Nairobi: Ethiopia's attacks against Islamic forces in Somalia may have delivered a short-term military victory, but analysts warned that a longer offensive could present the US ally with some of the same challenges facing American forces in Iraq.
Airstrikes against the Somali capital
"I don't understand what
Most experts agree that
"The Ethiopians could get bogged down into a hopeless, long-term guerrilla campaign with enormous supply lines," Shinn said. "I don't see how they 'defeat' the Islamists in the long run."
The attacks on Sunday and Monday marked the first time
Ethiopian officials said they acted to preempt threats by Islamic forces to launch a "holy war" against them.
History of tensions
Anger over the Ethiopian air strikes reverberated on Monday through
Angry youths rioted in several Somali cities, urging all adult males to join the Islamic forces. The attacks appeared to be bolstering support for the Islamic forces.
"I used to think that the Islamic courts were just another interest group, but now I recognise that they are standing up for the country and religion," said Muse Ali Omar, a banana vendor in Mogadishu. "
Mohammad Ebrahim Mohammad, a moderate Muslim, said, "As long as the West is supporting Ethiopian invasion, it will open the door for Islamic courts.''
The Ethiopian strikes have helped unify the Islamic Courts Union, an alliance of religious leaders that came together to defeat
But in recent weeks, US and Ethiopian officials have concluded that extremists have seized control of the courts. They accuse court leaders of having links to terrorist groups, including Al Qaida. Last weekend, one Islamist leader issued an invitation to Muslims worldwide to join the fighting in
US officials on Monday called on Somali groups to end their fighting, but they did not call for an Ethiopian withdrawal.