2007 04 08
North Korea arms Ethiopians as U.S. assents

That’s the big news today. It isn’t that the U.S. (appears to have) actively helped Ethiopia get spare arms parts from the North Koreans; just that it allowed a transaction to go through at a time when it was useful for the U.S. to be able to help Ethiopia out with Somalia.

For this to make sense, you would need to believe that the success of Ethiopia’s Somalia project is more valuable than:

a) imposing an actual embargo on North Korea;
b) retaining U.S. credibility on the issue of nuclear proliferation in general;
c) building support for U.S. policies with respect to North Korea.

U.S. support for Ethiopia’s actions in Somalia didn’t make sense to me before I learned that the Bush administration was willing to engage in this kind policy trade-off. But even if there were good reasons to back Ethiopia, it’s hard to believe it could be worth this price. I just don’t understand why the Bush administration would put so much energy into a Security Council resolution and then undermine it three months later while at the same time acting very huffy about the prospect of anyone else undermining the same resolution. It’s just bizarre and irrational.

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2007 01 07
War and Peace, Horn of Africa Edition

I’m getting to it a little late, but allow me to direct your attention to this post by Timothy Burke.

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2005 07 13
Counter-terrorism in Somalia

Not a subject I’ve read much about. I wonder if we’ll be reading more in the future. Here’s the International Crisis Group:

U.S. counter-terrorism efforts in Somalia threaten to destabilise the country further and provide a popular platform for the spread of jihadism. A quiet, dirty conflict is being fought out in the ruined capital, Mogadishu, by al-Qaeda operatives, jihadi extremists, Ethiopian security services and Western-backed networks. This shadowy and complex contest waged by intimidation, abduction and assassination has seen some American successes but is producing growing unease within the broader public. Ultimately a successful strategy requires attention to more than the military aspect alone. Containing and eliminating jihadism in Somalia demands patient, sustained support for the twin processes of reconciliation and peace building, until legitimate, functional government is restored.

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