Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Goodbye Ethiopia's Occupation Forces

Ethiopia's occupation forces are withdrawing from Somalia after two years of heavy presence that caused untold suffering to the residents of Mogadishu and its environs. There is much celebration among the residents of Mogadishu and no one can predict what is to follow next in this lawless country. When the central government headed by the military was deposed in 1991, celebrations of the same kind kicked off in many parts of the country only to be followed by the emergence of a long protracted rivalry and mass killings of innocent civilians by the forces of the United Somali Congress (USC). The forces of General Aideed that deposed the junta was no better. There is no reason for jubilation until Somalis form a unity government that will respect the will of the people.

So far, renewed fighting between various factions seem to be accelerating now that Ethiopian forces are withdrawing. Until the many factions fighting in the name of religion are either reconciled or overpowered, Somalia will remain a haven for many armed groups-terrorists included.

With increased rebel activity inside of Ethiopia and a border conflict with Eritrea, Ethiopian forces departing Somalia will not simply redeploy to their barracks. Instead, they will be watching Somalia's internal strife from a distance. These forces will obviously be retrained and then be deployed in other hot spots. The experiences gained from Somalia will tremendously boost their effectiveness at fighting all sorts of rebellion within Ethiopia. The several liberation movements fighting inside Ethiopia including those engaged in the Ogaden region and Oromia will have to bear the brunt of the merciless Ethiopian forces.

On the other hand, Ethiopia will have to deal with the border conflict it has with Eritrea and place a cap on the tribal rivalries that revolve around its border with Sudan. Even the unresolved Djibouti-Eritrea border dispute will have an effect on the sovereignty of Ethiopia. Cattle rustling and tribal clashes that often explode in its border with Kenya will have to be curtailed forthwith. The increased growth of religious fundamentalism in Somalia should be a worrying trend for Ethiopia in the long run.

Ethiopia has now become a nation in international spotlight for humanitarian abuses and constant arrest of the opposition. Looming drought and developmental failures in many sectors of the economy will exacerbate civil disobedience. Unless a reliable replacement takes effect after Meles Zenawi's mandate expires, Ethiopia will remain a nation in turmoil politically, socially, and economically.

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