who is gonna come 2 da rescue of somalis? da taliban supporters are eritrea's president Issayas Afeworki who hates and imprisoned eritrean muslims and closed islamic schools in eritrea da ethiopians thought harmless when dey were in eritrea prior 2 der independence. let da ethiopians and eritreans divide somalia among demselves. 1970's, somali opposition groups towards da last regime all started der campaign through ethiopia and was supported by ethiopians. eritrea or ethiopia, da winner should occupy somalia and annex it. all u want 2 know about da supporters of da conflict in barbaric somalia.
Eritrea-Ethiopia Rival Agendas in Somalia
By Mustafa M. Ahmed
Jul 11, 2006, 22:42 PST
The new political arena in Somalia is not fully as a result of SomaliaÂ’s internal conundrum, but partly due to external interference, which involves regional and international actors. The main external forces are the United States (U.S), Ethiopia and Eritrea. The United States is obsessed with hunting what it considers terrorist groups and al-Qaeda affiliated groups. Ethiopia is an immediate neighbour to Somalia, but a hostile historical relationship makes Ethiopia an old foe to the Â‘greater SomaliaÂ’. Eritrea, which had not shown significant interest in Somalia, now is aggressively seeking to manipulate SomaliaÂ’s situation for its advantage against Ethiopian government. This has reduced Somalia into a battle ground for proxy wars between Eritrea and Ethiopia. This article focuses on this proxy wars Eritrea and Ethiopia strategically are involved in, which is, unfortunately, the fragile political landscape of Somalia.
Let me first briefly look at the U.S involvement in Somalia.
In December 1992, before handing over the presidency to Bill Clinton, ex-president of the United States, George Bush senior, asked the UN to offer with thousands of U.S troops, as intervention force, Â‘to helpÂ’ the UN operation in Somalia (UNOSOM - I). The UN accepted the offer and its Security Council passed the resolution 794 as major undertaking by United Task Force (UNITAF), which authorized the U.S. led intervention in Somalia. It was a daunting task waiting for President Bill Clinton, however. In October 1993, an operation was launched in Mogadishu and its environs, by an American Task Force Ranger, to hunt down leaders of AididÂ’s militia. Unfortunately for the Task Force, the operation turned ugly. 18 Americans were reportedly killed, many more wounded and two U.S. MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down. It was an embarrassment and disgrace to many American political and military thinkers to hear about American soldiersÂ’ corpses being dragged by angry Somali mob through streets of Mogadishu. Americans pulled out their forces from Somalia in six months as they scheduled it to be.
The political disorder and confusion created in Somalia, thereafter, has been a sanctuary for various Islamist groups and of course an open field any one can meddle in. The 1998 bombings on the U.S embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, for example, led to various interpretations that linked Somalia to Â‘terroristsÂ’ safe haven. The U.S was more infuriated than other countries involved in the situation of the Horn of Africa and intended, mainly after the 9/11 tragedy, to take any necessary military action in Somalia in order to hunt down al-Qaeda activists. American military base was established in Djibouti to operate in the region under the agenda of Â“war on terrorÂ”. In 2003, this military base establishment was followed by a pledge of a $ 100 million funds to assist East African initiative of will against Â‘terrorismÂ’. Various reports also show that U.S intelligence has been strengthening its existence in Somalia through financing different Somali counter Â‘terrorismÂ’ networks and, of course, by supporting war-lords who vowed to help.
Well, here you have it Â“The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC)Â” controls Mogadishu. For sure the U.S was irritated by the victory of UIC, because some of the UIC leaders are in the U.S list of Â‘terroristsÂ’. As it appears to be, and I am sure many Somalis will agree, a power which entertains popular base should be the right side to support. Any way, I will leave Americans enjoying their scrumptious meals with the Saudis while at the same time Â‘huntingÂ’ Osama bin-Laden in the harbours of the Red-Sea.
Needless to mention the ancient Muslim-Christian conflicts in the Horn, which many writers rely on to analyze the current situation, I will begin my analysis by briefly elaborating on the late 1970s war between Ethiopia and Somalia.
In 1977-1978 Ethiopia and Somalia fought fiercely over the issue of Ogaden. For Somalia, the areas in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti that were inhabited by Somali nomads were parts of Â“Greater SomaliaÂ” so they had to be claimed back. The then newly Ethiopian government, the Â“DergÂ”, was stretched between two fronts: Eritrea and Somalia. Both Eritrean liberation forces and Somalia troops scored major military victories against Ethiopian troops in Eritrea and eastern Ethiopia respectively. However, the switch of the Soviets and the Cuban from the side of Somalia to the favour of Ethiopia changed the military status quo that eventually enabled the Â“DergÂ” to be involved in various military adventures that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and countless destruction on established social and economic structures of the region.
During the clashes between the Mesngistu and the Siyad Barre regimes, both countries have abetted and supported opposition groups of the other. The Siyad Barre regime supported the Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF), which by late 1975 had struck numerous Ethiopian government outposts, and participated by the side of Somali National Army in the Ogaden war of 1977. In 1981, Ethiopian government encouraged Somalilanders to take up arms against the Siyad Barre regime; and formed a movement called Somaliland National Movement (S.N.M.), which by the second half of the 1980s controlled many areas in Northern Somalia.
The Siyad Barre regime also supported Eritrean Liberation Forces and Tigrean Liberation Forces. The present governments in Eritrea and Ethiopia were part of these two liberation forces respectively. Both forces owe Somalia for its support in those times of armed struggle. Reports show that Somalia provided with financial, military and moral support to these forces. Most of the present leaders in Eritrea and Ethiopia were provided with Somali diplomatic passports that they used to travel around the World.
In 1991, the demise of the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia and that of Siyad Barre in Somalia has changed the HornÂ’s political scenario. Eritrea won its independence. The Tigrean People Liberation Front (TPLF) entered Addis Ababa, the Capital City of Ethiopia; thanks to EPLFÂ’s Mechanized brigade. Unfortunately, the situation in Somalia was different. The Siyad Barre regime crumbled and civil war erupted when Ali Mahdi and Hussein Aideed disagreed on who would take power. There came then the question of how should Eritrean and Ethiopian governments pay back Somalia for its support. Well, guess what, power is power. There is no blessing or sin in power politics. Right from the inception both Eritrea and Ethiopia - or at least one of them- had to make their calculations very carefully.
I would say the TPLF knew how to keep its cards closer to the heart better than the EPLF. Though the TPLF promised to pay back Somalia by helping them reconcile and thus create a government of national unity in Somalia, later it became clear that it was an empty promise. In the name of Â‘national interestÂ’ Ethiopian government has started working against the principles of its 1992 Â‘initiativeÂ’ on Â“peace, reconciliation and rehabilitation of SomaliaÂ” where, based on this initiative, in 1993 all Somali factions and groups started to meet in Addis Ababa and discuss on their issues. The government began to segregate factions that it perceived as against Ethiopia and held secret meetings with the factions that were perceived to be easily manipulated so as to fulfill Ethiopian governmentÂ’s agendas. Consequently, the initiative was a failure.
Some Somali writers also argue that Ethiopian government was not comfortable with the emergence of stable self-declared government in Northern Somalia. Dr. Abdi Aden Mohammed, for example, wrote on the Â“Horn Africa NewsLineÂ” Â– 2002- that towards the end of 1993 Ethiopian government arranged a secret meeting with some clans from Northern Somalia and convinced them to rebel against the idea of secession of Somaliland and joined the war-lords in Mogadishu; and it is interpreted that the 1994-1995 Somaliland civil war was a result of such interference. However, pro-Ethiopian analysts argue that Ethiopia has maintained a good relationship with Somaliland, mainly based on trade; but only Â“a de facto relationship without full diplomatic recognitionÂ”.
Further, Ethiopia allegedly supported United Somali Congress Â– Patriotic Movement (USC-PM) led by Omar Hashi Adan of the Hawadle clan; Colenel Shaat-Gaduud of the Rahahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) in Southern Somalia; and Hussein Hajji Bod in north Mogadishu.
What about Eritrean government?
It appeared that the government of Eritrea persistently sought to support a faction that might have been capable of uniting Somalia. This attitude of Eritrean government was not only a case in Somalia issue. As a liberation force and later as a newly formed government, the EPLF had been prominent in advocating for Ethiopian unity in contrary to the TPLF allegation of Â“separatist agendaÂ”. Based on this previous position of Eritrean government, it is hardly difficult to assume that the governmentÂ’s intention was to work either with a dominant force like that of Aidid or any Somali alliance.
A website of Federation of American Scientists (fas.org) -May 1999-, article about Somalia, posted that Hussein Aideed and the Somali National Alliance (USC/SNA) led by Mohammed Hussein were allies of Eritrean government. Besides, the list of factions that are supported by Eritrea includes Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), Oromo National Liberation Front (ONLF). The latter factions, however, are considered to be Ethiopian opposition forces. To add to the list, very recently, the government of Eritrea has been identified as a supporter of the UIC in Mogadishu.
Let me now proceed to the calculations of both Eritrea and Ethiopia with regard to their rival agendas in Somalia.
I will try to analyze the calculations in two phases: 1991-1997 and post 1998.
The First Phase (1991-1997)
In the first phase, which is the duration between 1991 and 1997, we find no significant rival agendas of Eritrea and Ethiopia in Somalia. After all, both were supposedly Â‘intimate friendsÂ’ or Â‘alliesÂ’. Both celebrated victory over the Mengistu regime; to Eritrea it was independence while to Ethiopia it was regime change. When the TPLF controlled Ethiopia in 1991, they had a partner armed group, which was supposed to share power equally. The partner was the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). TPLF was not comfortable with power sharing; mainly sharing power with OLF would mean endangering ones power by partnering with a political organization supported by larger ethnic group. So the TPLF had to play its cards within the transitional arrangements, which created dissatisfaction to the OLF and eventually led to withdrawal of OLF from the governing coalition in 1992. Immediately thereafter, by a blessing and allegedly participation of the EPLF, the TPLF militarily eradicated the main force of the OLF. Many observers consider this move by the TPLF and the EPLF as a historical betrayal against the people of Oromo. Nevertheless, the OLF remains a threat to the TPLF.
Let me then put the calculation in terms my assumptions of priorities. Let me agree with an assumption that between the years 1992 and 1997 the priority for Ethiopian security measures was crippling the OLF. I will agree because after its withdrawal from the coalition government in 1992, the OLF was still alive and operating within Ethiopia, which makes the OLF the immediate threat to the TPLF led government. Reports show that, among other incidents, in 1997 the OLF is allegedly responsible for burning government schools in Oromia areas and some Hotels and restaurants such as the Blue Tops restaurant in Addis Ababa. Besides, observers believe that the OLF still commands a large following among Oromo people. Therefore, the calculation could be fighting the OLF not only directly from within Ethiopia but also beyond its boarders, perhaps in Somalia where possible sanctuary is available.
The second security priority for Ethiopian government between the years 1992 and 1997 was, I assume, the question of Somalia. United Somalia could not be preferred as Somalis will not stop thinking of Â“greater SomaliaÂ”, which would mean empowering internal opposition against Ethiopian government. The calculation, therefore, could be, under the cover of bringing the Somalis into peace and reconciliation, making sure they donÂ’t agree to agree. I have explained, in some of the paragraphs above, how the Ethiopian government input in the issue of Somalia looks like.
The third security priority for Ethiopian government between the years 1992 and 1997 was, again I assume, al-Itihaad and other IslamistsÂ’ movements in the region, the Horn of Africa. Reports show that al-Itihaad functioned briefly in the early 1990s as a political party in EthiopiaÂ’s Ogaden. Dissatisfied with the central government or other reasons, mainly lack of popular support, it abandoned its place and joined the fragmented Somali factions. Al-Itihaad used religion as its rallying point. Of course, following trends, Ethiopian government labeled al-Itihaad and other Islamist groups Â‘terroristsÂ’. The calculation, therefore, could be curtailing religious uprising in Ethiopia; and it could be manipulating regional and global trend towards such movements and take the advantage.
Eritrea, on the other hand, relatively appeared to be in a diplomatic confusion in this phase, which is between 1991/2 and 1997. Among other concerns, the government of Eritrea failed to accept that there is no lasting relationship in politics. Its intimate relationship with the TPLF blinded it from seeing that keeping a balanced power between the TPLF and the OLF could mean to its future advantage. However, when it came to the question of Somalia, there was no clear conspiracy, by the side of Eritrean government, of keeping Somalia fragmented. The support of government of Eritrea to Aideed might be because Aidid won the election immediately after the demise of Siyad Barre in 1990/1; and he was the possible dominant power at that time. Therefore, the calculation here could be helping the Somalis in bringing united Somalia back on track. However, Eritrea was busy in another front; the government was involved in a furious fighting with Eritrean Islamic Jihad movements in the border with Sudan.
Let me draw my assumption of Eritrean government calculations in terms of priorities. As it was to Ethiopian government, the first priority for Eritrean government was to make sure the EPLF controlled power with no concession to any opposition. The possible opposition could have come from the older liberation organization, Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF). The transitional government declared that it would accept only individuals but not political organizations. That was the political move banned Â‘ELFÂ’ and other political organizations or extension of Â‘ELFÂ’ from entering the country. Eritrean Jihad movements were composed mostly of ex-ELF members. Therefore, the calculation here could be fighting any possible competitor for power in any means possible. Fortunately for the EPLF, those who were involved in fighting were Islamist groups who tried to use religion as their instrument which actually lacked popular support due to its divisive nature. In its campaign to eradicate any possible opposition, the Eritrean government, under the cover of fighting Â‘jihadistsÂ’, committed crime against many bystander or innocent Eritreans. Between 1993 and 1997 hundreds of Muslims were arrested; disappeared and even allegedly plus minus one hundred and fifty have been murdered.
The second security priority for Eritrean government in this phase was, I assume, relationship with neighboring countries such as Sudan and Yemen. Eritrean government accused Sudan of encouraging and supporting Eritrean Islamists to fight against the government in Eritrea. By the end of 1994, a belligerent relationship between Eritrea and Sudan ended up in diplomatic severity. In 1995, Eritrean and Yemeni governments clashed over Hanish Islands. The rest is story. In this case, the calculation could be, I assume again, that using force would be the only solution with Â‘theseÂ’ countries. If that was the calculation, the government was still in diplomatic confusion.
If I put the question of Somalia as the next security priority just for the sake of analysis, it would be of two fold. The first could be the handling of the Somali factions. As I explained it above, Eritrean government might wanted a dominant force to unite Somalia in any way possible. The second could be that of the issue of al-Itihaad. Since Eritrean government was involved in a war against similar movement to al-Itihaad, which was the group of Eritrean Islamists in the Sudan front, a coalition with Ethiopia and other regional countries was needed. To Ethiopian government, the threat was not only al-Itihaad, but also interference from Â“Sudanese Islamic organizations in internal affairs of EthiopiaÂ”. In 1994 Ethiopian government accused the Sudanese Islamic Aid organization of creating conflict within the Ethiopian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs; and supporting Islamic Oromo Movements.
Therefore, in the first phase of my analysis to the calculations behind the Eritrean and Ethiopian governmentsÂ’ interference into the given political landscape of Somalia is very clear. I would say, Eritrean interference was very limited and had no significant impact on the situation. I would, however, think otherwise with regard to Ethiopian interference. It appears that Ethiopian government contributed hugely to keep Somalia fragmented.
The Second Phase (1998-2006)
The bloody border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia, which was erupted in 1998, has changed the political landscape as we see it now. I am not going to go back to the causes of the conflict and the procedures of all wasted diplomatic endeavours. My focus is, as I made it clear in the above sections, the influence of the consequence of the conflict on the already disintegrated and victimized Somalia. My point of analysis will be the shift that has occurred on the type of interference by the two rival countries, Eritrea and Ethiopia; or shall I say by one of them?
Ethiopian government continued its interference in Somalia more aggressive this time than in the first phase. More vividly, Ethiopian government has used the anarchy in Somalia to hunt its Ethiopian opponents, such as OLF members. After the end of the war with Eritrea in the year 2000, Ethiopian government has intensified abductions and assassinations of OLF members inside SomaliaÂ’s territory. International Crisis Group report 2005 shows that many OLF members were abducted and assassinated by Ethiopian government. In February 2000, a senior figure of the OLF by a name Usmail Gaachu was abducted by Somali ex-militiaman and handed over to the Ethiopian authorities. In early 2002 a prominent Oromo general by a name Dawud was gunned down inside his house in Mogadishu by gunmen; and few months later an Oromo community leader, Muldisa Abagada, was shot dead by armed men. In June 2003, Sheikh Mohammed Said Samantar was shot, only to die a week later, by gunmen loyal to Musa Sudi Yalahw, a faction leader then aligned with Ethiopia. In 2004, Oromo businessmen were gunned down in the same way. Though the report concludes that it is not clear who is behind the latter incident due to MogadishuÂ’s anarchic situation, Ethiopian government has not free from the blame.
The calculation here might be eliminating prominent opponent figures, of course using the fragmented Somalian situation, so that Eritrea will not have influential figures to mobilize against Ethiopian government. In doing so, Ethiopian government will continue supporting any faction that fulfills its mission either by helping in eradicating Ethiopian opponents harbouring in Somalia or by being ready to fight with any Somali faction that could go against Ethiopian governmentÂ’s activities in Somalia. At the same time, Ethiopian government could seek support from the international community for its campaign against Â‘terroristÂ’ groups. It is not only that, the government could also Â‘cooperateÂ’ with American intelligence networks to Â‘hunt down terrorist groupsÂ’.
In recent development, when the UIC controlled almost all Mogadishu in early June 2006, hundreds of Ethiopian troops reportedly crossed into Somalia.
When it comes to Eritrean government, we find that there is a change of handling regional relationships from that of naivetÃ© with Ethiopia and the situation in Somalia, but aggressiveness with the remaining countries. Focusing on Somalia, it appears to be that the government of Eritrea has Â‘determinedÂ’ to fight Ethiopian government in all possible corners of confrontation. Factions in disintegrated Somalia can easily be manipulated. I donÂ’t think Eritrean government, this time, cares about bringing back united Somalia. One may ask to see the responses of Eritrean government. Is the Union of Islamic Courts a possible power to pose a threat on Ethiopia? May be. But the government fought hard against such factions based on religious motives? Not this time. What about the implication that these Islamists can have links to al-Qaeda terrorist network? Â“We are living in a World whereby in the name of hunting terrorists terrorism has been propagatedÂ” unquoteÂ…
Well then, here we have it Eritrea has been accused of either being a corridor for arms shipment from the Middle East to the militias of the UIC in Mogadishu; or a supplier of arms and trainer of the militiaÂ’s personnel. There is an obvious reason that might have led Eritrean government to be involved in such a destructive way of handling regional and international relations; it is the negative outcome of the border war with Ethiopia. I can identify two branches of this outcome in relevance to my analysis: internal political discontent in Eritrea and unfinished business of the border with Ethiopia.
Much has been said about the internal political discontent, in which, among other things, that former prominent figures of the government asked for political reform and have been put in jail for it since September 2001. The jailing of these government officials, however, has another dimension relevant to this analysis; political insecurity. The governmentÂ’s political nakedness is increasingly being exposed to the extent that internal opponents and the populaceÂ’s mistrust on the government are growing faster. Hence, in addition to the suppression and gross human rights violation against its own people, it appears that the government has chosen to be involved in military lunacy in regional events so that it may achieve Â‘gloryÂ’ by being Â‘hegemonic powerÂ’ in the Horn, which may help it stay in power as long as it dreams.
With regard to the unfinished business of the border with Ethiopia, Eritrean government involvement in Somalia could be a message to the international community that the government is capable of challenging any interested party unless it is heard what of complaints it has.
Eritrea-Ethiopia rival agendas have reached a peak with the emergence of the UIC as a powerful faction in Mogadishu in June 2006. Ethiopian government considers the UIC as a Â‘terroristÂ’ group and warned international community that it has a right to defend itself. Ethiopia may also continue scratching history and blame Â‘Islamic threatÂ’ from Somalia so as to get support mainly from Western countries, such as the U.S. Moreover, it is not unthinkable that Ethiopian government may also get involved in military clash with the UIC. Eritrea, on the other hand, may continue supporting the UIC as long as it poses threat to Ethiopian government; and of course as long as Eritrean internal discontent plus pressure from international community not lead to the collapse of the regime in Asmara Â– (May God save Eritrea). Hence, the international community should closely watch the seriousness of the interference of Ethiopia and Eritrea in Somalia. Perhaps the U.S needs to reconsider its trust in Ethiopia; because it is very difficult to hunt terrorists in a lawless and poorest Somalia. The solution is working genuinely to bring back a united Somalia and have a responsible body in the country.
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