Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ethiopia's departure from Somalia complete

Read here.

Islamist insurgents took over the city that houses Somalia’s Parliament on Monday, just hours after Ethiopian troops withdrew and formally ended a failed two-year effort to defeat Islamist militants in the country.
Witnesses reached by telephone in the city of Baidoa, which had been the seat of Parliament since 2006, said that Islamist militias were patrolling the streets and that government offices in the city had been ransacked. There were no immediate reports of clashes with residents.

“The Islamists have taken control of the town this afternoon,” said Xaaji Isaaq, a traditional elder.

And that is that. I won't say "I told you so" any more since at this point, it's pretty much useless to point out how the invasion was wrong in the first place. Xanthippas provided me with this post from Eric Martin which provides a pretty nice dissection of the is and was of the war in Somalia (for lack of a better term). And although I've pretty much said exactly this before, here's Martin's summary of the fallout from our ill thought-out position backing Ethiopia:

As for our interests, neutralizing the threat posed by al-Qaeda operatives was a valid and important priority, but the means chosen to achieve it were not conducive to success. Actually, we have made matters worse as those al-Qaeda operatives that we sought are still on the loose, chaos in Somalia has opened more safe havens for terrorists to use, the Horn region has been further destabilized (not that it was particularly stable beforehand) and Ethiopia's brutality has stoked greater anti-Americanism and sympathy for al-Qaeda throughout the Somalia, and other parts of the Horn.

Yeah, pretty much. The question is, to President Obama, where do we go from here? It's unlikely that just because Obama is now President that we can send an ambassador over there and expect to have much influence or see our national interests well-represented, but perhaps with a bit of our help, the moderate Islamists will take power and begin the process of stabilizing Somalia and returning it to a peaceful, productive state that we really can work with. Listen, if the ICU gets control of those pirates, then we ought to be thanking them.

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