Friday, January 05, 2007

Bush's African "strategery"

The CIA Factbook lists Ethiopia's religious makeup as " Muslim 45%-50%, Ethiopian Orthodox 35%-40%, animist 12%, other 3%-8%".
David Seaton's News Links
While waiting for Bush to unveil his new "strategery for victory" in Iraq , it's easy to take one's eyes off Somalia, but that would be a mistake. The Horn of Africa is one of Brent Scowcroft's major "choke points" for the flow of oil to America and its allies (clients, satellites, whatever). Ethiopia, which is one of the poorest countries in the world has invaded and is currently occupying Somalia. Let's have a closer look at the situation:
"The stability that emerged in southern Somalia after sixteen years of utter lawlessness is gone, the defeat of the ruling Islamic Courts Union now ushering in looting, martial law and the prospect of another major anti-Western insurgency.(...)the Bush Administration, undeterred by the horrors and setbacks in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, has opened another battlefront in this volatile quarter of the Muslim world. As with Iraq, it casts this illegal war as a way to curtail terrorism, but its real goal appears to be to obtain a direct foothold in a highly strategic area of the world through a client regime. The results could destabilize the whole region. The Horn of Africa, at whose core Somalia lies, is newly oil-rich. It is also just miles across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, overlooking the daily passage of large numbers of oil tankers and warships through that waterway. The United States has a huge military base in neighboring Djibouti that is being enlarged substantially and will become the headquarters of a new US military command being created specifically for Africa.(...)The Ethiopian military presence in Somalia is inflammatory and will destabilize this region and threaten Kenya, a US ally and 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 by two large internal revolts by Ogadenis and Oromos. It is also mired in a military stalemate with Eritrea, which has denied it secure access to seaports. It now seeks such access in Somalia." Salim Lone - The Nation
And, hey, the majority of Ethiopia's population is Muslim! If anyone reading this post is of draft age or is the parent of someone who is of draft age or going to turn 18 in the next 10 years, I suggest watching the Horn of Africa very closely. If the US continues any farther down this path, it will need thousands of infantrymen/women to patrol. Don't expect the Democrats to be much help either, most of this is "bipartisan"... Bush is just incredibly clumsy executing this stuff (that is actually his greatest virtue). Clinton was a political magician like David Copperfield, but Bush is like some magician at a children's party: rented tux, cards falling out of his sleeves, who reaches into his top hat and comes up with a handful of rabbit shit. Don't knock it, this how us kiddies finally learn how to spot the tricks. DS
Invading Somalia is no recipe for stability - Editorial - Financial Times
Abstract: (...) If the Ethiopians stay they risk uniting much of Somalia against them. If they go, as they say they soon will, they will leave a political vacuum, with Somalia's well-armed clans scrabbling over the carcass of the country. Eventually, it will almost certainly be the more disciplined but now radicalised Islamists that end up holding the ring. We are, in short, looking at yet another geopolitical disaster, which could spread fighting across the Horn of Africa, a region at the crossroads of the Middle East and Africa that is already blighted by floods and drought, famine and desertification, with a long history of conflict. To the north, Ethiopia's arch-rival, Eritrea, is already sending arms to the Islamists, while, to the south, the fighting has reached the borders of north-east Kenya. Admittedly, Somalia has presented peculiar difficulties since it imploded as a state 15 years ago. Its people emerged shattered from colonialism. Although among the most homogeneous in Africa, with the same language and Muslim religion and largely from the same ethnic group, they have built their identities around six rival clans and tributaries of feuding sub-clans. One can see moreover, why Somalia presses so many American buttons. As a failed state in transition from warlords' rule to an Islamist emirate, it resembles Afghanistan. The humiliation of the failed US intervention in Mogadishu in 1993 - the Black Hawk Down episode - ranks with the headlong retreat of US marines from Beirut a decade earlier. A quick, ostensible victory must also have looked very tempting for a Bush administration responsible for the debacle in Iraq. Washington claims the Union of Islamic Courts is allied to al-Qaeda. That looks as doubtful as the recent record of US intelligence. Certainly, the Islamist alliance has its extremists. Their influence and audience is now set to grow exponentially. And Somalia could indeed become a new magnet for and incubator of jihadi terrorism - just as Iraq did after the US invasion. This invasion is not the answer to Somalia's problems. Whatever the intentions of Addis Ababa and the increasingly assertive government of Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian leader, his country is too poor and, with very long borders, too porous to stay in Somalia. The transitional government, by itself, lacks all credibility. It was created in Nairobi and confined, until last month's invasion, to Baidoa, close to Ethiopia's border. It never asserted its authority; its prime minister, Ali Mohammed Gedi, does not even command the support of his sub-clan. The Islamist alliance was able to restore order in Mogadishu and even open the ports. Its methods are brutal but Sharia law is widely accepted and, in current conditions, welcomed in Somalia. The Islamists, moreover, are not going away. Their retreat looks like the tactical prelude to guerrilla war. READ IT ALL

No comments: