November 27, 2007


Ethiopia bogged down in Somalia (BBC, 11/27/07)

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has acknowledged that his troops cannot withdraw from the conflict in Somalia.

Mr Meles said he had expected to withdraw his soldiers earlier in the year, after Islamists had been driven out of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

But he said divisions within the Somali government had left it unable to replace the Ethiopians, while not enough peacekeepers had arrived.

We'll welcome the return of the Courts.

< a href=,1518,519776,00.html>INTERVIEW WITH CHAIRMAN OF SOMALIA'S COUNCIL OF ISLAMIC COURTS: 'The So-Called Legal Government Is a Farce': War-torn Somalia is experiencing ongoing fighting between Islamic insurgents and the Ethiopian-backed government. Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, chairman of the Council of Islamic Courts, talked to SPIEGEL ONLINE about how the Ethiopian forces are violating human rights and why he opposes al-Qaida. (Der Spiegel, 11/27/07)

Until this year, the strongest of the many groups which had been battling for power in Somalia was the Council of Islamic Courts (CIC). The loose-knit union of Islamic courts took control of Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia in 2006 and also threatened to take countrol of Ethiopia's Somali-speaking eastern region, the Ogaden.

The Islamists imposed Sharia law during the second half of 2006. They managed to reunite Mogadishu, which had been divided up among rival warlords, and brought some semblance of law and order to the anarchic country.

The Ethiopian army marched into Somalia in December 2006 to help Somali's interim government oust the CIC. The Islamic group, who are strongly opposed to the presence of Ethiopian troops in the country, fought back, prompting the current wave of violence.

However the CIC is not a homogeneous group but is divided between moderates and hardliners, all of whom claim they want to restore stability and the rule of law in the country. [...]

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The Ethiopians marched in to keep Somalia from turning into an Islamist state.

Sheik Sharif: That was a weak pretense which only complicated the situation even further. We never intended to declare an Islamic republic.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But it was clear which way things were heading in Somalia. Alcohol and music were outlawed and women had to wear veils. Some of your coalition partners declared open sympathy with the mujahedeen in Afghanistan. And didn't the terror network al-Qaida gain a foothold in Somalia?

Sheik Sharif: That was an evil slander. Even if a few of our comrades favored a strict interpretation of Islamic law, it was up to the citizens to orient themselves toward Islamic custom according to their own discretion. I was, and still am today, strictly against giving asylum in Somalia to al-Qaida criminals and their kind.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 27, 2007 11:51 AM

Wonderful, a country run by fundamentalist Muslims according to Sharia law. Look how well it worked out in Afghanistan and Iran and Saudi Arabia. Obviously it would put them on the path to peace, prosperity, and lots of human rights.

Posted by: PapayaSF at November 27, 2007 1:59 PM

Just remember to keep the tomatoes and cucumbers in separate bags at the market and you're on your way to paradise on earth!

Posted by: Rick T. at November 27, 2007 5:01 PM