Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ethiopian side all out; Somalis to bat

As of yesterday (local time), Ethiopian Army forces in Somalia have begun to withdraw, leaving the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and its new partner the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia to hold off al-Shabaab.

The good part: Ethiopia and Somalia are oil and water, culturally. Having to ask for military intervention from Ethiopia to save the TFG was an invitation to mass disapproval. The Ethiopian Army did what needed to be done at the time of the intervention, but has proven to be a liability politically in more recent times.

The bad part: There is basically no significant force capable of stopping al-Shabaab from having the run of the countryside. The Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia is a (somewhat) more moderate Islamist faction that splintered off from al-Shabaab and the old Islamic Courts movement, but lack much capability of their own.

The worse part: The U.S. representation at the U.N. Security Council has circulated a draft resolution calling for a UN Peacekeeping Force to replace the African Union force "in-place". This is near-nonsense unless American military forces are to be made available. Previous efforts to gather support for a U.N. force went nowhere as no major military nation replied to the call for forces. The A.U. force in place hasn't been able to meet manpower calls either, with less than 4,000 troops having been sent out of an on-plan requirement exceeding 8,000.

Note this has little to do with the recent naval force assignments regarding the piracy problem. That, while needing a real Somali Government to put a conclusive end to, is a separate problem for now.

1 comment:

L.Douglas Garrett said...

The Long War Journal has lots more on this, including specific information on who all is the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia... pro and anti TFG factions; al-Qaeda supporters; the lot.

A bit more on the TFG-sponsored militia in one region also.