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Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Road to Mogadishu Begins in Kaliti

Also in the news: [SOCEPP: Ethiopian government intensifies repression in the country as war in Somalia rages on] - [CNN: Ethiopian troops enter Mogadishu] - [Somalia: Banditry insecurity rage in Mogadishu as Islamists leave] - [U.S. Should Not Support Ethiopia’s Invasion of Somalia] - [Pressure mounts on Ethiopia to withdraw troops from Somalia] - [Ethiopia's Invasion Bodes Ill for Regional Peace] - [Serkalem's struggle against tyranny] - [Kenya: MPs condemn Ethiopia’s attack on Somalia]

International: [Ford funeral to begin Friday] - [John Edwards joins Democratic presidential race] - [Iraqis brace for Hussein execution] - [Ford disagreed with Bush over Iraq invasion -WPost] and more of today's top stories

The Road to Mogadishu Begins in Kaliti

As the Ethiopian troops roll into Mogadishu, there are a few things we should keep in mind.

The first is that as 2007 comes upon us, Prime Minister Meles and the politburo of the EPRDF, are, faced with an intense challenge. How do you advance as the party of the future, the party of the developmental state, when you have extremely low legitimacy in the eyes of anyone outside the party's or government's payroll. Since the election debacle of 2005, the EPRDF has pained itself to assume some kind of legitimacy in the eyes of the populace and intelligentsia, but has failed to find any traction in doing so.

And reasons for that failure are our friends in Kaliti. In the eyes of the public, the imprisoned CUD still holds legitimacy. It is the mayor of Addis Abeba in jail at the Addis Abeba Penitentiary, not an arrogant rebel group, not corrupt businessmen, and definitely not Islamists.

The infamous trial, and the post-traumatic stress that was 2006, has done nothing to change the place of the CUD in the minds of the populace. The Great Ethiopian Run showed us that. For far too many people (as far as the EPRDF is concerned), the CUD is the future, and despite all his high school debate club rhetoric and post flood visits to Dire Dawa, Meles has been incapable of changeing that view. And despite all the concessions made in parliament to make the political body seem like a legitimate forum for countervailing opinion and dissent, the people shrug and keep their eyes on Kaliti.

It is in that context that Meles pulls the trigger on Somalia, and that says everything. Meles has no more tricks up his sleeve. The rule of the EPRDF, with the onset of 2007 and the upcoming millennium, is just a regime: not a program, not a revolution, not reform. They have come full circle confirming what many had claimed a long while ago: the revolutionary democrats are still just guerillas in suits clinging onto power and using brute force and Derg-worthy militarism, to do so.(More...)

Ethiopian government intensifies repression in the country as war in Somalia rages on
SOCEPP, Solidarity comity for Ethiopian political prisoners
Press release

As the EPRDF regime enters into a much condemned war against factions in Somalia, it has stepped up the repression inside Ethiopia. This wave of repression is aracterized by a daily rounding up and arrest of youngsters in Addis Ababa and other localities, in the shooting to death of resisting youngsters like Abebe Haile Mariam and Assefa Tesfaye, in the forced recruitment of youngsters into the army and indiscriminate military actions in the Ogaden and other areas.

The rounding up of youngsters has been done on an almost daily basis in the last month and is still continuing. Security forces have also continued to search districts alleging that they are looking for arms during which operations many innocent people have been manhandled and beaten. In the month of December alone, more than 436 people have bene detained on suspicion of "anti peace activities" that have yet to be defined adequately. Rounded up youths have been forcefully taken to military training camps.

The regime's adventure and war in Somalia have made it even jittery and it is using the war as a pretext to curtail the rights of the people even further. All those who do not support the war are being labelled as "agents" and threateed with reprisals of all sorts. On the other hand, Ethiopian refugees in Somalia are also not faring well in the hands of the Islamic Courts.

SOCEPP condemns with vigor the ongoing mass arrest of youngsters in Ethiopia and their forced recruitment into the army. SOCEPP also condemns the search and seizure operations that have led to the violation of rights and outright robbery of the property of innocent civlians.

CNN: Ethiopian troops enter Mogadishu

Ethiopian troops, along with Somali government soldiers, entered Mogadishu on the heels of retreating Islamist troops Thursday, according to a journalist in the Somali capital.

Witnesses reported chaos and looting throughout the city as the Islamist fighters abandoned the city ahead of the advancing troops.(More...)

Somalia: Banditry insecurity rage in Mogadishu as Islamists leave

Mogadishu 28, Dec.06 - With Islamists entirely withdrew from the capital Mogadishu, looters could be seen stealing Islamist reserved arms in their main headquarters in the northern part of the capital Mogadishu.

The Union of Islamic Courts, which was militarily powerful and in firm control of the capital withdrew from Mogadishu late on Wednesday afternoon. It surrendered all battlewagons known as “technicals” back to local clans that gave their backing to Islamists in the first place.

The ICU chairman Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed accompanied by the consultative leaders Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys and Ibrahim Sulaey held a press conference in south of Mogadishu last night. Sheik Sharif who spoke at the news conference said he would call on the civilian population in Mogadishu to take care of the security in the capital and cooperate with Islamist forces that he said will secure the stability of the city.

Islamist soldiers who retreated from their strongholds in southern and northern parts of the country which were immediately occupied by Ethiopian and pro-government troops, put off the military dresses mingling with the ordinary people.

Repeated gunshots could be heard in Mogadishu all last night. Clan militias have instantly taken over all Islamist positions, setting up checkpoints. (More...)

U.S. Should Not Support Ethiopia’s Invasion of Somalia
By Amitabh Pal, The Progressive

The Ethiopian government is quite possibly manipulating intelligence to fool the United States into thinking the threat from the Somali Islamists to be bigger than it actually is.

Unfortunately, the Bush Administration is so spooked by the specter of Islamic fundamentalism that it’s willing to overlook the dangers of the conflict sparking off a larger conflagration.

The human toll of the invasion is increasing day by day. Plus, the U.S. backing for the invasion will add to its unpopularity on the continent and in the Middle East. The African Union and the Arab League have called for Ethiopia to pull out, as have Kenya and Djibouti. The United States should firmly add its voice, and instead of backing military adventures should invest in the Somali peace process as a way of staving off the Islamist threat.(More...)

Pressure mounts on Ethiopia to withdraw troops from Somalia

The Arab League and the African Union have called for Ethiopian troops to be withdrawn from Somalia immediately. Ethiopian troops are said to be only 30 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu.

Speaking after a joint consultative meeting the chair of the African Union commission, Alpha Oumar Konare, said the three organisations wanted to see Ethiopia's troops withdrawn from neighbouring Somalia immediately.

Mr Konare told journalists at the African Union headquarters that they wanted all parties to cease hostilities and return to peace talks. (More...)

Ethiopia's Invasion Bodes Ill for Regional Peace

Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia is a threat not only to the Union of Islamic Courts, (UIC) but to any prospect of peace and order in this war-torn country. It also violates the Security Council resolution 1725 of December 6, 2006, which prohibits neighbouring states from deploying troops to Somalia.

The impact of this invasion is likely to be exacerbated by the UN Security Council's decision to partially lift an arms embargo on Somalia, which had been in force since January 1992. The embargo was not particularly effective, but by lifting it in respect of a force to be trained by IGAD and the African Union, the UN may have opened a floodgate.

Somalia has been without an effective government since the overthrow of former military dictator Siad Barre in January 1991. Had the transitional government, which was established in 2004, been united, disciplined and focused, the UIC would not have dislodged it earlier this year.(More...)

Serkalem's struggle against tyranny

Serkalem at four months pregnant, was arrested by the Ethiopian authorities along with her husband, journalist Eskinder Nega, for publishing materials critical of the government

November 1 2005, their offices were searched and the next day security forces were dispatched to arrest the couple in their home. Upon arrival, they discovered that the pair had already escaped and gone into hiding. Instead, her mother was taken hostage and held in custody for five days while the pictures of the couple were broadcast on national television, accompanied by a public arrest warrant and a statement denouncing them as dangerous criminals. For three weeks they remained in hiding, during which time her closest brother was arrested and then released, only to inadvertently lead government agents who were assigned to track down the `fugitives' to their hiding spot.

In the months that followed, Serkalem endured a difficult pregnancy within the Squalid conditions of her cell—forced to cope alone with the wildly fluctuating temperatures of the tropics and frequent prison outbreaks of lice and infectiousdisease. Despite such hardship, she continued to display remarkable courage, regularly appearing in court with her head held high, rising with the other defendants at the bench when requested even during the final stages of her third trimester. According to Amnesty reports, she was denied sufficient medical and pre-natal care throughout the pregnancy, and eventually gave birth to her son in the undesirable conditions of the police hospital under 24-hour official guard.(MORE..)

Today's Top Stories

-Kenya: MPs condemn Ethiopia’s attack on Somalia
-Ford funeral to begin Friday
-Ford disagreed with Bush over Iraq invasion -WPost
-John Edwards joins Democratic presidential race Canada
-Iraqis brace for Hussein execution
-Saddam's Death To Be Videotaped
-Head-banging snakes may predict quakes