Here is an excerpt from the 2008 book
Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq
by Michael Scheuer.
Section and paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.

Chapter 5
And the Islamists’ Fire
Quietly Spreads

Section 5.3
Dealing with a World Aflame

Subsection 5.3.5

Somalia is an overwhelmingly Muslim East African country
of no particular strategic importance to the United States.
Without a government
since Prime Minister Muhammad Barre was overthrown in 1991,
the country has been the scene of unending
anarchy, tribal warfare, and starvation.
President George H.W. Bush [41]’s ill-considered,
New World Order-building decision
to lead a UN humanitarian intervention there in 1992
ended with a few dozen U.S. military casualties
and an ignominious Clinton [42]-ordered retreat in March 1994.
The evacuation of U.S.-led intervention forces was followed by
a decade of intra-Somali warfare
between and among ruthless, well-armed warlords,
as well as by an influx of Arabs and their money—
especially Saudis and Saudi money—
which together worked to move Somali Muslims
toward a greater adherence to Salafism and Wahhabism
and some of their leaders to aspire to form an Islamic state.

The patient and bloody effort of Somali Islamists and their Arab supporters
seemed to be helping Somalia to right itself in June 2006,
when Islamist leaders,
working together under the umbrella of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU),
took control of Mogadishu from more secular Somali warlords.
Over the following months the ICU imposed a harsh sharia-based rule
that brought some stability to Somalia for the first time since 1991.
Turning its back on a useful measure of stability in the Horn of Africa,
which is home to more than 90 million Muslims,
Washington backed
the December 24, 2006, invasion of Somalia by the Ethiopian military.
U.S. officials argued that
Addis Ababa’s action was based on its “genuine security concerns,”
but at least as important in Washington’s decision was
its still dominant Cold War-era lust
for finding proxies to do America’s dirty work.
The Ethiopians quickly overthrew the ICU
and installed Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi’s secular, UN-backed
Somali Transitional Federal Government that had been based in Baidoa.
At this writing [early 2008],
Gedi has resigned and the regime—now led by President Abdullahi Yusuf
seems destined to become dependent, after the Ethiopians withdraw,
on the same Somali warlords that the ICU defeated in 2006.
The Somali Islamists’ anger over
Washington’s public support for the Christian Ethiopians’ invasion, moreover,
was sharpened by the simultaneous U.S. air strikes aimed at
three al-Qaeda leaders reported to be near Hayo,
in southernmost Somalia near the Kenyan border.
[Note 5.82]
Taken together, the invasion and the air strikes
have strengthened the Somali Islamist leaders’ belief
that the United States intends to destroy their faith,
and the likely result seems to be that the ICU chiefs
(whose forces were dispersed not destroyed)
will start an insurgency against the UN-supported Somalia regime
and perhaps launch terrorist operations inside Ethiopia and Kenya
and against the U.S. Special Forces base at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti.
[Note 5.83]

Leaving aside the social and humanitarian mayhem
that the Ethiopian invasion will cause in Somalia,
that invasion and the U.S. military action
have put America at a turning point in the Horn of Africa.
In a locale not of pivotal importance to the worldwide Sunni Islamist insurgency,
U.S. policy and actions have quickly brought it close to that status.
This evolution is due not only—or even mainly—to the air raids and the invasion,
but also to the fact that
U.S. leaders again walked into a trap laid by bin Laden over the past decade.
Since the withdrawal of the U.S.-led UN mission in 1994,
bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have warned Muslims that
the United States would return to Somalia, Sudan, and all of the Horn
for three reasons: to
  1. control oil reserves in Sudan and elsewhere in the Horn;

  2. stop the spread of Islam in the Horn; and

  3. acquire ports on the coast of East Africa
    to give the U.S. military bases
    from which to strike at
    Yemen and the holy places in Saudi Arabia.
None of these three points, of course,
may genuinely be part of the U.S. strategy in the Horn of Africa;
one doubts that U.S. strategy there amounts to
anything more than knee-jerk anti-Islamism.

As always, though, perception is reality,
and the Bush [43] administration
has taken a thoroughly necessary military action—
trying to kill Somali-based al-Qaeda leaders when the chance arose—
and turned it into another casus belli for jihadists
by endorsing the Christian Ethiopians’ destruction of an Islamist government
and subsequent stationing of troops in the country to fight Somali Islamists.

[Endnote 5.82 includes the following.]

The U.S. air strikes targeted three senior East Africa-based al-Qaeda fighters:
Fazul Adballah Muhammad,
a Comoran involved in al-Qaeda’s
1998 attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania;
Abu Talha al-Sudani,
al-Qaeda’s chief in East Africa and an explosives expert; and
Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Kenyan.
None of the three were killed,
but that failure does not invalidate the attempt.
For the foreseeable future,
this sort of preemptive attack will be indispensable
and must become a mainstay of the U.S. strategy against the Islamists.
In order to protect America in this manner, however,
U.S. leaders will have to learn to ignore the complaints and criticisms
of the EC, human-rights groups, and other antinational organizations.
They also ought to learn to order the attacks and then keep their mouths shut.
[It is unclear to me, at least, what Scheuer is referring to here.]

[Endnote 5.83 includes the following.]

The always missing historical context
for the U.S. decision to support the Ethiopian invasion
includes the following points,
which together make it reasonable to anticipate
the slow growth of an Islamist insurgency in the country
and perhaps the region.
  1. Ethiopia and Somalia have been rivals throughout their history,
    and Ethiopian interventions in Somalia have been common in the past
    and have caused lengthy wars.
    Somalis have traditionally viewed Ethiopia as
    an expansionist colonial power
    eager to ease its land-locked status
    by acquiring ports on the Somali coast.

  2. Ethiopian invasions when backed by a non-Muslim power
    have encouraged
    the rapid growth of Islamic militancy and readiness for jihad
    in Somalia’s traditionally moderate practice of the faith.

    Several British-backed Ethiopian invasions
    in the first decade of the twentieth century, for example,
    had exactly this effect in Somalia.
    If past is prologue,
    the U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion may again prove
    “that foreign intervention is the fuel
    that allows political Islam to grow
    in an otherwise hostile [Somali] environment.”

  3. Christian Ethiopia’s invasion of Muslim Somalia
    and its subsequent destruction of the ICU government
    is likely to make Ethiopia a more acceptable target for all Islamists.

    Traditionally, Ethiopia has held a place of respect and distinction in Islamic history and theology because
    it was a Christian nation whose ruler provided refuge and protection
    for Muslims who had to flee from persecution on the Arabian Peninsula
    during the first years of Islam.
    The Prophet Muhammad,
    in recognition of the Ethiopians’ assistance to his brethren, said,
    “If you went to the county of the Abyssinians,
    ye would find there a king under whom none sufferth wrong.
    It is a land of sincerity in religion.”
    The ruler who protected the Muslims later converted to Islam.
    Because of this history,
    contemporary Islamists have been reluctant to attack
    the interests of a country honored by their Prophet.
    The December 2006 Ethiopian invasion, however,
    may lessen the strength of the Prophet’s injunction
    and result in attacks on Ethiopian targets.
    Indeed, Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmed, a senior ICU leader,
    has said that the Somalis’ response to the invasion
    would not be limited to Somali territory.
    “The war is entering a new phase,”
    Shaykh Ahmed warned.
    “We will fight Ethiopia for a long, long time
    and we expect the war to go every place.”

Miscellaneous References


The Crusade moves on to Somalia
By Eric S. Margolis
Gulf Times, 2006-12-30

Special for Gulf Times

ETHIOPIA’S invasion of Somalia under cover of the Christmas holiday
was a blatant aggression that is likely to widen
the arc of conflict across the dangerously turbulent Horn of Africa.
It also marks the opening of a new front in
Washington’s war against Islamic militants and reformers.

Claims by Ethiopia that Somalia, a nation without any real military forces,
threatened its border
were as fanciful as assertions by Washington and Addis Ababa
that the so-called ‘transitional government’
they had installed in the town of Baidoa
represented anything more than its own well-paid members.

The US-backed and financed Ethiopian offensive
was clearly designed to crush
the first stable government strife-torn Somalia has had
in 15 years of civil war and anarchy.

The new Islamic regime, know as the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC),
recently managed to bring law and order to much of southern and central Somalia.
In the north, a secessionist group has proclaimed an independent Puntland.

The Union of Islamic Courts ended Somalia’s long civil war
by crushing local warlords who were being armed and financed by the CIA.
The US claims the Islamic Courts is a second Taliban-style movement
containing “terrorists” involved in
the 1998 bombings of US embassies in East Africa
who will turn Somalia into a hotbed of anti-American subversion.
The UIC denies these allegations.

More important, under the Bush/Cheney Administration,
any movement that has the audacity to call itself “Islamic”
immediately becomes a target of American hostility.

The embarrassing total defeat of US-backed Somali warlords
by the Islamic Courts militia
led directly to Washington’s decision to press Ethiopia to invade Somalia.

Ethiopia has one of Africa’s more powerful, well-trained armed forces
with over 1,300 tanks and a modern air force
that are now increasingly equipped and aided by the US.

The repressive regime of strongman Meles Zenawi
seems the antithesis of President George Bush [43]’s calls for democracy,
but has become a primary ally of Washington
that is seen as a bulwark against Islamic forces in Africa.

Washington has quietly supported Ethiopia
in its long border war against its bitter foe, Eritrea.
In recent months,
Eritrea has become an important supplier of small arms and munitions
to Somalia.

Somalia’s rag tag Islamist militias are helpless
against Ethiopian tanks, artillery and attack aircraft.
Ethiopia’s army could quickly occupy all of Somalia,
but it would then be very hard-pressed
to protect its long, vulnerable supply lines
against attack by Somali guerrilla forces.

Ethiopia has enough men to wage a two front war against Somalia and Eritrea,
but a prolonged conflict would seriously undermine its fragile economy.
Accordingly, Ethiopia’s likely strategy is to
protect the western-imposed rump regime in Baidoa and
launch attacks to prevent the UIC from consolidating power.
But involvement by traditional enemy Ethiopia
will undoubtedly further inflame Somali passions
and strengthen the Islamic Courts.

The latest war in the Horn of Africa
could easily widen into a wider conflict that involves
strife-torn regions of southern Sudan and Uganda, and
northern Kenya, which has many ethnic Somalis.

Equally important, prolonged war with Somalia could open fissures in
unstable, multi-ethnic, multi-religious Ethiopia.
Though usually depicted as a Christian nation,
at least 50% of Ethiopians are Muslim, and 35-40% Christians.
Ethnic Amhara and Tigrayans comprise 32% of the population,
while long-oppressed, rebellious Muslim Oromo in the south
account for over 40%.

Ethiopia’s Muslims have long sought a voice in their nation’s affairs
but were brutally repressed by Ethiopia’s royalist, Marxists, and now,
the Tigrayan regimes.

Conflict with Somalia could re-ignite the Oromo independence movement
and lead to the splintering of Ethiopia,
producing a reverse mirror image of
ethnic-religious strife between Sudan’s
northern Muslims and southern Christians and animists.

Ethiopia’s war against Somalia presents a more dangerous regional threat
than an Islamic-run Somalia.
The Bush/Cheney Administration is again showing
its reckless ignorance and arrogance by charging into a tribal conflict,
as it did in Afghanistan and Iraq,
about which it knows nothing.
Once again, Washington’s “cure” will be shown to be far worse than
the disease it claims to address.

What Washington should be doing is

talking to leaders of the Islamic Courts
to ensure
Somalia is not used as a new base for Al Qaeda operations.

This is a fair request that can be sweetened by
offers of financial support and
assurances that the Ethiopians will be leashed.
But this appears too subtle for the administration’s ham-handed crusaders
who have already blundered into two lost wars and are now courting a third.


Ethiopia's intervention may destabilize region
By Edmund Sanders
Los Angele Times, 2007-01-07

By launching a war against Somalia’s Islamists,
Ethiopia says it was drawing a line in the sand
against religious extremism in East Africa.
But without quick diplomacy and international aid, analysts caution that
the war could radicalize the region’s traditionally moderate Muslims.

'The Islamists were the one hope for Somalia'
by Martin Fletcher
Times (UK), 2007-01-08

My colleague Rosemary Righter wrote last week that
the defeat of Somalia’s Islamic courts by Ethiopian forces
was the “first piece of potentially good news in two devastating decades”.

As one of the few journalists who has visited Mogadishu recently,
I beg to differ.
The good news came in June.
That is when the courts routed the warlords
who had turned Somalia into the world’s most anarchic state
during a 15-year civil war that left a million dead.

I am no apologist for the courts.
Their leadership included extremists with dangerous intentions and connections.
But for six months they achieved the near-impossible feat of
restoring order to a country that appeared ungovernable.

This was not done by
“suppressing, with draconian punishments,
what remained of personal freedoms” —
unless you count banning guns and the narcotic qat,
which rendered half Somalia’s menfolk senseless.
The courts were less repressive than our Saudi Arabian friends.
They publicly executed two murderers
(a fraction of the 24 executions in Texas last year),
and discouraged Western dancing, music and films,
but at least people could walk the streets without being robbed or killed.
That trumps most other considerations. Ask any Iraqi.

The Islamists have now been replaced — with Washington’s connivance —
by a weak, fragile Government
that was created long before the courts won power,
that includes the very warlords they defeated
and relies for survival on Somalia’s worst enemy.

For the sake of the long-suffering Somali people
I hope it can impose its authority.
But Washington has taken a big gamble,
and nobody should be surprised
if the warlords are soon plundering Somalia again
or the Islamists are waging guerrilla war.

The Government’s appeal for Somalis to hand in their vast arsenal of guns
has flopped.
The courts’ militiamen have mostly melted back into the population, much as Saddam’s army did after the US invasion of Iraq.
Mogadishu’s powerful Hawiye clan regards with deep suspicion
a Government led by a Darod, President Abdullahi Yusuf.
An African Union peacekeeping force is far off and
Somalis will not tolerate the presence of troops from (“Christian”) Ethiopia
for long.

Washington backed military intervention by Ethiopia’s unsavoury regime
because it regarded the courts as a new Taleban,
and accused them of harbouring al-Qaeda terrorists.
It would surely have done better to try engaging the courts.


The US has a record of confronting Islamic movements.
It backed Israel’s disastrous war against Hezbollah last summer.
It never accepted the Palestinians’ election of a Hamas Government.
It cold-shouldered Iran
even when the relatively moderate Mohammed Khatami was President.
In each case it succeeded only in boosting the extremists.

Commentary: Ethiopian invasion to spur anti-US foment
by Nicola Nasser
www.awofio.com, 2007-01-09
(Note: Oromia)
(original source: Middle East Times,
highly recommended in notes 5.83 and 5.85 of Scheuer’s MTH.)

RAMALLAH, West Bank –

The United States’ latest foreign policy blundering,
orchestrating the recent Ethiopian invasion of
yet another Arab League Muslim capital,
has created a new hotbed of militant anti-Americanism
in the turbulent Horn of Africa.
The message sent has been clear:
no Arab or Muslim metropolis has impunity
unless it falls into step with vital US regional interests.

The US-backed December 28 Ethiopian invasion of the Somali capital, Mogadishu,
is closely linked in terms of motivation, methods, goals, and consequences,
to the bogged-down US blunders in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Sudan -
as well as more generally in Iran and Afghanistan -
but most of all to US policy as regards
the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

Mogadishu is the third Arab capital after Jerusalem and Baghdad
to fall to US imperialist aggression,
directly or indirectly through Israel, Ethiopia, or other proxies,
and the fourth such invasion
if Israel’s temporary 1982 occupation of Beirut is taken into account.
America’s attempt to redraw the map of the Middle East
is reminiscent of
the British-French Sykes-Picot colonial dismembering of the region
and is similarly certain to give rise to Pan-Arab grassroots opposition,
as part of a wider Pan-Islamic unifying force.

The US blunder in Somalia could not be more humiliating to Somalis.
Washington has delegated to its Ethiopian ally -
Mogadishu’s historical national enemy -
the mission of restoring the rule of law and order to
the same country Addis Ababa
has incessantly sought to dismember and disintegrate.
At the same time,
the US has also singled Ethiopia out as
the only neighboring country permitted to contribute to
the backbone of
the US-proposed and UN-adopted multinational foreign force in Somalia
after Addis Ababa’s invasion,
thus setting the stage for a widespread anti-American insurgency.

America’s manipulation is there for all to see and
a new US-led anti-Arab and anti-Muslim regional alliance
is already in the works.
The US-allied Ethiopian invaders have already taken over Somalia
after the withdrawal of the United Islamic Courts (UIC) forces,
which rejected an offer of amnesty in return for surrendering their arms,
refusing unconditional dialogue with the invaders.
The withdrawal of the UIC forces from urban centers
is reminiscent to
the Iraqi army’s retreat and
the melting away of Afghanistan’s Taliban,
heralding a similar bloody aftermath in Somalia
with the rise of guerrilla warfare.

The UIC leaders who went underground are already promising retaliation,
“terrorist” tactics being their expected weapon of choice
and American targets likely to be linked to the Ethiopian invaders.
It doesn’t take much to conclude that
US President George W. Bush [43]’s policy in the Horn of Africa
is threatening American lives as well as regional stability.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York:
“Because the United States has accused Somalia of harboring Al Qaeda suspects,
the Ethiopian-Eritrean proxy conflict
increases the opportunities
for terrorist infiltration of the Horn and East Africa and
for ignition of a larger regional conflict,”
in which the United States would be deeply embroiled.

Eritrea accused the US January 1 of being behind the war in Somalia.
“This war is between the Americans and the Somali people,”
Eritrean information minister Ali Abdu told Reuters.

The US administration found no harm
in keeping divided Somalia as easy prey for the country’s warlords,
and punished by bloody tribal disputes since 1991,
probably finding another guarantee-by-default
for US regional interests in such a status quo.
America would have indefinitely accepted
the political chaos and humanitarian tragedy
in one of the world’s poorest countries
were it not for the emergence of the indigenous grassroots UIC,
which provided some social security and order
under the guise of a central government
that made some progress toward unifying the country.

Preempting intensive Arab-, Muslim-, and European-mediation efforts
between the UIC and the transitional government,
Washington moved quickly to secure
the December 6 United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1725.
The UNSC resolution recognized the Baidoa government -
organized in Kenya by US regional allies and dominated by the warlords -
as the legitimate authority in Somalia
after sending Army Gen. John Abizaid, head of US Central Command,
to Addis Ababa in November
for talks with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
on bailing out the besieged transitional government
by coordinating an Ethiopian military intervention.

Resolution 1725 also urged all member states,
“in particular those in the region,”
to refrain from interference in Somalia,
but the ink had barely dried on the advisory measure
when Washington was already acting in violation
by providing training, intelligence, and consultation
to at least 8,000 Ethiopian troops who stormed into Baidoa and its vicinity
before the major Ethiopian invasion.
A fact repeatedly denied by both Washington and Addis Ababa,
but confirmed by independent sources.

To contain the repercussions,
Washington is vainly trying to distance itself from the Ethiopian invasion,
with US officials repeatedly denying
having used Ethiopia as an American proxy in Somalia.
Moreover, the Bush administration is trying to play down
the significance of the invasion itself.
“The State Department issued internal guidance to staff members,
instructing officials to play down the invasion in public statements,”
read a copy of the guidelines obtained by The New York Times.

Mission Accomplished?

“Mission Accomplished,”
Addis Ababa’s Daily Monitor announced
when the Ethiopian forces blitzed into Mogadishu,
heralding a new US regional alliance at
the southern approaches to the oil-rich Arab heartland
in the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq.
In 2003, the same phrase had adorned a banner behind President Bush [43]
as he declared an end to major combat operations in the US-led invasion of Iraq.
All facts on the ground indicate the US mission in Somalia
will be as much a failure as that in Iraq, and equally misleading.

American foreign policy has therefore sown the seeds of
a new violent hotbed of anti-US insurgency in the Arab world,
in the heart of what Western strategists call the Middle East,
by succeeding in Somalia in what the US failed to achieve in Lebanon
a few months ago.
[Note the Palestinian Nasser makes no distinction between the U.S. and Israel,
something which he seems to have in common with many powerful American Jews.]

Washington was thus able
to prevent the UN from imposing a ceasefire in Somalia
until the Ethiopian invasion had seized Mogadishu,
in contrast to the Israeli-Hezbollah war this past summer
when the Lebanese resistance group and national unity
prevented Israeli invaders from using the same US green-light
to achieve their goals in Beirut.

In both cases,
Washington used the UN as a fig leaf to cover the Israeli and Ethiopian invasions,
repeating the Iraq scenario,
and in both cases,
initiating military intervention to abort mediation efforts
as well as
sabotaging dialogues aimed at solving internal conflicts peacefully.

In Somalia, as in Iraq,
Washington is also trying to delegate the mission of installing a pro-US regime -
whose leaders were carried in on the invading tanks -
to a multinational force
in which Somalia’s neighboring countries are not represented.
A multinational force that will no doubt later be called upon
not to interfere in Somalia’s internal affairs,
as it has been prevented from doing in the case of Iran and Syria
regarding US-occupied Iraq.

The Bush [43] administration has expressed sympathy for
the security concerns that prompted Ethiopia to intervene in Somalia.
Thus, once again,
the pretexts of Washington’s so-called war on terror have been used
to justify the Ethiopian invasion of Mogadishu
as a preventive self-defense measure,
only to create the very counterproductive environment
that will certainly
increase violence and expand a national dispute into a wider regional conflict.

Ethiopia’s actual security concerns

the war on terror pretexts used by Addis Ababa to justify its invasion
is likely to be a smokescreen for
land-locked Ethiopia’s own historical and strategic aspirations
for an outlet to the Red Sea,
seeing the seizing of Somali territory as the only available solution,
after the independence of Eritrea deprived it of the Assab seaport.

Agreed upon peaceful arrangements with Somalia and Eritrea
is the only other option that would grant Ethiopia sea-access -
whether to the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and Bab Al Mandeb, or the Arabian Sea,
and through such routes, to the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean.
this option was trumped by the imperialist dreams of Greater Ethiopia
that took drove the regimes of
Emperor Hailie Selassie,
the military Marxist Mengistu Haile Mariam, and
the incumbent US-backed oppression of Meles Zenawi.
These Ethiopian regimes were all deluded by the military might of Somalia -
the only country resembling a nation state
in a region that had disintegrated into the world’s poorest,
decimated by the tribal strife left over from
the British, French, and Italian Western colonialist powers.
Hence Ethiopia’s wars with Eritrea and Somalia.

The Eritrean fear of an Ethiopian invasion of Assab via Somalia
is both realistic and legitimate,
given that Ethiopia’s borders are, like Israel’s, still not demarcated,
its zeal for strategic sea-access still present,
and its interest in militarily achieving such access still ongoing due to the virtual state of war still influencing its Somali and Eritrean relations.
Such territorial aspirations on the part of Ethiopia are behind
reports on Eritrean intervention in Somalia, denied by Asmara,
as well as the regional and international warnings against
the possible development of the Ethiopian invasion
into a wider regional conflict that could also involve Djibouti and Kenya.

Internally in Ethiopia, successive regimes since Selassie
have kept the country’s demographic structure a top state secret.
An official illusion has been created of Ethiopia being
the same Christian nation it has been for hundreds of years,
while barely succeeding to veil the independent confirmation that
at least half the population are now Muslims.
A Muslim presence not represented in the makeup of Ethiopia’s ruling elite
but also a factor behind
the oppressive policies of the incumbent US-backed regime.

The rising Muslim demographic holds the key to the understanding Ethiopia’s ruling elite’s fear of the emergence of a unified Somalia,
given the impetus it would give to the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF),
representing the 1.5 million Somali-origin Muslim tribesmen
inhabiting the 200,000-square-kilometer (77,220-square-mile) desert region
of Addis Ababa.
Such fear was what led to the 1977-88 Ethiopia-Somalia war,
and remains a festering hotbed of bilateral friction.

A united independent Somalia, and a liberated or in revolt ONLF, therefore,
would inevitably deprive Ethiopia of its desert-corridor to the coast,
giving rise at the very least to adverse effects or an imbalance altogether
to Addis Ababa’s internal status quo.
While it is true that such a development
also creates a great potential for Al Qaeda infiltration,
it remains too inflated a pretext for Addis Ababa to justify its unconvincing trumpeting of the “Islamic threat” regarding the ascendancy of Somalia’s UIC.

Indeed, Ethiopia’s justification of its Somalia invasion
as intended to quell the “Islamist threat” in line with Washington’s goals
is less than genuine,
leading some UIC leaders to declare “jihad” against
the “Christian invasion” of their country,
thereby helping transform an Ethiopian political miscalculation
into a seemingly “Muslim-Christian” war,
which in fact has far more provocateurs in Addis Ababa than in Mogadishu.

Thus the sectarian inter-Muslim war fomented by the US-led occupation of Iraq
as part of a “divide and rule” policy
may now be coupled with
a “religious war” in the Horn of Africa
to protect the US military presence there -
supposedly “defending” Arab oil-wealth in the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq -
against a threat to its mobility from the south.
Such a war could drive a new wedge between Arabs and their neighbors,
in a replay of the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, in tandem with
a 60-year-old Israeli strategy of sowing discord between Arabs
and their Ethiopian, Iranian, and Turkish geopolitical strategic depth.

However, such a US-Israeli strategy is sure to backfire.
Somalis will unite against a foreign invasion in a country
where Islamism is the essence of nationalism and
where Pan-Arabism supports a country too weak and poverty-stricken
to be adversely affected by Arab League divides.
An overwhelming majority of Somalis are Muslims with
no divisive sectarian loyalties and
no polarizing neighboring sectarian centers
as in the case of Iran for Iraq.
The “Christian face” of the Ethiopian invasion
would thus serve as a unifying factor,
serving as a war-cry against America’s neo-imperialist plans,
themselves reminiscent of earlier “Christian” European colonialism.

Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Ramallah, West Bank
of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

Expelling the Infidel: Historical Look at Somali Resistance to Ethiopia
By Andrew McGregor
Terrorism Monitor, 2007-02-21

The U.S.-supported Ethiopian invasion of Somalia
has an unsettling resemblance to
the British-supported Ethiopian incursions
in the early years of the 20th century.
In both cases,
the Western powers became involved
because of perceived strategic considerations,
while their proxy, Ethiopia, went to war as a result of
Somali resistance to Ethiopian domination of the ethnic-Somali Ogaden region.
Although the Islamists have been dispersed for the moment,
there are signs that a guerrilla campaign is in the making.



How the War on Terror pushed Somalia into the arms of al-Qaeda
It has been the forgotten debacle of the Bush years.
But anarchy in the Horn of Africa may soon haunt the West

by Martin Fletcher
Times (UK), 2008-11-18

As President Bush prepares to leave office,
the pundits will start to produce their balance sheets.
It is hard to know what they will list under “achievements”,
but easy to predict their “disasters”:
Iraq, Afghanistan, economic meltdown, soaring debt and
America’s loss of global stature.

One other debacle should feature prominently in that second column,
but probably won’t because it has occurred in a faraway country
that most Westerners know only through the film Black Hawk Down -
or from recent reports of rampant piracy
including the seizure early on Sunday of a Saudi tanker,
carrying more than two million barrels of oil,
which had an immediate effect on crude prices.

I am referring to the Bush [43] Administration’s intervention in Somalia
in the name of the War on Terror.
It has
helped to destroy that wretched country’s best chance of peace in a generation,
left more than a million Somalis dead, homeless or starving, and
achieved the precise opposite of its original goal.
Far from stamping out an Islamic militancy that scarcely existed,
the intervention
has turned Somalia into a breeding ground for Islamic extremists
and given al-Qaeda a valuable foothold in the Horn of Africa.

Rewind to the early summer of 2006.
For 15 years, since the fall of the dictator Mohamed Siad Barre,
feuding warlords had made Somalia a byword for anarchy and terrorism -
the archetypal failed state.
A tenth of its population had been killed.
A million had fled abroad.
At that point the warlords were finally routed, despite covert CIA backing,
by a remarkable public uprising
in support of the so-called Islamic Courts movement
that promised to end the lawlessness.

Somalia had always practised a mild form of Islam,
but the Courts received a bad press in the West,
being widely portrayed as a new Taleban
determined to impose the most draconian forms of Sharia
on a terrified populace.
That was certainly what I expected
when I visited Mogadishu in early December 2006.
But what I actually found was
a people still celebrating the return of peace and security.

Gone were the checkpoints where the warlords’ gunmen extorted and killed.
Gone were their “technicals” -
the Jeeps with heavy machineguns on the back
with which they terrorised the citzenry.
For the first time that most Somalis could remember,
they were walking around their shattered capital in safety, even at night.
Businesses were reopening. Exiles were returning.
Mountains of rubbish were being carted away.

“It’s like paradise compared to even one year ago,”
according to Mohammed Ahmed,
a doctor who had returned from working at the West Middlesex Hospital.

The Courts had certainly imposed
what would be seen in the West as some fairly repressive moral codes.
They cracked down on the narcotic qat
that rendered half the menfolk senseless,
banned sexually explicit films,
encouraged women to cover their heads and
discouraged Western music and dancing.
There had been two public executions.
But that was a price most Somalis were happy to pay,
and while the Courts’ disparate factions
undoubtedly included extremists with dangerous connections and intentions,
they also included moderates with whom the West could have done business.

European nations favoured engagement. Washington did not.
It accused the Courts of harbouring
the al-Qaeda terrorists responsible for
bombing US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
The Courts hardly helped their cause
by claiming territory in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Weeks after my visit the US supported -
morally, materially and with intelligence -
an invasion by predominantly Christian Ethiopia,
Somalia’s oldest bitter enemy.
That replaced what was, for all its faults,
Somalia’s most effective government in memory
with a deeply unpopular one led by former warlords,
which had been cobbled together by the international community in Nairobi
two years previously.

“The Americans see an extremist under every Muslim stone,”
one European official complained bitterly,
and the consequences were entirely predictable.
An insurgency that began early in 2007 has steadily gathered strength,
while the reviled Government in Mogadishu
has come to depend utterly for its survival on thousands of Ethiopian troops
that were meant to withdraw within weeks.

As the fighting has worsened
10,000 Somali civilians are thought to have been killed,
more than a million have fled their homes,
and more than three million - 40 per cent of the population -
now urgently need humanitarian assistance.
Although the UN World Food Programme
is still getting some aid into the country
the situation is deteriorating
and scores of humanitarian workers have been killed or abducted.
Exploiting the lawlessness,
pirates have turned the waters off Somalia
into some of the most dangerous in the world.

In Kenya last weekend Abdullahi Yusuf, Somalia’s President
[resigned 2008-12-29;
for the current president, see the list of presidents of Somalia],
finally admitted that
insurgents now control most of the country
and have advanced to the very edge of Mogadishu.
His Government, he said, was close to collapse.

There are several insurgent forces,
but one of the most powerful is the Shabab -
a group of virulently anti-Western jihadists
that has now eclipsed the Islamic Courts movement of which it was once part.

Somalia’s nightmare may be only just starting.
President Yusuf predicts wholesale slaughter if the Shabab seize Mogadishu.
Diplomats fear that
the Shabab will wage all-out war with other insurgent forces,
including those of the Islamic Courts,
for control of the country
once Ethiopian troops - the common enemy - are withdrawn.

And unlike the Courts, the Shabab has no truck with moderation:
in the port city of Kismayo last month
a young girl who complained that she had been raped
was stoned to death for adultery,
while in Balad
two dozen Somalis were flogged for performing a traditional dance.

Whatever happens,
Somalia will be another horrendous legacy for Barack Obama,
but somewhere on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border one man will be celebrating.
Shabab openly supports al-Qaeda.
It has adopted suicide bombings and other tactics.
“Al-Qaeda is the mother of the holy war in Somalia...
We are negotiating how we can unite into one,”
Muktar Robow, a leading Shabab commander,
recently told the Los Angeles Times.
“We will take our orders from Sheikh Osama bin Laden
because we are his students.”

All in all, hardly a resounding triumph for the War on Terror.


Can We Forget About Pirates, Please?
by Robert Dreyfuss
The Nation, 2009-04-14

For Somali Pirates, Worst Enemy May Be on Shore
New York Times, 2009-05-09

GAROOWE, Somalia —

Abshir Boyah, a towering, notorious Somali pirate boss who admits to hijacking more than 25 ships and to being a member of a secretive pirate council called “The Corporation,” says he’s ready to cut a deal.

Facing intensifying naval pressure on the seas and now a rising backlash on land, Mr. Boyah has been shuttling between elders and religious sheiks fed up with pirates and their vices, promising to quit the buccaneering business if certain demands are met.

“Man, these Islamic guys want to cut my hands off,” he grumbled over a plate of camel meat and spaghetti. The sheiks seemed to have rattled him more than the armada of foreign warships patrolling offshore. “Maybe it’s time for a change.”

For the first time in this pirate-infested region of northern Somalia, some of the very communities that had been flourishing with pirate dollars — supplying these well-known criminals with sanctuary, support, brides, respect and even government help — are now trying to push them out.

Grass-roots, antipirate militias are forming. Sheiks and government leaders are embarking on a campaign to excommunicate the pirates, telling them to get out of town and preaching at mosques for women not to marry these un-Islamic, thieving “burcad badeed,” which in Somali translates as sea bandit. There is even a new sign at a parking lot in Garoowe, the sun-blasted capital of the semiautonomous region of Puntland, that may be the only one of its kind in the world. The thick red letters say: No pirates allowed.

Much like the violence, hunger and warlordism that has engulfed Somalia, piracy is a direct — and some Somalis say inevitable — outgrowth of a society that has languished for 18 years without a functioning central government and whose economy has been smashed by war.

But here in Garoowe, the pirates are increasingly viewed as stains on the devoutly Muslim, nomadic culture, blamed for introducing big-city evils like drugs, alcohol, street brawling and AIDS. A few weeks ago, Puntland police officers broke up a bootlegging ring and poured out 327 bottles of Ethiopian-made gin. In Somalia, alcohol is shunned. Such a voluminous stash of booze is virtually unheard of.

“The pirates are spoiling our society,” said Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud, Puntland’s new president. “We will crush them.”


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