly have denied using Ethiopia as a proxy against Somali Islamists, and have insisted that they argued against an Ethiopian invasion with officials in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

A U.S. military official said the Pentagon, which set up a 1,500-man task force in neighboring Djibouti in 2002 because of concerns Al Qaeda-linked groups were seeking refuge in the region, has yet to take any action in response to the Ethiopian offensive.

“We’re just watching it,” the official said.

Shinn said international leaders should immediately intervene and push to remove all foreign fighters from Somalia.

“A week ago I was still optimistic that we could get this cat back in the box,” he said. “Now I’m not clear if that’s an option.”

  1. | #1

    kkkkkkkkk…that’s what i’m talki’n about . DISPORA pleas stop play’n with fire b/c u might get heart u self. VICTORY TO ETHIOPIA.

  2. Tigist
    | #2

    It is a good analysis on the war. Woyannes have a short term span. They don’t think about the long term impact of their actions. They fought together with Shabia. Now, Ethiopia has become land locked country and Shabia is pain for them. They are in Somalia to divert attention from their internal political problem, but they don’t have any idea what is going to happen next. We all know that there is not going to be an easy out once you involve with Muslim fundamentalists. Even if the Somali Muslim fanatics are a treat for Ethiopia, we should deal with them together, united as a nation. Now, the war appears to be between TPLF and the Islamic Courts. Woyanne can’t sustain longer with out the majority of the Ethiopian people.

  3. Tigist
    | #3

    What are you talking about? You moron Woyanne! Did you read and understand the analysis before you comment on it. I am sure you tried, but apparently you didn’t get it. That is why you thought it would support you cause. It doesn’t. Let some one read it for you and then think twice before you say anything about it.

  4. Tigist
    | #4

    “MAMO” is some one reading the article for you? Take your time, think thoroughly and try to convince us. Don’t be an embarrassment even for Woyanne.

  5. Meles Sucks
    | #5

    Mamo ‘kilo” Do you understand what your father Meles just did? This will probably go on record for the stupidest mistake of all times!(this one tops even Bush & Iraq mess or the time he signed off Irobb and Bademe).

    So kkkkkkkkk back,the joke is on you buddy!

  6. | #6

    WOW..DO I HAVE TO READ da article? na..nob…i just want to ride all up’n u NEFTGHENA azzzzzz.kkk. i toghet this war is woyany? so what da f**** u ppl are cuke’n ? what eals u ppl u goen’t do know ? u all know we finsh da mission in SOMALIA less than 48 hours. is that some thing ha.guss who is gone be next? make shour u have to come up with da right answer ok. mean what a bunch of LOSSER’S. VICTORY TO ETHIOPIA.

  7. Eskinder
    | #7

    We ar all speaking here as Ethiopian so pls dont try to devid Us, we ar all one Ethiopian ppl concerned about our country and we all wish the best for our Country. any way we ar also having conversation no need to call names, any way takecare Bro’s.

    I can’t say much about this Article since i need more info to come to conclusion

  8. Tigist
    | #8

    “Mamo” Moron you once again refuse to read and learn. What is new? That is typical of Woyannes’ character. You Woyannes have some kind of learning disability. You refuse to read or you can’t comprehend the article, but any way you want to comment on it. I don’t know whether that is funny or something else, I don’t whether to laugh or else. One thing that I know for sure is I wouldn’t comment on something that I don’t understand. The other thing that I know for sure is Woyanne as we know it not for Ethiopia, So Mamo don’t pretend as if that you are Ethiopian patriot, because you are not. You are traitors (Banda). Do you remember you Woyannes helped Shabia to secede Eritrea?

  9. Tigist
    | #9

    I got the following message from Ethioindex web site. That kind of gives us an idea what the Woyanne regime is bringing to our country. They have this unrealistic world of their own. They think they can get a way with everything that they do. This time around the consequence is going to be something the Woyanne never imagine before. Pleas read the following message. “Mamo” make sure that somebody else read it for you.

    Statement Published by the Global Islamic Media Front Inciting Muslims to Participate in Jihad in Somalia
    By SITE Institute
    December 26, 2006

    Inciting Muslims to participate in jihad in Somalia, writing of doing such as a religious obligation incumbent upon them, the Global Islamic Media Front published and distributed a document among jihadist forums yesterday, Monday, December 25, 2006, titled: “Ride the Horses of Allah: Not a Single One of You Should Pray During the Feast Day Except in Addis Ababa”?. Arguing that the road of jihad has been opened to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, the author uses a combination of Qur’anic verses, words from Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, cheerleading, and ridicule to motivate prospective Mujahideen to take up arms and travel to Somalia. The document states: “Come on you lion, get up roar and show the infidels the strength of the soldiers of the Merciful One. Come on my brother, aren’t you tired from sitting with the women? No, in the Name of Allah, even the women did not sit, but they got up and did jihad and terrorized the enemies, so where are you? What is your role?”?

  10. | #10


  11. shotolay
    | #11

    I sow EPRDF troops died body those islamist get same document and military ID showing for the world TV
    that very shame for as that emoral meles whawe he use un educated braine weshed young soleger and making
    senceles war
    if we need to go war somalia? no i don’t think so but we need disperetly with SHABYA to kill the all enemy esayas afeworki meles closed cousen.


  12. chala
    | #12

    tigeist and mamo stop insulting each other! suport our troops forget about meles. the whole wold knows he is acrimnal and pretty soon he will be brought to justie. but for know let as focus on the wor. ethiopian is facing her worst enmys at onc, they are all in somilia ploting to distroy our country

  13. yitayal
    | #13

    One must know this is the war of Melese(The servant of Bush).It is not the Ethiopian choice.This is may be the first time to see one African country invade another african country in this way.Melese may feel comfortable at this time.But he must not forget this a temporary victory.He doesn’t think what will come tomorrow.When the worest comes,we will not save any Woyanes rather we will together faster the death of Woyanes and the folowers(Jeles).One thing always makes me surprise.How these woyanes and followers think.They are really insane.When Melese(Yebelaw yimelesena)say something,the whole followers will repeat the word like echo.You!woyanes I want to tell you frankly that the Somale people are not the Ethiopians enemy rather you are the enemy of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people.Melese please don’t be proud to your stupidity.
    “Kesash yeteksahin melse biyawik noro balkesese neber”

  14. Tigist
    | #14

    I hate Woyanne so much and I use “MAMO” as a biological element to express my frustration with Woyanne. In the mean time, I believe it is really good to teach Woyannes and let them know what we really think of them. “MAMO” is a typical Woyanne. That is how Woyannes think. There is no logical explanation for what they say for what they do. Woyannes are the most illiterates and arrogant group of people. They are curses for our country. Think about what they have done to our country in the last thirty one years. They are crazy. They help Shabia to separate Eritrea, and they fought against Shabia for tiny dusty land called Badima. More than 70 thousand solders died due to the Badima war with in a very short period of time. Now, Meles agrees to give Badima back to Eritrea and still the rest of Woyannes are behind him. Meles is half Eritrean and he still inclined to support the Eritrean cause. That at least gives a sense for the destruction that he has been committed against Ethiopia. What doesn’t give me any sense is that most of Woyannes still working for him. One thing the Woyannes know very well is that the Eritrean look them down and called them Agames. Now, the Eritrean not only call the Woyannes Agames, they also have been using them to distract the rest of Ethiopia.( It just the way they are trying to use OLF.) I don’t know exactly what Agame is, but looking what Woyannes have been doing, observing the way they think, I inclined to believe that Agames means moron. Another example of how moron Woyannes are: they imprison the very popular Kinijit leaders, they killed about 200 peaceful protesters in the day light in Addis, they rigged election 97 and know they what the whole Ethiopian population to really behind them in the war with Somalia. That is not going to happen you moron. We are not as stupid as you are. We love our country Ethiopia, our grandfathers and fathers have been defend this historical country of ours for centuries, we should and are following their path as well. But, it doesn’t mean we should rally with Woyanne, because Woyannes are traitors (Bandas).

Comments are closed.