February 17, 2012:
Eritrea remains very bitter about being subjected to continued UN sanctions in light of a report which Eritrean leaders claim shows that they did not supply Somali Al Shabaab militants with weapons. The January report concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support Kenya’s claim (made last Fall) that Eritrea had shipped weapons to Al Shabaab by air. The alleged shipment went from Eritrea to the town of Baidoa. Investigators concluded that credible evidence indicated the flights did not occur. The Eritrean government, however, now contends that all allegations of supplying weapons to Somali insurgents was fabricated and economic and political sanctions should end. However, the UN embargo remains in place. Ethiopia claims that it has hard evidence that Eritrea has trained Al Shabaab fighters, supplied them with weapons, and provided financing.
February 16, 2012: The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) claimed that the Ethiopian Army killed 16 civilians in an attack near the town of Degahbur (southeastern Ethiopia). This would be the second attack in the Degahbur area in the last month.
February 11, 2012: Kenya has taken control of several key Somali regions which have served as revenue sources for Somalia’s Al Shabaab. The government said that its control of Bulgabo, Ras Kamboni, Badhadhe, Tabda, Elare, Girma, and Hosingo (Somali towns) had denied Al Shabaab key financial and infrastructure support. As a result, Al Shabaab has had to seek other sources of financial support, including Al Qaeda. The Kenyan military now intends to take the seaport of Kismayo. Ethiopian forces are operating further north. African Union peacekeeping forces remain in the Mogadishu area. Al Shabaab fighters now face three fronts, two active (Kenyan and Ethiopian). Until the Kenyans attacked, Al Shabaab could use southern Somalia as a place to retreat when the Ethiopians launched cross-border forays. Not anymore.
February 8, 2012: Senior officials from Djibouti met with the president of Somaliland. At the moment only Ethiopia recognizes Somaliland as an independent nation. Ethiopia has been trying to get other East African countries to recognize the separatist statelet and a high-level meeting with Somaliland and Djibouti officials indicates that it may have some diplomatic success. Somaliland is in the north-western corner of Somalia and compared to the rest of Somalia is quite stable.
January 30, 2012: Ethiopian troops crossed the border into Somalia and moved toward key al-Shabab strongholds, apparently opening a new military front against the Islamist militant group. Ethiopian units were spotted in the border town of Dolow and inside the town of Luq.
January 28, 2012: Over the last several months Kenyan authorities have been reporting that several Ethiopian tribal cattle raiding groups have crossed the Kenya-Ethiopian border. Kenyan and Ethiopian police have tried to intercept the raiders, with mixed results. It appears the situation is getting worse. A raid launched in the border area sometime during the last week turned into a battle between the Gabra and Borana tribes that left three-dozen people dead. Kenyan police reported that the weapons used included mortars. The Gabra and Borana (on both sides of the border) have been at odds for quite some time. Tribal discontent could be exploited by Al Shabaab to try and distract Ethiopian and Kenyan security services while their militaries are conducting operations in Somalia.
January 27, 2012: An Ethiopian rebel faction said that it is holding two tourists who were seized in an attack on January 17. The Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF) indicated that it is willing to release the tourists but the Ethiopian government is not cooperating. The rebels indicated that they believe Ethiopia is seeking war with Eritrea. The Ethiopian government responded by saying that ARDUF is a terrorist organization supported by Eritrea.
January 24, 2012: An Al Shabaab suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden vehicle into an Ethiopian military compound near the Somali town of Beladweyne. Over 30 Ethiopian soldiers were killed in the incident.
January 20, 2012: The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) accused the Ethiopian military of conducting punitive operations against civilians in the Wardheer, Qabri-dehar, and Dhegahbur. The ONLF claimed that the attacks by the Ethiopian Army were in response to an ONLF ambush on January 17, which killed 50 Ethiopian soldiers. The ONLF claimed that it killed another 60 Ethiopian soldiers in battles near Degahbur and Kebri-dehar.
January 18, 2012: Eritrea and Ethiopia blamed one another for backing gunmen who killed five tourists in Ethiopia’s Afar region. Ethiopia accused Eritrea of training and arming the gunmen which attacked a tour group and a group of Ethiopian soldiers in the area. Some 15 Ethiopian soldiers were also killed in the attack. Eritrea denied the accusation and said Ethiopia was to blame. Two tourists were missing and reported kidnapped.
January 17, 2012: Kenyan and Ethiopian police are worried by reports that more light automatic weapons are turning up in the hands of semi-nomadic tribes in the Lake Turkana area (South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya border area). The drought has increased tensions among the pastoralist tribes. The tribes need water and so do their cattle. Lack of water and lots of weapons can make for a lethal mix. The Kenyans and Ethiopians have seen the cattle-raiding skirmishes in South Sudan escalate to all-out battles. South Sudan accuses Sudan (northern Sudan, or the Republic of Sudan) of encouraging tribal violence.
January 16, 2012: A special UN weapons sanction monitoring group reported that it cannot find sufficient evidence to support Kenya’s accusation that Eritrea air-delivered weapons to Al Shabaab militants in November 2011. Kenya accused Eritrea of violating the Somalia arms embargo by sending plane-loads of weapons to Al Shabaab fighters in the town of Baidoa.