Somalia: Hey, Gang, Let's Go To War With Ethiopia

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October 26, 2006: The Islamic Courts have been busy. Some 3,000 young men have been recruited for the war with Ethiopia, foreign journalists are being arrested as spies, and women can no longer go swimming at the beaches (it's un-Islamic.)

Ethiopia has nearly 10,000 troops on the Somali border, but has a hard time keeping them supplied. More troops can be brought down to the semi-desert area, but with difficulty and at great expense. Ethiopia is more concerned with Eritrea, with which it has a border dispute.

War in this part of the world consists columns of troops in trucks, with some heavy machine-guns, mortars and maybe a few armored vehicles, rolling around, trying to cut each other off from food and water. Fighting tends to be brief, loud, and brutal. One side breaks and takes off. The Somalis have more appetite for this sort of thing, as there's a sort of "hot-rob bandit" mentality among them. The Ethiopians are more laid back and into getting organized. That's why the Ethiopians have had a government for thousands of years, while the Somalis have had warring clans and gangs of bandits.

October 24, 2006: The Islamic Courts say the Ethiopian soldier they captured was on a reconnaissance mission. Ethiopia responded by saying they were "technically at war with Somalia" because of the Islamic Courts call for a holy war (jihad) against Ethiopia.

October 23, 2006: Islamic Courts leaders have dared Ethiopian troops to come after them, and have called on Somalis living in Ethiopia (in the disputed Ogaden region just across the border) to rise up in revolt.

October 22, 2006: Somali Transitional Government and Ethiopian troops withdrew from the town of Bur Haqaba, as a larger force of Islamic Courts gunmen approached, and re-occupied the town. For a while, it looked like the government and Ethiopian gunmen would stand and fight, and civilians began to flee the town, after some gunfire was exchanged. At least one Ethiopian soldier was captured by the Islamic Courts. But Somali warfare is more bluff than bloodshed. Ambush is the favored form of attack for the untrained (in military matters) gunmen of Somalia. But there was skirmishing over the weekend, mainly in the south around Kismayo, and several dozen people were killed.

October 21, 2006: Some thirty truckloads of Somali Transitional Government and Ethiopian troops chased Islamic Courts gunmen out of the town of Bur Haqaba (about 60 kilometers southeast of the Transitional Government capital at Baidoa.) This has changed hands several times since Islamic Courts forces first entered it in July. It's no big deal to muster a few dozen truckloads of fighters and roll in. So far, no one has tried to defend the town with a large force.

 

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