Brave Islamists Withdrawing


The brave and strong Islamist forces who took over in Somalia are, a few days after Ethiopia joined the fight, on the run.

Islamic fighters were in a tactical retreat Tuesday, a senior Islamic leader said, as government and Ethiopian troops advanced on three fronts in a decisive turn around in the battle for control of Somalia.

Somalia’s internationally backed government called on the Council of Islamic Courts to surrender and promised them amnesty if they lay down their weapons and stop opposing the government, spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said from Baidoa, the seat of the government.

Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, leader of the Council of Islamic Courts’ executive body, said the group had asked its troops to withdraw from some areas.

Obviously, the war isn’t over yet. Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed (I wonder how his friends call him… ‘triple s’?) refuses to give up:

“The war is entering a new phase,” he said. “We will fight Ethiopia for a long, long time and we expect the war to go everyplace.”

It could be that Ethiopia will need help from other countries, the West should – obviously – support Ethiopia immediately when Ethiopia asks for it, especially considering the quite real possibility that this war will destabilize the region (as far as this region is any more destabilizable that it is right now).

Experts fear the conflict in Somalia could engulf the region. John Prendergast, a senior adviser with the International Crisis Group, said the war “dangerously escalates regional tensions and leaves the Horn of Africa less secure than it has been in a long time.”

Some analysts also fear that the courts movement hopes to make Somalia a third front, after Afghanistan and Iraq, in militant
Islam’s war against the West.

I do have one concern: it seems to me that the West is allowing a great opportunity to pass by. Not so much an opportunity to beat Islamist forces (Ethiopia can come a long way by itself), but an opportunity to do some much important PR work: the West should use this opportunity: it should come in with money, knowledge and materials and rebuild Somalia. Richer countries are less likely to become radical.

Justin Delabar wrote yesterday:

Ethiopia fears militant Islam surrounding it, threatening its traditionally Christian culture and government. With an unstable Sudan to the west — a country that glady housed Osama bin Laden in the 1990s — and now Islamic Courts Union-ruled Somalia to the east, Ethiopia is certainly in a precarious position. The question is how much support will Ethiopia receive in its operations against the Courts Union in Somalia; will the US provide military aid?

As scrutiny on extremist elements increases in the Middle East, there is a greater chance that they will view Africa as the central and southern Asia of the 21st century; a relative backwater where extremist elements can operate with little scrutiny. The United States and its allies cannot sit idly by and watch such an outcome occur. Bin Laden chose Sudan and then Afghanistan since it was clear no one paid attention to either Africa or Central Asia. Perhaps attention should be paid this time.

I agree completely with Justin. Africa has been ignored, which has been – and continues to be – a major mistake. Lets focus on Africa.

H/t Ed Morrissey, who – accurately – writes:

The Ethiopians will not capture Mogadishu, they claim. They will instead encircle it, pressuring the Islamists to negotiate for their surrender to the Somalian government. The Ethiopians do not want to spend much time in Somalia — they characterized their mission length as “a few weeks” — but they do want to strip the Islamists of their aura of invincibility.

They seem to be accomplishing that mission rather handily. The UIC apparently did not anticipate the Ethiopian thrust into Somalia and obviously did not prepare for it. The UIC has pledged to take their war into Ethiopia as a guerilla campaign, even to Addis Ababa, but perhaps they should concentrate on the one war that they are losing rather badly at the moment

Although the battle for Somalia is far from over, one gets the feeling that the Islamist forces got a bit, umh, overly passionate.

No?

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Author: michaelvdg

  • Russ

    Richer countries are less likely to become radical.

    OK, you have me confused. Rich countries like… Saudi Arabia, which funds Islamist madrassas all over the world? Like Iran, which is the leading sponsor of terrorist groups, due to its oil riches? These countries are less radical than, say, Costa Rica?

    I think you have cause and effect confused. Countries dominated by Islam are more likely to reject modernity and become radical – and this often leads them to poverty unless they have vast natural resources that can be sold (i.e., oil).

  • Travis

    I couldn’t agree more Russ!

  • http://www.themoderatevoice.com Michael van der Galien

    I think you have cause and effect confused. Countries dominated by Islam are more likely to reject modernity and become radical – and this often leads them to poverty unless they have vast natural resources that can be sold (i.e., oil).

    I might agree partially with that (or at least see where you’re coming from). However, it is also known that poor people radicalize faster than rich people. Who are the ones blowing themselves up? The millionairs or those who don’t own a thing? That’s one of the reasons why extremists turn to African countries: lots of poor people, who are more easy to radicalize than rich people.

  • Andrew

    I might agree partially with that (or at least see where you’re coming from). However, it is also known that poor people radicalize faster than rich people. Who are the ones blowing themselves up? The millionairs or those who don’t own a thing? That’s one of the reasons why extremists turn to African countries: lots of poor people, who are more easy to radicalize than rich people.

    Many of the terrorist attacks on “the West” have been conducted by reasonably well educated individuals who are decidedly not poverty stricken.

  • grognard

    As we well now know getting in is easier than getting out, the question is what does Ethiopia do now? Sending the Islamic forces packing does not mean you have defeated them, they have that nasty habit of hiding behind civilians and striking back year after year. This conflict could spread to Ethiopia itself if there is any internal Islamic revolt. Setting up a buffer zone will also be difficult, constant raids and attacks will wear down anyone left.

  • GreenDreams

    I think it’s short sighted to think of this as Islam against the West. As Friedman notes:

    The biggest threat to America and its values today is not communism, authoritarianism or Islamism. It’s petrolism. Petrolism is my term for the corrupting, antidemocratic governing practices – in oil states from Russia to Nigeria and Iran – that result from a long run of $60-a-barrel oil. Petrolism is the politics of using oil income to buy off one’s citizens with subsidies and government jobs, using oil and gas exports to intimidate or buy off one’s enemies, and using oil profits to build up one’s internal security forces and army to keep oneself ensconced in power, without any transparency or checks and balances.

    Friedman, in an article in the Ecologist, charts oil prices and various measures of press freedom, repressive laws and such, and the correlation certainly holds better than Islam. After all, the list is not at all Islamic-only:

    High on my list of petrolist states would be Azerbaijan, Angola, Chad, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

    Michael, you may like his description of the problem as “Dutch Disease”

    This phenomenon has been variously diagnosed as “Dutch Disease” or the “resource curse.” Dutch Disease refers to the process of deindustrialization that can result from a sudden natural resource windfall. The term was coined in the Netherlands in the 1960s, after it discovered huge deposits of natural gas.

    We need to be really careful to avoid the inevitable attempts by our ‘leaders’ to color global events to demonize their chosen group.

  • http://www.drweevil.org Dr. Weevil

    In the first comment, Russ compares “rich countries” like Saudi Arabia and Iran with Costa Rica, which he apparently thinks of as a poor country. With a per capita GNP of $11,400, Costa Rica is richer than Iran ($8,400) and not much poorer than Saudi Arabia ($13,400). Given the way the Saudi princes hog all the money, I suspect that the median income of Costa Rica is actually higher than Saudi Arabia’s. (Figures are from the CIA Factbook, which will of course discredit them in some people’s eyes.) It looks like Russ’s argument needs to go back to the shop for a complete overhaul.

  • Paul in Austin

    I’m a fan of an overall strategy of raising the tide for all ships. The more people’s quality of life is improving that more they are likely to respect the source of support.

    What could $500 Billion do to improve infrastructure in poor and developing countries.

    I am also a fan of 50,000 black operatives to roam the world to eliminate those who promote and practice terrorism. Paradoxical for sure, but anyone have a better idea that could work?

  • Russ

    Dr. Weevil, I obviously chose a poor example (no pun intended). Fine – choose some other 3rd world nation. The majority of them are poorer than Iran or Saudia Arabia, yet very few are sources of threats in the way Iran and S.A. are. The argument stands, even if my example doesn’t.

  • http://www.drweevil.org Dr. Weevil

    No, you choose some examples to back up your case. I’ve already done your homework for you once, and I’m not going to do it again. Unless you want to pay me my standard $30/hour rate for historical research, of course.

  • Elrod

    My concern here is what will happen to the rest of the Horn of Africa. I wholeheartedly support the destruction of the UIC. But we have to consider some consequences.

    1) Somalia will revert back to horrible civil war, which the UIC could easily win again.

    2) Eritrea could follow through and back the UIC, and then restart a war with Ethiopia.

    3) Ethopia could get dragged into a guerrilla war inside Somalia.

    4) Muslims in Ethiopia could rise up in a guerrilla war.

    If two or more of these things happen at once, Ethiopia will be very vulnerable. What will Ethiopia do then? The US is bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. Will the African Union pick sides in a general war between Muslim and Christian nations? Will the UN do anything other than refugee work? What will Europe do?

    I think it’s great to nip the UIC in the bud. But I doubt they will just fritter away after being defeated in open battle by Ethiopia.

  • dutchman

    Ha ha ha Folkert, you stupid shoplifter, Areyou still downloading kids porn :P

    What about your new babe?

    By the way you again did copy paste man :)