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Thursday, 1 May 2008

The end of proxy war in Somalia?

Tedla Asfaw

I have to ask this question because this morning (May 1) the Bush Administration sent from its base in Djibouti a fighter jet to the "Tora Bora of Somalia" in central Somalia and killed the al-Shabab's military commander, Aden Hashi Ayro and his close associates to pave the way for next week's meeting in Djibouti between the current rulers of Somalia and the "moderates" from Islamic Somali Court (ICU) who are the guest of Isaias of Eritrea at this time.

Mr. Isaias has been the guest of Saudi Arabia this past week and no doubt he might have got a message from USA in the form of an ultimatum: Stay out of Somalia and let the reconciliation process in Djibouti go on.

US policy makers might think that al-Shabab is crippled without leaders and is time for the "moderate" Somalis, pro USA/Ethiopia to patch their differences and join the current rulers in Mogadishu and abandon Asmara.

However, "moderates" in the ICU and al-Shabab have one common enemy at this time that is the occupation forces of TPLF and they will not reconcile with the ruling cliques in Mogadishu before the TPLF/Ethiopia soldiers get out of Somalia.

USA and other western countries have no plan to send NATO forces like they send to Afghanistan and in the meantime the war to evict the TPLF soldiers will continue because this is a popular war of resistance and it has nothing to do with al-Shabab and the killing of its military commander will in fact in the short term will inflame the situation.

This morning on BBC, al-Shabab's spokesperson said that the current war is a resistance war to evict all foreign forces from Somalia and it will go on despite losing their military commander. He also said that they have nothing to do with al-Quaeda except having a common view to rule by Sharia and evict all the infidels from Somalia. Moreover BBC reported that Somalis from Europe and America who have nothing to do with al-Shabab are travelling to join the battle to evict TPLF forces.

The world community knows very well that before al-Quaeda Somalia has been in clan warfare since 1990 and the US involvement in early 1990s for humanitarian purpose brought a loss of many USA soldiers and the country has been in turmoil since then.

By bringing the al-Quaeda factor to get a favor from USA administration Melese Zenawi invaded Somalia in Christmas 2005 and brought more anarchy and polarization in the region. He labels those who oppose his rule like the Ogaden National Liberation Movement(ONLF) as terrorist and apprehended their leaders from Puntland Somalia this past week and has been waging a brutal war against the Ethiopian Somalis.

The USA policy makers until now have not labelled ONLF as a terrorist organization or dropped any bombs to kill their leaders like they did in Somalia. However, Asmara is accused of helping terrorists several times.

Isaias might take the clear USA's message on his recent visit to Saudi Arabia and stop blocking the next week meeting in Djibouti and allow his guests, the ICU leadership to hammer their differences with the current rulers of Mogadishu.

The withdrawal of Melese's forces will also be declared on this meeting to be replaced by multinational forces until then the war will continue. However, for permanent peace in the Horn there should be regime changes both in Ethiopia and Eritrea who have made Somalia their proxy battle ground and ruled also their own people by brute force.