Saturday, March 31, 2007

Déjà Vu in Mogadishu

Around Christmas time last year I posted briefly about Somalia and Ethiopia: "the nastiness in the Middle East is spreading wildly into the Horn of Africa. Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men everywhere?"

Since then, U.S.-backed mostly Christian Ethiopian forces launched a blitzkrieg invasion of Sunni Muslim Somalia. The Islamic Courts and allied militias melted into the background. U.S. airstrikes and special forces attacks were directed at some of the Sunni leadership, with dubious results.

The conflict has shifted, in a way remarkably similar to what's happened in Iraq since the initial U.S.-led invasion there. The Ethiopians escorted the unpopular "transitional" Somali government into the major port city of Mogadishu. As with Iraq, there was no well-thought out plan for after the initial onslaught and capture of the capital, the Baghdad of Somalia. Lamely, peace-keepers from other African nations were supposed to deploy as the Ethiopians withdrew. So far, though, only a small detachment of Ugandans has arrived in Mogadishu, and an Islamic insurgency now rages in the city, backed by local warlords. Other nations are now balking at sending in additional peace-keepers, and it's no wonder why.

In the past days, Ethiopian soldiers have been killed and dragged through the streets; a Ugandan plane and at least one Ethiopian helicopter have been shot down by insurgents. Hospitals are overwhelmed and civilians desperately try to survive. Where this goes from here is anyone's guess, though I would venture that wherever it goes, it won't be good. The disasters of war are spreading far and wide. Anarchy reigns.

Today's Rune: Flow.

Birthdays: René Descartes, Octavio Paz, John Fowles, César Chávez, Herb Alpert, Marge Piercy, Barney Frank, Christopher Walken, Al Gore, Ewan McGregor.

Bon voyage!


Charles Gramlich said...

As the cold war ended it was almost inevitable that a bunch of small hot wars would bloom. I had hopes they would die down fairly soon but that certainly hasn't happened.

Johnny Yen said...

My brother was in Somalia in 1993, when he was still in the Marines. It was violent and chaotic.

Back when I was in grad school, I had a seminar on the arms race. One of the main ideas was that the massive spread of "small arms"-- AK-47's, grenade launchers, etc. was going to have horrific long-term consequences, worse than nuclear weapons, which were at least controlled by governments. How right they were.

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks both for the comments, true and appreciated.