Ethiopia: Jihad on the Border


October 10, 2006: Italy called for the deployment of "neutral" observers to watch the Ethiopia-Somalia border. Somali sources reported that troops loyal to Somalia's Transitional Government took the town of Buur Hakaba (near the Ethiopian border). The government troops were allegedly supported by Ethiopian military forces. But the Islamic Courts forces promptly retook Buur Hakaba.
October 9, 2006: The war rhetoric continues to escalate between Ethiopia and the Somalia Islamic Courts. A Somali Islamist militia issued a statement declaring "jihad" against Ethiopia. The Islamic Courts government also repeated the allegation that Ethiopia has a substantial number of troops deployed inside Somalia. The Ethiopian government responded by saying Ethiopia would defend itself against Somali Islamists. Ethiopia also called on the international community to support Somalia's Transitional National Government in its fight against the Islamic Courts.
October 6, 2006: Somali Islamic Courts fighters reported they are facing Ethiopian troops near the villages of Waraqumayo and Fjirarle (in Somalia). The Islamists claim that 1,500 Ethiopian troops are deployed in the area. Ethiopia denied the allegation.
October 5, 2006: Representatives from Sudan's "southern government" (former SPLA) held a meeting with Ethiopian diplomats in the town of Yabello, Ethiopia. The two governments are trying to negotiate an end to a tribal war between the Lou and Jikany Nuer tribes. The Lou and Jikany have been waging an on-again off-again war for 14 years.
Ethiopia and Kenya both reported that Kenyan police killed 16 raiders who were attempting to enter Kenya from Ethiopian territory. The battle with the raiders took place in Kenya's northern Marsabit district. Ethiopia and Kenya have increased their border security forces in an attempt to stop cattle raiders and infiltrators operating in the border region.
October 4, 2006: Eritrea finally released a UN staffer it arrested on August 28.
October 2, 2006: There have been several clashes between Moslem and Orthodox Christian Ethiopians. The fighting occurred during the last week of September 2006 in the township of Dembi (approximately 400 kilometers west of Addis Ababa). Five people died in the violence. Ethiopia is very concerned about religious-based violence. Ethiopia has around 80 million people; roughly half are Muslim and the other half Christian. The Ethiopian government is concerned that radical Islamists (particularly those in Somalia) will try to exploit Ethiopia's internal religious divisions.
September 30, 2006: Ethiopia accused Eritrea of failing to "behave" like a normal state. Ethiopia said that it wishes to normalize relations with Eritrea but wants a "durable peace." This is an interesting modification of previous Ethiopian statements. As the Somali border heats up Ethiopia may think it is time to reach a diplomatic settlement with Eritrea. This would be a diplomatic victory for Eritrea, which Ethiopia has accused of supporting Somali Islamists.


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