Red Countries> Somalia

Somalia has been growing as a problem for the United States in their global war on terror. They obviously have history in the area already as Clinton oversaw an attempted invasion to ‘stabilise’ the country during the 90’s. Following the disastrous Black Hawk Down incident, which saw 18 US Marines get killed, the Americans pulled out, unwilling to get caught up in a new Vietnam-style quagmire. There is strong suspicion that since then they actually began backing the more successful warlords in Mogadishu in order to have a presence in the area.

The Neo-Cons outlook on the country has always been suspicious. They feared that in the vacuum of the lack of centralised government the country was being used as a training and recruiting zone for ‘Terrorist Groups’. Therefore, it seems not such an outlandish theory that they were indeed backing the Warlords in order to have proxies in the region they could send to attack various elements they viewed as “Terrorists”. As with most of America’s overseas ‘friends’, they were far from a democratic or nice force to live under. Life under the Warlords in Somalia was a rough and raw affair with many gun battles and killings as the various Warlords vied for supremacy. Living ‘by the gun’ became the standard order of life under this tragic system.

It was actually a welcome relief for many Somalis when a group finally formed that was able to bring stability for the region. This was the Union of Islamic Courts and they managed to rally people around an Islamist approach to life, form a powerful army and finally defeat the Warlords in Mogadishu. The United States was anything if pleased about this for obvious reasons. As they wage their war against Islam around the world this was the last thing they wanted to see. As they began to take more and more of the country the UN appointed Government in Baidoa began to refer to the UIC as Somalia’s Al Qaeda. Although whether this is the truth of the matter on the ground is debatable. Regardless, the Americans have been making noises about their distaste with the UIC. In June, 2006 media outlets began wondering if this was going to be the next showdown in the “War On Terror”, as the US had pre-deployed anti- terror bases in Djibouti over the past years.

Thus it is hardly surprising that against this backdrop -- when the world exploded into crisis in July -- the UIC looked ready to topple the final non-UIC force, in the town of Baidoa, which would have consolidated most of the country under their control. But suddenly it appeared that Ethiopia had sent troops across the border although there were denials and counter claims. However Ethiopia did make it clear they would launch a large scale invasion if the UIC attacked Baidoa. This situation would surely have erupted had the Middle East front exploded as it threatened to during that month. However, the US war with Iran was postponed and the Somalis and Ethiopians seemed to have an uneasy standoff and weren’t willing to move into a larger war at the time. This situation has boiled away with a few tit for tat attacks but nothing serious until this week (9/10/06). Again it appears that as a US war with Iran looms the Ethiopians have sent troops into Somalia and captured a key town Bur Haqaba. Although the Ethiopians again deny troops being across the border the UIC has now officially announced it is in a state of holy war with Ethiopia. So it appears the dogs of war will be unleashed in the Horn of Africa very shortly.