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PORTSIDE  December 2010, Week 3

PORTSIDE December 2010, Week 3

Subject:

U.S. Twisted Ethiopia's Arm to Invade Somalia

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Date:

Sat, 18 Dec 2010 15:15:28 -0500

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text/plain (159 lines)

WikiLeaks Reveals U.S. Twisted Ethiopia's Arm to Invade
Somalia

By Rob Prince
Foreign Policy in Focus
December 8, 2010

http://www.fpif.org/blog/wikileaks_reveals_us_twisted_ethiopias_arm_to_invade_somalia

By mid 2007, the 50,000 Ethiopian troops that invaded
Somalia in late 2006 found themselves increasingly
bogged down, facing much fiercer resistance than they
had bargained for as Somalis of all stripes temporarily
put aside their differences to stand together against
the outside invader.

As the military incursion turned increasingly sour,
then US Under Secretary of State for Africa, Jendayi
Frazer, who taught at the University of Denver's Korbel
School of International Studies in the 1990s, insisted
that, prior to the invasion, the United States had
counseled caution and that  Washington had warned
Ethiopia not to use military force against Somalia.
Frazer was a close collaborator with former U.S.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, for whom there
also is a strong University of Denver connection.
Frazer certainly tried to distance the United States
from responsibility for the Ethiopian invasion in a
number of interviews she gave to the media at the time.

But one of the released WikiLeaks cables, suggests a
different picture, one that implicates Frazer in
pressing Ethiopia's President Meles Zenawi to invade
its neighbor. The content of the cable is being widely
discussed in the African media. It exposes a secret
deal cut between the United States and Ethiopia to
invade Somalia.

If accurate -- and there is no reason to believe the
contrary -- the cable suggests that Ethiopia had no
intention of invading Somalia in 2006 but was
encouraged/pressured to do so by the United States
which pushed Ethiopia behind the scenes. Already bogged
down in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time, the
Bush Administration pushed Ethiopia to invade Somalia
with an eye on crushing the Union of Islamic Courts,
which was gaining strength in Somalia at the time.

At the time of the invasion there was little doubt that
the Ethiopian military incursion was "made in
Washington." Like so many other WikiLeaks cables, this
one merely puts a dot on the "i" or crosses the "t" on
what was generally known, although it does give
specific information about Jendayi Frazer's deep
involvement in the affair.

According to the cable, as the main U.S. State
Department representative in Africa, Frazer played a
key role, spearheading what amounted to a U.S.-led
proxy war in conjunction with the Pentagon. At the same
time that she was pushing the Ethiopians to attack,
Frazer was laying the groundwork both for the attack in
the U.S. media and for a cover-up, by claiming that
although the United States did not support Ethiopian
military action, she could understand "the Somali
threat" and why Ethiopia might find it necessary to go
to war.

Frazer spread rumors of a possible jihadist takeover in
Somalia that would threaten Ethiopian security. Turns
out that media performance was little more than a
smokescreen. The U.S. military had been preparing
Ethiopia for the invasion, providing military aid and
training Ethiopian troops. Then on December 4, 2006,
CENTCOM Commander, General John Abizaid was in Addis
Ababa on what was described as "a courtesy  call."
Instead, the plans for the invasion were finalized.

At the time of the Somali invasion, Zenawi found
himself in trouble. He was facing growing criticism for
the wave of repression he had unleashed against
domestic Ethiopian critics of his rule that had
included mass arrests, the massacres of hundreds of
protesters and the jailing of virtually all the
country's opposition leaders. By the spring of 2006
there was a bill before the U.S. Congress to cut off
aid to Zenawi unless Ethiopia's human rights record
improved. (His human rights record, by the way, has not
improved since. Given how the United States and NATO
view Ethiopia's strategic role in the "war on
terrorism" and the scramble for African mineral and
energy resources, Western support for Zenawi has only
increased in recent years).

In 2006, dependent on U.S. support to maintain power in
face of a shrinking political base at  home -- a
situation many U.S. allies in the Third World find
themselves -- and against his better judgement, Zenawi
apparently caved to Frazer's pressure. Nor was this the
first time that Frazer had tried to instigate a U.S.
proxy war in Africa. Earlier as U.S. ambassador to
South Africa, she had tried to put together a
"coalition of the willing" to overthrow Mugabe's regime
in Zimbabwe, an initiative that did not sit so well
with South Africa's post-apartheid government and went
nowhere.

The 2006 war in Somalia did not go well either for the
United States or Ethiopia. Recently a State Department
spokesperson, Donald Yamamoto, admitted that the whole
idea was "a big mistake," obliquely admitting U.S.
responsibility for the invasion. It resulted in 20,000
deaths and according to some reports, left up to 2
million Somalis homeless. The 50,000 Ethiopian invasion
force, which had expected a cake walk, instead ran into
a buzz saw of Somali resistance, got bogged down and
soon withdrew with its tail between its legs. The
political result of the invasion was predictable: the
generally more moderate Union of Islamic Courts was
weakened, but it was soon replaced in Somalia by far
more radical and militant Islamic groups with a more
openly anti-American agenda.

As the situation deteriorated, in an attempt to cover
both the U.S. and her own role, Frazer then turned on
Zenawi, trying to distance herself from fiasco using an
old and tried diplomatic trick: outright lying. Now
that the invasion had turned sour, she changed her
tune, arguing in the media, that both she and the State
Department had tried to hold back the Ethiopians,
discouraging them from invading rather than pushing
them to attack. The WikiLeaks cable tells quite a
different story. In 2009, the Ethiopian forces
withdrew, leaving Somalia in a bigger mess and more
unstable than when their troops went in three years
prior. Seems to be a pattern here?
__________________

Rob Prince is the publisher of the Colorado Progressive
Jewish News.

___________________________________________

Portside aims to provide material of interest to people
on the left that will help them to interpret the world
and to change it.

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