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Somalia: Ethiopians Blitz Their Way Across the Country
   
December 28, 2006:  Ethiopian troops have stood aside so that Somali gunmen representing the Transitional Government can enter Mogadishu. The surviving Islamic Courts fighters have fled south, from whence they came. This does not solve the basic problem, that the Somali clans cannot agree on how to share power, or how to impose law and order in the country. The Ethiopians are only interested in keeping the Islamic Courts from being in power (and following up on their pledge to invade Ethiopia and "liberate" the Ogaden region, which is inhabited by ethnic Somalis.) The clans that traditionally inhabit, and control, Mogadishu, are apparently renouncing the Islamic Courts (an organization controlled by clans further south), and joining the Transitional Government once more. The Mogadishu clans were forced to "join" the Islamic Courts earlier this year. The Islamic Courts brought law and order, but too much for many Somalis. Prohibiting movies, drugs, cigarettes and short skirts was not popular. The Islamic Courts were also bringing in foreign Islamic militants (including al Qaeda), who were not popular either.

The U.S. was apparently providing the Ethiopians with satellite and aircraft photos of Islamic Courts positions. The U.S. has a large counter-terror force to the north, in Djibouti. The U.S. may be supplying Ethiopia with cash (to pay for all the gas the Ethiopians are burning in their operations). For years, the U.S. has been training Ethiopian troops for operations like this. 

December 27, 2006: The better trained and armed Ethiopians have caused several thousand casualties among the Islamic Courts fighters. For all practical purposes, the Islamic Courts "strike force" (several thousand armed men in trucks) has been destroyed. Most of the survivors have gone home (either to nearby clans, or, for the hard core, clans south of Mogadishu). 

December 26, 2006:  The African Union and Arab League have both called for Ethiopia to get out of Somalia. Ethiopia ignored this, which was expected and, although no one would say it out loud, understood. The Islamic Courts have threatened to invade Ethiopia, and stir up trouble among the Moslem Ethiopians (about half the population, and an often rebellious half in the best of times). 

December 25, 2006: Ethiopian columns of troop carrying trucks, led by tanks and wheeled armored vehicles, advanced along at least two of the main roads from Ethiopia into Somalia. Any Islamic Courts fighters encountered were defeated. The Somalis are tough, but they have been regularly defeated by Ethiopians for centuries. The Ethiopians are more effective in combat because they are better trained and led. Ethiopia has not conquered Somalia because there's nothing there worth having, and the Somalis can be troublesome. The only way to pacify the Somalis is to periodically come in and massacre lots of unarmed civilians, until the armed ones agree to quiet down. That only lasts for a generation or so, then you have to do it again. That sort of thing is frowned on in this enlightened age, making it more difficult to govern the Somalis (who have never been able to govern themselves, except for a few decades late in the last century.)

December 24, 2006: Ethiopia declared war on the Islamic Courts, and said it's troops (numbering about 15,000) in the area will assist the Transitional Government in regaining control of Somalia. Meanwhile, Islamic Courts fighters began to abandon towns on the border, and these towns were occupied by Ethiopian troops, who handed over control to local clan chiefs who say they are now loyal to the Transitional Government. Meanwhile, Ethiopian warplanes began bombing airports held by the Islamic Courts (including the main one in Mogadishu), and concentrations of Islamic Courts fighters, and especially their vehicles. War in Somalia is conducted with trucks full of gun men. Destroy the trucks, and you destroy the will to fight of the guys who used to ride in those trucks. 

December 23, 2006: Several thousand Islamic Courts gunmen, organized into about a dozen "columns" (of trucks, many equipped with large caliber machine-guns) are advancing on the last Transitional Government stronghold, Baidoa. But Ethiopian troops have come to the aid of the shaky Transitional Government fighters, and are inflicting lots of casualties on the Islamic Courts forces.  As a result of these losses, the Islamic Courts issued a call for Moslems worldwide to come to Somalia and fight the infidel invader (Ethiopia is run by Christians, who are about half the population). Such volunteers will have a hard time getting there, although boat rides from Yemen, or road trips from neighboring Kenya are available. These trips take time, and are relatively expensive.