by A swedish kind of death
Sun Jul 23rd, 2006 at 09:31:55 AM EST
Today the Guardian reported that Ethiopean troops have entered Somalia.
In fact they have probably been there for a while but are now being reinforced with more troops and more heavy equipment. The New Zealand Herald estimates the Ethiopian forces in Somalia at about 5000 soldiers.
I will try to give a brief view of the political situation in this region, a region where only the big bursts of violence reach the western news. Feel free to add what I miss in the comments.
From the Frontpage
Somalia - civil war and independent regions
The civil war in Somalia is still on, and has been since 1991. In the north, Somaliland is since 1991 a de facto suverain state, though it is not recognised by the rest of the world. In the northeast, on the tip of the horn, Puntland is since 1998 an autonomous state, though not (at least right now) striving for independence. Keep in mind that borders are not allowed to change in Africa, and while Somaliland has a case for independence, based on being a seperate colony (British Somaliland) from the rest of Somalia (Italian Somaliland), Puntland has no case at all.
The Blue is Puntland, the northwest is Somaliland and the lightblue is disputed.
Both Somaliland and Puntland are primarily based on tribe-structures and has fought numerous times on where the border really is between these two enteties. Both Somaliland and Puntland are reported to be supported by Ethiopia.
In the south, militias following islamic courts seems to have succesfully battled a coalition of warlords and taken control of much of the territory, including the capital of Mogadishu. In south is contested between the islamic courts, the warlords coalition with the fancy name Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT is reported to be supported by the USA) and the transitional government supported by Ethiopia. To confuse things, the president of Puntland is also the president of the transitional government.
And now, Ethiopia has decided to throw some weight behind the transitional government. I would not be surprised if a new battle of Mogadishu is in the works. Unless Eritrea takes the chance to try to get even with Ethiopia whle Ethiopia is busy in Somalia.
Ethiopia and Eritrea - dictatorship and wars
Ethiopias and Eritreas governments both stem from the 30 year long guerilla war that toppled the previous Ethiopian government in 1991. To make a really long story short, the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) got independence for Eritrea and the Tigrean People's Liberation Front (TPLF) got, not independence for Tigray but instead got to rule Ethiopia. Remember, borders must not be changed. Eritrea had a case based on being a seperate Italian colony before WW2.
Both nations are still ruled by the old guerilla fighters whose main field of excellence is war. So every now and then, especially when the people complain about lack of democracy or food, war is started. A difference between Ethiopia and Eritrea is that the Eritrean ruling clique comes from an ethnic group (Tigrinya) that is around half of the population, the Ethiopian ruling clique corresponding ethnic group (Tigray) is just about 10% of the Ethiopian population, making the Ethiopian rulers less secure.
The last war between Ethiopia and Eritrea ended in 2000, and since then the border has been measured and the measurments has been appealed and fought about in international forums. UN troops has been stationed to observe the border, and in december they were kicked out of Eritrea (BBC).
I would not be surprised if there is another war between Ethiopia and Eritrea soon. Both countries has got so much internal problems and getting rid of UN troops smells of war preperations.