Dec 29, 2006 5:42 pm


Since warning in this opinion piece and this blog against US passivity in the face of the gradual take-over of Somalia by the al-Qaeda-linked Supreme Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC), some provisionally good news: Ethiopian forces have moved from defending the beleaguered Interim Federal Government in Baidoa to ejecting the SCIC from the capital of Mogadishu, which it seized in June. It did this, according to Ethiopian leader, Meles Zenawi, without the US contributing"a single bullet, a single soldier, or a single military equipment to this operation."

Ethiopia has however done this in the face of EU, Arab League and Organisation of the Islamic Conference condemnation.

Additionally - and for some, this factor will be damning - Ethiopia has been criticized editorially by the New York Times. On what ground? - Because it was a"unilateral pre-emptive attack" which"seldom solves anything" and because"Ethiopia's armed forces crossed an international border". Its advice? That"the Security Council must meet urgently to find ways to replace Ethiopian troops with a neutral international force and keep the violence from spreading to other countries."

It is true that violence could indeed spread and that action is needed. However, Ethiopia's"unilateral pre-emptive attack" comes after months of remorseless SCIC aggression against Somalia's lawful government, which has welcomed Ethiopia's help. In these circumstances, coming to the aid of a lawful government under internal assault can be called several things, but unilateral or pre-emptive are not among them. For the meantime, Ethiopia certainly seems to have"solved" something - preventing the imminent demise of Somalia's lawful government. And the proposal the New York Times advises the Security Council to adopt - inserting an international force - is probably a foredoomed idea whose possibility exists at all solely because of Ethiopia's"unilateral,""pre-emptive attack" and" crossing of an international border."

One suspects that the New York Times cannot welcome a non-Muslim victory over Muslim extremists and has plucked out its proposal of a"neutral force" (i.e., mainly Muslim) to preserve what Ethiopian arms alone achieved.

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