Thursday, December 28, 2006

Peace Keepers in Africa

Yep, Somalia and Sudan are going so very very well. I'm wondering when the UN will come out and condemn Ethiopia for their part in Somalia.
"We will capture Mogadishu any time within the coming hours," government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari told The Associated Press, saying the country was in a state of emergency. "We are now at the entry points of the city."

President Abdullahi Yusuf was expected to offer the clans a truce later Thursday.

Residents south of the city said Islamist forces were streaming south toward the port city of Kismayo. Yusuf Ibrahim, a former Islamic fighter who quit Thursday, said about 3,000 fighters left for Kismayo.

Islamists acknowledged they had left Mogadishu but said they were not giving up their fight. Abdirahman Janaqow, a senior leader, told The Associated Press he ordered his forces out of the capital to avoid bloodshed.

"We decided to leave Mogadishu because of the safety of the civilians," Janaqow said in a telephone interview. "We want to face our enemy and their stooges in a separate area, away from civilians."

A well-known clan leader, Hussein Haji Bod, asked people to remain calm and said elders would meet Thursday to discuss the "future of the capital." The largest market in the capital was closed for fear it would be looted.

Gotta love those Islamist war lords for their concern about the civilians. Weren't these the same ones whose fighters were hiding behind women and children when they were attacking US forces?
The Council of Islamic Courts seized Mogadishu in June and went on to take much of southern Somalia, often without fighting. They were later joined by foreign militants, including Pakistanis and Arabs, who supported their goal of making Somalia an Islamic state.
I wonder what happened to those war lords? Did they finally find religion, or are they just gone? I'm sure the Pakistanis and Arabs are making the environment much more secure. Probably setting up their IED factories right now preparing for the insurgency against the Government forces and the Ethiopians.
The Islamists seemed invincible after capturing the capital, but they have been no match for Ethiopia, which has the strongest military in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopian forces crossed the border Sunday to reinforce the internationally recognized Somali government, which was bottled up in Baidoa, 140 miles northwest of Mogadishu.

Ethiopia's prime minister has said that his country was "forced to enter a war" with the Council of Islamic Courts after the group declared holy war on Ethiopia, a largely Christian country that has feared the emergence of a neighboring Islamic state.

The conflict in Somalia has drawn concern from the United States, which accuses the Islamists of harboring al-Qaida terrorists, and other Western powers.

Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian prime minister, said Tuesday he had been given unconfirmed reports that as many as 1,000 people had died and 3,000 were wounded since the fighting began on Saturday.

I'm still waiting for the condemnations of Ethiopia by the Human rights groups and the UN. I haven't found any sanction for their actions, so acting preemptively this way must be illegal. I mean, no country has any right to preemptively attack to provide themselves with security. Haven't we heard that quite a lot lately?
Two years ago, the United Nations helped set up the interim government. It has been unable to assert much authority, in part because it has been weakened by clan rivalries.

The competition for control of Mogadishu since 1991 has involved the Abgal and Habr Gadir clans, who came together earlier this year to support the Islamic council. Most of the shooting and looting in Mogadishu on Thursday was coming from Abgal clan strongholds.

The Islamists tried to supplant the influence of the clans by appealing to Somalis as Muslims. Many Somalis were grateful for the order the movement imposed. But many also chafed at the strict enforcement of Islamic codes.
Ah, there is where those war lords went, they became part of the Islamist Court. Of course, the UN's efforts in Somalia will now be put forward as a success, even though it took another country to invade Somalia to put their approved government into place.

And while on the topic of the inept UN:
Sudan raised new questions Wednesday about its commitment to a U.N. peace effort in the violence-wracked Darfur region as its ambassador ruled out any U.N. peacekeeping troops — an element of the world body's proposal.

The surprise statement came just minutes after the U.N. Security Council announced that it welcomed the Sudanese president's acceptance of the U.N. plan to help end the escalating conflict — a plan that includes deployment of a "hybrid" African Union- United Nations force.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan had told Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in a letter earlier this month that every effort would be made to find African troops for a hybrid force of 17,300 military personnel and 5,300 police, but if that proved impossible the U.N. would use "a broader pool of troop contributing countries."

But Sudan Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem told reporters on Wednesday evening that the hybrid force must be smaller and have no U.N. peacekeepers, only U.N. technical and logistical experts supporting African troops.

"The force is African, the leader is an African," he said. "There is support and logistical support staff by the U.N., wearing their own helmets, but they are not going to engage in peacekeeping activities."
Nice to see the UN gumming these guys to death. The teeth of the UN aren't playing, so no peace keeping occurs. I'm sure that "hybrid" force from the AU will be real effective too. The Sudanese government isn't playing, just blocking and stirring up the mess. It's not in their interest to assist the AU or the UN in settling things down, and no doubt we'll be hearing about another Islamist Court coming into Darfur.

Pajamas Media has more on Ethiopian success and ThreatsWatch has this related statement:
Outlined are major reasons for both the current success and the likely future difficulties a beaten Islamic Courts Union al-Qaeda ‘franchise’ will have in mounting an insurgency on par with that in Iraq. It is Thursday’s Global Conflict ‘must-read.’

But the most important lesson that Western observers - Americans in particular - must clearly understand is that the decisive factor is no more complex than a matter of will.

From the PM article:
There may be lessons for the United States in Ethiopia’s success. Abdiweli Ali, an assistant professor at Niagara University who is in contact with transitional government military commanders on the ground, says that Ethiopia has less concern than the U.S. about civilian casualties. There is no reliable estimate of civilian deaths, but the number is believed to be in the hundreds. “We’re fighting wars with one hand tied behind our backs,” Professor Ali says. “In Iraq we’re trying to be nice, thinking we’ll give candy to people on the streets and they’ll love us. But people will understand later on if you just win now and provide them with security.”

A second lesson relates to the media. The Ethiopian government is generally less sensitive to media criticism than the U.S. government—and is likely to encounter far less criticism in the first place, since the press traditionally gives short shrift to coverage of Africa.

Obviously these two lessons are tied together. The US has more concern for civilian casualties due to being forced to be under the public scrutiny at all times. It's the right thing to do for the most part, but even when the US is being excessively cautious, they are still blamed for casualties that never occurred but are blasted through the media satisfying the insurgencies propaganda needs.

I think the lesson on the MSM is more potent than the one on civilian relations. They do want security, but they don't want it from us. That point is being completely ignored here. This is also a reason why a change in tactics needs to be pushed forward to get control of the militias and use them for provisioning security. The control part of that equation is far more important, since many of the sectarian and tribal friction has come from militias that are beyond the control of the central government.

Give the media and the human rights groups time, they'll be condemning this event loudly, though not nearly as shrilly as they condemn the US.

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