First we learn that U.S.
General John Abizaid, the head of the United States Central Command, held talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on local and international efforts to combat terrorism, state media said on Tuesday.
The talks came as Ethiopia faced accusations of deploying its troops inside Somalia to protect the country’s fledgling interim government from an increasingly powerful Islamic militia.
The pair held talks “on national and international issues, especially on ongoing efforts in fighting terrorism”, state-run Ethiopia News Agency said in a statement.
Second, we get inflammatory rhetoric about Somalia from a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State,
“The Council of Islamic Courts is now controlled by al Qaeda cell individuals, East Africa al Qaeda cell individuals. The top layer of the court are extremists. They are terrorists,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer told reporters.
“They are killing nuns, they have killed children and they are calling for a jihad (holy war),” she added.
In an article in the Boston Globe, members of the International Crisis Group write
Getting It Wrong In Somalia, Again
This past spring, pitched battles between the CIA’s warlord proxies and militias loyal to the militia killed hundreds of Somali civilians in the capital, Mogadishu, and injured or displaced thousands more. Ill-advised financial support to some of the predator warlords who have caused Somalia’s anarchy — committing crimes from extortion to rape — only increased the popularity of the council as it became synonymous with law and order.
The rise of the militia corresponds with the political implosion of an internationally backed transitional government located in the town of Baidoa. Government officials have defected en masse, leaving behind a vulnerable institution that lacks the military muscle to face the CSIC [Council of Somali Islamic Courts] alone. Ethiopia, the Bush administration’s chief counter-terrorism ally in the region, has responded by deploying forces to protect what is left of the transitional government.
A U.S. backed Ethiopian invasion will be up against Somali nationalism, religion, clan loyalties, and Somali belligerence.
The Somalis are or were till recently livestock nomads. Since livestock is wealth on the hoof, people whose lives depend on livestock usually develop as certain combativeness (in the U.S. this phenomenon has been described by several writers, e.g. David Hackett Fisher, writing about the Scots and the Irish).
The Ethiopians are foreign, mainly Christian, invaders. If they launch a large-scale U.S. backed invasion of Somalia, they will certainly get bogged down. They will then look for solutions. There is a military solution to this problem, a predictable outcome. It is genocide. The best way of avoiding that genocide becomes an attractive proposition for foreign invaders is to keep foreign invaders out.