Somalia: A self -fulfilling crisis?
BTW, The Duck of Minerva reports that the invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia is underway.
When General John Abizaid, head of CENTCOM and the regional commander of US forces in the Middle East went to Addis Abeba at the beginning of December, he warned those with whom he met of the humanitarian consequences of an invasion of Somalia. But sources in the US media say the General did not demand the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops.
Since then, the media have been throwing around the fig leaf, “tacit support”. The Ethiopia of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has the “tacit support” of Washington in protecting the transition Somali government -the result of long and arduous negotiations among the different factions organized by the United Nations- against attack from the Islamist Courts, a movement installed in Mogadishu since July 2006.
Has the United States done the right thing by choosing a camp? Has it exaggerated the threat posed by the Islamic Courts so that it might manufacture the danger it most fears? As the conflict intensifies, certain questions must be asked of Washington.
In a December 14th press conference, the US Under-Secretary for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, expressed the fear of seeing al-Qaeda install itself in Mogadishu. She then went on to declare that the Islamic Courts were “controlled by individuals belonging to al-Qaeda’s East African cell.”
According to some sources, this intelligence was deployed by the government of Meles Zenawi, who is worried that Islamists may destabilize the Ethiopian border area of Ogaden, over which Addis Abeba and Mogadishu have fought three wars since 1960. Interviewed by the Washington Post on Thursday December 21sth, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte was more cautious. He did not indicate if the Courts are the “New Taliban”. I do not believe that we yet have the right answer to this question, he said.
In any case, the support of Washington for the Ethiopian regime in the name of the war on terror has been reported by some experts. Matt Bryden of the International Crisis Group says that there are certainly some al-Qaeda members among Somali Islamists but on "a small scale".
By pushing the United Nations on December 6th to adopt a resolution authorizing the deployment of a regional force in Somalia to support the weak transitional government, the United States has added oil to the fire, Mr. Bryden explained while on NPR. Because of its desire to consider the Somali problem as a new front in the war on terror, the United States is in the process of manufacturing a new front in the war.
The two sides in the conflict have described their struggle in ideological terms, Bryden explains. The transitional government and Ethiopia have painted Somalia as an emerging front in the global war on terror to attract the attention of Western capitals. The Courts have drawn the sympathy of the Islamic world in presenting themselves as victims of Ethiopian aggression and Western Islamophobia. The United States must, says Bryden, avoid falling into the trap while there is still time.