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Dyer: A perfect storm brewing across Horn of Africa

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07/31/06

  09:37:05 am, by admin, 866 words  
Categories: Ethiopia, Somalia

Dyer: A perfect storm brewing across Horn of Africa

Link: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/columnists/view.bg?articleid=136733&format=text

Dyer: A perfect storm brewing across Horn of Africa
By Gwynne Dyer/ Syndicated Columnist
Sunday, July 30, 2006

It has the makings of a perfect storm extending right across the Horn of Africa. The 15-year war of all against all in Somalia is threatening to morph into an international war bringing chaos and disaster to the rest of the region, and the al-Qaida-obsessed securocrats in Washington are the ones to blame.

The Somalis have nobody to blame but themselves for their basic plight. Although Somalia has only one ethnic group, one language and one religion, its people are deeply divided by clan, and when long-ruling dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991, the clan leaders were unable to unite and form a new government. Instead, the country fell into civil war and anarchy.

A U.S.-led military intervention in 1992 tried to restore order, but after 18 American soldiers and a thousand Somalis were killed in a single day (the "Black Hawk Down" episode), U.S. forces pulled out. By 1995 all the other United Nations troops had followed, and Somalia was abandoned to its fate as a real-life version of the Mad Max films: no government, no police, no schools, no law, just the trigger-happy troops of rival warlords roaring around in "technicals" mounted with machine-guns or anti-aircraft cannon, stealing and killing to their heart's content.

But U.S. interest in Somalia re-ignited after the terrorist attacks of 2001, because as a Muslim country without a government it seemed a potential haven for Islamist terrorists. At first American policy concentrated on recreating a national government, and by 2004 a transitional regime blessed by the United Nations and the African Union and led by one of the warlords, Abdulahi Yusuf, was installed in the town of Baidoa. But he was not in the capital, Mogadishu, because the three warlords who ruled that city rejected his authority. So did most other Somalis.

Meanwhile, a different kind of authority was emerging in Mogadishu: the Islamic courts. It was an attempt, paid for by local businessmen, to restore order by using religious law to settle disputes and punish criminals. Each clan's court has jurisdiction only over its own clan members, but it was a start on rebuilding a law-abiding society, and in 2004 they all joined to form the Union of Islamic Courts. Unfortunately, the mere use of the word "Islamic" spooked the U.S. government.

As usual, Washington's response was mainly military. It decided that the Union of Islamic Courts was a threat, and in February CIA planes delivered large amounts of money and guns to the three warlords who dominated Mogadishu. They named themselves the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism, and started trying to suppress the UIC.

Rarely has any CIA plot backfired so comprehensively. Volunteers flooded in from all over southern Somalia to resist the warlords' attack on the only institution that showed any promise of restoring law and order in the country. By early June the last of the warlords had been driven out of Mogadishu, which is now entirely in the hands of the UIC, and for the first time in 15 years ordinary citizens are safe from robbery, rape and murder.

It is by no means clear that the UIC must fall into the hands of Islamist radicals who will turn Somalia into a safe haven for anti-American terrorists. Left to their own devices, the moderate majority of Somalis can probably ensure that what finally emerges is a moderate Islamic government with strong popular support. But Washington panicked, and last week it let Ethiopia send troops in to protect the isolated "Interim Government" in Baidoa. That probably means renewed war, and across borders this time.

Ethiopia has five times as many people as Somalia and has already fought two border wars with it, in 1964 and 1977. (Somalia claims most of Ethiopia's Ogaden region, where the people are mostly Muslim and ethnically Somali.) But now it's more complex: Ethiopia is a largely Christian country with big and restive Muslim minorities, and President Meles Zenawi is terrified that militant Islamists in power in Somalia might help those minorities to rebel, but this would not be happening without Washington's consent. It is exactly the wrong response.

On June 10, Abdulahi Yusuf's unelected "parliament" in Baidoa voted to seek foreign troops, on June 20, the first Ethiopian troops were spotted in Baidoa -- and on the same day Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, the UIC's deputy head of security, declared: "God willing, we will remove the Ethiopians in our country and wage a jihad against them."

Just when Somalia was about to escape from its long nightmare, a new and worse one has appeared: the prospect of a war that would consume the entire Horn of Africa (for Eritrea, teetering on the brink of another war with Ethiopia itself, is already sending aid to the UIC). The entire Horn of Africa could spend the next five years going through a catastrophe similar to what the Great Lakes region of Africa suffered in the later 1990s.

Sometimes you really wish that the State Department, rather than the Pentagon and the White House, ran American foreign policy.

Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries.

25 comments

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Comment from: somali patriot [Visitor]
somali patriot

we somalis are not going to be slaves to anyone and the rule of law we gonna have as somalis is our own choosing, not melez nor bush can dictate us,we are not terrorist and never was, but we are muslims if anyone wanna fight mulims we are, if u wanna fight terrorist find by your selv those who harmed you.

you cant fool us we are smarter than melez and bush whom make, arm, thier enemies by their own actions.

if they dont behave and choose the path of dialoge and justice and equal right between all ppl and nations. they are going to loose if they dont stop destruction and crimes they are commiting everyday

like hitler, napoleon,phroah of egypt, and etc.

angry and motivated people can achieve everything.
so stop killing so many innocent people before its too late, killing innocent ppl will never make you save but the opposite.

peace.

07/31/06 @ 10:56
Comment from: maandeeq [Visitor]
maandeeq

Who toid yuo that Ethiopia ar mainly christian country,that is oposid.

07/31/06 @ 12:50
Comment from: DELLAW [Visitor]
DELLAW

somali patriot,

just keep dreaming like your contry. you are just full of nothing. stay to the fact. ethiopia will always be ethiopia. and please don’t make it like we ethiopians done damage to somalia. blame no one but your self and your brothers with ak-47. no one told them not to go to school but they choose to eat kchat and carry ak. so please don’t cross your border.

dellaw

07/31/06 @ 15:48
Comment from: DELLAW [Visitor]
DELLAW

to maandeeq,

at the moment it is, but i don’t care how much the number means. we all are ethiopians and we love each other and that is what matter the moset. i have seen many muslim from many diffrent countries but the onece in ethioia are much more better and very proud of who they are. so, don’t let number be a big deal.

we all are ethiopians. look bosnia, serbiya, and chechinia. they fought bloody war becouse of their belif but what is the final end result nothing but many childrens and mothers died for no reaseon at all.

“agre yegara himanoti yegile”

dellaw

07/31/06 @ 15:52
Comment from: Hakim Gara [Visitor]
Hakim Gara

“Ethiopia is a largely Christian country with big and restive Muslim minorities…”

What the hell is he talking about ??

Muslim 45 - 50%
Ethiopian Orthodox 35 - 40%
Animist 12%
Other 3 - 8%

Who is the minority ?

https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/et.html

07/31/06 @ 17:55
Comment from: SAS [Visitor]
SAS

DELLAW….

YOur first comment it is a killer am still Laughing… HahahaHAH.

The second one so excellent, That is why I don’t have to say or comment anything for today, You saved my time and you make my day so keep it up bro….

God Bless You All.

07/31/06 @ 19:24
Comment from: fatuma [Visitor]
fatuma

In my honest opinion, I think that Ethiopians are probably 60% Christian and 40% Muslim. I don’t care. We are all Ethiopians, and we were Ethiopians before Jesus and Prophet Mohammed were born.

I was disgusted by this article. One of the ignorant and dispicable point in this article is that Meles wants to fight the Islamists in Somalia because he is afraid that the “restive” Muslim miniority will side with Somali Islamists against Ethiopia. Nowhere is there the point that Ethiopian Christians are equally if not more “restive” in their hatred of Meles. The fact that we are united in our struggle for democracy is ignored.

Do you see what the ferengis are up to?

Yesterday, they lit a fire between the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds in Iraq, and now Iraq has become a slaughter house. Mission was accomplished.

Today, they encourage the Israelis to bomb and kill innocent Shia Lebanese in order to reignite a civil war between the Shia and Christian Lebanese.

Tomorrow, they will think nothing of lighting a fire in our house if it is in their interest.

The fact that we Ethiopians have suffered enough means nothing to them. In fact, they almost look forward to a war in the horn.

Look how the article concludes:

“The entire Horn of Africa could spend the next five years going through a catastrophe similar to what the Great Lakes region of Africa suffered in the later 1990s".

So there you have it.

A catastrophe is anticipated for us.

07/31/06 @ 19:31
Comment from: fatuma [Visitor]
fatuma

Oh, and by the way, I am one of the “restive” Muslims in Ethiopia that the article is talking about.

I am a restive Ethiopian Muslim because I am angry.

I am angry that starving Muslim Somali children have to be fed at feeding centers.

I am angry that Christian children in Gonder are dying from diarhea.

I am angry that Muslim girls from Wello have to live desperate and lonely lifes in Saudi Arabia so they can support their families.

I am angry that a Christian Ethiopian lady jumped off a balcony in Bahrain.

I am restive and angry that
75, 000 young Ethiopian Christians and Muslims died in Badme. For what? For nothing.

I am angry that there are so many Muslim Oromos languishing in prisons.

I am angry that so many Christian Sidamas were shot in the streets of Awasa.

I am angry that the proud Christian farmers from Gojam have to work in Addis Ababa as Zebegnas because they are indebt to the goverment.

I am angry that balager Muslim Ethiopian girls are drowing in the Red Sea trying to get to Saudi Arabia on a boat to work as maids.

I am angry that Berhanu Nega, a gentle and kind man, is in prison.

I am angry that Hailu Shawel, a old man who has never hurt anyone in his life, is going blind in prison because he is diabetic.

I am angry because of all the Muslims and Christians that have died from AIDS.

I am angry that Tigrayans were kicked out from Eritrea.

I have angry that so many of our youths want to leave Ethiopia.

I am angry that too many Ethiopians overseas are commiting suicide because they can not cope with life in the West.

Yes, definatly, I am a “restive” Ethiopian Muslim.

07/31/06 @ 20:13
Comment from: abakorran [Visitor]
abakorran

To HKIM GARA
and to any one who is writing here !
you must be happy that you are allowed to write about you are thinking ..this is because it is politices otherwise if some noneseneses will be asked a simoultenious may not answer .
So my friend hakim gara this is Weyane who is making start such themes the data you are giving is not correct ……….we know it not the Americans at first. And secondly if you are worrying about your religion so far Ethiopia is the second country after Egypt which proclaims about 2000 yrs ago
Christianity als its national Religion you have to be happy as a guest to be accepted and live freely in this christian country …
Ethiopia is a Christian country and you are an Ethiopian with Guest Religion in this country ..do you understand?
Ethiopia then Christianity then many things( muslim pente Catholick and others ) Understand? do not try to nummerize… it has nothing to do with this.

07/31/06 @ 22:22
Comment from: abakorran [Visitor]
abakorran

Betam Yemigermegn gin why you are saying we are more in number or your number is high ? since I was born in this country (Ethiopia) and lived there I can imagine how many of that how many of this… but this number is interesting. Are really muslims larger than Christians in Ethiopia ? or may be because of that one which is not going to church is seen as a Mohammed or sultan or kasim or nasir ? or you are counting every street child Osman ?
Again don´t forget Ethipia is a Christian country and the Religion Muslim is guest in this country even you can read from some CIA sources that in ancient Ethiopia judaism was the religion of the country .

07/31/06 @ 22:44
Comment from: Wozeiro Condjo [Visitor]
Wozeiro Condjo

abakorran,

Allow me to quote your rubbish comment, “Again don´t forget Ethipia is a Christian country and the Religion Muslim is guest in this country even you can read from some CIA sources that in ancient Ethiopia judaism was the religion of the country.”

who cares who came first in Ethiopia… Muslims, Christians, animists or the agnostics. At the end of the day we are just Ethiopians. the only prerequisite to be Ethiopian is to be born in Ethiopia or born in foreign soil from ethiopian parents.
The rest is irrelevant.
It does not matter what religion people practice or what ethnic group they come from.

Those labels that we attibute to each other just divide us.

Just keep your ethnic background and religion in your house and when you come out from your house just believe that we are one people ethiopian with diverse background. That’s it. nothing more nothing less.

07/31/06 @ 23:54
Comment from: arsicha [Visitor]
arsicha

to fatuma you are fake muslim i don’t know if you are oromo or not anyway your mind is way behind every thing you think that the majority of ethiopia is Christian that is so wrong leady out 42 million i think 12ml are Christian 30million oromo +other
the majority is muslim. do you real like those stupid guys in the jail u are just peace of junk. thank u so called fatuma

In my honest opinion, I think that Ethiopians are probably 60% Christian and 40% Muslim. I don’t care. We are all Ethiopians, and we were Ethiopians before Jesus and Prophet Mohammed were born.

I am angry that Berhanu Nega, a gentle and kind man, is in prison.

I am angry that Hailu Shawel, a old man who has never hurt anyone in his life, is going blind in prison because he is diabetic.

07/31/06 @ 23:57
Comment from: truth [Visitor]
truth

abakorran

Please talk logic according to your argument then Christianity is also a guest to Ethiopia

08/01/06 @ 02:54
Comment from: Jah ROODOG [Visitor]
Jah ROODOG

Hey Hakim Gara
The cia has got a bad source on percentages.Ethiopia is a Christian dominated society.Do some real research before you try to fool those who can’t be fooled.
This is from the official 1994 national census so it is a bit outdated but your figures are based on nothing.Christians make up 61.6% of the country’s population, Muslims 32.8%, and adherents of traditional faiths 5.6%.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopia#Religion
Or look at one that disputes the cia version
http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:_HgsZwIKPLYJ:www.ethiomedia.com/newpress/census_portrait.pdf+ethiopia+population+by+religion&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=3
Can’t even think of any reason why a black man could even dream of following an arab slave traders religion but some people are easily lead like a calf to the slaughter

08/01/06 @ 05:01
Comment from: DELLAW [Visitor]
DELLAW

Fatuma,

We are in the same page that is all I have to say. You know I don’t really care about the religion of some one. Look the west gave us a brown eye when we need the help, and they are supposed to be Christians and religious and I don’t know many more. The Arabs world is another story. They don’t help us nor they don’t even treat our Muslims like their Muslims in their countries. They suffer like crazy. So, all I have to say is again religion is not what we need in Ethiopia when a 4 year old girl or boy carry a bundle of sticks to make a living when they should be playing at their age. We are so evil man; we have turned against our own innocent children’s and mothers. It is sad and so far I haven’t see any religious person Christian or Muslim standing up for the kids and just doing all they can. Does it really matter if the kid is Oromo, Tigre or what ever? Does it really matter if a kid is Muslim or Christian? Aren’t we all deserve this planet earth equally? I am really mad because we always tend to focus on this that really matters the least.

I am a Christian and I don’t want a Christian or a Muslim leadership in Ethiopia. That is just because I don’t think religion is the choice of the government but the choice of an individual. So, I pray for a democratic and prosper Ethiopia that one day we all her children will share everything equally in the basis of humanity.

dellaw

08/01/06 @ 09:22

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