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December 26, 2006
Islamist Forces Retreating In Somalia

Ethiopian advances have forced the Islamists in Somalia to fall back, abandoning some of their bases and towns. Their reverses prompted the weak Somalian government to offer amnesty for surrender, but the Islamic Courts Union has thus far refused:

Islamic fighters were in a tactical retreat Tuesday, a senior Islamic leader said, as government and Ethiopian troops advanced on three fronts in a decisive turn around in the battle for control of Somalia.

Somalia's internationally backed government called on the Council of Islamic Courts to surrender and promised them amnesty if they lay down their weapons and stop opposing the government, spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said from Baidoa, the seat of the government. ...

Islamic troops withdrew more than 50 miles to the southeast from Daynuney, a town just south of Baidoa. The retreat along the western front follows the bombing by Ethiopian jets of the country's two main international airports.

Advancing government and Ethiopian troops captured Bur Haqaba, one of the Islamists' main bases after it was abandoned early Tuesday.

Ethiopia has advanced on two fronts, led by their air strikes on poorly-defended areas in the north and south. Besides Daynuney, the Ethiopians also captured Bulo Barde in the north. Bulo Barde recently made news when the leading UIC cleric announced that anyone who did not pray five times a day would face execution. The citry of Dinsor in the south has also fallen, and the next objective appears to be Jowhar, just north of Mogadishu in the southern region.

The Ethiopians will not capture Mogadishu, they claim. They will instead encircle it, pressuring the Islamists to negotiate for their surrender to the Somalian government. The Ethiopians do not want to spend much time in Somalia -- they characterized their mission length as "a few weeks" -- but they do want to strip the Islamists of their aura of invincibility.

They seem to be accomplishing that mission rather handily. The UIC apparently did not anticipate the Ethioppian thrust into Somalia and obviously did not prepare for it. The UIC has pledged to take their war into Ethiopia as a guerilla campaign, even to Addis Ababa, but perhaps they should concentrate on the one war that they are losing rather badly at the moment.

UPDATE: I agree with Michael van der Galien at TMV -- this should prompt us to pay more attention to Africa, at least in terms of building stronger democracies where we can. At one point, this was the thrust of the so-called neocon strategy: ending terror by ensuring the liberation of people from oppression. Africa, with its dictatorships, hunger, and rampant disease, represents another cauldron for radicalization, and we had better start thinking about those contributing factors in terms of national security.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 26, 2006 4:51 AM

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» Islamic Forces Retreat in Somalia from Outside The Beltway | OTB
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Tracked on December 26, 2006 6:51 AM


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