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Somalia: A US proxy war
Source Ken Hanly
Date 06/12/26/16:02

In Somalia, a reckless U.S. proxy war

By Salim Lone
Tribune Media Services

12/26/06 NAIROBI -- Undeterred by the
horrors and setbacks in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon,
the Bush administration has opened another battlefront
in the Muslim world. With full U.S. backing and
military training, at least 15,000 Ethiopian troops
have entered Somalia in an illegal war of aggression
against the Union of Islamic Courts, which controls
almost the entire south of the country.

As with Iraq in 2003, the United States has cast this
as a war to curtail terrorism, but its real goal is to
obtain a direct foothold in a highly strategic region
by establishing a client regime there. The Horn of
Africa is newly oil-rich, and lies just miles from
Saudi Arabia, overlooking the daily passage of large
numbers of oil tankers and warships through the Red
Sea. General John Abizaid, the current U.S. military
chief of the Iraq war, was in Ethiopia this month, and
President Hu Jintao of China visited Kenya, Sudan and
Ethiopia earlier this year to pursue oil and trade
agreements.

The U.S. instigation of war between Ethiopia and
Somalia, two of world's poorest countries already
struggling with massive humanitarian disasters, is
reckless in the extreme. Unlike in the run-up to Iraq,
independent experts, including from the European
Union, were united in warning that this war could
destabilize the whole region even if America succeeds
in its goal of toppling the Islamic Courts.

An insurgency by Somalis, millions of whom live in
Kenya and Ethiopia, will surely ensue, and attract
thousands of new anti-U.S. militants and terrorists.

With so much of the world convulsed by crisis, little
attention has been paid to this unfolding disaster in
the Horn. The UN Security Council, however, did take
up the issue, and in another craven act which will
further cement its reputation as an anti-Muslim body,
bowed to American and British pressure to authorize a
regional peacekeeping force to enter Somalia to
protect the transitional government, which is fighting
the Islamic Courts.

The new UN resolution states that the world body acted
to "restore peace and stability." But as all major
international news organizations have reported, this
year Somalia finally experienced its first respite
from 16 years of utter lawlessness and terror at the
hands of the marauding warlords who drove out UN
peacekeepers in 1993, when 18 American soldiers were
killed.

Since 1993, there had been no Security Council
interest in sending peacekeepers to Somalia, but as
peace and order took hold, a multilateral force was
suddenly deemed necessary because it was the Islamic
Courts Union that had brought about this stability.
Astonishingly, the Islamists had succeeded in
defeating the warlords primarily through rallying
people to their side by creating law and order through
the application of Shariah law, which Somalis
universally practice.

The transitional government, on the other hand, is
dominated by the warlords and terrorists who drove out
American forces in 1993. Organized in Kenya by U.S.
regional allies, it is so completely devoid of
internal support that it has turned to Somalia's arch-
enemy, Ethiopia, for assistance.

If this war continues, it will affect the whole
region, do serious harm to U.S. interests and threaten
Kenya, the only island of stability in this corner of
Africa.

Ethiopia is at even greater risk, as a dictatorship
with little popular support and beset also by two
large internal revolts, by the Ogadenis and Oromos. It
is also mired in a conflict with Eritrea, which has
denied it secure access to seaports.

The best antidote to terrorism in Somalia is
stability, which the Islamic Courts have provided. The
Islamists have strong public support, which has grown
in the face of U.S. and Ethiopian interventions. As in
other Muslim-Western conflicts, the world needs to
engage with the Islamists to secure peace.

Copyright 2006 The International Herald Tribune

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