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In a lightning-fast collapse, the Islamists in Somalia have apparently disappeared. The largest city in the nation has erupted in gang warfare as tribal chiefs retracted their support for the radical Islamist forces that just days ago issued a call for jihadis around the world to attack Ethiopia:
The Islamist forces who have controlled much of Somalia in recent months suddenly vanished from the streets of the capital, Mogadishu, residents said Wednesday night, just as thousands of rival troops massed 15 miles away.
In the past few days, Ethiopian-backed forces, with tacit approval from the United States, have unleashed tanks, helicopter gunships and jet fighters on the Islamists, decimating their military and paving the way for the internationally recognized transitional government of Somalia to assert control.
Even so, the Islamists, who have been regarded as a regional menace by Ethiopia and the United States, had repeatedly vowed to fight to the death for their religion and their land, making their disappearance that much more unexpected.
Fortified checkpoints across the city — in front of the radio station, at the airport, at the main roads leading into Mogadishu and outside police stations — were abruptly abandoned Wednesday night, residents said.
This shows the result of a full military response to Islamist provocations. After watching half of their comrades torn to pieces by combat helicopters, one deserter told the Times that the Islamists assumed that the war would be fought like the others in their experience, which meant hardly fought at all. Ethiopia had no intent to allow the Islamists to give tit-for-tat terrorist responses to measured military action, and the Islamists quit when they started dying in droves.
In fact, they quit so fast, they literally left their last holdout completely undefended. By late last night, the former leaders of the UIC had to ask them to return to their posts just so the new internationally-recognized government could take over without any power vacuum. They were too late; their Shebab (youth) armies had already stripped off their makeshit uniforms and blended back into the civilian population.
The UIC collapsed, prosaically enough, when clan leaders demanded the return of the trucks they lent to the Islamists for military operations. Clan leaders took note of spontaneous demonstrations erupting all over the capital against the Islamists and in support of the new government. The loss of the equipment meant that their forces could offer no real resistance to a determined military effort to crush them -- and they threw in the towel.
This loss crushes the reputation of the Islamists as dedicated to fighting to the death. They will if they see an advantage in it, and that advantage has been gained by Western reluctance to fight an all-out war against them. Ethiopia, after having been threatened by both a traditional attack from Somalia and a guerilla/terrorist war, responded with overwhelming force, and they crumbled. Somewhere there is a lesson for the West.
UPDATE: The Baidoa government now claims that it has captured Mogadishu:
A Somali lawmaker said the government had captured the capital Mogadishu on Thursday after Islamist rivals abandoned it, but a government spokesman could not immediately confirm the report.
"The government has taken over Mogadishu. We are now in charge," MP Mohamed Jama Fuuruh told Reuters by telephone from Mogadishu port.
But government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari was more cautious. "We are taking control of the city and I will confirm when we have established complete control," he said.
Earlier he said Ethiopian and Somali government troops held the main routes into the capital and were poised to capture it.
Either way, their first item of business has to be gaining control of the streets and imposing order on the capital. Ethiopian troops will have to assist in that if the Somali government is to succeed.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Ethiopia Sounds Okay to Me from Jo's Cafe
If Hillary wins the Whitehouse and after the Taliban takes charge, a move to Ethiopia might be in order. They don’t seem to have any problems dispatching the Islamic-Nazis to hell in short-order. ... [Read More]
Tracked on December 28, 2006 5:23 AM
» Somalia Watch: Mogadishu Retaken by Somali Government Troops from FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog
A Somali woman purchase clothes at Bakhara Market Mogadishu, Somalia, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2006, for the Muslim festival of Idd ul-Hajj which will be celebrated on Saturday Dec. 30 2006. Somalia’s Islamic movement abandoned the nation’s capi... [Read More]
Tracked on December 28, 2006 8:54 AM
» NY Times Reports Grassroots Islamist Movement in Somalia from Webloggin
The idea that public executions,floggings and amputations ushered in a semblance of order is ludicrous and could only be furthered by someone who is short sighted or highly biased. ... [Read More]
Tracked on December 28, 2006 9:22 AM
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