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Thread: Horn of Africa historical (pre-2011): catch all thread

  1. #21
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    Default Next Small War

    This reminds me of an article I saw a couple days back by a former CIA member who was knowledgeable on the region. He predicted that the conflict in Somalia would turn into a rapidly escalating regional conflict involving a number of countries in the horn of Africa. Interesting, it seems everything we touch turns into a mess.

  2. #22
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Quagmire in Desert Mountains

    This is one we need to contain and watch; we have been on both sides in the Ethiopian-Somali feud. More importantly we have never picked a "winner" because there are no winners.

    As for getting into internecine Somali clan wars, you might as well have unprotected sex with an AIDs ridden prostitute. The moment of pleasure will soon be forgotten in the agony of the aftermath. If you are lucky, you might just get shot.

    Just say no...

    Tom

  3. #23
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Quickie interview with a Somalia expert from Foreign Policy:

    Most relevant takeaway for me:

    FP: Are the Courts controlled by al Qaeda?

    KM: No. Absolutely not. There is a legitimate debate over whether a small number of leaders in the Islamic Courts have linkages with a small number of leaders from al Qaeda. Thatís not the same as saying that the two are in a deeply intrinsic partnership. The problem that the Courts face is that they are not by any stretch a unified movement. Itís an umbrella group that includes moderates, hard-line salafists, and jihadists. And a small number of jihadists can do an enormous amount of damage and can bring in elements from outside that create a whole new level of security problems.

  4. #24
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Tom,

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    This is one we need to contain and watch; we have been on both sides in the Ethiopian-Somali feud. More importantly we have never picked a "winner" because there are no winners.

    As for getting into internecine Somali clan wars, you might as well have unprotected sex with an AIDs ridden prostitute. The moment of pleasure will soon be forgotten in the agony of the aftermath. If you are lucky, you might just get shot.

    Just say no...

    Tom
    Years ago, a friend of mine did his MA on Somalia before it all broke apart. There's actually a large population component that is not part of the clans (and is hated by the clans), so we have to be careful about how we conceive the situation.

    I totally agree with you on the "contain and watch" comment BTW. I would suggest that somebody think seriously about country "strengthening" missions into Kenya, especially in the northern and north-eastern borders.

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
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  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct
    ...I would suggest that somebody think seriously about country "strengthening" missions into Kenya, especially in the northern and north-eastern borders.
    I don't believe this is the type of "strengthening" of the border region that you were implying, but they are attempting to address part of the situation:

    ReliefWeb, 21 Dec 06: Commission provides Ä2 million in humanitarian aid for Somali refugees in Kenya
    ...Since the beginning of 2006, Kenya has seen a steadily increasing refugee influx from Somalia. Each day around 1,200 Somali refugees arrive currently in Kenya. The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has so far registered 32,000 new arrivals this year on top of the 126,000 Somalis already living in refugee camps in Kenya. The aim of the Commission's assistance is to support activities covering the basic needs of the new Somali refugees (shelter, food, basic health services, sanitation).

    Louis Michel, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: "Somalia's fast-changing political situation and complex internal conflicts are once again in the international spotlight. The Somali people suffering from the consequences deserve the same attention. The effects of several years of drought have increased the humanitarian needs. The European Commission has been a very active donor right from the start. The additional Ä2 million confirm our continued humanitarian commitment alongside our political engagement to contribute to peace and stabilisation in Somalia." He added: "I also thank Kenya for hosting the Somali refugees at a time when the own population in particular in the north of the country faces economic hardship because of the severe drought in the region....

  6. #26
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Contain, Don't Stir

    Years ago, a friend of mine did his MA on Somalia before it all broke apart. There's actually a large population component that is not part of the clans (and is hated by the clans), so we have to be careful about how we conceive the situation.
    Marc

    I was aware of that; what I do not have a good fix on is what happened to that "group" after the collapse. Were they a Somali equivalent of the "Wa-Benzi" in other post-colonial African states? Did they survive, leave, or were they washed under the surge of clan warfare?

    I am quite happy to say my own time on the ground in Somalia was limited to 2 weeks in 1984. That said, I still left with a dented skull. My associations with other African groups over the years certainly affected my views toward the region. Geography tends to confirm those views: there are no major routes into Somalia other than across country. No one wants to go there and the Somalis like it that way. I realize that is a less than PC viewpoint but it is a very real regional view.

    Efforts to buffer and contain are underway; my cautions are that direct or semi-indirect involvement in these conflicts works against containment (or whatever we call it).

    Best

    Tom

  7. #27
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    I don't believe this is the type of "strengthening" of the border region that you were implying, but they are attempting to address part of the situation:
    Hi Jedburgh,

    Actually, that's part of it. Kenya has been getting progressively destablized by trying to deal with too many refugees and having porous borders. Some of the camps in Kenya and Uganda make the Black Hole of Calcutta look like DisneyLand, so, if we are going to think seriously about a GCOIN, then part of that has to be in terms of turning these sink holes into something that at least offers some hope and can be used as a staging ground for them to recapture the areas they have been thrown out of.

    I think this is especially important in that particular region, since the main groups that we could be allying with, the Samale, the southern Sudanese, the people of Darfur, are getting the snot kicked out of them. How well will anyone believe promises of Western governments if we don't help them?

    Yes, reconstruction is a part of all this, but, as the old adage goes "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime." I don't really think that making the refugee camps into lovely places is the answer (I've got more than a few problems with the UN). I do, however, think that the refugee camps need to be shifted from the loss column into the win column. Let's take a page from the old insurgentcy manuals...

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  8. #28
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Tom,

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    I was aware of that; what I do not have a good fix on is what happened to that "group" after the collapse. Were they a Somali equivalent of the "Wa-Benzi" in other post-colonial African states? Did they survive, leave, or were they washed under the surge of clan warfare?
    I really don't know what happened to a lot of them, although I believe there is a fairly large group in Kenya. Probably the poeple who would know best are the Mennonite Central Relief Commitee - they are quite active in Kenya and keep an eye on refugee movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    I am quite happy to say my own time on the ground in Somalia was limited to 2 weeks in 1984. That said, I still left with a dented skull. My associations with other African groups over the years certainly affected my views toward the region. Geography tends to confirm those views: there are no major routes into Somalia other than across country. No one wants to go there and the Somalis like it that way. I realize that is a less than PC viewpoint but it is a very real regional view.
    Too true!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Efforts to buffer and contain are underway; my cautions are that direct or semi-indirect involvement in these conflicts works against containment (or whatever we call it).
    I can certainly understand those cautions <wry grin>. Getting directly involved in Somalia is a good way to get the snot kicked out of you; at least at the PR level. What I really wisj that we were doing is sending some troops to contain the borders, while trying to upgrade the resource of the refugees so that they can go back in as allies.

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  9. #29
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Quickie interview with a Somalia expert from Foreign Policy:

    Most relevant takeaway for me:

    FP: Are the Courts controlled by al Qaeda?

    KM: No. Absolutely not. There is a legitimate debate over whether a small number of leaders in the Islamic Courts have linkages with a small number of leaders from al Qaeda. That’s not the same as saying that the two are in a deeply intrinsic partnership. The problem that the Courts face is that they are not by any stretch a unified movement. It’s an umbrella group that includes moderates, hard-line salafists, and jihadists. And a small number of jihadists can do an enormous amount of damage and can bring in elements from outside that create a whole new level of security problems.
    I think we have to remember the last sentence of the reply. While the IC may not be aligned with AQ directly, perhaps their Taliban-esque modus operandi will set the stage for jihadist and radical influence.

    Who should we support and why? Should we support anyone? Hmmm, I'm torn between Tom and Marc's points. On the one hand, the violence only exacerbates an already precarious situation with regard to food and population displacement, so I feel that there has to be at least some measured response. On the other hand, there seems to be an AQ cloud hanging over the IC that (at least publicly) will prevent us from engaging them directly and influencing a positive outcome.

    I haven't paid attention to Kenya enough to know the problems it is having within it's borders, but I can imagine that they are significant. Do we become involved at the risk of drawing ourselves into the Darfur problem as well? While I don't subscribe to an domino theory in the region, masses of people dying in refugee camps is a negative sum game in my opinion. I wonder what JTF-HOA is up to right now?

  10. #30
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    Who should we support and why? Should we support anyone? Hmmm, I'm torn between Tom and Marc's points. On the one hand, the violence only exacerbates an already precarious situation with regard to food and population displacement, so I feel that there has to be at least some measured response. On the other hand, there seems to be an AQ cloud hanging over the IC that (at least publicly) will prevent us from engaging them directly and influencing a positive outcome.
    I don't think Tom and I really disagree. Neither one of us wants to see coalition forces try to go into Somalia and play policemen. Well known comments about reproductive parts and meat grinders are appropriate to that idea <wry grin>.

    Likewise, the idea of overtly supporting any particular group currently active in that little family fued (quoth he with way too much sarcasm), is porbably equally futile.

    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    I haven't paid attention to Kenya enough to know the problems it is having within it's borders, but I can imagine that they are significant. Do we become involved at the risk of drawing ourselves into the Darfur problem as well? While I don't subscribe to an domino theory in the region, masses of people dying in refugee camps is a negative sum game in my opinion. I wonder what JTF-HOA is up to right now?
    Kenya, is on a tipping point the last I heard. The refugee situation isn't as bad as that in Uganda, but it is still pretty bad. What I am advocating is that instead of sending troops into Somalia, we consider sending "reconstruction teams" into Kenya to help with the refugee situation and, at the same time, start strengthening their borders. If nothing else, there would probably be some European support for that in terms of troop commitments since it isn't, technically, a hot environment.

    Marc
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    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  11. #31
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Do we have to get serious about Darfur as well though? How much of a hit will we take if we don't?

  12. #32
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    Do we have to get serious about Darfur as well though? How much of a hit will we take if we don't?
    Well, personally I think we should have been serious about Darfur several years ago. I was over in Caen for the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings and there was a display about Darfur in the Catherdral there. I had been hearing about Darfur for about a year or so before that (I was doing some research on Sudanese resettlement in Ontario), but I found it fascinating that it was such a popular cause in Europe. I saw similar displays in Germany the next year.

    I think that we have already taken a hit over it, and a bad one. During the mid-term elections, I remember seeing all those ads demanding that President Bush "do something", so I would guess that it is already a US internal football. There have also been 60 minutes specials on it as well.

    Let's face it - Darfur is an ethnic (and religious) cleansing move on the part of the Sudanese "government". It doesn't really help anyone's image to stand by and watch it happen. At the same time, it just strengthens the Safalists hold on the Sudan.

    Marc
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    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
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    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  13. #33
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    http://allafrica.com/stories/200612270574.html

    Note - this link will go stale in two weeks. I think someone's helping the Ethiopian Chief of Staff with his homework.

    Ethiopia: Ethiopian, TFG Forces Routing Int'l Terrorist Forces in And Around Baidoa - Premier
    The Ethiopian Herald (Addis Ababa)
    December 27, 2006

    Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said that Ethiopian forces and the forces of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia have broken the back of international terrorist forces in and around Baidoa, and the latter are now in full retreat.

    "Our commanders have got the list of international terrorists, people outside of Somalia who were wounded and being treated at a hospital in the town of Diinsoor when the town was occupied," Meles said.

    "Not only did we get the names of those Eritreans, but the list of names of people who carry British passports. So, when we talk about international terrorists, we mean international. Not just Middle East," he added. Meles said that something like 290 non-Somalis, who were wounded, were being treated at a hospital in Diinsoor. "The whole of Middle Somalia is now free from these terrorist groups, and Baidoa is not under threat any more," Meles said.
    (Now would be a good time to trot them out in front of the press, but the Ethiopians have been paranoid about reporters in the past).

    Meles said, so far Ethiopian troops have not entered any town, and it is only the TFG forces that have gone into towns. "Liberating towns is not Ethiopia's agenda. Our army has avoided even the small towns that have been liberated so far." He added: "There are no specific towns that we target to liberate. We have no specific agenda of targeting Mogadishu or any other specific town. We are not after towns, we are after the terrorist groups." (Bypassing MOUT tarbabies.)

    "Only senior commanders of our army have entered into these liberated towns, and they did so solely for the purpose of talking to traditional leaders in these towns," Meles said.
    <snip>

  14. #34
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default Lebanon, anyone?

    As the united anti-IC forces drive on Mogadishu, where are the Islamic Court cats headed? Will they fade away like the Taliban, waiting to rear up down the road?

    It almost seems as though Ethiopia will have to invest itself in Somali affairs akin to Syria, IOT gain any semblance of order. I haven't had the time to read through the background references posted in the earlier parts of this thread (to better understand what the IC factions are all about), but we have got to make something stick in the Horn or we will deal with these guys again.

    I mean, the IC didn't come to prominence because a few thugs got together and said, "Let's start running a country." If they were filling a vacuum, then we have got to work engagement hard and be the power that fills the void and helps that nation drive forward with better options for governance. It all goes back to attacking the root causes, and although folks can wave the flag and say the Ethiopians did a good job at helping to roll the IC back, my question is "So what?" Where does that leave us now and what is the way ahead?

    It looks like just another finger stuck in the dike, without any true analysis of why the dike's foundation is rotting away, or a plan to fix it permanently.

  15. #35
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Well, the Islamists have abandoned Mogadishu, ditched their 'uniforms' and faded into the population. The militias loyal to the Transitional government have taken over the docks. Looks like the locals just don't want their huts burned down, no matter who's in charge.

    Elders and foresighted people in the capital called on the transitional government to do something about the escalating insecurity in Mogadishu. Somali premier Ali Mohammed Gedi told elders and scholars in Mogadishu that they should fortify the security in the capital until the government forces reach Mogadishu.

    The State Department was trying to convince the Ugandans to get into the fight (probably to deal with Kismayu), but Kampala wasn't willing to play.

    Islamists lost all their strongholds in central and southern Somalia, including the capital Mogadishu, with the exception of the port city of Kismayu, 500 km south of Mogadishu.

    http://allafrica.com/stories/printab...612280149.html

    An AU stability force to help the Transitionals maintain order in Mogadishu would be nice, but that won't happen with Darfur still on the front pages.

  16. #36
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    An AU stability force to help the Transitionals maintain order in Mogadishu would be nice, but that won't happen with Darfur still on the front pages.
    Sadly, that's been tried before, but only made small gains in very discreet areas (like temporary food security). Order is a very relative term in that country.

    Which think tank is on point with analysis of the situation right now? I need to read up on some of the stuff.

  17. #37
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Where does everyone get the idea that Ethiopia did this because of the US or that Ethiopia cares about the war on terror? This has nothing to do with US Jingoism because it has little to do with the US, neither does it have anything to do with a desire by the Ethiopian government to be part of the GWOT. This has actually been going on for years to greater or lesser degrees and has WAY more to to with tribal politics than religion. Most of Ethiopia's government, and its population for that matter, is Muslim. Do some digging and you will find the tribal roots to pretty much every conflict in this region.

  18. #38
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Welcome to the thread Uboat. I was thinking the same thing when I saw the thread title a while back, because I had a hard time following the argument made in the original article that the warlords were the enemy. That article turns out to be pretty speculative.

    The only warlord that comes to mind as being the enemy was Aidid, and he's taking a dirt nap now. All the others were in bed with us at some point or another during the '92-'95 timeframe, so to call them enemies smack of Malkinism.

    Regional border strife, yes. Partnership in the Global War on Terror, no. You're dead on Uboat509.

  19. #39
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Default The fun never stops

    Forces close in on Islamists' last stronghold
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...wsomalia31.xml
    Mike Pflanz, East Africa Correspondent, Sunday Telegraph
    Last Updated: 11:45pm GMT 30/12/2006

    Ethiopian tanks were rolling south yesterday through Somalia for a final showdown with the hardline Islamists driven from power in a 10-day military offensive.

    As the army convoy headed towards the southern port of Kismayo, the last stronghold of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), Ethiopian fighter jets flew overhead. The Somali interim government and its Ethiopian allies have stated that they aim to crush the Islamic movement, which took control of much of southern Somalia.

    Already they have said their flight from Mogadishu, which they had controlled since May, was merely a "tactical retreat" before "the next phase of our struggle".
    ***snip

    "You think that Islamic courts have failed and the Ethiopian invaders have won in Somalia? I tell you within days everything will be changed," Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim Bilal, the Islamist commander, said. "I assure you that the Islamic forces are everywhere in the country and you will see the forces operating within days. What we will do is hit and run. We will ambush their convoys everywhere in Somalia."

  20. #40
    Council Member JKM4767's Avatar
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    Default Jihad in Somalia!?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6234167.stm

    Anyone think this is going to happen?
    Are we (NATO) getting involved?

    Never been to the AO...I think some of you have...would this be tougher than Iraq????

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