Ethiopia: The War on Islam


June 10, 2007: In the wake of an attack on an oil exploration operation in Ogaden two months ago, the army has gathered troops in the area and launched a sweep in areas where the rebels are known to hang out. The Ogaden region of southern Ethiopia has long been claimed by Somalia, and its inhabitants are largely Somali. But by holding the Ogaden, Somali raiders are kept away from the ethnic Ethiopian population to the north. Meanwhile, Ethiopia is asking the UN for some money to help defray the costs of Ethiopian peacekeeping operations in Somalia. This will be difficult, as the Moslem countries will protest that Christian Ethiopia is now part of the war on Islam.June 9, 2007: A bandit (or pirate) group operating in the Red Sea off the coast of Eritrea continues to hold a large Egyptian fishing boat and 23 Egyptian fishermen. The bandits took control of the boat on June 2. The ship was fired on by "gunmen" and forced into Eritrean territorial waters. Pirates operate along the Red Sea coasts of Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, and Somalia. Fisherman are frequent targets, but larger vessels are sometimes attacked. The fisherman are usually robbed. However, occasionally ransoms for the crews are demanded.

June 8, 2007: The rhetorical war continues. A former member of the Islamic Courts government in Somalia accused Ethiopia of being an "occupying power" in Somalia. The Islamic Courts and the Eritrean government demanded that Ethiopia leave Somalia. Ethiopia ignored the suggestion. Eritrea is once again trying to put together an anti-Ethiopian coalition in Somalia. There has been a lot of bluster on the part of the Eritreans and Islamic Courts, but they too face the problem of Somalia's "clan-based" society. The dissidents know they oppose Ethiopia but don't necessarily share other objectives. A Somali Islamist group has also accused Ethiopia of sending Somali troops to Ethiopia—with the aim of enlisting Somalia in a war against Eritrea. Ethiopia has been training Somali forces and it is entirely possible that some Somalis are being trained in Ethiopia. However, at the moment the Somali transitional national government's weak military forces would add little to another Ethiopian-Eritrean war, so the accusation sounds like another propaganda charge.

June 5, 2007: Ethiopia's prime minister flew to Mogadishu, Somalia, and met with Ethiopian troops serving in Somalia.

June 4, 2007: An Ethiopian machinegun crew shot and killed would-be suicide terrorist bomber in Mogadishu. The terrorist's explosives-packed car blew up after the Ethiopians' fire struck the vehicle. One civilian was injured by the blast.

June 3, 2007: Ethiopia hosted the president of the Somaliland Republic, one of the "separatist statelets" within Somalia. The Somaliland Republic declared independence from Somalia in May 1991. No nation officially recognizes the Somaliland Republic's independence, but the statelet has "offices" (de facto embassies) in Ethiopia, South Africa, and Ghana.

May 31, 2007: Eritrea issued a statement that said the world needs to "pressure" Ethiopia to accept the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission's (EEBC) ruling that gave Eritrea part of the Badme region. The Eritrean statement noted that the Boundary Commission's ruling was supposed to be "final and binding" but Ethiopia had violated the agreement. In this case, Eritrea is right on the facts.

May 28, 2007: The Ethiopian government claimed that the Ogaden National Liberation Movement (ONLF) detonated a bomb which killed five people. The attack took place in Ethiopia's Ogaden region. The ONLF denied that it was involved in the bombing incident. The Ogaden is a predominantly ethnic Somali area.


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