Thursday, December 14, 2006

Do they know it's Christmas time at all?

Great. Just what I wanted. I've been so focused on Iraq that I missed this entirely. (from today's NYT)
Somalia’s Islamists and Ethiopia Gird for a War

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Dec. 9 — The stadium was packed, the guns were cocked and even the drenching rain could not douse the jihadist fire.

Thousands of Somalis, from fully veiled, machine-gun-toting women to little boys in baggy fatigues, gathered Friday to rally against what they called foreign aggression. As a squall blew in, they punched wet fists into the air and yelled, “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great.”

“I am ready to die,” said Osama Abdi Rahim, dressed head to toe in camouflage and marching around with a loaded rifle. He is 7 years old.
It seems Ethiopia is propping up the UN- and US-backed Somali transitional government in Baidoa while Mogadishu has been taken over by Islamist radicals.
Memories are still fresh of the botched American-led relief operation in the early 1990s, and more recently of the covert American effort to bolster Mogadishu’s warlords in an 11th-hour bid to prevent an Islamist takeover. That strategy backfired, driving more people into the arms of the Islamists.
. . .

"If this thing goes to a military fight,” Ms. Frazer [the State Department’s top official for Africa policy] said, “it’s a bloodbath."
And while no match for Ethiopia militarily, the Times reports, the Islamists enjoy popular support against a government seen as a US puppet. That has one Islamist official -- who once talked of power sharing and elections -- backed into opposing a government "that has been totally rejected by its own people.”

Some of the Iraq warbloggers from Right Blogistan will surely take refuge in blaming it all on the anti-American, anti-Bush US press which won't report the good news from Somalia: the Islamists are winning hearts and minds by "organizing neighborhood cleanups, delivering food to the needy and resuscitating old national institutions like the Supreme Court..."

Not that they'll need it. Crowds gather to watch public floggings and a cleric north of Mogadishu has issued threats to behead those who fail to pray five times a day.

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