The continental body, African Union, is reportedly considering a plan to send “thousands of Ethiopian troops” into Somalia in an effort to “stabilize” the country ravaged by civil war and famine. Jeffrey Gettleman, the East Africa bureau chief for The New York Times, reported on Thursday that, “the prospect of the Ethiopian Army returning to the country under the African Union’s banner is highly charged because of Ethiopia’s bitter history in Somalia.”
In 2006, with alleged support from Bush administration, Ethiopia intervened in Somalia. Two years later, Ethiopian forces retreated after facing a quagmire and unpopular support for continued presence there. Since the Ethiopian withdrawal, a small and ineffective battalion of African Union forces have been trying to fend-off the treat of Al-Shabab, the Al-Qaeda affiliated military group in the Horn of African nation.
Kenya is the latest regional body to enter the conflict in Somalia. France has openly declared their support for Kenyan invasion and pledged material assistance. The United States has recently set-up a drone center in Ethiopia from which unmanned aircrafts have been targeting Shabab. Eritrea is frantically attempting to distance itself from Al-Shabab – while Kenya and Ethiopia float rumors of military shipment from Asmara.
Gettleman writes Somalia, which is in effect now an international conflict, is becoming a battleground for an entirely different reason.
Somalia, which has not had an effective national government since 1991, is rapidly becoming an arena where Kenya, Ethiopia and even Uganda, which has contributed thousands of troops to the peacekeeping force, vie for influence and uses their involvement in the war-ravaged country for leverage with Western aid donors.
What kind of effect the conflict will have on the more than 13 million Somali’s who are affected by “the worst humanitarian crisis in 60-years?” No one is saying.
Read Gettleman’s NYT Report : African Union Considers Sending Ethiopian Troops to Somalia