[Dehai-WN] VOA: Somalis Skeptical of Ethiopian Incursion

[Dehai-WN] VOA: Somalis Skeptical of Ethiopian Incursion

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2011 23:36:02 +0100

Somalis Skeptical of Ethiopian Incursion

Mohammed Yusuf | Nairobi

 November 27, 2011

Ethiopian troops have apparently crossed over into Somalia, weeks after
Kenya launched its own incursion into the country in pursuit of al-Shabab
militants. Some analysts say the Kenyan operation can succeed only if
Ethiopia cooperates.

Witnesses said this week they had seen Ethiopian troops cross the border
into Somalia. The Ethiopian government denied the move, but the Somali
defense minister confirmed it and said the troops would work with Somali
government forces.

An Ethiopian invasion in Somalia will open up another front in the fight
against al-Shabab, but analysts say Ethiopia's presence could also give
al-Shabab a life line.

Tension has historically run high between Ethiopia and Somalia and reached a
new high five years ago with an Ethiopian invasion that targeted Islamist
militants in the capital.

Al-Shabab gained support in Somalia by fighting off Ethiopian forces during
that time, using anti-Ethiopian sentiment to rally support for their own

Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdi Samed, a Somali political analyst with Southlink
Consultants in Nairobi, says Ethiopia would be better off working with the
African Union peacekeeping force, AMISOM, that backs Somalia's government in

"Somalia and Ethiopia, they have been long time enemies to each other, so
trusting Ethiopia again it will take time," said Samed. "But if they come
under the umbrella of AMISOM, it is better than what they are doing right

This week's Ethiopian incursion follows a Kenyan military operation
targeting al-Shabab in southern Somalia that began more than a month ago.

The Kenyan government has called on the international community to assist in
the operation. Kenya, meanwhile, says it is considering contributing troops
to the AMISOM mission.

But Samed says Somalis are concerned to see their neighbors sending troops
into the country. He notes there has always been tension between Somalia and
the countries that it shares a border with, including Kenya and Ethiopia.

"The front line states are the ones who are ready to send troops into
Somalia," added Samed. "It's better African Union peace force to come from
Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Malawi and so on. But still there is a lot
of suspicion about front line state."

There is also a lot of concern about the incursions among Somalis on the

Abdifatah Hassan Farah is the editor of Radio Galgudud in the Gurieel
Galmudug region of central Somalia. His station reported a heavy presence of
Ethiopian forces in and around the town last week.

Farah says Ethiopian troops are still positioned in the region, but that he
does not know what their mission is, or where they are going next.


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