Mogadishu (Sunatimes) There's always one uninvited guest crashing
the party, twelve cans of strong lager tucked under his armpit, embarrassing
guests who realize there is no one big enough around to throw him out.
And so Ethiopia enters the free-for-all to save Somalia. Ethiopia is fully
expected to dance around Somalia wearing a lamp shade, backslapping Kenya,
talking up its ASWJ wingmen and being completely lout like while breaking their
Regional grouping IGAD on Friday provided the invitation late,
although its request came in the form of requesting troops for the peacekeeping
mission. Ethiopia said it was considering the request, but soldiershave
already crossed the borderinto Somalia,taking up positions in Galgadud.Ethiopia
may restrain its antics as it limits its invasion to the Baidoa area,
butal-Shabaab was almost giddy with delight as itredeployed troops to face the
Ethiopian advance. "The Boys" were the directly result of
Somalia's 2006 choice between two-worst case scenarios.
Sadly, this latest descent into dysfunction is not limited to
Ethiopia as we explore in aforward-looking opinion piece.
Apart from the new factor, it was business as usual, with Kenya
not doing much advancing and indecisive fighting taking place across the
country.There werethree days of fightingin
Mogadishu's Karaan district, while al-Shabaab's bombs struck on three occasions
throughout the capital, the deadliest blastkilling eleven civilians.Air
strikes were reportedon al-Shabaab targetsand
there wasfighting in Afmadow district,
while al-Shabaab was forced toviolently suppressa
small uprising by villagers after an old woman was beaten for not wearing
The major confrontation between Kenya and its TFG allies and the insurgents has
yet to take place, but many residents have decided they arenot going to hang aroundto
watch the fireworks, defying al-Shabaab's order to stay put in search of safer
ground.They may be advised not to flee to Mogadishu where, apart from the
fighting and bombings that are taking their toll, residents are feelingless than safe under the TFG's watch.
A good number of people interviewed bySomalia Reportsaid
they felt more secure under al-Shabaab, which is no surprise given the
insurgents' firm treatment of anybody who transgresses their laws.We've
talked of the killing, robbing and looting being carried out by TFG forces on
many occasions, and it looks increasingly likely that the government will lose
what good will it has if it doesn't finally live up to its promises of bringing
safety and security to its people.
The Kenyans continued to pay a still relatively modest price for
their incursion into Somalia, with one soldier dead in aland mine blastin
Kenya's Mandera districtand five more civilians perishing whentwo hand grenades were thrownin
Al-Shabaab has promised major operations, which have yet to materialize, and if
the attacks stay at the same level they are unlikely to dent Kenya's resolve to
stay in Somalia to meet its every-shifting goals. Still, most observers feel a
big bomb blast is likely, and with Christmas coming up in the
Christian-majority nation, there is still a real sense of fear in the capital
It wasn't exactly peaceful up in Puntland either, where anIED explodednear a
mosque in Galkayo. Police blamed al-Shabaab, as they tend to do, but it could
be related to one of the many ongoing conflicts between clans, pirates and
militias that have dented the semi-autonomous region's reputation as being a
tad safer than the south of the country.There was, at least, apeace dealthat
created an uneasy ceasefire between two clans fighting over water and pasture
in Karkaar, so that should lower the body count.
One of our correspondents also took a look at themedia scenein
Puntland, where authorities have been accused of cracking down on journalists
who are not toeing the government line.
It was one of the quietest week for piracy news on record, so rather than carry
out the same desperate exercise to fill space in the newsletter as we
shamelessly indulged in with the piracy report, we'll just point you to thereportitself to find
out the highlights of the week, which are essentially: no hijackings, no
releases and the EU saying it is struggling to provide warships for the
There are a few things worth highlighting this week. First up, we looked at thedifferent groupsfighting
in the south and their differing end games.Then our publisher Robert
Young Pelton took a look atKenya's incursionone
month in.We also took a look at theburden being borneby
the many widows in Somalia, who find themselves having to both father and
mother to their children after the deaths of their menfolk.
That's it from us this week. We wish you happy weekending, and hope to catch up
with you soon.
By Michael Logan.