Witnesses in the central town of Guriel, Somalia report that Ethiopian soldiers have invaded the region in the largest numbers since they declared “victory” in December 2008 and withdrew from their multi-year attack.
The Ethiopian move is being touted as an attempt to open a “third front” in the battle against al-Shabaab, which is fighting against AU troops in Mogadishu as well as Kenyan invasion forces in the far south.
But ‘fronts’ don’t really work that way in a war against a mostly diffuse local population, and al-Shabaab did not appear overly concerned with what they called the “black colonialists of Ethiopia,” adding that “they do not scare us.”
“We will break the necks of the invaders,” one of al-Shabaab’s commanders insisted. Indeed, the group owes most of its domestic support and its very existence to Ethiopia, as they moved from a tiny irrelevant group of extremists into a major fighting force largely through resisting the last Ethiopian invasion.