By Apee Ojulu**
Dec 24, 2006 — There has been a sort of unanimity among various advisors in Prime Minister Meles Zenawi government that in an all-out-war they will defeat the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) within few days. Zenawi’s Foreign Ministry warning to the UIC that his administration “will not tolerate an Islamist regime in neighboring Somalia” is an indication of that confidence (see MCT, /22, 2006). But hubris is not a military strategy to win a war. It is a risking scheme. Having mechanized forces, countless warplanes, weapons, backing of the international and capacities to destroy every house in
But neither Zenawi’s Tigrai People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) nor the government of his Somali colleague’s Transitional Somali Federal Government (TSFG) has a public support to sustain a long and drawn out conflict between them and the UIC. The UIC has continued to attract young Somali fighters and foreign fighters to defend their causes from what they considered to a puppet TSFG and Zenawi’s adventure there. But since the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the United Nations (UN) created the TSFG in 2004 to restore security to
TSFG lack of public support has not been without a precedent in Zenawi’s
But by 1996, each of these political parties have left the coalition and returned to armed struggle because of Zenawi authoritarian rule. Support for the TPLF regime began to deflate as a result of these developments. The May 15, 2005 parliamentary elections confirmed this when his regime lost even in
The other notable external support for both TSFG and TPLF has been from the
Unlike both TSFG and TPLF, the rise of the UIC has its roots in autocratic Somali class. UIC was created and continue to be funded by the powerful business Somali class to maintain security for their businesses. UIC has assembled strong fighting forces and extended its mission as well as its control in much of
Of course, there have been some complains among some Somali people here and there about the road in which the UIC is planning to travel. Some have complained about its public executions as an indication of taking the country to the Taliban-style political rule. But in general, in all of territories its controlling, even U.S. officials who are uneasy about the UIC intentions, have admitted that the UIC have restored basic law and order for the people better then any than political organization since former Somali President Siad Barre. Increasingly, the UIC is drawing support from even Somali people who are residing in the West for the fact that its fighters are standing up to Zenawi and restoring basic law and order to their relatives who remained behind them in their homeland.
Another important sign of growing isolation of both Zenawi and Yusuf is neither man controls his country’s capitals in real sense. Zenawi lost the capital to the opposition in the May 15 parliamentary elections and is reportedly spend most of his times out side the capital as a security precaution. Yusuf have avoided even going to his country’s capital to establish his government there after he was selected by the interim parliament convened in
Inside army forces of both Zenawi and Yusuf putting their hopes to protect them, there have been unsustainable morale decline. Zenawi’s actions in the army forces over the last three years have taken their affects on soldiers. His tribalization of promotion within military and ethnic cleaning policies have encouraged regular soldiers and military officers to resign their positions and returned to their civilian lives. Neglect and defections are other crucial elements that have devastated the army forces. Because Zenawi took these actions, in August 2006, Brig. General Kemal Gelchi and a number of soldiers defected to the OLF (AFP, 2006). In September 2006, two other senior military officers, Brig Gen Hailu Gonfa and Col Gemechu Ayana, did the same, in defecting to opposition parties (BBC). Countless other foot soldiers and some middle level officers have already defected to OLF or the ONL.
Without these reckless actions by Zenawi, the Army forces in
Yusuf, in contrast to Zenawi, never have army forces approaching army forces available to Zenawi. Under TSFG, there have no large army forces he can command other then a few militias brought from other warlords. Even when Yusuf led a faction in 1970s to overthrow the government of former President Barre, his army forces did not extend to more than a few men. Facts were the same when ruled Puntland. When ruled he Puntland, which he started ruling in 1980s, he did neither assemble a large number nor a serious following because of his authoritarian nature of rule.
Forces facing Zenawi and his friend Yusuf is multiplying day-by-day. One way or other,
Zenawi’s involvement in the Somali civil war may catch him off guard in his relationship with
Radical activists in General Omar el-Bashir’s radical party are already biting their figurers about Zenawi’s military support for the isolated TSFG. Their flowing Maj-General Hussein to
But any change of heart in
Zenawi’s involvement in the Somali civil war may cause citizen support for the regime. In Gambella, Oromyia, Sidama, Amhara region, Binshangul Gumuz, Ogaden and other corners of the country, the support for the regime has been declining. With war looming, whatever the percent of citizens remain backing the regime would start to diminish. Firing of civilian servants in the Foreign Ministry is one instance where the regime is losing the support and is realizing its base is shirking (See AP, 19, 2006). In the past, wars have taught tyrants like Zenawi who have taken their countries into wars as away to divert attentions from their authoritarian policies. Rivals of Zenawi best weapons to gain more advantages in Somali civil war is to report on the ongoing causalities on army forces as accurately as possible and as aggression as possible to make parents of soldiers and the general public decide for them whether a countless causalities to maintain Zenawi’s regime is worthy dying for.
Zenawi might have his envisioned his gamble in Somali civil war as an important strategic decision to extract more monetary from Americans, divert attentions of both domestic and international from his authoritarian rule and prolong his regime. Likely outcome of that conflict may come at a price of losing very elements that has kept alive and embolden the already emboldened opposition parties at his expense.
**The writer is the editor of www.gambelatoday.com, a website which is devoted to publishing news and commentaries on issues concerning Sudan, Ethiopia and Gambella State. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The opinions expressed here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position or have the endorsement of OromiaTimes