Saturday, July 22, 2006

And Ethiopia may be slowly invading Somalia

Before anything else, let me say that the BBC has some quality writing. Forget the AP. At least in this article they use the acronym UIC (Union of Islamic Courts, an alternate of the ICU). And they don't make such blanket statements as "The US State Department has linked them to Al Qaeda).

Ethiopian troops apparently have rolled in again and taken over an airport. If you don't understand how this is significant militarily, let me inform you that Ethiopia actually has an air force. They may be establishing a forward air base for sustained air operations against the Somalis, plus which it works well as a logistical coordination center. Troops could be flown in instead of having to drive all the way there.

Eyewitnesses say about 200 Ethiopian soldiers took control of the airstrip outside Waajid early on Saturday.

There is no confirmation from either the Ethiopian or the Somali government.

This still has not led to widespread fighting. As a matter of fact, we don't know if there's been any fighting at all.

The town had been controlled by a local militia. It is unclear whether there was any fighting.

The Somalis are evidently not so stupid as to think they should just start making war on the Ethiopians. As I said before, they'd get whipped. Thoroughly. So they may have other plans. It remains to be seen, though, what Ethiopia is going to do. Are they going to send more forces in? A few hundred men is not a significant number when they could surely send 10,000 across the border in a matter of days. Or is this just a show of support for the TNG? If they are merely keeping the status quo, will the SICC back off and accept the TNG as part of a legitimate government? We just don't know right now, so check back as the story develops.


Steve said...

Somalia is awash in guns, much more so than ever before. If you strike from the air, the survivors will merely take the guns of those who were killed, so what would be the point if not genocide?

There isn't going to be a war, though there may be some skirmishes--a few nutters here and there taking the call to jihad seriously. There's just no incentive for any of the groups to be aggressive in a broad-based fashion. I'm just wondering how much longer the TFG can pretend to be relevant and survive. (The TNG was the previous attempt at a government.) Meanwhile, over at I'll be counting how many days in a row I can find articles saying that 'tensions are on the rise' or some variant of that.

Nat-Wu said...

"What would be the point if not genocide?"

I'm worried that that is the point, Steve. Although I'm no Africa expert, land is land and Ethiopia could stand to gain substantially by using the pretext of being a staunch ally of the TFG/TNG (from what I read it's pretty much the same thing with a different name).

Besides which, America believes it can always use air power to win a conflict, despite the demonstrable falsity of that belief. I don't know the Ethiopian military mindset, but they might think the same thing.

I agree that the SICC has no serious incentive to fight a war they'd lose. But would they just roll over and let the TFG walk in and take over, backed by thousands of Ethiopian soldiers? I'm not sure that's realistic either.

I personally can't figure out where this is headed, but the fact of the matter is that there are now Ethiopian soldiers in Somalia. That's substantially different from some vague idea of "massing troops on the border" which can always be taken two ways. These guys are in Somalia. That's an invasion. The question remains as to what the SICC is going to choose to do about that.