The Nexus Of Evil
April 30, 2009: Ethiopia’s withdrawal from Somalia left a vacuum there, but it appears that Ethiopia has kept a significant number of troops in the border area. Reports continue to crop up of Ethiopian recon forces inside Somalia. This makes sense. Somali Islamists and Eritrea make common cause with ethnic Somali secessionists in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region. The military wants to cut down on re-supply and infiltration. But there is a larger message –Ethiopian forces could return to southern Somalia very quickly. The government doesn’t want to do this but it could if it had to. The government notes that Somalia’s Al Shabaab radical Islamist organization it threatening to “wage jihad” in neighboring Kenya. The Ethiopian and Kenyan governments have made several bi-lateral security agreements. Kenya has reported that two Islamist militia groups have made that threat. Would an Islamist militia attack on Kenya lead to an Ethiopian foray into Somalia? The threat of a counter-attack can’t be discounted.
April 27, 2009: Ethnic Oromos who oppose the Ethiopian government plan a mass protest in late May. Many of the planned protests will take place in Western Europe (EU countries) since that’s where the television cameras are.
April 22, 2009: Eritrea denied reports that Iran is using Eritrean ports to smuggle weapons into Africa. Allegedly, the Iranian weapons then move north through Sudan and into Egypt, then are smuggled into Hamas-controlled Gaza. However, the Eritrean government acknowledged that weapons smugglers might be “transferring arms on ships” outside of Eritrean territorial waters.
April 16, 2009: Eritrea has gotten a reputation in Africa and the Middle East for “hosting” just about every opposition group on the continent. A new opposition group has appeared in Eritrea, this time a group of Djiboutis who are opposed to the current government of Djibouti. This is of course very convenient for Eritrea, since the Eritrea-Djibouti border war remains unresolved.
April 14, 2009: The government of Somaliland, the separatist Somali “statelet” in northwestern Somalia, accused Eritrea of training rebels who have infiltrated Somaliland. The report claimed that Somaliland police had arrested several “suspects” who were trained in Eritrea. The Somaliland Republic is an ally of Ethiopia. Eritrea argues that Somaliland is a creation of Ethiopia. The statelet is another place where Eritrea and Ethiopia wage their proxy war.
April 12, 2009: The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) disputed Ethiopian government claims made earlier this month that it has been defeated. The ONLF claimed that just the opposite is true and that ONLF forces have been very active in the last month and that its “offensive capacity” was stronger than ever.
April 10, 2009: The Ethiopian government claimed that the rebellion led by the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) is “on its last legs.” This is more than a bit triumphalist, for the rebels have not disappeared from Ogaden. The political war continues as ONLF spokespeople continue to accuse Ethiopia of genocide. Still, things have changed in the Ogaden over the last two years, especially since the great raid, in Spring 2008, on a Chinese oil exploration rig operating in the Ogaden. Attacking the oil venture and kidnapping Chinese workers was a big political move by the ONLF. The ONLF accused the government of stealing wealth from the Ogaden. The government sent the army into the Ogaden in force. It also began moving NGO aid groups out of Ogaden – a move for which it was condemned. Its smartest move, however, was to create its own developmental programs for the Ogaden, projects designed to appeal to “towns and tribes” (ie, farmers and businesspeople as well as pastoralists and even the nomads). It appears the political initiatives, coordinated with the military’s counter-insurgency operations, has begun to pay off – but the ONLF is not on its last legs, yet.
April 8, 2009: The UN accused Eritrea of failing to meet Security Council requirements to withdraw its troops from Djibouti. The UN passed the withdrawal demand resolution in January 2009. Eritrean forces attack Djibouti’s Ras Doumeira peninsula in June 2008