Ethiopia: War With Somalia Creeps Closer

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November27, 2006: "Several thousand" Somali Islamic Courts militiamen are reported to have moved to a position fifteen kilometers from the Ethiopia border. The militiamen are near the town of Abudwaq, Somalia. An Islamic Courts spokesman said that its forces were "ready to confront" the enemy (ie, Ethiopia). The "Muslim versus Christian" (Somali versus Ethiopia) element is often emphasized in reports from the region. There is also an ethnic dimension. Ethiopia controls a portion of the Ogaden desert that is largely populated by ethnic Somalis. Many Somalis regard the area as being part of a "Greater Somalia."

Any war between Somalia and Ethiopia would be one of raids. The border area is in the middle of nowhere, logistically speaking, and neither side can muster large quantities of fuel, and other supplies, to support large mechanized forces. But columns of trucks, loaded with infantry and some mortars, are another thing. Ethiopia also has an air force, but the air bases are a long way from the Somali border, and few of the aircraft are in flying condition.

November 25, 2006: The US has given Kenya and Ethiopia evidence that Somali Islamists intend to launch suicide attacks inside Kenya and Ethiopia.  Islamist agents would also try to assassinate "prominent Kenyans" and ethnic Somalis. That presumably means ehtnic Somalis not aligned with the Islamic Courts and its allies. Ethnic Somalis live in northern Kenya and in eastern Ethiopia.

November 24, 2006: An Islamist leader in Somalia called on all Somalis to prepare to fight "the Ethiopian invaders." One Somali group said that the statement amounted to a "declaration of war" (against Ethiopia).

November 23, 2006: The Ethiopian government said that the Islamic Courts militia in Somalia presented Ethiopia with "a clear threat." In Somalia, Ethiopian troops reportedly exchanged fire with Somali fighters near the town of Adale (south of Baido, where the Somali Transitional  Government, Ethiopia's ally, is located).

November 21, 2006: Both Ethiopia and Eritrea rejected the new UN-sponsored boundary commission proposal to provide a map-based demarcation of the border and then let Ethiopia and Eritrea decide the boundary on their own.

 

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