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.

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

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.



  • RTLM says:

    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.

  • kaliph says:

    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.

  • Papa Ray says:

    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

  • crosspatch says:

    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.

  • cjr says:

    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.

  • crosspatch says:

    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.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    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.

  • Pajamas Media: Why Ethiopia is Winning in Somalia

    On Wednesday, I had an article at Pajamas Media that discusses the reasons for Ethiopia’s surprisingly successful military campaign against the radical Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in Somalia. (The previous conventional wisdom that I received from truste…

  • SHIRE says:

    Soomaaliya ha noolaato
    The victory is for Somalians without any difference federalists or islamists and “helping” foriegn forces must leave.

  • kaliph says:

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

  • yot says:

    The Iraq Study Group should have talked to Meles Zenawi.

  • Somalia – The Coming Insurgency?

    The Ethiopian attack of Mogadishu has seemingly succeeded in routing the ICU (originally it was planned as a siege), with the fighters of the ICU fleeing. Is that what has really happened…is that really the result? There are some much

  • Islamists Routed From Mogadishu

    The swift fall of the Islamists from power in Mogadishu should be correctly seen as a big victory against the Islamists and the jihadis. The problem will be the follow up as the Islamists simply melted into the background where they can still cause t…

  • sangell says:

    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.

  • SpeckBlog says:

    Islamists Surrender In Somalia

    The Fourth Rail
    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…

  • Web Reconnaissance for 12/28/2006

    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

  • Nick Grace says:

    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.

  • Tom Paine says:

    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”.

  • Perhaps we can ask Ethiopia for help in Iraq

    However Ethiopia isn’t playing by the United Nations approved, NATO Standardized, US Government policy on how to fight a war to lose. It seems that they aren’t giving much if any quarter to fighters. They are actually killing the enemy.

  • The Fall of the Islamic Courts

    Courtesy of The Fourth Rail:
    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 Gov…

  • Ethiopians Continue Domination of Islamist Savages

    Cleaning Up Clinton’s Foreign Policy Legacy in Mogodishu
    The antidote to the Iraq Surrender Group’s “strategem.” That is, victory over a legion of the Islamic psychobrigades of the world through uncompromising ass-stomping. Bill Roggio highlights:

  • kaliph says:

    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. 😉


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram