December 29, 2006
Tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia had been rising for several months before war finally broke out last week. The "Islamic Courts Movement" that took control of Somalia had begun to promote separatism in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, where ethnic Somalis predominate. It has proclaimed friendship with Al Qaeda, a virtual invitation to be attacked. Earlier this week Ethiopian warplanes bombed the main airport outside Mogadishu, and its troops moved across the border in support of the provisional Somali government that had taken refuge in the town of Baidoa. Today Ethiopian troops entered the capital city of Mogadishu, the very same place where the ugly ambush portrayed in Black Hawk Down took place. See Washington Post. The big question is, To what extent did the U.S. government encourage or support the Ethiopian invasion? The government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is authoritarian, and not always friendly to U.S. interests. For the time being, it would appear that the Islamic terrorist movement has been turned back in a strategic location. The Somali people are more likely to come together in building a coalition government. The country has been in chaos, run by a loose grouping of warlords every since the failed U.S. intervention of 1992-1993. What happens next is impossible to say.