The Fall of the Islamic Courts


The Somalia Battlefield on 12/27/2006.
Light blue - Ethiopian & TFG advances.
Green - ICU territory.
Orange - recent clashes.
Click image to view.

Aweys, Sharif, resign; the TFG and Ethiopian forces are on the outskirts of Mogadishu

Nine days after the onset of open warfare between the al Qaeda backed Islamic Courts and the Ethiopian backed Transitional Federal Government, the Islamic Courts have surrendered. "After having crucial and urgent meeting tonight in the capital, the leaders of executive and Shura councils of Islamic Courts Union and deputy leader of executive council of ICU, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed and Sheik Abdirahman Janaqow resigned and issued a joint press statement over the current situation in Somalia particular in Mogadishu," reports SomaliNet

Prior to resignation of Aweys and Sharif, the Islamic Courts were in full retreat. The TFG and Ethiopian forces have taken the cities of Jowhar and Balad. Balad is just 20 miles north of Mogadishu. The fighting around Jowhar was described as "heavy," and fighting is said to be ongoing in the town of Lego, where the Islamic Courts had set up a military base.

Inside Mogadishu, elements of Islamic Courts militia threw in the towel. In four Mogadishu neighborhood, the Islamic Courts have transferred their weapons over to pro-Transitional Federal Government clans. "Islamist officials told their militiamen to leave the barracks and return to civilian life. Witnesses reported seeing young Islamist fighters change to civilian attire and walk away with personal weapons, such as the AK-47," reports Garowe.

Mohammed Dheere, the warlord formerly in charge of Jowhar, has stated the final assault on Mogadishu will occur tomorrow. "We will attack Mogadishu tomorrow from Balad and Afgoye", said Dheere. This has not been confirmed by either the TFG or Ethiopian authorities. With the surrender of the ICU, an assault on Mogadishu is not needed.

The Ethiopians are looking for a quick exit from Somalia, and have indicated they will leave soon. "Once we accomplish the mission - half is already over and the rest will not take long - we will leave," said Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The Islamic Courts are signaling they will conduct an insurgency. The call for its fighters to blend into the population with their AK-47s is one sign. ICU leaders are giving all of the indications an insurgency is in the works. "Our snakes of defense were let loose, now they are ready to bite the enemy everywhere in Somalia," said Sheik Mohamoud Ibrahim Suley. "We will fight Ethiopia for a very long time, and we expect the war to reach everywhere," according to an ICU statement. Even the resignation of the ICU leaders in Mogadishu indicated the ICU still wants to enforce sharia and calls for its fighters to "secure the stability and get ready in the police stations and other security stations."

The ICU may also be working to integrate its security forces and other elements of the organization into the new, TFG led government to destroy it from within.



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READER COMMENTS: "The Fall of the Islamic Courts"

Posted by RTLM at December 27, 2006 10:01 PM ET:

Typical Muslim deceit. I'd be surprised if the Ethiopians buy it and I hope they don't.
But with the US State Dept. now involved, a complete TFG victory over the Muslims will be much more difficult.

Thank you for your efforts in bringing us these reports.

Posted by kaliph at December 27, 2006 10:08 PM ET:

Before the Ethiopian-backed TFG went on the offensive, some at CT Blog, Global Crisis Watch, & yourself were essentially predicting their imminent defeat.

Now I'm not interested in calling you out specifically, but the disconnect between what was predicted and what occurred is quite large. Any insights into why this was so? Obviously it appears the ICU fighters were not as formidable as suspected. Other reasons?

Some other comments:

Did the TFG have other significant assistance from the US or other interested nations? One article I read today claimed the US was sharing battlefield imagery with the Ethiopian-backed forces. Hear anything about this or other assistance the US may have provided?

Also, do you have any specifics on the size of the TFG army? How much of a factor were they in all of this or is this essentially the product of the Ethiopian military? Will the TFG forces have any chance of keeping the peace in Somalia (I know that's a tall order to begin with) without Ethiopian assistance (ie occupation)?

Finally, I would gather this rather embarrassing defeat will be a slight boon for the ICU in attracting more experienced foreign fighters to the region, making the planned insurgency more competently executed. Or could the ICU have expected the same levels of foreign fighters had they defeated the TFG? If this is accurate, could this have played a role in their quick surrender? Or is this way out on a limb?

Keep up the good work.

Posted by Papa Ray at December 27, 2006 10:34 PM ET:

There is no defeat of anyone, and most likely won't be any time soon.

The ICU are bringing in reinforcements and are planning on forming an insurgency to continue their plans. They are just smart enought not to go head to head with a motorized division and tanks.

This is far from over, it's just beginning.

Papa Ray

Posted by crosspatch at December 27, 2006 10:47 PM ET:

I would say it sets them back quite a ways. If they were able to weasel their way into certain areas because they were supposed to be religious, I can imagine the population might be a little less supportive of them in the future, particularly if the locals were abused and intimidated.

While it might be "only the beginning", something tells me they might not enjoy the support they initially had.

Posted by cjr at December 27, 2006 11:06 PM ET:

If the Ethiopicans stay, they will be the target of an insurgency? Well, then they should leave..... But before they do, they should go on a looting/pilleging/killing spree. They should raze Mogaishu to the ground and destroy everything. Then they should leave.

Hence, there will be any insurgency since the Ethiopians wont be there. And there will be no return of the ICU because "everyone will remember what happened last time ICU was in charge".

Yes this is pretty bloody minded. But, its better than a long occupation and insurgency or a return of the ICU, both of which will kill more Somalis in the long run. As William Sherman said, "War is cruelty, there is no reforming it. The crueler it is the fast it will be over."

But of course, this will not happen. Too politically incorrect.

Posted by crosspatch at December 27, 2006 11:29 PM ET:

I believe a search will be underway for green skull caps in the village huts and when they are found, the associated military aged males might just disappear.

Brutal, but would probably save a lot of lives down the road.

Posted by Bill Roggio at December 28, 2006 12:22 AM ET:

Kaliph, I said the ICu would beat the TFG without outside help, and have advocated Ethiopia and US support. The difference here is the Ethiopians. I can't speak intelligently on what US assistance was provided, but can only guess. I would guess we provided satellite imagry, targeting information and training to the Ethiopian forces.

Posted by SHIRE at December 28, 2006 2:51 AM ET:

Soomaaliya ha noolaato

The victory is for Somalians without any difference federalists or islamists and "helping" foriegn forces must leave.

Posted by kaliph at December 28, 2006 8:25 AM ET:

Thanks for the response, Bill.

For those interested, Daveed has an article at Pajamas Media on the touching upon some of this stuff.

http://www.pajamasmedia.com/2006/12/why_ethiopia_is_winning_in_som.php

Posted by yot at December 28, 2006 8:34 AM ET:

The Iraq Study Group should have talked to Meles Zenawi.

Posted by sangell at December 28, 2006 9:21 AM ET:

That was quick. Maybe too quick.

Now will there be lots of al Qaeda roaches scurrying about looking for a rock to hide under? Heading for the Kenyan border or taking to the sea.

Let's hope we have some assets in place to intercept them as they scurry away from the battlefield.

Posted by Nick Grace at December 28, 2006 11:41 AM ET:

Regarding kaliph's comment about the widespread predictions of the TFG's imminent defeat, Global Crisis Watch hosted a roundtable discussion on Dec 20 with Dr. Abdiweli Ali and the TFG's Dahir Mirreh Jibreel about the situation on the ground and the dangers of inaction by the U.S. They most certainly did not predict the defeat of the TFG. Rather, they predicted the ultimate defeat of the ICU and al Qaeda and they also argued for swift action by the U.S. and its allies. I salute those guys for getting it right.

Posted by Tom Paine at December 28, 2006 11:44 AM ET:

CTF-HOA in Djibouti has been quietly training the Ethiopians (and other local militaries) in this kind of warfare for four years.

Apparently they were good pupils and have just now proved it.

Staying under the international media's "radar" is critical to continued success -- which is why the Ethiopians will now "withdraw".

Posted by kaliph at December 29, 2006 7:54 AM ET:

I recall a couple analysts predicting the fall of the TFG, but it's quite obvious I was painting with too large a brush.

And most definitely I had remembered Dr. Abdiweli Ali and Dahir Mirreh Jibreel's correct predictions on your latest show; I was thinking there had been others on your show predicting the opposite, but after going back & re-listening, I can't seem to find evidence of that.

Sorry Bill & Nick. Whatever you do, don't kick me off the mailing list. ;-)