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THE THIRD WAR

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Although the ‘war on terror’ is mainly focused on two battle fields – Iraq and Afghanistan, there is also a third battle field – Somalia. Like everything that happens in the ‘Lost Continent’ – Africa, the war there, with thousands of casualties, hundred of thousand displaced, anarchy and ongoing humanitarian crisis, does not catch our attention.

Since the Ethiopian-Somali War in 12/2006, the situation in Somalia is very similar to the situation in Afghanistan. A local government, ruling on the bayonets of a foreign power, the Ethiopian army, is confronting a Muslim growing insurgence with terrible consequences to the local population. Like the Taliban in Afghanistan the local Council of Islamic Courts (CIC) is a local radical Islamic Movement, based on tribal alliances, but without any aspirations of world wide Global Jihad. Neither the Taliban in Afghanistan nor the CIC wished to confront the Western culture in the Western Democracies or to wage an ongoing war against the West in order to spread Islam. Both countries Somalia and Afghanistan are sub developed, without basic infrastructure and an extremely hostile terrain, both countries are in an ongoing civil war for decades and both are very suspicious towards any stranger. 

Being radical Muslims, the Taliban and the CIC sheltered Al Qaeda and other Jihadist and provided them with a safe haven for Islamic terror all over the world and were, therefore, a subject to the fury of USA. But there was also a substantial difference – the number of potential internationally dangerous terrorists, who found refuge in Somalia and were about to spread international terror, was only few dozens. Almost all operated in East Africa and by 2006, after Al Qaeda attacks in Kenya and Tanzania, on 08/07/1998, and in Mombasa Paradise, on.11/28/2002, the threat was almost fully contained.   

Just as in Afghanistan, the pro USA regime, backed by Ethiopian troops and USA special operations, is loosing ground to Islamic insurgency. In spring 2008 al-Shabab – the military wing of CIC took over Central Somalia and most of the region Northern to Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital (see – SOMALIA 04.03.08). In summer 2008 the Islamists took control on the southern part of Somalia and the port town of Kismayo (see –  Kismayo 08.25.08) and, on Thursday 11/13/2008, the CIC militia took over Elasha, just 17 km south of the capital Mogadishu.

Ethiopia, which has backed Somalia in its fight against the Islamic groups, has pulled back from some positions as part of a peace deal with moderate Islamists. The Ethiopian regime says it wants to withdraw from Somalia. The Ethiopian troops are showing clear signs of demoralization and frustration and, for the moment, the future of the pro Western regime in Somalia is very gloomy.

The insurgents, who are fighting to enforce Shariaa law in Somalia, are not a homogenous group. al-Shabab, which the USA considers a terror group because of its leaders’ alleged links to Al Qaeda, controls most of the territory. Elasha was taken over by more moderate fighters.

Europe and USA, in a middle of an economic crisis and transition of power in USA, are not about to send troops or money. They already learned that fighting terror by occupying other countries is too costly and risky. It seems that Somalia is deteriorating very fast to a much more dangerous situation then before the Ethiopian-Somali war in 12/2006.  

 

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