Good Company

Good Company
Good Company

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Somaliland joins with Ethiopia to fight UIC

Reported here:
The unrecognised de facto state of Somaliland, located in the northwest Somalia has entered the widening conflict between Somalia's Ethiopian backed transitional government and the Islamist Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) movement - on the side of the government, the Qatari state news agency reports. Somaliland soldiers are reported to be fighting alongside Ethiopian ones on the Galcayo area front.

The area is under the control of Somalia's neighbouring semi-autonomous Puntland region and former warlord Abdiqueybdid. Somaliland fighters and forces opposed to the UIC on Saturday took the city of Jalinsor, the second to fall to the anti-UIC military alliance after Bandiredley. The alliance is said to comprise Somali and Ethiopian government troops, as well as a loose alliance of Somali, Somaliland, and Punta warlords opposed to terrorism. Critics of the UIC allege it has links to the al-Qaeda terror network - claims the UIC denies.
Not everyone is happy with Ethiopia as a vehicle of action against the UIC, as set out here:
When it comes to the strong relationship between U.S. and the Meles Zenawi regime in Ethiopia, the U.S. government has never been honest to the rest of the world. First of all, Meles Zenawi is holding power by squashing opposition groups who won during the May 2005 election. The Ethiopian people have demonstrated their support to the opposition groups mainly to Coalition to Unity and Democracy(KINIJIT) by flooding the streets of Addis Ababa like Tsunami. Not a single African country has witnessed such human wave of support for political oppositions as it happened in Addis Ababa during May 2005. The opposition political leaders who now languish in Ethiopia were high profile scholars who have studied, worked and lived in U.S. for many years. They are academics who have been committed to build a democratic society and there is a great deal of resemblance between the incarcerated leaders and the American civil and political rights activists of the 1960's. While U.S. was aware of the fact that the Meles Zenawi regime was tyrannical and hold power by guns, the U.S. state department kept a blind eye and deaf ears for the call of Ethiopians to denounce and stop supporting the Meles Zenawi regime. Despite to the atrocities Meles Zenawi regime inflicted on peaceful citizens, the U.S. continued its strong ties under the pretext of "war on terror".
The African Union has supported Ethiopia's action:
The African Union (AU) said Tuesday Ethiopia has the right to intervene militarily in Somalia as it feels threatened by a fundamentalist militia operating there.

The African Union would not criticize Ethiopia as it had "given us ample warning that it feels threatened by the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC)," said Patrick Mazimhaka, deputy chairman of the AU Commission.

"It is up to every country to judge the measure of the threat to its own sovereignty," he said in a statement.

Mazimhaka said the international community had a responsibility to support the transitional government.
Some from the UN encourage a ceasefire.

Of course, the situation is a little odd:
"Unless a political settlement is reached through negotiations, Somalia, I am afraid, will face a period of deepening conflict and heightened instability, which would be disastrous for the long-suffering people of Somalia, and could also have serious consequences for the entire region," Fall said.

After Fall's briefing, council members met behind closed doors on Qatar's draft statement, focusing on how to address the issue of foreign forces. Ethiopia remains an especially tricky issue because its troops are there at the invitation of the U.N.-backed Somali government - a point emphasized by State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos.

Acting U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the statement should not focus on any country, calling the situation in Somalia very complex with the Council of Islamic Courts "expanding, threatening neighboring countries, abusing human rights."

"Ethiopia has been threatened itself. There are other forces inside the country, Eritrea in particular," Wolff said, although Eritrea denies it has troops in Somalia.

France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said "what is important is to have a cease-fire ... and to have a dialogue resuming."

"It's a war, so the risk of destabilizing the whole region is one concern, and the second one is there is a humanitarian situation, which is very bad," he said. "The only solution is a negotiated solution. Everybody has to work for it."

The Security Council has backed the transitional government, and on Dec. 6 it authorized an African force to protect the government's beleaguered leaders in the town of Baidoa against the increasingly powerful Islamic militia -but no country has yet offered troops for that force.
Seems like just another day in Somalia. And the UN is being forced to confront its past abandonment of the "long-suffering" people of Somalia.

UPDATE: I cited to it before - an excellent primer on the U.S. Army in Somalia here. Excerpt:
The Army began by assisting in relief operations in Somalia, but by December 1992 it was deeply engaged on the ground in Operation RESTORE HOPE in that chaotic African country. In the spring of the following year, the initial crisis of imminent starvation seemed to be over, and the U.S.-led Unified Task Force (UNITAF) turned over the mission to the United Nations, leaving only a small logistical, aviation, and quick reaction force behind to assist. The American public seemed to forget about Somalia. That sense of "mission accomplished" made the evens of 3-4 October 1993 more startling, as Americans reacted to the spectacle of dead U.S. soldiers being dragged through the streets by cheering Somali mobs-the very people Americans thought they had rescued from starvation.

This brochure, prepared to honor the tenth anniversary of Operation RESTORE HOPE beginning on 8 December, places the events of the firefight of 3-4 October 1993 into the wider context of the U.S. humanitarian, political, and military operation to rescue a people and a state from anarchy and chaos. The dedication and sacrifices made by U.S. soldiers, airmen, and marines in that war-torn country provide a lesson in heroism that remains compelling a decade later.

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