Ethiopian troops are finally on their way out of Somalia, more than two years after moving in to oust the Union of Islamic Courts and install the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu.
The Islamic Courts’ leaders were “terrorists” said the United States’s top official for Africa, Jendayi Frazer. The government, set up by the United Nations and backed by the West, needed to be supported, she said. But Ethiopia’s intervention – backed to the hilt by the US which provided intelligence, logistics and even trained Ethiopian troops – has been an unmitigated disaster.
In the last two years the violence has got worse, the hardline jihadists have become stronger, the government has fallen apart, half the population is in need of food, aid workers are being assassinated, and anti-western sentiment has grown. Oh, and now there are pirates.
So what is the headline of the press release from the Ethiopian government announcing the withdrawal?
“Mission accomplished”. No, really.
The statement itself is even more Alice in Wonderland:
“The major mission of the ENDF [Ethiopian National Defence Force] which was to remove the threat posed to our country was completed immediately and in no time. It would have been possible for the Ethiopian government to remove its troops immediately at that time. The reason this was not done was because it was felt that Ethiopia should help the brotherly people of Somalia bring to an end the country’s statelessness and to help in restoring peace and stability in Somalia in cooperation with the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). This has been accomplished by the ENDF with great sense of responsibility.”
If by “accomplished” they mean more than 10,000 people have been killed, tens of thousands injured and more than a million displaced then yes, well done, good job.
As for the phrase “great sense of responsibility”, I’m guessing this is ironic what with all the slitting the throats of civilians in mosques, deliberately bombing residential areas, and raping women and children.
Sadly for Ethiopia their feelings of brotherly love towards Somalis is not reciprocated. Rather than withdraw across the land border the two countries share most of the equipment and some of the troops have left by sea instead. A ship loaded up with Ethiopian tanks and weapons left Mogadishu port in September, heralding the start of the withdrawal.