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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

War and Reaction in Ethiopia

Also in the news: [Choosing Chaos Over Stability in Somalia] - [European Union pushes for new peace talks in Somalia] - [Islamist leaders on the run so far elude Somali-Ethiopian troops] - [Ethiopia to host Super Cup]

International: [Kenyans deport Somali refugees] - [Giuliani's presidential plan leaked] - [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki longs to leave office] - [Saddam Co-defendants To Be Executed Early Thursday] - [Star sings for Moscow billionaire] and more of today's top stories

Click here for Qaliti qalkidan’s 2007 New Year e-card

On tomorrow’s edition (January 4th ); ETP will feature a look back at the highs and lows of 2006, the top 20 news headlines of the past year as chosen by the editors.

War and Reaction in Ethiopia
Jordan Flaherty

Few people here (in Ethiopia) believed Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi when he said this week that this war was not inspired by the US. When asked the reason for this war, Idriss, a businessman in the Southern city of Dilla smiled and said, "we were tricked by your government." A Women's rights activist from Addis Ababa said, "of course, we are a proxy army for the US. Do you remember when the US tried to send troops to Somalia?"

...Despite the mixed reactions, there was little outward sign of dissent. Even those expressing verbal condemnation of the war often spoke in hushed tones.

"Even here," the college dean told me, gesturing towards the posh hotel we were speaking in, "there is certainly at least one person who works for the government security."

Ethiopians have learned a painful lesson on the cost of dissent. In May of 2005, thousands of students here in the lakeside city of Awasa, as well as in the capital and other cities around the country, erupted in protest at what was widely condemned as a rigged national election. According to a report at the time from Amnesty International, at least 26 students and other protestors were killed, more than a hundred were wounded, and more than 1,500 were arrested, and "at risk of torture."

According to a recent report from UNICEF, Ethiopia is one of world's most impoverished countries, with at least 23% of the population living on less than 1 dollar a day and a countrywide average life expectancy of just 48 years old. Ethiopia has experienced decades of dictatorship, and Zenawi's government - in power since overthrowing the nominally communist dictatorship of Colonel Mengistu in 1991, is seen by many here as a step forward from that legacy, but still far removed from a representative government, and for many people here, the hard times and poverty continue.(More...)

Choosing Chaos Over Stability in Somalia

In the "Background Notes" the State Department provides for every nation in the world, I could find only one country labeled with the following description: "Government Type: None." Somalia.

The page was last updated in October 2006, and recent developments might present the officials tasked with bringing it up to date with an interesting dilemma: Can they now give the country some hope in the form of a more conciliatory description? Maybe "Government Type: Interim." Or "Government Type: Foreign-Assisted." Or "Government Type: To Be Announced."

The war in Somalia has entered a second stage. Now that the "hot war" is over, Islamist militiamen are trying to escape Ethiopian forces by sneaking into neighboring Kenya or taking off their uniforms and blending with the civilian population while promising to keep the battle alive by other methods, namely insurgency. But the government question is far from settled, and neither are the questions about the role of the United States in the conflict engulfing the Horn of Africa. Answers are hard to find for many reasons, but chief among them is the information gap.(More...)

European Union pushes for new peace talks in Somalia

BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) -- European countries met on Wednesday to push for a revival of the peace process in Somalia, as Ethiopian warplanes backing the Somali government pursued fleeing Islamists near the border with Kenya.

The Islamists, who withdrew from their last stronghold on Monday after two weeks of war, rejected a government amnesty offer after disappearing into the hills and vowing to fight on.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told Reuters before the meeting in Brussels: "We are keen to see an inclusive political process in Somalia ... without that it will be difficult to achieve security."(More...)

Islamist leaders elude Somali-Ethiopian troops in hot pursuit

MOGADISHU (AFP) - Somali government troops, backed by Ethiopia, have said they had so far failed to capture any Islamist leaders who have been running for two days since abandoning their last remaining stronghold.

In Kenya, authorities deported hundreds of Somali refugees who had crossed into the country as Nairobi heightened its frontier security, a day after Ethiopian helicopters bombed Kenyan positions by mistake.

Routed from their positions by overwhelming Ethiopian force and government troops after nearly two weeks of fighting, the Somali Islamists and foreign fighters fled their last bastion, the key southern port town of Kismayo, on Monday, but had eluded their pursuers.(More...)

Ethiopia to host Super Cup

Ahly of Egypt will meet Tunisia's Etoile Sahel in the African Super Cup in Ethiopia next month. This follows a decision by officials to break with the tradition of allowing the African Champions League winners to host the annual match against the Confederation Cup winners.

The match will be played in Addis Ababa on 18 February. The Confederation of African Football wants the Super Cup to form part of their 50th anniversary celebrations in Ethiopia, one of the four founder members of the organisation.

Ahly will be seeking a third Super Cup to follow up on previous triumphs in 2002 and last year. (More...)

Today's Top Stories

-Kenyans deport Somali refugees
-Giuliani's presidential plan leaked
-Clinton-Obama differences clear in votes
-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki longs to leave office
-Saddam Co-defendants To Be Executed Early Thursday
-Spain says peace process broken by ETA bomb
-Star sings for Moscow billionaire
-Pat Robertson: God told me of 'mass killing' in 2007