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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ethiopian helicopters miss Somali target, bomb Kenya

Also in the news: [Somali Islamists Refuse Amnesty Offer] - [Islamic Courts Abandon Kismayo, Establish "Shadow Governments"] - [Gunman kills Ethiopian soldiers in Jilib town] - [Poof! The Magic Jihadist!] - [Conversations with Jeffrey Sachs] - [Somali Islamists are gone, "khat" is back!] - [Ethiopian teenager missing ]

International: [US pays tribute to Ford] - [Hanging rushed despite appeal] - [Palestinian militants attack Israeli truck] - [Iran vows to 'humiliate' U.S] and more of today's top stories

Picture of the day - Sgt. First Class Bill Flippo, 27, of Winfield, Kansas, speaks through an interpreter while teaching basic infantry tactics to Ethiopian soldiers in the field at Hurso.

Ethiopian helicopters miss Somali target, bomb Kenya

NAIROBI (AFP) - Ethiopian helicopters pursuing Somali Islamists missed their target and bombed a Kenyan border post, prompting Kenyan fighter planes to rush to the area, officials said.

A top Kenyan police official, who requested to remain unnamed, told AFP that the four helicopters targeted the Somali town of Dhobley, about three kilometres (two miles) from the frontier line, only to end up dropping bombs on Kenya's Har Har border post.

"At about 4:30 pm (1330 GMT), the four helicopters wanted to bomb Dhobley, but it appears they missed target and dropped three bombs in Har Har, which is on our side of the (Kenyan) border," said the official.

"The helicopters then returned and dropped three other bombs," he added. "We have just sent our planes there." There was no immediate mention of the casualties and damage on the grounds hit.

The bombing came hours after Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki held talks with the national security committee at the port city of Mombasa.(More...)

Poof! The Magic Jihadist!

"Zenawi has asserted that he has a legal and moral obligation to support and defend the STG...Of course, the claim of a “legal obligation” to invade a sovereign country is nonsense, and unsupported in international law; and there is no such thing as a “moral” obligation or justification for military invasion."

...It is apparent that the U.S. has not had a comprehensive policy for Somalia over the past 15 years. The ironic truth is that 1) the Bush Administration does not have a coherent policy for Somalia as a failed state, and 2) the two individuals who are responsible for developing such a policy, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, and Assistant Secretary Jendayi Fraser (regarded by many informed commentators as lacking the authority and skill to craft a diplomatic solution), both African American, have manifested little interest or political will to deal with the Somali issue.

Recent comments by important American policy makers on U.S. policy (or lack of) are revealing. John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, asserted that Somalia “has come back on the radar screen only fairly recently.” Sen. Joseph Biden D-DE), the incoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. had special criticism for the Bush administration: “By making a bad bet on the warlords to do our bidding, the administration has managed to strengthen the [Islamic] Courts, weaken our position and leave no good options. This is one of the least-known but most dangerous developments in the world, and the administration lacks a credible strategy to deal with it.”

Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-WI), the incoming chairman of the Senate Africa Subcommittee criticized Rice for failing to develop a “comprehensive strategy” and give high-level attention to Somalia. He has promised to hold hearings in January, 2007. Representative Donald Payne (D-NJ) implicitly rejected the Administration’s policy on the Horn by “strongly condemning” Ethiopia’s “aggression and called for the immediate withdrawal of Ethiopian and all foreign forces from Somalia.” (More...)

Somali Islamists refuse govt amnesty offer

MOGADISHU, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Somali Islamists on Tuesday said they refused a government offer for amnesty after a two week war that drove them out of their strongholds.

"We cannot accept the government offer for surrender," Islamist spokesman Abdirahim Ali Mudey told Reuters by phone from a hideout. "If the world thinks we are dead, they should know we are alive. We will rise out of the ashes."

The Somali government has offered an amnesty to Islamist fighters -- some of whom it says have been in touch -- but insists foreign fighters who backed them will face the courts. The Islamists fled their last stronghold in the southern port city of Kismayu on Monday in the face of Ethiopian bombardment.

Ethiopian planes, tanks and troops helped the Somali interim government drive out the Islamists from Mogadishu last week, breaking free from its provincial outpost Baidoa to end six months of Islamist rule across much of southern Somalia.(More...)

Islamic Courts Abandon Kismayo, Establish "Shadow Governments"

"the real battle" in Somalia will likely begin when Ethiopia begins to pull its troops back. - Daveed Gartenstein-Ross

(Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, I spoke with a military intelligence officer this morning about the situation in Somalia. He reported that the radical Islamic Courts Union (ICU) has abandoned Kismayo and dispersed. Kismayo is one of Somalia's strategic port cities: after abandoning Kismayo, the ICU seemingly no longer controls any strategic cities. However, the group does control a sizeable geographic area, both in the north and south of the country. The ICU primarily controls smaller towns and villages.

My source reports that even in areas that the ICU controls, it is giving up active control and forming "shadow governments." The term "shadow government" refers to Mafia-style governance, similar to what Al Capone had in Chicago in the 1920s: in these areas the ICU doesn't have formal control, but is the real power. This mirrors the Taliban's position in much of northern Pakistan.

...Moreover, my source says that "the real battle" in Somalia will likely begin when Ethiopia begins to pull its troops back. Thus far, ICU forces have been melting away as the Ethiopians advance. This is reminiscent of the Taliban's dispersal after Kandahar fell in Afghanistan. There is confirmation that the three suspects in the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings who were in Somalia escaped during the ICU's retreat. Some ICU members are trying to escape to Kenya, and have a good chance of succeeding because the Kenyan police are notoriously corrupt. ICU leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys is nowhere to be seen. Ethiopians and U.S. intelligence reportedly put the number of ICU fighters killed in the thousands.(More...)

Gunman kills Ethiopian soldiers in Jilib town

Mogadishu 02, Jan.07 ( Sh.M.Network) -Reports from Jilib town confirm that an Islamist fighter armed with grenades and assault rifle in Jilib town of middle Jubba region ambushed a compound where Ethiopian soldiers reside killing at least two soldiers and wounding many more.

An eyewitness told Radio Shabelle that the armed man who believed to be Islamist fighter attacked and targeted Ethiopian soldiers three times by spraying bullets on them bringing two Ethiopian soliders to their sudden death on the scene while injuring many more including an Ethiopian officer as reports confirm.(Source)


Conversations with Jeffrey Sachs

As the UN Special Advisor on the Millenium Development Goals, he has actively lobbied in favor of increased aid funds for Africa—and Ethiopia, in particular. He has continually applauded the ‘development efforts’ of Meles Zenawi in addition to repeatedly expressing respect for his intellect, personal charisma and “vision”. Sachs was on hand to personally award him the “first ever African Green Revolution Award” (only a couple of months after the June 2005 civilian massacre)—and since by now we are all more than aware of the ‘dubious conditions’ under which that prize was awarded, we can only assume that rumors of a personal friendship between the two must at least be somewhat founded.

The much celebrated UN-supported Millenium Village Project (a continent-wide social experiment…excuse me… 'sustainable development project, endvoring to eradicate extreme poverty at the village level within a 5 year timeframe' ) is also the brainchild of this man, and Ethiopia was selected by him as the second “host country” to participate—thus blessing us with the village of Koraro (in Tigray) and promised future “subsequent national scale-up’. (More...)

Somali Islamists are gone -- so "khat" is back!

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Perhaps the most telling sign of Somalia's remarkable power shift is the rapid return to Mogadishu's streets of the leafy twigs known as 'khat'.

Traditionally chewed by most Somali men, but outlawed since June by hardline Islamists, the mild stimulant reappeared within hours of Mogadishu's recapture by government forces last week. "I am happy that miraa (khat) is back on the street. Now we can work because it gives us some energy," said Abdi Awale, a Mogadishu resident. "But my expenses will go up again."

Normally chewed in the afternoons and evenings, the leaf releases a mild stimulant, although users later feel down. It has a central place in Somali social gatherings, and gives a livelihood to traders and importers. The Somali Islamic Courts Council (SICC) beat a hasty retreat from the capital and much of the south they had controlled for six months after a two-week war with government forces backed by Ethiopian troops.

After defeating warlords from Mogadishu in June last year, the SICC had brought some semblance of order to one of the most dangerous cities in the world. (More...)

Today's Top Stories

-Oprah builds school in S Africa
-Hanging rushed despite appeal
-US pays tribute to Ford
-Palestinian militants attack Israeli truck
-Iran vows to 'humiliate' U.S
-Mob burns house of village thug