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December 28, 2006

STRATEGYPAGE ON SOMALIA:

Ethiopian troops have stood aside so that Somali gunmen representing the Transitional Government can enter Mogadishu. The surviving Islamic Courts fighters have fled south, from whence they came. This does not solve the basic problem, that the Somali clans cannot agree on how to share power, or how to impose law and order in the country. The Ethiopians are only interested in keeping the Islamic Courts from being in power (and following up on their pledge to invade Ethiopia and "liberate" the Ogaden region, which is inhabited by ethnic Somalis.) The clans that traditionally inhabit, and control, Mogadishu, are apparently renouncing the Islamic Courts (an organization controlled by clans further south), and joining the Transitional Government once more. The Mogadishu clans were forced to "join" the Islamic Courts earlier this year. The Islamic Courts brought law and order, but too much for many Somalis. Prohibiting movies, drugs, cigarettes and short skirts was not popular. The Islamic Courts were also bringing in foreign Islamic militants (including al Qaeda), who were not popular either.

The U.S. was apparently providing the Ethiopians with satellite and aircraft photos of Islamic Courts positions. The U.S. has a large counter-terror force to the north, in Djibouti. The U.S. may be supplying Ethiopia with cash (to pay for all the gas the Ethiopians are burning in their operations). For years, the U.S. has been training Ethiopian troops for operations like this.

Nice to know that we're helping here. We should be doing more things like this. More on Ethiopia and Somalia here.