Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Withdrawal or Humiliating Defeat? Ethiopian Army Ready to Leave Somalia

They came in droves on cargo planes and on land in high spirits from Ethiopia. Some were well equipped and some barefooted with a select few Tigreyan officers leading them at the invitation of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia (as they claimed) in December of 2006, the most blessed month of their calendar, when they learnt the alarmingly sword-wielding Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) that swept aside the merciless warlords that terrorized Somalia since the fall of Major General Mohamed Siyad Barre's junta in 1991 was about to declare an Islamic Jihadi state.

With their crusader banner flying high, they dispersed the ICU , and with no stone unturned, swept up to the Southern tip of Somalia. They indiscriminately shelled residential areas, bombarded villages, slaughtered women, children, and the elderly. They raided commercial markets taking with them everything in their path. Many got instantly rich sending home looted cars, television sets, jewelry, microwaves, dishwashers and driers, electric ranges, and undetermined amounts of hard currency.
Somalia became a governorate whose affairs was administered in Addis Ababa and debated in the Ethiopian Parliament. There was rejoicing in the streets of Ethiopian cities, towns, and villages with Meles mentioned in folklore dances and theatrical performances. He became the reincarnation of Menelik.

To their dismay, ICU regrouped and embarked on modern 21st century guerilla tactics. They destroyed tanks, shot down helicopter gunships, burnt down armored vehicles, and strategically employed novel fighting tactics that forced the enemy to retreat to the baracks. The number of dead soldiers in body bags arriving Ethiopia alarmed the public causing an outcry even in the divided parliament. The Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, refuted all sorts of allegations and international condemnations. To him 'everything was under control' and that he would pacify Somalia whatever it takes.

Now, after heavy casualties, they are ready to leave because they have been defeated and that even the TFG that invited them no longer needs their assistance. Many of them are dead, buried in cemetries in Godey in the Ogaden region, many are in body bags ready to be transported back home after relatives are notified, many suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) caged on to ramshackle beds in poorly maintaned mental institutions hidden from the eyes of desperate relatives, and an unaccountable number have been crippled or maimed. This is a heavy loss and a terrible defeat for the 'Lion of Africa' and the 'Lion of Judah'. They have been humiliated by a few poorly armed youths in the suburbs of Mogadishu. They were denied sleep, food, and peace and always lived in suspense. They may have killed thousands of innocent unarmed civilians, but the end result is that the residents of Mogadishu will return to their respective homes in jubilation while they (Ethiopian soldiers) return home knowing that the next battle will be fought over the Ogaden region and the land of Oromia.

After the dust settles, Somalis will debate over the fate of those who attempted to sell their land and peoples to Ethiopia; Meles Zenawi will be held accountable by his people for the death of Ethiopian soldiers; he will have to be tried for the atrocities committed in Somalia and; and perhaps in the end, the entire world will watch the break up of Ethiopia into cantons divided along tribal lines. The departure of Ethiopian soldiers from Somalia will open the eyes of the world as the international community now knows very well that there're people living under oppression inside Ethiopia. Also, mindful investigators will get the chance to review the nature of destruction caused by the retreating Ethiopian Army. On the other hand, this cowardly departure will elevate the moral stength of the formidable forces of Eritrea who wish to see the return of their lands in Ethiopian hands.

Sooner or later, many warlords, Meles Zenawi and his cohorts in the TFG included, will be arraigned before internationally supervised tribunals to be tried for human rights violations and mass genocide in Somalia . The airing of 'Warlords next door' by UKs 'Channel Four' should be a signal to those oxymorons who think they will forever escape the noose. Perhaps, Charles Taylor and a few other war criminals from Rwanda and Serbia are eagerly waiting for new cellmates from the Horn of Africa.

Predictably, the tribunal will be a reality because 'Somalis never forgive nor forget' incidents of such enormity. Regardless of how well protected a warlord may be, upon the formation of a legitimate unity government, some day, a hearing will kick off either in Somalia or abroad to determine the nature of punsihment for these criminals who butchered and humiliated an entire nation. Anyone who misappropriated funds, stole national treasuries, allowed dumpig of toxic wastes, caught in the act of signing illegal mining and fishing contracts, will have to face the full force of the law.

Since the reconciliation conference going on in Djibouti is to be extended to include those missing parties, my hope is that it will be an all-inclusive one. No armed entity should be excluded whatsoever. For Meles and other cliches of like mind, Somalis have a message for you: never again meddle in Somali affairs and get ready to hand over Oromia and Ogaden unconditionally.

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