UK think tank blasts Ethiopia, US, over Somalia

Reports today indicate that the provisional govt. is proclaiming victory in Mogadishu and urges people to return. We will see. This may be a lull before another storm. I wonder how many African peacekeepers can be recruited to serve in Somalia! Ethiopia seems to be carrying the fight against the insurgents. This will hardly sit well with Somalis.

British think-tank blasts Ethiopia, US over Somalia Wed Apr 25, 3:10 PM ET

LONDON (AFP) - US and Ethiopian military intervention in Somalia has hampered international efforts to bring peace to the war-torn country, an independent British report said Wednesday.

"Genuine multilateral concern to support the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Somalia has been hijacked by unilateral actions of other international actors -- especially Ethiopia and the United States -- following their own foreign policy agendas," the report from the Chatham House foreign affairs think-tank said.

The installation of a new Somali government in early 2007 with Ethiopian backing and US support to counter a rise in Islamism, plus the arrival of African Union peacekeepers, was "highly provocative", it said.

Eight days of ongoing violence between Ethiopian forces and Islamist guerillas in the Somali capital Mogadishu has claimed at least 329 lives, according to a tally from a human rights group.

Similar battles at the end of last month claimed at least 1,000 lives and thousands of civilians have now been displaced.

Chatham House researchers Cedric Barnes and Harun Hassan said support for the brief Islamic Courts regime that came to power in Mogadishu in 2006 is likely to re-emerge.

"This experience (the unrest) dramatically underlines the benefits of the brief period of 'Islamist' authority in southern Somalia which already begins to seem like a 'Golden Age'," they said.

Barnes, from London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and Hassan, from the Somali Media Centre, said people do not trust the government and it does not represent the powerful interest groups in Mogadishu.

"Whatever the short-term future holds, the complex social forces behind the rise of the Islamic Courts will not go away," they said.

"Indeed, while warlords and secular governments have come and gone, the Islamic Courts have enjoyed relatively consistent support for over a decade.

"They have tended to garner support when the populace are fed up with insecurity and ineffectual and corrupt politicians.

"For these reasons alone, as well as the likely long-term failure of the Transitional Federal Government's reliance on foreign protection and unwillingness to reconcile with armed opponents, the forces behind the Islamic Courts -- in one form or another -- are likely to rise again."


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