Friday, December 30, 2011

Troubled Ethiopia-Somalia history haunts Horn of Africa

By Barry Malone
NAIROBI | Wed Dec 28, 2011 6:42am EST
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Five hundred years ago, an Imam who ruled much of what is now Somalia, led a daring invasion of Christian Ethiopia, looting monasteries, burning down churches and slaying all who resisted.
Centuries on, memories of Imam Ahmad Gragn still haunt both countries, and echoes of that long and bloody history still ripple across the Horn of Africa region which considers Somalia the greatest threat to its stability.
Back then, the Ethiopians were beleaguered as the invaders occupied some two-thirds of the country. Help eventually came in the form of 400 Portuguese musketeers, who sailed into Massawa port and embarked on a six-day march to the front.
Gragn had his backers too. Reinforcements from Arabia soon rolled in alongside a gift from the Ottoman Empire: 900 of its famously hardened musket experts. The war lasted over a decade.
Fast forward to the present day, and with Ethiopian troops deploying over the border again last month to fight Islamist rebels linked to al Qaeda, the latest chapter of a book with few uplifting passages was written.
Though present-day incursions and clashes are driven by strategic motivations and regional politicking against the backdrop of the global war on terror, those centuries-old grudges, raids and musket-battles still shape events.
“In Ethiopia, the damage which Gragn did has never been forgotten,” Ethiopia expert, Paul Henze, wrote in a book on the country’s history, Layers of Time.
“Every Christian highlander still hears tales of Gragn in his childhood. I have often had villagers in northern Ethiopia point out sites of towns, forts, churches and monasteries destroyed by Gragn as if these catastrophes had occurred only yesterday.”
Though Gragn’s ethnicity is disputed by historians, Ethiopians know his army was overwhelmingly manned by ethnic Somalis, and that stings.
Somalis, too, are haunted by past Ethiopian invasions.
Ethiopia and Somalia still hand-pick powerful allies keen to win clout in the Horn of Africa.
Its location on the Gulf of Aden and its potential as a base for militant Islam make it an ideal arena for proxy wars, influence-peddling and diplomatic skullduggery.
The two countries – Ethiopia then supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba and Somalia supported by the United States – fought one of their many wars over Ethiopia’s mainly ethnic-Somali Ogaden region in 1977-1978.
Ethiopia’s victory was helped by some crack Cuban troops, a modern day echo of the foreigners who helped in the sixteenth century. Since then, Western and Eastern powers have switched allegiances, depending on the politics of those in power.
These days, Ethiopia, seen as a critical bulwark against the rise of Islamist militancy in the strategic region next to the world’s busiest shipping lanes, is Washington’s main ally.
“An unstable Horn of Africa could have a destabilizing effect on the world,” a Western diplomat in the region told Reuters. “The U.S., Britain, China – and increasingly Turkey -are all trying to get a foothold here for both security reasons and economic reasons. Ethiopia makes the best ally right now.”
But despite the leadership changes, and the temporary alliances in a region that is no stranger to pragmatic politics, that old animosity is playing out again.
At the centre of the latest episode between the two nations is the Islamist rebel group, al Shabaab, which has declared holy war on the still mostly-Christian Ethiopia, and threatened to launch suicide attacks in its capital, Addis Ababa.
Neighboring Kenya sent troops across the border in October, unsettled by a spate of security attacks it blamed on the militants, with the aim of dismantling the rebels’ networks.
Ethiopia watched closely, analysts say, unsure of whether the Kenyan intervention would work. Finally, a month ago, with the Kenyans stalled, its troops moved into Somalia to arm and train the pro-government militia Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca (ASWJ).
Such is the delicacy, that Ethiopia has not admitted publicly to its latest incursion despite scores of testimony from local witnesses, elders and reporters.
“The knowledge of history as well as the unwillingness to hand al Shabaab the propaganda coup, just when the terrorist group is weakened, probably has a great deal to do with Ethiopia’s reluctance to do more than build up the capacity of local Somali allies like ASWJ and to try to politically unite them in a common effort,” J. Peter Pham, Africa director with the Atlantic Council, told Reuters.
Until now, Ethiopia had seemed reluctant to get involved in Somalia again after a 2006-2009 incursion to overthrow another Islamist group that had taken over Mogadishu sparked such ire among some Somalis that al Shabaab rose from its ashes.
This time, the Ethiopians say, their hand was forced.
“Somebody needed to go in and help. Somalia is the world’s biggest security problem and that threatens everybody,” an Ethiopian official told Reuters.
“We’re aware that, for some Somalis, we are not the best choice and that is why we are being careful. But, yet again, who else?”
(Editing by David Clarke and Maria Golovnina)
The views expressed in this article are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect terror free somalia editorial policy.

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Ex-Somali Police Commissioner General Mohamed Abshir

Ex-Somali Police Commissioner  General Mohamed Abshir

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater
Somalia army parade 1979

Sultan Kenadid

Sultan Kenadid
Sultanate of Obbia

President of the United Meeting with Prime Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Egal of the Somali Republic,

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire
Sultanate of Warsengeli

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre
Siad Barre ( A somali Hero )

MoS Moments of Silence

MoS Moments of Silence
honor the fallen

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre  and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie
Beautiful handshake

May Allah bless him and give Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan

May Allah bless him and give  Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan
Honorable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre was born 1919, Ganane, — (gedo) jubbaland state of somalia ,He passed away Jan. 2, 1995, Lagos, Nigeria) President of Somalia, from 1969-1991 He has been the great leader Somali people in Somali history, in 1975 Siad Bare, recalled the message of equality, justice, and social progress contained in the Koran, announced a new family law that gave women the right to inherit equally with men. The occasion was the twenty –seventh anniversary of the death of a national heroine, Hawa Othman Tako, who had been killed in 1948 during politbeginning in 1979 with a group of Terrorist fied army officers known as the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF).Mr Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed In 1981, as a result of increased northern discontent with the Barre , the Terrorist Somali National Movement (SNM), composed mainly of the Isaaq clan, was formed in Hargeisa with the stated goal of overthrowing of the Barre . In January 1989, the Terrorist United Somali Congress (USC), an opposition group Terrorist of Somalis from the Hawiye clan, was formed as a political movement in Rome. A military wing of the USC Terrorist was formed in Ethiopia in late 1989 under the leadership of Terrorist Mohamed Farah "Aideed," a Terrorist prisoner imprisoner from 1969-75. Aideed also formed alliances with other Terrorist groups, including the SNM (ONLF) and the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), an Terrorist Ogadeen sub-clan force under Terrorist Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess in the Bakool and Bay regions of Southern Somalia. , 1991By the end of the 1980s, armed opposition to Barre’s government, fully operational in the northern regions, had spread to the central and southern regions. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled their homes, claiming refugee status in neighboring Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. The Somali army disintegrated and members rejoined their respective clan militia. Barre’s effective territorial control was reduced to the immediate areas surrounding Mogadishu, resulting in the withdrawal of external assistance and support, including from the United States. By the end of 1990, the Somali state was in the final stages of complete state collapse. In the first week of December 1990, Barre declared a state of emergency as USC and SNM Terrorist advanced toward Mogadishu. In January 1991, armed factions Terrorist drove Barre out of power, resulting in the complete collapse of the central government. Barre later died in exile in Nigeria. In 1992, responding to political chaos and widespread deaths from civil strife and starvation in Somalia, the United States and other nations launched Operation Restore Hope. Led by the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), the operation was designed to create an environment in which assistance could be delivered to Somalis suffering from the effects of dual catastrophes—one manmade and one natural. UNITAF was followed by the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). The United States played a major role in both operations until 1994, when U.S. forces withdrew. Warlordism, terrorism. PIRATES ,(TRIBILISM) Replaces the Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre administration .While the terrorist threat in Somalia is real, Somalia’s rich history and cultural traditions have helped to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for international terrorism. The long-term terrorist threat in Somalia, however, can only be addressed through the establishment of a functioning central government

The Honourable Ronald Reagan,

When our world changed forever

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)
Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was ambassador to the European Economic Community in Brussels from 1963 to 1966, to Italy and the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] in Rome from 1969 to 1973, and to the French Govern­ment in Paris from 1974 to 1979.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac 'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac  'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.
Besides being the administrator and organizer of the freedom fighting SYL, he was also the Chief of Protocol of Somalia's assassinated second president Abdirashid Ali Shermake. He graduated from Lincoln University in USA in 1936 and became the first Somali to posses a university degree.

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

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