Somalia: Proxy War


August 23, 2006: Fearing an Islamic Courts threat to its southern regions, secessionist Puntland has sought assistance from Ethiopia, already lending a hand, and troops, to back the Somali Transitional Federal Government in Baidoa. Ethiopian troops have been quietly moving into southern Puntland.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia's blood enemy, Eritrea, has been confirmed as supplying arms to the Islamic Courts. Ethiopia and Eritrea have been on the "brink" of war for some time now, but the shoe has never dropped, possibly because of the presence of UN observers along their mutual border. By backing opposing sides in the muddled Somali situation, the two can engage in a "proxy" war, keeping the pain far from home.
August 22, 2006: The Islamic Courts banned most exports to the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and promised to reform the way the Somali economy is run. This could raise serious problems, as the taxation of exports is a major source of income for several warlords and tribes. It's uncertain if there will be a fight over this.
August 21, 2006: Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Ghedi formed a new cabinet in Baidoa for the Transitional Government. This one has only 31 members, while the previous one had 92. This represents the shrinkage in the support for the Transitional Government, which has suffered from many members joining the Islamic Courts.
August 20, 2006: Several independent witnesses say they saw about a dozen trucks filled with some 300 Ethiopian troops headed for Baidoa. The Islamic Courts are trying to use religion to mobilize resistance to (largely Christian) Ethiopia. This is done rather bluntly, by calling Ethiopia the "African Israel." Not to subtle.
August 18, 2006: Claiming that unapproved public meetings violate Islamic law, Islamic Courts gunmen have been using force to break up any demonstrations that oppose the Islamic Courts. The Islamic Courts also said they would oppose any attempt by the African Union (AU) to send peacekeepers to Somalia. The African Union is planning to assemble a force of 7,000 peacekeepers in Kenya next month, close by the Somali border. However, the AU still has to find someone willing to pay for all this, and nations willing to contribute troops in the face of Islamic Courts opposition.




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