Martial Law in Somalia, Ethiopian forces mass south of Mogadishu

The Somalia Battlefield on 12/29/2006.
Light blue – Ethiopian & TFG advances.
Green – ICU territory.
Orange – recent clashes.
Click image to view.

Islamic Courts massing in Kismayo; ICU fighters to be pardoned; Ethiopians indicated they will stay

The Ethiopian and Transitional Federal Government occupation of Mogadishu has begun. Shabelle notes that “over thousand Ethiopian troops accompanied by military vehicles” entered Mogadishu, and “hundreds of Mogadishu residents could be seen clapping and handing [wreaths] to the Ethiopian troops.” In an opinion piece about how the world views the Somali conflict, SomaliNet says the welcoming of the TFG and Ethiopian forces should not be surprising. “The overwhelming feedback SomaliNet received so far tells a unique story. The majority of the feedbacks we received were pro-courts in the first days of the war. As soon as the government started winning, the mood changed into nationalism, sense of [pride] and the possibility of a long awaited national government. The public loves winners no matter which side.”

Ali Mohamad Gedi, the Prime Minister of Somalia, spoke 20 miles south of the capital, and declared there would be months of martial law in Somalia, secured with the help of the Ethiopians. “This country has experienced anarchy and in order to restore security we need a strong hand, especially with freelance militias… No clan will be allowed to possess weapons of any kind. We will deal with people who claim they seized grounds according to the government laws… The capital will be secured by our good friends, the Ethiopian troops and the Somali forces.” Gedi later entered Mogadishu in an armored column.

Shabelle reports Ethiopian Prime Minister Males Zenawi said his country’s troops will withdraw “when the [Somali] government becomes able to handle its security and problems in the country.” The hunt for Islamic Courts leaders and al Qaeda operatives remains a major priority. “We are working with the international community that the radicals should not escape by sea or land”, said Zenawi.

Mohamed Dhere, a warlord that controlled the Middle Shabelle region, has indicated low level Islamic Courts fighters would be pardoned. “Only the members of the Shura Council of the courts will be brought to justice. Like Mohamed, government spokesman, Abdirahman Dinari, Prime Minister Ali Gedi and Colonel Abdi Qaybdid who controls lower Mudug and Galgudug provinces, all said they are not interested in revenge… The only wanted people are members of courts’ ruling congress and foreign fighters,” Somalinet reports.

With the capture of Modagdishu, the Islamic Courts units in central Somalia that were engaged in fighting in Puntland have been split from the units in the Lower Jubba region of the country. ICU forces still appears to be in the field, and have been reported to be massing in the strategic southern port city of Kismayo. “Some reports say many of the men want to cross into Kenya while others say they want to wage a guerrilla war and hide in dense bushes of Lower Jubba province,” SomaliNet notes.

“We will not run away from our enemies. We will never depart from Somalia. We will stay in our homeland,” said Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the leader of the Council of Islamic Courts, in an interview with The Associated Press.

Ethiopian forces have massed in Afgoe, about 20 miles south of Mogadishu. “There were more than 500 military vehicles in Afgoe,” notes a Garowe reporter. “Of those, approximately 200 were tanks and only 35 vehicles belonged to the Somali government.”

There is no word at the moment on the status of the southern cities of Bardera, Bu’aale and te costal city of Barawe. Also, there is no status update on the fighting in Lego, where ICU forces appeared to be making a lst stand just north of Mogadishu. The TFG and Ethiopian forces must pursue the Islamic Courts leaders to ensure they cannot reorganize and fight an insurgency. And as we stated yesterday, it is vital the borders be sealed and Combined Joint Tak Force Horn of Africa blockade the Somali coast to prevent Islamic Courts leaders and al Qaeda and other foreign fighters from escaping.

The TFG and Ethiopian military operation to oust the Islamic Courts is only the first step in ensuring the al Qaeda backed Islamic Courts does not return to power. The TFG must restore some semblance of order in Somalia (no small task in a nation torn by 16 years of war) and establish itself as a legitimate government. Ethiopian, the United States, the African Union and IGAD (the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) must not lose its focus on Somalia over the next few months and years as the fractious Somali clans and political parties vie for political power.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.

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15 Comments

  • Somali Capitol Of Mogadishu Falls

    The crumbling of the Islamic militias across the swath of territory of Somalia is now almost complete with the attack and utter collapse of those forces in and around the main stronghold of Mogadishu, the capitol of Somalia.

  • tequila says:

    //tinyurl.com/y579pl
    Anti-Ethiopia unrest erupted today in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, a day after Ethiopian-backed forces captured the city.
    Hundreds of Somalis flooded into the bullet-pocked streets to hurl rocks at the Ethiopian soldiers, light tires on fire and shout anti-Ethiopian slogans.
    “Get out of our country!”

  • Al Reasin says:

    I was beginning to worry, that with the political situation in the US concerning Iraq, the efforts of the Bush Administration to prevent the spread of Islamic terror and the establishment of new areas for terrorist training was waning. This is a hopeful sign that we are not beginning the worldwide retreat so desired by the Left. Tightening the control of the seas off of Somalia should be the responsibility of the US Navy and hopefully it is being done behind the fog of war. Maybe those 18 Americans who died in Somalia during the 1993 campaign to restore order there will not have died in vain after all.

  • Martial Law in Somalia, Ethiopian forces mass south of Mogadishu

    Courtesy of The Fourth Rail:
    Islamic Courts massing in Kismayo; ICU fighters to be pardoned; Ethiopians indicated they will stay
    The Ethiopian and Transitional Federal Government occupation of Mogadishu has begun. Shabelle notes that “over tho…

  • 698ers says:

    Three cheers for the Ethiopians!
    They have been the butt of events since the death of Haile Selassie and the murders of his government by the socialists in the mid ’70s.
    Who is supporting their military? Do they have US pilots?

  • Michael says:

    tequila,
    Your entire post should’ve have been in quotes as you pasted verbatum from NYT.
    “But a few hours later, thousands of Mogadishu’s residents came out to warmly greet Ali Mohammed Gedi, the prime minister of Somalia’s transitional government…”
    So, from a few hundred protestors -> to thousands greeting the restored government with wreathes and flowers.
    Of course there are mixed alliances with clans. Anyone keeping up with Somalia since Clinton’s disgraceful exit there knows about the Clan issue.
    Here is an interesting quote which did not make your comment and I think it is very relevant to the chaos of today, “Though officials in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, have said that their troops should not enter downtown Mogadishu, many are camped in the former American embassy, which was closed more than 10 years ago after warlords drove American soldiers out of Mogadishu in a humiliating defeat.
    credit: Mohammed Ibrahim contributed reporting from Mogadishu.
    “…humiliating defeat.”
    It would do well for us all to understand how reporters like Ibrahim see the event 10 years ago, how Al Qaeda and other radical Islamic terrorist the “defeat” of America in Somalia. Clinton made a strategic mistake by now allowing our armed forces to defeat the radicals then. Instead, due to political correctness, millions suffered for 10 years. And the terrorist and rogue regimes saw America as weak and unwilling to act. They immediately took advantage of the situation. And bin Laden himself took it as a sign that our nation did not have the will for long drawn out wars.
    I hope we’re all waking up about these facts and how our enemy perceives us to be weak.
    Somalia has a long way to go. It will take time to see if the new government can restore law and order and if Ethiopia can contribute to that stability.
    But it is a huge mistake 10 years ago and again today if we turn away from these hell holes on earth and let them fester.
    Thankfully, this we bypassed the silliness of UN negotiations and corrupt policies which prevent corrective action to failed states. There is a place for the UN. But it utterly fails during a time of war when Rogue nations supply terrorist that take over other nations.
    PS. so long Saddam.

  • Pat Patterson says:

    Does anyone know if, aside from the airport and inland access, Kismmayo has any features that would allow for a prolonged resistance? Is the city the main southern route out of Somalia to Kenya or to the interior? Or was it simply a matter of it being the destination of the only road out of Mogadishu that the Ethiopeans and the Somalis didn’t control?

  • tequila says:

    Michael,
    Neither you nor I know how many demonstrators turned out pro or con for the Ethiopians and the president who rides in on the back of their tanks. Frankly I think it is much easier to wave at an armed soldier than throw a rock at him.
    More relevant than this is how many Somalis will continue to side with a transitional government that, in the end, depends on Ethiopian armor to stay in power. We’ll see, I guess. Let’s hope the Ethiopians plan better for Phase IV of their operation than Tommy Franks and Don Rumsfeld did for theirs.

  • Judith says:

    Two questions…Is somalia important because of its location? Did the U.S. train and arm the Ethopians?

  • bubarini says:

    Hi Judith,
    I hope I’m not wrong on this, but it is my understanding that the Ethiopia’s have, through their long campaign against the Communist Derg regime, largely trained themselves. My understanding is that they train largely along old Soviet lines and C3 is highly centralized.
    With the huge stocks of ex-Soviet and Chinese weapons they inherited I imagine that stills holds true. And from the way they prosecuted their campain against the Eritreans in the Badme region a couple of years ago, I imagine that doctrine still holds sway. Their arms imports are still overwhelming from the ex-Soviet bloc.
    I believe our current military assistance, at least publicly, has been varying between about $2.5m to $7m since 2001 and is largely confined to the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. The U.S. has established one training and intelligence facility, Camp United, in Ethiopia.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    We are applying to the Ethiopians the same training method we have used to build the Iraqi Army:
    Take the better troops of the army and train them as trainers and send them back as cadre to their units to train their own.
    SF101 technic of leveraging force with minimal employment.

  • Neo-andertal says:

    Tequila,
    People like you always want a set solution to intractable problems that can be implemented in the short term with absolute success. Add to it you suddenly want no deaths in the midst of a political collapse that has lasted decades and killed millions already. Otherwise you seem to want nothing to do with it and are ultra critical of any moves to improve the situation.
    Two weeks ago the situation seemed to be deteriorating and with it the destabilization of Eastern Ethiopia and Puntland (Northern Somalia). This has been reversed by the surprising advance of the Ethiopian army. Indeed the glass is still half empty. The Ethiopian army still has to finish its campaign and after that are sure to met considerable irregular resistance. We will see how much traction the UN sponsored government manages to get. I have my doubts, but at least for now, the area doesn’t have to face an expanding conflict. Contrast that with the worsening situation on the Sudan – Chad border if you will.
    Somalia will continue to be an especially problematic area in a region with many problems. It’s not going to be solved this time around or any time in the near future, but it is a crises that needs to be contained for any shot at tackling any of the areas other issues.

  • Kibitzer says:

    Hopefully, Somali Islamofascists will go the way of the Jacobites, but that’s contingent on their not being allowed to pull a Taliban and to emerge again as a threat in a couple years while the TFC reverts to a spoils system with Ethiopians as their ‘Black and Tans’. Kismayu is close to their bush refuge, I think, which is one reason they desire to hold it. Also, maybe it’s not bad politics to save their base of support in Mogadishu from being trashed in city fighting while using the city of Kismayu, which is reportedly not as friendly, as a battleground.

  • Luke Willen says:

    It will certainly be interesting to see how this situation pans out. Maybe the best thing would be for the US to patrol the sea and air to catch any ICU or Al Qaeda escape attempts by that route. The Eithiopian army takes responsibility, with Western and perhaps UN advisory support to stabilize the situation and get a functioning government on its feet. After that the Eithiopian army, which appears to have done a surprisingly good job (one wonders if there was some sort of US backing), withdraws back within its borders replaced by troops under UN command if support is still needed. Given recent history these troops should not be American, preferably not European and ideally African otherwise we would merely be creating new targets for Al Qaeda.
    P>S. good riddance to Saddam. An evil tyrant who got his justdeserts even if there are those who would question the fairness of his trial.

  • Neo-andertal says:

    “Given recent history these troops should not be American, preferably not European and ideally African otherwise we would merely be creating new targets for Al Qaeda.”

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis