By Khalid Ali Abdoow
Meles Zenawi’s war declaration on Somalia and especially on the Islamic Courts Union clearly spells out the belligerent nature of African leaders. In particular, it shows how imminent the long predicted proxy regional war is Ethiopia with the TFG on one side and Eritrea with the ICU on the other side will clash in a no-win-win battle.
Somalis, already busy with floods and food shortage, are taken aback by this latest threat from Meles. Somalis are disappointed with the apparent apathy and maybe the muted blessing of the Americans of this ominous war. The war if not prevented, could lead Somalia to unrecoverable fate. As a failed state now, Somalia will cease to function and will end up breaking into warring and unstable fiefdoms. This could lead Somalia to become an incubator for violent insurgency and terrorism. The war will definitely create unparalleled humanitarian disasters.
There is no doubt that Meles Zenawi is following orders given to him by the powers-that-be. The recent American hint of supporting a partial lift of the arms embargo on Somalia may have encouraged Meles to proclaim his readiness for a pre-emptive attack on Somalia. There has been a stepping up of Ethiopian army deployments to enforce the already large Ethiopian contingency inside Somalia.
The Islamic courts are as well getting ready to defend their turf from any Ethiopian advance. As this war movement is going on sky-high, there is no doubt that within the coming days this will exacerbate in a bloody confrontation and the whole region of the horn of Africa will explode in flames.
Since some political analysts are sure this ominous confrontation couldn’t be prevented, one has to ask who will be the definitive victor and the likely loser. On the flip side, is there a way this disastrous war could be prevented and how that will work or what that would be?
To answer these questions would require methodical analysis. Rather than engaging in emotional retort as is the case, one has to recognize that the Ethiopian war declaration came out of nowhere. To explain this argument, one has to follow along the proverbial line of the Somali apologists:
the Ethiopian declaration is a reaction to a previous Jihad declaration the courts made against the invading Ethiopian forces in Somalia. It is a pre-emptive tactic intended to counter an apparent menace or “the clear and present danger” in the form of Islamic expansionism in the region. This apologetic line further contends that Ethiopia is our neighbor and we have a long porous border where there has been mutinous incursions to disturb Ethiopia’s security and sovereignty. And about the Ogaden conflict, the apologists argue that the Somalis should not pursue “the unattainable dream of greater Somalia” and the Somalis living in the region should be allowed to have an autonomous administration.
However, a counter-argument to the above apologetic line insists that our petty differences and deep-rooted clan animosity is the reason why Ethiopia had the chance to manipulate and dictate the course of our affairs. This obvious resigned stance goes along a self-incriminating rationalization:
Ethiopia’s main concern is to see a strong united and unfriendly Somali nation.
Ethiopia has been backing ruthless Somali warlords and rebellious Somali factions for more than a decade for self interest. In order to not see a strong Somali nation re-emerging, the government of Meles Zenawi has taken a policy meant to tear down Somalia along clan and regional fiefdoms.
The Ethiopians are the architects behind the creation of the weak and dependent warlord regime currently confined in the small city of Baidao.
Ethiopia is the hand behind the creation of two satellite fiefdoms in Somali republic, namely Puntland and Somaliland. Ethiopia ships a lot of weapons to the administration to repress any internal insurgency or perceived threat from other Somali groups.
The above arguments are just some of the different opinions one overhears in typical Somali discussions. Our community is divided along political and clan lines. The proponents of Ethiopian invasion seem to be supporters of the TFG, not necessarily from one clan and the opponents are supporters of the Islamic courts. But one thing all of these political junkies agree is that Somalia is in dire situation. There are continuous calamities, war, floods, famine, epidemic diseases, etc that our people face continuously. This has been part of our cursed history. Same could be said about Ethiopia which itself is a very weak state ready to disintegrate.
One unlikely and wishful scenario the looming war betwen Meles and the courts could be stopped lies surprisingly within the transitional federal government, especially on the hands of President Yusuf. It is Yusuf who asked for twenty thousand Ethiopian troops to shepherd him to Mogadishu as soon as his presidential inaugural ceremony in Nairobi ended. Some believe President Yusuf was selected for his compliance with Meles dictates and was already brainwashed to follow the premeditated Tigrean decree. But then there are those who believe the TFG president is delusional dictator who heartily believes that the Ethiopians could propel him to become the definite Somali leader. However, Yusuf has now seen that his dream is not working and that he lost name and legitimacy on pursuing some ill-advised policies. Most people know that Yusuf is unfit and incapable to lead the nation into transition to peace and reconciliation. However, there is hope that he may mend his terrible ways and maybe stand up to Meles and go to Mogadishu without any Ethiopian escort. How would that be possible one may ask. I don’t know it is a wishful thinking. Yusuf doesn’t trust the Islamists in Mogadishu. His clannish contempt and bad feeling toward the people of Mogadishu is there. Somehow I believe that the forgiving people of Mogadishu could for a while tolerate his presence knowing that only three years is left on his transitional mandate. The top leaders of the Islamic courts may be sympathetic to welcoming Yusuf into their fold. However, the Military wing of the Shabab or the Islamic youth may not forgive him for his treacherous past. Given the clannish temperament of Yusuf, the
unpredictability of the Islamic youth to guarantee Yusuf’s security, it is going to be hard for Yusuf to defy Meles and go to Mogadishu.
But if these unaccommodating stumbling blocks were not there and Yusuf would have acted as a real leader, Meles Zenawi and his war peril would have been minimized for a moment and the world would have seen him as what he is: a fanatical monster. Yusuf is himself a war-monger. There is no way both men like most African leaders will renounce their militaristic adventures to hold into power.
War is inevitable. The courts may not lose that much and the war could spread beyond Somalia into the whole region. There is no doubt that Zanawi’s war will have disastrous domino-effect. Somalia is already destroyed nation full with people who are ready to die for a noble cause this time. The courts had already sworn that if Meles insists on his belligerency, Addis Ababa will pay a huge price. Meles will have more homegrown revolt and that may be his fateful demise.
Khalid Ali Abdoow
E-mail: [email protected]
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