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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Somalia could be Ethiopia's quagmire - and create the same problems the U.S. is facing in Iraq

Also in the news: [A Reckless War Borne of Bad Choices] - [Mass Arrests on Christmas Day in Addis] - [UIC chairman says The duels with Ethiopia will be long and unending] - [Censorship in Ethiopia enters the next phase - All Internet cafes ordered to register users] - [Somali flare-up pits three African "dogs of war"] - [Ethiopian troops advance on Mogadishu] - [Meles says up to 1,000 Islamists dead in Ethiopia offensive}

International: [Egypt reports ninth human bird flu death] - [Iraq War Claims More U.S. Lives Than 9/11] - [Israeli PM favors talks with Syria] - [Asian Nations Mark Tsunami Anniversary] - [James Brown's last words: 'I'm going away'] and more of today's top stories

On January 11, 2007, an important Human Rights Symposium will take place in Atlanta. The Coalition for HR 5680, represented by Professor Alemayehu G/ Mariam will participate. In collaboration with other organizations, the Coalition for HR 5680 plans to push for a strongly worded resolution calling for the IMMEDIATE and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience in ETHIOPIA. (More on the symposium...)

Mass Arrests on Christmas Day in Addis


Last night police swarmed the streets of Addis in attempt to broaden the mass arrest efforts already underway.

In addition to the thousands of youths reportedly detained over the weekend, those even remotely connected to the opposition CUD are being systematically rounded up and detained for 'questioning'--thanks to a circulating 'official list' of names and license plate numbers of alleged party supporters.

It is assumed that this action is intended as a preventative measure in light of growing internal opposition to the war following the recent air strikes in Somalia.

People are advised to remain in their homes after dark.

Somalia could be Ethiopia's quagmire

A more involved military offensive might pose the same problems the U.S. is facing in Iraq, observers say.

By Edmund Sanders, Times Staff Writer
December 26, 2006

NAIROBI, KENYA — Ethiopia's attacks against Islamic forces in Somalia may have delivered a short-term military victory, but analysts warned that a longer offensive could present the U.S. ally with some of the same challenges facing American forces in Iraq.

Airstrikes against the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and other towns Sunday and Monday demonstrated Ethiopia's military superiority over the Islamic forces that seized most of southern Somalia during the summer.

But Ethiopia would be hard-pressed to dispatch enough troops to capture and occupy Islamic-held areas of Somalia.

"I don't understand what Ethiopia's objective is," said David Shinn, a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and now a political science professor at George Washington University. "I can't imagine their objective is to occupy and hold Somalia. It was a very limited victory."

Most experts agree that Ethiopia's battle-tested army, numbering as many as 150,000 troops, could easily beat Somalia's ragtag Islamic fighters, which are believed to total under 10,000.(More...)

Meles says up to 1,000 Islamists dead in Ethiopia offensive

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Somalia's Islamists are in full retreat after Ethiopian airstrikes and a ground offensive that have killed up to 1,000 of the religious movement's fighters, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Tuesday.

"A joint Somali government and Ethiopian force has broken the back of the international terrorist forces... These forces are in full retreat," Meles told reporters in Addis Ababa, adding that up to 1,000 Islamist fighters had been killed.

"A few are Somali but the majority are foreigners," he said of the dead.

Addis Ababa has vowed to protect Somalia's weak interim government from rival Islamists based in Mogadishu. A week of artillery and mortar duels between the two sides has spiraled into open war that both sides say has killed hundreds.

Meles said most fighters of the Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) had fled to their home areas. He said Ethiopian forces were now hunting down troops from his arch-foe Eritrea, which he accuses of supporting the Islamists.

"The only forces we are pursuing are Eritreans who are hiding behind the skirts of Somali women, and terrorist mujahideen," Meles said. (More...)

Somali flare-up pits three African "dogs of war"

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Three wily old soldiers who know each other only too well from years at the heart of conflict and power-play across the Horn of Africa are once again pitting their military wits in the Somalia war.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, his ally Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf, and their mutual arch-foe -- Somali Islamist leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys -- are the key players in a flare-up many fear could spread across the region.

"These three have a long and tangled history. They can probably read each other's minds by now," said a Western diplomat who tracks Somalia.

"What they all share is plenty of battlefield experience. And you really could call them three of the Horn of Africa's oldest dogs of war."

Meles, who has sent his military into Somalia to curb the rise of a militant Islamist movement, is a 54-year-old former rebel leader who toppled dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.

The shrewd and tough Ethiopian leader -- initially a darling of the West but increasingly viewed as an autocrat -- first sent troops into Somalia in the early 1990s to crush Islamic militants, led by Aweys no less.

Meles then fought what many outside the region perceived as a pointless 1998-2000 war with Eritrea over a desolate patch of border. The conflict killed 70,000 people and devastated what were already two of the world's poorest nations. (More...)

ICU chairman says The duels with Ethiopia will be long and unending

Mogadishu 26, Dec.06 ( Sh.M.Network) In a press conference held in the capital Mogadishu, Islamic Courts chairman Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed told reporters that the war between the ICU and the Ethiopian troops backing the Somali government will be long and unending.

Ahmed said, “There was a meeting in Emirates between us and the Ethiopian government. They put forward conditions that we should cut our relations with countries like Eritrea, Sudan and other world countries and that we should give up Ethiopian rebels whom they said are in Somalia”.

Ahmed reiterated that there were no al-Qaeda members in Somalia.
Ethiopian prime minister Males Zenawi said on Sunday, that meeting between Ethiopia and Islamists in Somalia ended in failure, and that his country was forced to go into war with Islamic movements. United States says Somalia’s Islamic Courts include radicals and moderates.

Ethiopian fighter jets bombed Mogadishu’s international airport and Baledogle, which is 100 km away from the capital Mogadishu. Islamists retreated many key towns in central and southern Somalia where Ethiopian backed government troops soon occupied.
The Somali government in Baidoa announced that it would extend forgiveness to Islamic Courts forces that surrender. (More...)

Censorship in Ethiopia enters the next phase - All Internet cafes ordered to register users

Groum Abate

The Ethiopian Telecommunication Agency is distributing forms for Internet cafes in the country to register internet users. Sources said that the agency in collaboration with the Federal Police is disbursing the letter to all cyber cafes in Addis Ababa and other major towns.

The form requests the internet user’s ID, full name and residential address. Users will be registered and police officials would collect the form for identification. If an internet café is found giving service to unregistered customers, the owners would be jailed for violation of the regulation with severe punishment.

Ethiopian troops advance on Mogadishu

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Sensing victory against its Somali Islamist foes, Ethiopia attacked retreating fighters from the air on Tuesday and threatened to seize their stronghold Mogadishu after a week of war in the Horn of Africa.

"Ethiopian forces are on their way to Mogadishu. They are about 70 km (40 miles) away and it is possible they could capture it in the next 24 to 48 hours," Somalia's ambassador to Ethiopia Abdikarin Farah told reporters in Addis Ababa.

Islamists said any attempt to take Mogadishu would end in disaster for the attackers. Islamists said any attempt to take Mogadishu would end in disaster for the attackers.

"It will be their destruction and doomsday," Islamist spokesman Abdi Kafi told Reuters. "It is a matter of time before we start striking at them from all directions". (More...)

Today's Top Stories

-A Reckless War Borne of Bad Choices: Enset
-Egypt reports ninth human bird flu death
-Iraq War Claims More U.S. Lives Than 9/11
-Israeli PM favors talks with Syria
-Asian Nations Mark Tsunami Anniversary
-James Brown's last words: 'I'm going away'
-Cash on offer for S Koreans who stay away from prostitutes