Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Excellent overview, thanks! (I took the liberty to fix a few grammatical etc. slips above the fold.)

What is there to add? Perhaps a few bonus points on the main players:

Isaias Afwerki, President of Eritrea, is one of the biggest scumbag rulers in Africa: a bit like Saddam Hussein, but not quite as civilized and tender. He does, however, run a more efficient and non-corrupt government than anyone else in the region.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, while not as brutal, is no Olof Palme either. He was Afwerki's ally in the struggle against the Mengistu regime, but they never got along on a personal basis, which is probably a factor as well. His idea of government is to oppress and exploit the dirt-poor rural population in keeping with Ethiopia's old traditions of centralized rule.

There may well be a new war between these scumbags over some worthless piece of arid land, like the one from 1998 to 2000 which featured WW2-scale set battles and claimed upwards of 70,000 lives while the world looked elsewhere.

Somalia's sharia courts and their associated militia have, as you say, capitalized on the frustration with the cruelty and greed of clan-based warlords -- just like the Taliban gained power in Afghanistan to protect the population from abuse by even more thuggish clan-based warlords (and is now doing so again). They represent a Salafist movement, i.e. a revivalism that seeks to bypass traditional fiqh (jurisprudence) and engage directly with primary sources (the Qur'an and Sunna) to extract the Shari'a. This is potentially a recipe for disorder in the long run as rival factions emerge, not being united by any of the four canonical law schools. But outer pressure, of which there will be  plenty for the overseeable future, may serve to keep them united.

The CIA tried to arm and bankroll the secular warlords, including the son of Adin (the man who took the Black Hawk down) in a desperate bid to stem the Islamist tide. Of course, all that accomplished was to blacken the names of said warlords even further, which is quite an achievement.

Prognosis for the region: bad.

The world's northernmost desert wind.

by Sirocco (sirocco2005ATgmail.com) on Fri Jul 21st, 2006 at 11:12:09 AM EST
And though I don't know exactly all the reasons, isn't Ethiopia under UN sanctions now?

Such a strange and unsettled time...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Fri Jul 21st, 2006 at 11:25:04 AM EST
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