The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewEric Margolis Archive
Blundering Into Somalia Yet Again
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeThanksLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia under cover of the Christmas holiday was a blatant aggression that is likely to widen the arc of conflict across the dangerously turbulent Horn of Africa. It also marks the opening of a new front in Washington’s war against Islamic militants and reformers.

Claims by Ethiopia that Somalia, a nation without any real military forces, threatened its border were as fanciful as assertions by Washington and Addis Ababa that the so-called “transitional government” they had installed in the town of Baidoa represented anything more than its own well-paid members.

The US-backed and financed Ethiopian offensive was clearly designed to crush the first stable government strife-torn Somalia has had in 15 years of civil war and anarchy. The new Islamic regime, known as the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), recently managed to bring law and order to much of southern and central Somalia. In the north, a secessionist group has proclaimed something called independent “Puntland.”

The Union of Islamic Courts ended Somalia’s long civil war by crushing local warlords who were being armed and financed by the CIA. The US claims the Islamic Courts is a second Taliban-style movement containing “terrorists” involved in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in East Africa who will turn Somalia into a hotbed of anti-American subversion. The UIC denies these allegations.

More important, under the Bush/Cheney Administration, any movement that has the audacity to call itself “Islamic” immediately becomes a target of American hostility. The embarrassing total defeat of US-backed Somali warlords by the Islamic Courts militia led directly to Washington’s decision to press Ethiopia to invade Somalia.

Ethiopia has one of Africa’s more powerful, well-trained armed forces with over 1,300 tanks and a modern air force that are now increasingly equipped and aided by the United States.

The repressive regime of strongman Meles Zenawi seems the antithesis of President George Bush’s calls for democracy, but has become a primary ally of Washington that is seen as a bulwark against Islamic forces in Africa. Washington has quietly supported Ethiopia in its long border war against its bitter foe, Eritrea. In recent months, the Eritrea has become an important supplier of small arms and munitions to Somalia.

Somalia’s ragtag Islamist militias are helpless against Ethiopian tanks, artillery and attack aircraft. Ethiopia’s army could quickly occupy all of Somalia, but it would then be very hard-pressed to protect its long, vulnerable supply lines against attack by Somali guerilla forces.

ORDER IT NOW

Ethiopia has enough men to wage a two-front war against Somalia and Eritrea, but a prolonged conflict would seriously undermine its fragile economy. Accordingly, Ethiopia’s likely strategy is to protect the western-imposed rump regime in Baidoa and launch attacks to prevent the UIC from consolidating power. But involvement by traditional enemy Ethiopia will undoubtedly further inflame Somali passions and strengthen the Islamic Courts. The latest war in the Horn of Africa could easily widen into a wider conflict that involves Eritrea, strife-torn regions of southern Sudan and Uganda, and northern Kenya, which has many ethnic Somalis.

Equally important, prolonged war with Somalia could open fissures in unstable, multiethnic, multi-religious Ethiopia. Though usually depicted as a Christian nation, at least 50 percent of Ethiopians are Muslim, and 35—40 percent Christians. Ethnic Amhara and Tigrayans comprise 32 percent of the population, while long-oppressed, rebellious Muslim Oromo in the south account for over 40 percent.

Ethiopia’s Muslims have long sought a voice in their nation’s affairs but were brutally repressed by Ethiopia’s royalist, Marxist, and now, the Tigrayn regimes. Conflict with Somalia could re-ignite the Oromo independence movement and lead to the splintering of Ethiopia, producing a reverse mirror image of ethnic-religious strife between Sudan’s northern Muslims and southern Christians and animists.

Ethiopia’s war against Somalia presents a more dangerous regional threat than an Islamic-run Somalia. The Bush/Cheney Administration is again showing its reckless ignorance and arrogance by charging into a tribal conflict, as it did in Afghanistan and Iraq, about which it knows nothing. Once again, Washington’s “cure” will be shown to be far worse than the disease it claims to address.

What Washington should be doing is talking to leaders of the Islamic Courts to ensure Somalia is not used as a new base for al-Qaeda operations. This is a fair request that can be sweetened by offers of financial support and assurances the Ethiopians will be leashed. But this appears too subtle for the administration’s ham-handed crusaders who have already blundered into two lost wars and are now courting a third.

Eric Margolis [send him mail], contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the author of War at the Top of the World. See his website.

(Republished from LewRockwell by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Somalia 
Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Eric Margolis Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Bin Laden is dead, but his strategy still bleeds the United States.
Egyptians revolted against American rule as well as Mubarak’s.
“America’s strategic and economic interests in the Mideast and Muslim world are being threatened by the agony in...
A menace grows from Bush’s Korean blind spot.
Far from being a model for a “liberated” Iraq, Afghanistan shows how the U.S. can get bogged down Soviet-style.