Eritrea was surprised by the speed, ferocity, and size of
Ethiopia's attack on Somalia. Evidence continues to appear that this was the
case. Ethiopia carefully planned its attack. The rapid movement of Ethiopian
forces to Mogadishu and then turning south indicate Ethiopia's logistical
preparations were also particularly good, especially for an army in the Horn of
Africa conducting offensive operations. Did the Ethiopian military get
logistical advice from the US? Probably - and if it did, clearly the advice was
good. Some of the "conspiracy theorist" press is pointing out meetings held by
Ethiopian military officers and US officers in early December 2006. Cooperation
for the December-January offensive had to begin well before that. The truth is,
the US and Ethiopia have been sharing intelligence data for years. Since the
fall of the Communist dictatorship that long ruled Ethiopia, the US has been
providing humanitarian aid and military assistance. It is arguable that
Ethiopia has provided more intelligence for the US than the other way around -
at least until May or June 2006 when Ethiopia began gearing up for an attack on
the Islamic Courts militia in Somalia. That's when US imagery and electronic
intelligence became very valuable for identifying militia units, troops
concentrations, and other targets.
17, 2007: The UN said that it would reduce the peacekeeping force on the Ethiopia-Eritrea
border. At present the UN has 2300 troops in or near the Temporary Security
Zone (TSZ) which separates Ethiopia and Eritrea in the disputed regions of
their border. That number will fall to 1700. The troop reduction may take place
sooner rather than later (as in the next few weeks). The UN mandate for the
Ethiopia-Eritrea mission must be renewed by January 31.
and Ethiopia issued a joint statement asking African nations to provide
peacekeeping troops for Somalia. Ethiopia insists it will withdraw its military
forces from Somalia "within weeks." An African Union regional security meeting
is scheduled for January 29 and no doubt peacekeeping contingents for Somalia
will be discussed at conference.
12, 2007: Eritrea warned the US of "dangerous consequences" because of US air
strikes on Islamic Courts militia positions in Somalia. What those consequences
might be was not made clear. Eritrea has in fact been a de facto US ally in the
War on Terror, but when Ethiopia failed to implement the border changes
required by the "binding agreement," Eritrea expected the US and the UN to
force Ethiopia to comply. When the US and UN did not, Eritrea turned on both.
The Ethiopian and Somali transitional government victories in Somalia have been
a clear defeat for Eritrea. Eritrea might consider letting radical Islamic
terrorists operate from its territory. That would be a stupid mistake, but
angry governments do stupid things. As it is, Eritrea has little interest in
radical Islamists and the Islamists utopian goals. The Islamists are only
useful as tactical allies in its war with Ethiopia.