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

  1. #41
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Never been to the AO...I think some of you have...would this be tougher than Iraq????
    I doubt we could be the lead, while Iraq is ongoing. It would make it somewhat easier to identify the muj if they aren't of African descent though...

  2. #42
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    I doubt we could be the lead, while Iraq is ongoing. It would make it somewhat easier to identify the muj if they aren't of African descent though...
    Ummm, not really I'm afraid. Most Somalis, excepting the Samale, are practically indistinguishable from Yemeni's and many others from The Arabian penninsula. The various families and clans have been intermarrying for several thousand years. In fact, the nine major Somali clans all claim descent from the Prophet...

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

  3. #43
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    I wouldn't say that they are indistinguishable. I have several friends of Somali descent and they certainly would never claim to be Arab. There are quite a few Yemenis with African bloodlines, and indeed there has been millenia of trade and intermarriage between clans on the continent and the Yemeni side --- Axum ruled parts of Yemen for awhile, and some of the first Muslims escaped Meccan persecution in Axum. But most Somalis remain quite distinguishable from the majority population of Yemen.

    Now Darfur "Arabs" vs. Darfur "Africans", on the other hand ... not so much.

  4. #44
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Default "I have a question - is this going to be another bug hunt?"

    CBS: U.S. Attacks Al Qaeda In Somalia
    Jan. 8, 2007(CBS/AP) A U.S. Air Force gunship has conducted a strike against suspected members of al Qaeda in Somalia, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports exclusively.

    The targets included the senior al Qaeda leader in East Africa and an al Qaeda operative wanted for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in Africa, Martin reports. Those terror attacks killed more than 200 people.

    The AC-130 gunship is capable of firing thousands of rounds per second, and sources say a lot of bodies were seen on the ground after the strike, but there is as yet, no confirmation of the identities.

    The gunship flew from its base in Dijibouti down to the southern tip of Somalia, Martin reports, where the al Qaeda operatives had fled after being chased out of the capital of Mogadishu by Ethiopian troops backed by the United States.

    Once they started moving, the al Qaeda operatives became easier to track, and the U.S. military started preparing for an air strike, using unmanned aerial drones to keep them under surveillance and moving the aircraft carrier Eisenhower out of the Persian Gulf toward Somalia. But when the order was given, the mission was assigned to the AC-130 gunship operated by the U.S. Special Operations command.

    If the attack got the operatives it was aimed at, reports Martin, it would deal a major blow to al Qaeda in East Africa.

    Meanwhile, a jungle hideout used by Islamic militants that is believed to be an al Qaeda base was on the verge of falling to Ethiopian and Somali troops, the defense minister said Monday.

    While a lawmaker had earlier told The Associated Press that the base was captured, Somalia's Defense Minister Col. Barre "Hirale" Aden Shire said troops had yet to enter it and that limited skirmishes were still ongoing, though troops were poised to take the base.

    Ethiopian soldiers, tanks and warplanes were involved in the two-day attack, a government military commander told the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

    Shire said there had been heavy fighting with high numbers of casualties.

    "There are a lot of casualties from both sides," he said, declining to give details.

    Residents in the coastal seaport of Kismayo, some 90 miles northeast of Ras Kamboni, said they saw wounded Ethiopian soldiers being loaded onto military helicopters for evacuation.

    "I have seen about 50 injured Ethiopian troops being loaded onto a military chopper," said Farhiya Yusuf. She said 12 Ethiopian helicopters were stationed at the Kismayo airport.

    Somali officials said the Islamic movement's main force is bottled up at Ras Kamboni, the southernmost tip of the country, cut off from escape at sea by patrolling U.S. warships and across the Kenyan border by the Kenyan military.

    In Mogadishu, Somalia's president made his first visit to the capital since taking office in 2004. During the unannounced visit, President Abdullahi Yusuf was expected to meet with traditional Somali elders and stay at the former presidential palace that has been occupied by warlords for 15 years, government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said.

    U.S. officials warned after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that extremists with ties to al Qaeda operated a training camp at Ras Kamboni and that al Qaeda members are believed to have visited it.

    Three al Qaeda suspects wanted in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa are believed to be leaders of the Islamic movement. The Islamists deny having any links to al Qaeda.

    Somalia's government had struggled to survive since forming with backing from the United Nations two years ago, and was under attack by the Islamic militia when Ethiopia's military intervened on Dec. 24 and turned the tide.

    But many in predominantly Muslim Somalia resent the presence of troops from neighboring Ethiopia, which has a large Christian population. The countries fought two brutal wars, the last in 1977.

    On Sunday, gunmen attacked Ethiopian troops, witnesses said, sparking a firefight in the second straight day of violence in the capital, Mogadishu.

  5. #45
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    I wouldn't say that they are indistinguishable. I have several friends of Somali descent and they certainly would never claim to be Arab. There are quite a few Yemenis with African bloodlines, and indeed there has been millenia of trade and intermarriage between clans on the continent and the Yemeni side --- Axum ruled parts of Yemen for awhile, and some of the first Muslims escaped Meccan persecution in Axum. But most Somalis remain quite distinguishable from the majority population of Yemen.

    Now Darfur "Arabs" vs. Darfur "Africans", on the other hand ... not so much.
    Some good points, Tequila. What I was really trying to get at was that it would be hard, with a second or two glance, to tell if someone was Somali or "foreign". You are certainly right about the Axumite connection <g>.

    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/

  6. #46
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default U.S. Airstrike Aims at Qaeda Cell in Somalia

    8 January NY Times - U.S. Airstrike Aims at Qaeda Cell in Somalia by David Cloud.

    A United States Air Force gunship carried out a strike Sunday night against suspected operatives of Al Qaeda in southern Somalia, a senior Pentagon official said Monday night.

    The attack by an AC-130 gunship, which is operated by the Special Forces Command, is believed to have produced multiple casualties, the official said. It was not known Monday night whether the casualties included members of a Qaeda cell that American officials have long suspected was hiding in Somalia.

    Special Forces units operating from an American base in Djibouti are conducting a hunt for Qaeda operatives who have been forced to flee Mogadishu, the Somali capital, since Islamic militants were driven from there by an Ethiopian military offensive last month...

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    ISN, 8 Jan 07: After Islamists defeat, Somalia in catch-22
    ...Ethiopian and TFG troops much assert control rapidly, before Islamists regroup or are rearmed by the Hawiye, as a means of curbing renewed warlord chaos. The Ethiopian presence may radicalize a greater proportion of Somali Muslims. The early signs are not propitious with recent fighting in Mogadishu between unidentified gunmen and Ethiopian soldiers. A TFG deadline for weapons to be handed in was ignored by secular warlords and Islamists. And while the latter suffered a comprehensive defeat in the face of one of Africa’s largest standing armies, 3000 CSIC fighters have reportedly melted into Mogadishu's civilian population. With warlords reasserting their presence across the city through the use of roadblocks and renewed extortion and intimidation of the civilian population, the Somali capital is a tinderbox....

    ...Somalia will likely remain mired in factional fighting. Stability means having the capacity to control warlords - as the CSIC did during 2006 - and co-opt pragmatists in the CSIC. However, the unpopular Ethiopian garrisons are the chief source of the TFGs military capacity. Without quickly replacing Ethiopian troops with a multinational force, in tandem with providing the TFG with resources to build its own capacity, Yusuf will not bring about a restoration of effective sovereignty in Somalia, while the region’s western-allied nations may now be vulnerable to random terrorist attacks.

  8. #48
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Avoid Getting the Horn

    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    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.
    I have made my concerns over the Horn clear (I think) in ths same post; that said, I would not go so far as to say the Ethiopian concern is purely "tribal," because the Muslim majority in Ethiopia is balanced by 37% Christian and 12 % Indigenous religions. Somalia is 100% Sunni Muslim and the combination of a pure Sunni area with a warrior culture makes it a natural for Al Queda; what ways against an AQ takover is the complexity and competiveness of the Somali clan structure.

    But I my opinion you are correct when you state that US interests and Ethiopian interests are hardly in geosynchrous alignment. If that were the case, we would not have been in 1984 when I visited Mogadishu for a couple of weeks trying to renovate a Soviet tank factory to help contain the "Ethiopian threat" under Mengistu and the Derg.

    Best

    Tom

  9. #49
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Default Ethiopia/Somalia--1970s-80s and 2007

    Tom,
    I believe that the real issues that had you in Mogadishu in 84 were more about containment of the Cubans, who were quite numerous in Ethiopia and Angola at the time. I seem to remember concerns about Communists gaining control of strategic metals supplies (titanium, chrome, vanadium, and uranium for example) and sea lanes (like the Suez-Red Sea Route).
    As someone else noted, Somalia and Ethopia have been at it for quite a long time. Each of them seems willing to sign up with whatever major power can re-arm them well enough to have another crack at the other. And that of course cause the other side to go shopping for a new arms source as well.
    That at least was the case in the 70's and 80's. They both jump ship as needed. I believe the Derg took over in Ethopia because The Lion of Judah wasn't keeping the Somali threat at bay with a big enough military to suit the Derg's tastes.
    What all this has to do with the current situation is that it seems the Somalis may have finally chosen the wrong partner to re-arm them against the Ethiopians. AQ didn't quite deliver enough to keep the Ethiopians out. This could make great IO fodder for our side, provided of course that the Chrisitian element of the Ethopian society can be downplayed. We definitely need not to have another Crusader state bullying the Moslems as grist for the AQ propaganda mill.

  10. #50
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Reading this thread, I was suddenly struck by what I seriously believe is our "secret weapon" in any COIN battle.

    The Apathy and Ignorance of the American People.

    As long as we don't blow our horn too loudly, we can fight whoever we want, and ally ourselves with anyone, and the American People just don't care that much. While this condition of eternal bliss usually is associated with negative outcomes, why couldn't we exploit it to fight and win Small Wars?

    Perhaps our biggest mistake in Iraq was raising to the an "above the table" war.

  11. #51
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    Default U.S. Takes Hunt for Al Qaeda to Somalia

    U.S. Takes Hunt for Al Qaeda to Somalia - 10 January Christian Science Monitor.

    ... U.S. military officials say that Somalia's lawless state had become a safe haven for Al Qaeda activists, including possibly those responsible for the embassy bomb attacks in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam in 1998.

    This week's attacks illustrate how much US military policy has changed since Sept. 11, 2001. As the U.S. closes or downsizes massive cold war-era bases in Germany and South Korea, its presence is expanding in Uganda, Djibouti, Senegal, and São Tomé and Príncipe, African nations once seen as far beyond American interests. Today, African bases serve both as "jumping off" points for the war in Iraq and also as bulwarks against new threats in volatile regions of Africa...

  12. #52
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    Default The Black Man's Burden

    Yeah, who would have thought it possible for the US military to act so efficiently and brilliantly in light of all the bad press coming out of Iraq? This one really caught the Liberals and anti-Bush people off guard. I note a mother of 5 from Somalia was quoted in MSN as saying in affect that the US presence in Africa was not wanted. LOL! With attribution like that as a justification for not killing al qaidah lads, we all better beware and toe the politically correct line despite the obvious indicators that many Blacks in Africa don't want muslim fundamentalists running the show. Don't you just love snoopy? Ooops, I'm behind the times here - there's some new name and nomenclature for the new saddle and bridle on that old war horse ain't there?

  13. #53
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Horn II

    On Cubans in 84, perhaps, the Addis regime celebrated its 10 year anniversary that year as well; I went through there on the way back from South Africa just to look at the decorations. The real "the Cubans Are Coming" surge took place earlier commencing with our support of Holden Roberto (another stellar figure) and our sponsorship and advisory effort for the invasion of Angola. It later came back to bite us in 1977 and 1978 with sequential Shaba Wars.

    Mog in 84 was just in another cycle of greater Cold War politics as played out in Africa; that play finally ended in 1990 or there abouts. The sequels, however, go on. my Ambassador in Rwanda had been DCM in Mog around this time. We never met then, only became fast friends after Kigali. he had some interesting views on power games on the Horn.

    The Derg was a clear case in Africa where an communist takeover really took over. Mengistu was on a plane with Idi Amin when it came to ruthlessness. And in the Cold War game, we supported Salassie as Emporer because he was anti-communist. The Soviets supported the Somalis because they threatened Ethipioan hegemony on the Horn and threatened the entry into the Red Sea. When the Derg took over and draped itself in Communist dogma, decorations, and NKVD-style bloodletting, the Somali-Soviet Alliance fell apart and both Cold War sides switched sides.

    Whether or not the Somalis (more accurately some of the Somalis) have chosen the "wrong side" in AQ remains to be seen--they can square dance away from them at any moment.

    The point being that it is not simply a case of Somali-Ethiopia side changing; we have done it as well. My problem with that is every time we pick a side then we start justifying it as a moral imperative versus a move on the strategic chessboard. That hurts our use of IO before we even get started.

    Tom

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    CSIS, USIP, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and CFR hosted a conference on 17 Jan 07 titled "Securing Somalia's Future: Options for Diplomacy, Assistance, and Security Engagement". Here are transcripts of the remarks by the keynote speakers:

    Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI), chair, Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa

    Ambassador Jendayi Frazer, assistant secretary for African affairs, U.S. Department of State

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    ICG, 26 Jan 07: Somalia: The Tough Part Is Ahead
    Somalia’s Islamic Courts fell even more dramatically than they rose. In little more than a week in December 2006, Ethiopian and Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces killed hundreds of Islamist fighters and scattered the rest in a lightning offensive. On 27 December, the Council of Somali Islamic Courts in effect dissolved itself, surrendering political leadership to clan leaders. This was a major success for Ethiopia and the U.S. who feared emergence of a Taliban-style haven for al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremists, but it is too early to declare an end to Somalia’s woes. There is now a political vacuum across much of southern Somalia, which the ineffectual TFG is unable to fill. Elements of the Courts, including Shabaab militants and their al-Qaeda associates, are largely intact and threaten guerrilla war. Peace requires the TFG to be reconstituted as a genuine government of national unity but the signs of its willingness are discouraging. Sustained international pressure is needed....

  16. #56
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default The Quiet War in the Horn of Africa

    28 January Virginia Pilot - The Quiet War in the Horn of Africa by Kate Wiltrout.

    A curious crowd of women and men in billowing skirts streamed toward the landing zone as two U.S. Marine helicopters touched down on rocky African desert.

    The Marines had pistols strapped to their legs, but the choppers from New River Marine Corps Air Station in North Carolina were doves, not hawks.

    Inside were an Air Force doctor and a team of Army civil affairs specialists on a mission to bring help – and hope – to 12,000 Somali refugees.

    The forbidding landscape is a 20-minute flight – but seems a world apart – from Djibouti’s capital city, where the U.S. military has established a base, Camp Lemonier.

    U.S. air strikes on suspected terrorists in Somalia this month called the world’s attention to the region.

    However, the U.S. military has been quietly engaged in the Horn of Africa since 2002, using about 1,500 troops to build schools and medical clinics, dig wells, treat sick people and inoculate livestock. Dozens of Navy sailors and officers from Hampton Roads are part of the force, and more are preparing to head to Djibouti in early February.

    With its mission to win hearts and minds through goodwill, this unorthodox military operation looks more like the Peace Corps than the Marine Corps. But the effort is primarily to deter al-Qaida and Muslim extremists from spreading throughout a region rife with poverty and despair...

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    In the pattern of postcolonial states, Prime Minister Zenawi and President Afeworki came to embody the image of their nations. In stamping their personalities and leadership styles on to otherwise weak national and bilateral institutions; however, they guaranteed that the resurgence of conflicts over identity and stature would have enormous consequences on the stability of the entire relationship. It is in this respect that the border conflict (posed in populist terms as a war among "brothers" and "cousins") exhibits an inability to structure rule in impersonal institutions. Soon after the border hostilities broke out in May 1998, Afeworki suggested that settlement would be elusive because of concerns "about pride, integrity, respect, trust, confidence and all those kinds of things. When you lose them, it becomes a big problem for us in this region; it is not always money or resources."

    (Gilbert Khadiagala, “Reflections on the Ethiopian-Eritrean Border Conflict” Fletcher Forum of World Affairs. Vol. 23, No. 2, Fall 1999)
    I wrote a paper on this war this fall, mostly on its causes as a factor of flaws in bilateral relations and the papering-over of longstanding issues with the rhetoric of revolutionary solidarity.

    The Eritrea-Ethiopian war was kind of weird compared to most wars in Africa; both sides took out about a billion dollars of loans from the world bank, and then partook of the great fire sale that was the late 90s arms market. As it was fought, it was essentially a big 20th-century style conventional conflict with massive static defenses opposed by armored spearheads, etc, even a small air war providing a product demonstration of sorts for the Sukhoi-27 and Mig-29. The border dispute that started the war really hasn't been resolved to any degree (it really seems to be more a prestige thing than a concrete dispute). Both leaders have gotten worse on civil liberties and human rights since 2000. Anyway, eritrea has generally worked to try and frustrate ethiopian ambitions in somalia, etc. Also, the war cut off secure and easy port access for ethiopia, which the new somali gov't may try to provide instead.


    Robert D. Kaplan has a dynamite book on the horn circa mid 1980s.

  18. #58
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    See Kaplan's fawning tribute to Eritrea and its dictator here. The Eritrean authorities know just what beats to hit with Kaplan - praise for former European imperialists and nice words about Israel and the U.S.

  19. #59
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default The Ugandan's of AMISOM have arrived

    From a CNN article today:

    Around 400 Ugandan forces flew into the airport on Monday as the first contingent of the African Union Mission in Somalia -- AMISOM -- charged with helping the war-torn country rebuild.

    Around 1,100 further troops are expected to arrive in the next 24 hours. The mission, organized by the African Union, consists of more than 7,600 ground troops, plus police training teams and air and maritime security patrols.


    You have to love these quotes :

    "We are very happy to be the first African Union peacekeepers to Somalia. We are welcomed here," Paddy Akunda, the Ugandan forces' spokesman, said prior to the attack.

    "We are not imposing anything on Somalis. We know our mandate; we will work toward restoring law and order in Somalia without targeting anybody."


    I wonder why I am rolling my eyes right now...Oh yeah, therre were also reports of a mortar attack on the airport during the arrival ceremony. Why the pomp and circumstance? It's not a media show they are headed to - it is the octagon, and they'd better get there stuff squared away quick or they'll spend the tour hunkered down behind barriers and white-washed walls.

    I'd actually like to go back to Mogadishu, just to see what has or hasn't changed in 13 years.
    Last edited by jcustis; 03-06-2007 at 02:19 PM.

  20. #60
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default And more bloodletting has begun

    MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- An attack on African Union peacekeepers and an ensuing gunbattle killed at least 10 civilians in the Somali capital, witnesses and hospital officials said Thursday.

    Wednesday evening's ambush of the peacekeepers -- the first to arrive in Mogadishu in more than a decade -- happened at a main intersection in the capital, one of the most dangerous and gun-infested cities in the world.

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/africa....ap/index.html

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the AU force is in for a rude awakening.

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