Proxy war in Somalia


Richard Moore


Here we read that a Russian plane delivered weapons to Somalian rebels. The 
article then interprets that as sign of a proxy war between Ethiopia and 
Eritrea. It looks to me more like a proxy war between the US and Russia.


Original source URL:

Experts see proxy war under way in Somalia
By MOHAMED SHEIKH NOR, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jul 26, 3:52 PM ET

A mysterious Russian-built cargo plane believed to be loaded with weapons landed
in this capital Wednesday, setting off a fresh round of allegations that Somalia
has become a proxy battleground for its neighbors Eritrea and Ethiopia.

The United States and other Western powers have cautioned outsiders against 
meddling in Somalia, which has no single ruling authority and can be manipulated
by anyone with money and guns. But there's little sign the warning has been 

Somalia's virtually powerless government charged on Wednesday that the 
Ilyushin-76, only the second flight to land at Mogadishu International Airport 
in a decade, was packed with land mines, bombs and guns. It said the shipment 
had come from Eritrea, which supports the Islamic militia that has seized the 
capital along with most of southern Somalia.

Just hours later, a U.N. envoy confirmed that troops from Ethiopia, Eritrea's 
foe, were in Somalia to protect the defenseless government from the advancing 
Islamic forces.

Somali government leaders and Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry previously have denied
Ethiopian soldiers were in the county. However, many witnesses have confirmed 
their presence.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bloody border war from 1998-2000, and have since 
backed rebel groups to destabilize each other. Somalia could become a new front 
in their conflict.

"Ethiopia and Eritrea are competing throughout the region, opening up new fronts
in their Cold War whenever the opportunity arises," said John Prendergast, a 
senior adviser with the International Crisis Group, which monitors conflict 

The United States also has been involved in Somalia. It secretly backed 
nonreligious militias that were driven out of Mogadishu by the Islamists, and 
now supports the government.

The United States has accused the Islamic militia of ties to al-Qaida, whose 
leader, Osama bin Laden, called for support of the militia in a recent 
recording. The Associated Press also recently obtained videotape of Arab Islamic
fighters alongside Somali militiamen.

"There are external parties involved on all sides," said Jendayi Frazer, the 
U.S. State Department's top Africa official. "This is a problem."

The new proxy fight between Ethiopia and Eritrea is officially denied by both 
countries, despite witness accounts and reports by the United Nations describing
Somalia's plight.

A U.N. committee monitoring the arms embargo on Somalia named Ethiopia, Eritrea 
and Yemen as countries backing different factions fighting inside the country. 
Another country went unnamed in the report, but was widely believed to be the 
United States.

"Eritrea is only in there because of Ethiopia," said Omar Jamal, executive 
director of the Somalia Justice Advocacy Center in St. Paul, Minn. "The U.S. is 
simply extending its war on terrorism."

Eritrea's information minister, Ali Abdu, told the AP on Wednesday that his 
country was not sending arms to the Islamic militia, and charged that Ethiopia 
was "exploiting the current situation in order to solve their historical dispute
with Somalia."

Ethiopia and Somalia fought a war in the 1970s. Ethiopia's foreign minister was 
not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

Wednesday, an AP reporter watched the Ilyushin-76 land, but was quickly ordered 
to leave by Islamic militiamen. The plane's tail carried a flag from Kazakhstan,
a former Soviet republic that often makes its planes available for charter.

The U.N. special envoy to Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, said Wednesday a small
number of Ethiopian troops are in Somalia. On Tuesday, he traveled to the only 
town controlled by the government, Baidoa, which is 155 miles from Mogadishu.

"During my discussions with the government, I got the clear impression that 
Ethiopian troops were around Baidoa, but not in the city," Fall said from his 
office in neighboring Kenya.

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

The government was established nearly two years ago with the support of the U.N.
to serve as a transitional body to help Somalia emerge from anarchy. But the 
leadership, which includes some warlords linked to the violence of the past, has
failed to establish any power.


Associated Press writers Mohamed Olad Hassan in Baidoa and Chris Tomlinson and 
Elizabeth A. Kennedy in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information 
contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or 
redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
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