Ethiopia continues to congratulate itself on the peaceful (so far) transition of power following the death of Meles Zenawi in August. Meles ruled Ethiopia for 21 years. Ethiopia has also had a history of very violent power transitions. The new prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, was Meles picked successor, so he arrived with the mantle of authority. Meles made Hailemariam his second-in-command in 2010, and, in retrospect, it appears Meles had a power transfer plan in mind. Ethiopia has new national elections in 2015.
October 20, 2012: The African Union peacekeeping operation Somalia (AMISOM) is touting the seizure of the Somali port of Kismayo as a victory but one that does not signal the defeat of the Somali Al Shabaab Islamist militia. The Kenyan military performed extremely well in the latter phases of the attack on the port and Kenyans are proud of the Kenya Defense Force’s (KDF) achievements. However, diplomats in the Horn of Africa know the real victor in Somalia is Ethiopia. The Kenyans were more acceptable military interveners than the Ethiopians because so many Somalis regard the Ethiopians as invaders, even if a large majority of Somalis oppose Al Shabaab. Ethiopia is the geographic nexus of the horn. It borders on Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, and Kenya. It is also the region’s economic powerhouse. Ethiopia’s alliance with Kenya gives it a reliable security partner in the Horn. Trouble with Islamist Sudan (northern Sudan) brought Kenya and Ethiopia together. Tribal disturbances along the Kenya-Ethiopia border forced their governments to work together on bi-lateral security issues. The Somali experience, however, has sealed that alliance. (Austin Bay)
October 18, 2012: Peace negotiations between Ethiopia and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) have broken down again. Kenya was serving as the mediator in the newest round of talks. The ONLF said that Ethiopia had demanded that the rebel group recognize the authority of the Ethiopian constitution as a pre-condition for talks. The ONLF said that the condition was unacceptable because the talks were supposed to begin without pre-conditions. There is a Kismayo connection to the talks. Many ethnic Ogaden Somalis live in Kismayo and surrounding areas. Kenya had hoped that positive negotiations between the ONLF and Ethiopia would help improve political cooperation among Ogaden clans in southern Somalia.
October 17, 2012: A grenade attack in Coast state wounded ten Kenyan policemen. The policemen were searching a house and had found a weapons cache. Police attributed the grenade attack to the Somali Al Shabaab. Kenyan authorities believe Al Shabaab is responsible for several grenade attacks and shootings in Coast state that have occurred this year.
October 16, 2012: Somali government and Kenyan military forces said that they are confronting a security vacuum in the city of Kismayo. Somali forces have arrested several dozen suspected Al Shabaab fighters in the port city.
Kenya charged Sheik Mohammed Dor with inciting violence in the country. Dor is a member of parliament and represents a Muslim area. Dor denied the charges. He is also accused of supporting the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC). The MRC is a separatist organization which favors secession for the Coast province.
October 15, 2012: A Kenyan municipal leader was hacked to death in the Coast province town of Kwale. Police called the man’s murder a revenge slaying for the arrest of Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) leader Omar Mwanbyadzi. A gunfight broke out when police arrested Mwanbyadzi and two people died in the firefight.
October 14, 2012: Kenya held ceremonies commemorating Kenya Defense Forces Day. This is also the first anniversary of Kenya’s intervention in Somalia.
October 12, 2012: Al Shabaab has threatened Kenya with further retribution for its involvement in Somalia. An Al Shabaab spokesman vowed to wage war on Kenyan soil.
October 11, 2012: Ethiopian troops in armored vehicle and trucks are reportedly massed in the Somali border town of Luq. A Somali National Army (SNA) commander reported that the Ethiopian soldiers are preparing for a major offensive on Al Shabaab controlled territory.
October 9, 2012: Kenya claimed that its military forces killed over 3,000 Al Shabaab fighters since it intervened in Somalia in October 2011. Kenya lost 22 soldiers in Somalia.
Ethiopia released 75 Eritreans captured in March during a cross border raid on a military camp. The prisoners were Eritrean soldiers and Ethiopia held them as prisoners of war. Seven of the released Eritrean applied for political asylum in Ethiopia.
October 2, 2012: AMISOM units extended their control over the Somali port of Kismayo. Al Shabaab fighters claimed they set off a bomb in the port. They also said they would launch further attacks on AMISOM soldiers. The Somali government estimated the Al Shabaab still has between 4,000 and 5,000 fighters in southern Somalia.
October 1, 2012: Kenyan naval vessels shelled Al Shabaab coastal positions in the Kismayo area as sporadic fighting continued in the area.