by Kenneth Oduor, Nairobi
COMMENTARY | At the invitation of the weak Transitional Federal Government and with the support of the United States of America, the Ethiopian government sent its troops, the Ethiopian Defense Forces into Somali to help save the Adullahi Yusuf led government from the Union of Islamic Courts militias. Today, the Ethiopian troops are still in Somalia but there presence there has not translated into any help for the TFG. They have continued to lose grip of the country to militias and the EDF in Somalia have instead engaged in butchering innocent Somalis as the world watches aloofly. The incidence where the Ethiopian troops attacked innocent people in a mosque and slit their throats is still fresh in peoples minds.
While most people believe and strongly support the presence of Ethiopian forces in Somalia because of the perceived role they are playing in propping up the semblance of a government which is the TFG, they are embarrassingly mistaken on the real reason the EDF are in Somali. But anyone who understands the dynamics of the rivalry and conflicts being played in the Horn of Africa region would never support the presence of Ethiopian forces in Somalia. Ethiopias presence and intervention in Somalia is influenced by its rivalry with Eritrea and Ethiopia therefore is simply using the Somalia soil to pick a born with their Asmara rivals. In essence a foreign war is being fought in Somalia pure and simple.
The rivalry between Ethiopia and Eritrea which is today being played out in Somalia stems back to the period beginning 1998 when the two countries fought a bitter border war which to date have never been conclusively dealt with.
Numerous peace agreements have been signed but none of them have been adequately implemented to the satisfaction of the two combatants. Addis Ababa based administration of Meles Zenawi have a feeling that Asmara have been supporting anti- Ethiopian elements within Somalia and even inside Ethiopian territory.
The fear the Ethiopian government, have for elements operating within Somalia which it believes are supportive of the Asmara administration is the core reason Ethiopia is having its troops in Somalia. The war against perceived terrorists is only being fronted by the Zenawi administration to massage the ego of their benefactors in Washington. It is interesting and it is a fact hidden to many that while Washington is supporting the presence of Ethiopian forces in Somalia because of perceived terrorist threat; the Ethiopian government is keeping its forces there for a totally different reason unknown to their American friends. The mentality held by Ethiopia that the Union of Islamic Courts have links with the Asmara establishment is the reason they are keeping their troops in Somalia and causing unnecessary trouble in the already troubled nation.
The Somali people are hosting a battle they know very little about.
While I dont hold brief for terrorist organizations nor do I hold brief for any administration be it the Somalia, Eritrean or the Ethiopian administrations, I strongly believe that whatever war Ethiopia has with Eritrea must be fought within the soils of the two rivals but not in a foreign land that has a fair share of its own problems to solve.
Meles Zenawi I kindly appeal to you that while nobody has a problem with your rivalry with Eritrea; let the Somali people solve their problems alone. I urge you to fight your wars with Asmara, and the Ogaden National Liberation Front in your own soil. I also wish to state it to the Washington administration that by supporting Ethiopia, it is embroiling itself in uncalled for regional conflicts. If Ethiopia was a true friend of the TFG in Somalia, it would do it a great deal of good by ceasing its incursion of Somalia.