Sunday, January 07, 2007

Somalia: invaded by proxy.

So, the last time I wrote about this, Ethiopia was operating 'covertly' in Somalia. Since then it has invaded and helped the 'transitional government' take much of the country. That won't last. The varied pattern of order that the Islamic Courts had brought (with differing degrees of strictness based on local conditions) was replaced fairly swiftly by:

a rising level of chaos, as armed bandits swept the city and fragmented clan militia began to battle each other for the spoils of war. Witnesses said an intense gun battle raged around a former Islamist ammunition dump and that clan warlords had instantly reverted back to setting up roadside checkpoints and shaking down motorists for money. Many terrified residents stayed in their homes behind bolted doors and the few that ventured into the streets carried guns.

The Ethiopian troops are deeply unpopular. The New York Times reports today that Somalis have stormed the capital to hurl rocks at the invading troops. As Charlie Kimber writes, the US-backed invasion will "further destabilise a region which has repeatedly been torn apart by war and famine", but was prosecuted by Zenawi to cash in on being Bush's premiere ally in the region, a strategically important one given its proximity to the Gulf States. However, the superiority of Ethiopia's military will meet the same limitation that the overwhelming force deployed by their American masters in Iraq and Afghanistan has: they are not prepared for a rising crescent of irregular guerilla resistance.

That this also means a potentially catastrophic humanitarian situation if war spills out across the horn of Africa will not unduly worry the Bush administration or any future US executive. But we should recognise it as one more site in the ever-expanding war for total spectrum dominance, and one more front in the struggle against the empire.