Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi declared “mission accomplished” in their two-year military effort to prop up the self-appointed transitional national government of Somalia, and told parliament that Ethiopian forces would withdraw from the nation within weeks. Zenawi claimed the mission was meant to “defuse the plan orchestrated by Eritrea,” but conceded that it was not possible to bring lasting peace to Somalia.
As Ethiopia is poised to leave, the Islamist forces that fought their invasion so vigorously are seizing more and more Somali territory, leaving the possibility of an outright collapse of the government seemingly only a matter of time.
The military and police forces working for the Somali government apparently see the writing on the walls too, with a UN report claiming that 80 percent of them, 15,000 people in all, have deserted from the forces, many of them taking their weapons and vehicles with them.
The current government has been the longest-lived of Somalia’s numerous would-be rulers, surviving over three years since the government of neighboring Kenya booted them from their upscale hotels and left them to actually try to assert their authority. That survival has in large measure been facilitated by the US-backed Ethiopian invasion. With them gone, the government will have to rely on a few thousand African Union “peacekeepers” and what little remains of their own forces to hold on as long as they can.
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