Ethiopia: The Power of Email

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April 7, 2007: The Islamic Courts terrorists in Somalia have found a new ally in their war against other Somalis and Ethiopian troops. A UN security official in Somalia sent an email that accused the Somali government and Ethiopian troops of committing war crimes. He based his accusations on rumors and second hand accounts from pro-Islamic Courts witnesses. These accusations are being taken seriously by the UN, and the Transitional Somali government and Ethiopia have been warned that they may face a war crimes investigation, and possible charges. However, the UN has no military force in Somalia that could move such an investigation forward. There are 1,500 Ugandan peacekeepers in Somalia, the vanguard of an eventual force of 8,000. But these troops work for the African Union, and may not be willing to handle a UN war crimes investigation.

The essence of the war crimes allegations appears to be that the Islamic Courts, in a move Somalis have used for a long time, tried to hide their gunmen behind women and children. This does rarely works against a Somali foe, but sometimes works against foreigners. In one 1993 incident, Somalis used this tactic to get the drop on Pakistani peacekeepers, and killed 24 of them. In any event, the Ethiopians were having none of it, and, like other Somalis, fired at the civilians to take out the enemy gunmen. The Ethiopians also used bombs and artillery against gunmen hiding among civilians. Ethiopians have been fighting Somalis for centuries.

April 5, 2007: Somalia's Sheik Adan Mohammed Nuur came to Eritrea to "discuss Somalia's problems." Nuur is an Islamist leader and now a key Somali opposition leader. Eritrea backed the former Somali Islamist government. Eritrea now wants Ethiopia to pull its troops from Somalia. Ethiopia claims it will pull its troops out. Ethiopia planned on having most of its troops out of Somalia by March. However, the African Union peacekeeping force that was to replace the Ethiopian forces has been slow to arrive.

April 3, 2007: Eritrea sent Uganda a message that said Uganda had made "a hasty step" (ie, a mistake) in sending peacekeepers to Somalia. Eritrea urged Uganda to pull its 1600 troops out of Somalia. Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni had asked Eritrea to stop backing Islamic militias in Somalia.

Ethiopia claimed a "major victory" in another "proxy war" with Eritrea. Ethiopia claimed that its military forces had conducted an operation against a group called the Patriotic Front in the Gondar region. The Ethiopian forces killed 23 "Eritrean-backed" guerrillas. 18 more were captured. Ethiopia frequently claims rebels receive aid from Eritrea. Sometimes they actually do. In late March Ethiopia asked the UN to take action. Ethiopia claimed that Eritrea is "organizing, arming and training" anti-Ethiopian "elements" (ie, rebels).

March 29, 2007: Oromo Liberation Army (OLA - the OLF's "military wing") killed three Ethiopian soldiers and wounded eight more in a firefight that took place in Horro Guduru province (northwestern Ethiopia).

 

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