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Outside Players in Somalia

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    Outside Players Arab News Editorial 27 December 2006 http://www.arabnews.com/?page=7§ion=0&article=90438&d=27&m=12&y=2006 After fifteen years of murderous
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 8, 2007
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      Outside Players
      Arab News Editorial
      27 December 2006
      http://www.arabnews.com/?page=7§ion=0&article=90438&d=27&m=12&y=2006


      After fifteen years of murderous chaos, Somalia was on the brink of
      peace. The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) had achieved what the
      squabbling warlords had failed so signally to do. They had brought
      stability and an end to violence in the capital Mogadishu and large
      areas of the country. They had not managed this purely by force of arms.

      There has been widespread support for their advance simply because of
      the stability and end to insecurity that they promised. The warlords
      had had their chance. Even when they finally agreed a government, they
      were incapable of agreeing on its establishment in Somalia itself; so
      Somalis were treated to the ridiculous spectacle of a government that
      could only meet safely on Kenyan soil.

      From its position of strength, the UIC might reasonably have expected
      to come to a deal with the rump of the warlords whose toehold in
      Somalia is around the eastern town of Baidoa. An accommodation might
      have been reached which could have included the warlords in a new
      coalition with the UIC pending proper elections. Tragically, as has
      happened so often in Somalia's history, outside forces believed they
      had a vested interest in the country. Ethiopia has long considered
      Somalia within its sphere of influence, not least as part of its
      ongoing conflict with Eritrea.

      Thus Addis Ababa has thrown its military weight behind the rump of
      warlord government in Baidoa. It is widely assumed that for their
      part, the Eritreans have been assisting the UIC. Ethiopia did itself
      little service by denying flatly that there were more than a few
      "military advisers" assisting the warlord government. Within hours, a
      BBC correspondent had reported seeing a vast convoy of Ethiopian
      troops and materiel just outside Baidoa. With yesterday's attack on
      Mogadishu airport by its jets, Addis Ababa has finally abandoned the
      lie of noninvolvement.

      There is now fierce fighting in the east of the country with Ethiopian
      troops directly engaged with UIC forces. Inevitably, the greatest
      impact of these clashes has been on luckless civilians who are fleeing
      the fighting. Somalis, stricken first by drought and more recently by
      floods, are in little position to sustain themselves. Already the
      International Red Cross is predicting a major refugees exodus and
      another potential humanitarian disaster.

      Washington is backing the warlords and their Ethiopian protectors
      because they are certain that the UIC is another Taleban that will
      harbor and foster Al-Qaeda terrorists. There is once again no attempt
      to analyze the real nature of the UIC or their outstanding success in
      a country for so long driven by internal conflict.

      The Bush White House is yet again driven by a simplistic and racist
      rationale to confront a Muslim party. The bigotry is reinforced by the
      fact that the Ethiopians are Christian. Such dunderheaded
      foreign-policy assessments by Washington have already cost tens of
      thousands of lives. Thanks to this learn-nothing US administration,
      the price in blood seems set to rise yet further.

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