Somalia – Al Qaeda’s New Base – America’s Next War?
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In the first two weeks of the Ethiopian imposition of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) government, more than 1,500 people have been killed in fighting and, pro-rata the population, the country has seen the greatest displacement of people on the planet. Much of the fighting has involved an alliance of the Shabaab military wing of the former ruling Taliban-style, Islamic Courts and the dominant Hawiye clan against the Christian Ethiopian Army and small forces of the TFG. Now the fighting has spread to other centres outside of
But much in the same way that the superior forces of US were initially victorious over Iraqi resistance, the Ethiopians,
What is certain, however, is that despite heavy losses, the Courts and jihadists' forces are still intact and have dispersed around the country. They appear to be receiving supplies from Ethiopia's archrival
There are a number of important factors undermining any hopes of peace. In the first instance the Ethiopians are looked on as loathsome occupiers. The TFG is seen as their proxy power, which, furthermore solely represents the interests of the Daoud clan and is bent on revenge against the Hawiye. Moreover, the TFG has so far acted against the interests of local interest groups, particularly the Hawiye and the warlords, as well as private enterprises which have their own armies. Existing administrators have been largely excluded and replaced by cronies of the TFG. Many of these warlords and privateers learned to profit from anarchy and could be said to have an interest in continuing it, though in recent days there are indications that some tentative deals have been struck.
For the mass of the population, the only period in which they really saw peace and stability was under the strict Shira law of the Islamic Courts during the six months from June 2006 to January 2007. Brief though this was, it can be looked by the people on as something of a "Golden Age" set against the last 16 years of madness. Weapons were removed from the streets, laws were applied and enterprises profited from the opening of trade with the re-establishment of the port and airport. Furthermore, the Courts, within which the Shabaab/al Qaeda group incubated, has largely retained its support network of private enterprises, mosques and schools, as well as its influence outside Mogadishu throughout much of Southern Somalia.
Their downfall was their declaration of jihad against the Christian-led regime in
Moreover, more is to come and there is clear evidence of a "Baghdadisation" of an already anarchistic situation, as the Shabaab increasingly mimics al-Qaeda tactics used in
The Courts and Shabaab have a pan-Somali agenda, which calls for the unification of the Somali peoples dispersed in neighbouring countries and strong ties to separatist organisations like the Ogaden National Liberation Front (OLF), the smaller United Western Somalia Liberation Front (UWSLF) in Ethiopia, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), plus Coalition for Freedom and Democracy, the Ethiopian People's Patriotic Party and Sidama Liberation Front. The OLF, which is fighting for the liberation of Somali territory in
Almost half of the
At the moment after thousands dead, there is a temporary lull in the fighting and the Courts and the Shabaab regroup. It cannot be ruled out that war weariness may temporarily triumph among the broader population for a period, despite their animosity to the invaders and the puppet TFG government. However, as one clan member remarked, just one shooting can spark an inferno between the clans and warlords, and the jihadists are certainly determined to wage an Iraqi/Afghan style assault on the present rulers. There is, in effect, a power vacuum which cannot last. History abhors a vacuum, as they say. And while the initial insurgent rush is over, there is certainly likely to be a new storming through the gates of hell, now that they have been opened. This will weave its way throughout the region. As Aweys, the leader of the Courts pronounced "we will leave no stone unturned to integrate our Somali brothers in
Lying between the tip of the Middle East and the edge of
For this reason, despite having burned its fingers in "Black Hawk" debacle, the
Until now, with the exception of the super-exploitation of raw materials in a few countries,
For these reason
It is called a "unified combatant command" by the Pentagon and is headed by a four-star military general, unlike other regional commands. Ethiopia's capital,
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