Anti-Ethiopian Protests Rock Somali Capital
- Anti-Ethiopian Protests Rock Somali Capital
By Sahal Abdulle and Guled Mohamed
Sat Jan 6, 2007
MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Ethiopian troops and Somali
protesters exchanged fire in Mogadishu on Saturday
killing three people, witnesses said, as hundreds of
Somalis demonstrated against the foreign forces and a
government disarmament drive.
And in a move likely to anger many Somalis, President
Abdullahi Yusuf asked Ethiopia to train Somali armed
forces, Ethiopian state television said.
Yemen's foreign minister was quoted as saying some
Somali Islamist leaders, ousted by Ethiopian-backed
government forces in a two-week war, were now in
In Mogadishu, protesters hurled stones and burned
tires, wreathing streets in smoke and reviving
memories of the chaos that had largely stopped during
six months of strict Islamist rule by the Somalia
Islamic Courts Council.
"The Ethiopians opened fire and shot dead a young boy
and a lady, they also killed another person," a
witness said. Other witnesses agreed.
"The (government) and Ethiopian troops invaded our
country and they have shot my son for no good reason,"
said Omar Halane, the boy's father.
A Somali government source said only one person had
died and gave a different version of events. He said
police had opened fire in Tarbuunka square, where the
Islamists held anti-Ethiopian demonstrations when they
controlled the capital.
In the latest show of discontent with the forces that
ousted the Islamists in two weeks of open warfare,
hundreds of Somalis marched through the capital
chanting "Down with Ethiopia."
"We are against the Ethiopian troops' occupation. We
don't want them, they should leave," 20-year-old
protester Ahmed Mohamed said. "They are harassing us
in our own country."
Ethiopian soldiers fired in the air to disperse crowds
and government troops armed with AK-47s patrolled the
A hospital source, speaking before the shooting
incident, said at least five civilians were hurt.
Somalia's government wants to install itself in
Mogadishu, one of the world's most dangerous cities.
Within hours of the Islamists fleeing, militiamen
loyal to warlords reappeared at checkpoints in the
city where they used to terrorize civilians.
Residents fear Mogadishu could slide back into the
anarchy that has gripped the city since the 1991
ouster of a dictator.
The government had given Mogadishu residents until
last Thursday to hand in their weapons or be disarmed
But government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari told local
radio on Saturday the disarmament program was
postponed. Few weapons have been handed in as locals
wait to see if the government can impose the relative
stability experienced under the Islamists.
ISLAMISTS IN YEMEN
Yusuf and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi met in
Addis Ababa on Saturday and agreed Ethiopia would
train Somali troops, Ethiopian state television
reported. Meles told Al Jazeera on Friday his troops
would leave Somalia within two weeks.
"President Yusuf requested Ethiopia to train Somali
armed forces, which Prime Minister Meles accepted,"
the television statement said, adding that Yusuf said
he planned to set up an all inclusive government.
Yemen's Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi was quoted
as saying some Islamist leaders had arrived in Yemen.
"Their presence ... creates an opportunity to seek an
agreement between them and the transitional government
of Somalia," United Arab Emirates daily al-Khaleej
quoted him as saying.
News of their presence coincided with a visit to Aden
of a senior U.S. official, who called for dialogue
between Somali groups, including "remnants" of the
defeated Islamist movement.
The Islamists, who deserted their last stronghold on
Monday, have pledged to fight on. Residents say they
have melted into the hills in Somalia's remote
southern tip where Ethiopian and government forces are
Kenya has sent troops to seal its frontier. A witness
and a police source at the Kenyan border post of Liboi
said one of the Islamists' financial backers, Abukar
Omar, had surrendered.
"He was taken to a police station," the witness said.
About 23 suspected Islamist fighters, including
foreigners, have been arrested, according to a Kenyan
An assistant immigration minister told Reuters five
Somali members of parliament had been detained in
Nairobi for questioning on suspicion of helping the
Western and African diplomats on Friday called for the
urgent deployment of peacekeepers in Somalia as al
Qaeda's deputy leader urged the Islamists to launch an
Iraq-style insurgency against Ethiopian forces there.
(Additional reporting by Farah Robleu, Daud Yusuf in
Garissa, Wangui Kanina in Nairobi, Tsegaye Tadesse in
Somalia: A State Restored? Not So Fast
by William S. Lind
For more than a decade, Somalia has been Exhibit A in the Hall of
Statelessness, a place where the state had not merely weakened into
irrelevance but disappeared. Somalia's statelessness had defeated even
the world's only hyperpower, the United States, when it had intervened
militarily to restore order. Fourth Generation war theorists, myself
included, frequently pointed to Somalia as an example of the direction
in which other places were headed.
Then, over the past several weeks, a Blitzkrieg-like campaign by the
Ethiopian army seemed to change everything. A Fourth Generation
entity, the Islamic Courts, which had taken control of most of
Somalia, was brushed aside with ease by Ethiopian tanks and jets. A
makeshift state, the Transitional Federal Government, which had been
created years ago by other states but was almost invisible within
Somalia, was installed in Mogadishu. The Somali state was restored
or so it seems.
This direct clash between the international order of states and
anti-state, Fourth Generation forces is a potentially instructive test
case. If the Ethiopians and their sponsors succeed in re-creating a
self-sustaining Somali state, it may put Fourth Generation elements
elsewhere on the defensive. Conversely, if the Somali state again
fails, it will suggest that outside efforts to restore states are
unlikely to succeed and the future belongs to the Fourth Generation.
It is too soon to know what the outcome will be. However, we might
want to ask the question, what does each side need to accomplish in
order to succeed?
The first thing the Transitional Federal Government and its Ethiopian
and other foreign backers must accomplish is to restore order. Many
Somalis welcomed the Islamic Courts because they did bring order. They
shut down the local militias, made the streets safe again and began
the revival of commerce, which depends on order.
Can the Transitional Federal Government do the same? Its problem is
that its main instrument is the Ethiopian army, which is hated by many
Somalis. Its own forces are largely warlord militias. If the TFG fails
to bring order, not only will it have failed to perform the first task
of any state, it will make the Islamic Courts look good in retrospect.
Precisely this dynamic is now playing itself out in Afghanistan.
The pro-state forces' second task is in tension with the first: the
Ethiopian Army must go home soon. "Soon" here means weeks at most. If
the Ethiopian invasion turns into an Ethiopian occupation, a
nationalist resistance movement is likely to emerge quickly. Such a
nationalist resistance would have to ally with the Islamic Courts,
just as the nationalist resistance in Iraq has been pushed into
alliance with Islamic 4GW forces, including al-Qaeda. Non-state forces
are usually too weak physically to be picky about allies.
The third task facing the TFG is to split the Islamic Courts and
incorporate a substantial part of them into the new Somali state. In
the end, political co-option is likely to do more to end a 4GW
insurgency than any action a military can take.
What about the Islamic Courts? What do they need to do to defeat the
They have already accomplished their first task: avoid the Ethiopian
army and go to ground, preserving their forces and weapons for a
guerrilla war. Had they stood and fought, not only would they have
lost, they would have risked annihilation. Mao's rule, "When the enemy
advances, we retreat," is of vital importance to most 4GW forces.
The next task is harder: they must now regroup, keep most of their
forces loyal, supplied, paid and motivated, and begin a two-fold
campaign, one against the Ethiopians or any other foreign forces and
the second against the Transitional Federal Government. This will be a
test of their organizational skills, and it is by no means clear they
have those skills. Time will tell, time probably measured in weeks or
months, not years.
Against occupying foreign forces, the Islamic Courts will need to wrap
themselves in nationalism as well as religion, so that they rather
than the TFG are seen as the legitimate Somali authorities. The fact
that the TFG has to be propped up by foreign troops makes this task
Against the TFG itself, the Islamic Courts' objective is the opposite
of the government's: it must make sure order is not re-established.
Here, terror tactics come into if play, and if car bombs, suicide
attacks and the like spread in Somalia, it will be a sign the Islamic
Courts are organizing.
The Islamic Courts may have an unlikely ally here in the old war lords
and clan militias. The Islamic Courts suppressed these elements, but
their comeback will help, not hurt them. They were and may again
become the main source of disorder, and all disorder works to the
Islamic Courts' advantage.
The new government in turn needs to suppress these forces just as the
Islamic Courts did, but it may be unable to do so, not only because it
has no real army of its own but also because it has warlords and
militias as key constituents. This mirrors the situation in Iraq,
where the Shi'ite-dominated government cannot act against Shiite
militias because it is largely their creature.
How will it all turn out? My guess is that in Somalia as elsewhere,
the dependence of the wanna-be state on foreign troops will prove
fatal. In the end, Fourth Generation wars are contests for legitimacy,
and no regime established by foreign intervention can gain much
legitimacy. On the other hand, if the Islamic Courts cannot organize
effectively, the new government could win by default. Either way, it
is safe to say that the outcome in Somalia will have an impact far
beyond that small, sad country's borders.
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