Ethiopia invades Somalia


Richard Moore

Original source URL:,0,5839975.story

From the Los Angeles Times
Ethiopia Deploys Troops in Somalia

The soldiers are to help bolster the neighboring interim government, under siege
by Islamists.

From the Associated Press

July 21, 2006

MOGADISHU, Somalia ‹ Hundreds of Ethiopian troops rolled into Somalia in armored
vehicles Thursday to protect their allies in this country's virtually powerless 
government from Islamic militants who control the capital.

The move could give the U.S.-backed Somalian government its only chance of 
curbing the Islamists' increasing power. But Ethiopia's incursion also could be 
the provocation the militia members need to build public support for a guerrilla

"We will declare jihad if the Ethiopian government refuses to withdraw their 
troops from Somalia," said a top militia official, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed.

The neighboring countries are traditional enemies, although Somalian President 
Abdullahi Yusuf has asked Ethiopia for its support. Thousands of Somalis have 
taken to the streets in recent weeks to denounce witness accounts of Ethiopian 
troops massed along the border.

The Bush administration urged Ethiopia to exercise restraint and said the United
States, European Union, African Union, Arab League and others would meet soon to
consider the volatile situation.

Somalia in effect has been without a central government since warlords toppled 
dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on one another, carving much
of the country into armed camps ruled by violence and clan law.

The interim government, which includes warlords linked to the violence of the 
past, was established with the support of the United Nations to help Somalia 
emerge from anarchy. But the body wields no real power, has no military and 
operates only in Baidoa, about 100 miles east of the Ethiopian border.

The Ethiopians, wearing their national military uniforms, deployed Thursday at 
the airport outside Baidoa and set up a fenced compound near the transitional 
president's home in the city, witnesses said.

The militia of the Conservative Council of Islamic Courts stepped into the power
vacuum in recent months, seizing the capital, Mogadishu, and most of southern 

On Wednesday, the militia was within 20 miles of Baidoa.

It began pulling back Thursday as more than 400 Ethiopian troops entered the 
town, witnesses said.

The Bush administration has accused the Islamists of having links to the Al 
Qaeda terrorist network and of sheltering suspects in the deadly 1998 bombings 
of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The militia has installed strict religious courts, sparking fears that it will 
become a Taliban-style regime.

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times

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