Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Legions of Abyssinia

AbyssiniaAccording to the most recent news accounts, Ethiopian forces have driven the Islamists out of Mogadishu and returned control of the capital to the official Somali government.

The leaders of the Islamist alliance that held most of the country until this week have resigned, SomaliNet news agency reported. “Since the Islamists came to power in Somalia, they did a lot of significant acts for the people, particularly in terms of security, justice, development, improving internal and foreign politics, reopening the air and sea ports and so on,” the outgoing leadership said in the statement.

Islamist fighters are said to have handed their weaponry to warlords in the Mogadishu area.

These were the same mujahideen who swore their dedication to martyrdom as recently as yesterday. Apparently not all of them were ready for the blandishments of the seventy-two black-eyed ones.

A few days ago The Scotsman reported a different line coming from the Islamist leadership:

The Somalia Islamic Courts Council’s (SICC) website hailed “mujahideen” troops who, it said, chanted passages from the Koran as they went into battle against militarily superior Ethiopian “crusaders”. Ethiopia is a largely Christian nation.

The battle for Mogadishu occupies just a small section of the long, convoluted, and bloody border between Islam and the rest of the world. The Ethiopian government is not attacking the Somalis to convert them to Christianity, but the Somali mujahideen obviously do consider this a struggle between their religion and the barbarian faiths of Ethiopia. They called a jihad, and asked for assistance from faithful Muslims all over the world in their fight. Unfortunately, their fellow jihadis failed to arrive ahead of the Ethiopian Air Force.

The Scotsman supplied no URL for the website of the Somalia Islamic Courts Council. A search for it turned up Golaha Maxaakiimta Islaamiga Soomaaliyeed, which may be it. Unfortunately, it’s entirely in the Somali language.

There are, however, various other Somali jihad blogs and websites dedicated to the same cause and writing in English. One of them is the Islamic Courts Council, run by Abusayfullaah As-Somaali. He hasn’t posted for a week, which may or may not be significant.

Here’s a quote, concerning the fighting at Baydhabo:

Shabelle News managed to speak to Shaykh Indho-adde (white eyes) over the phone.

He told Shabelle by the phone that the fighting was going on between the Ethiopian forces and the Islamic Courts fighters, indicating that he does not recognize the internationally backed government in Somalia. “I would be pleased to die in the Jihad (a holy war) while I was killing the Christian Ethiopian troops that forcefully occupied our country”, he said. “We will not halt the war until our forces reach the border between Somalia and Ethiopia”, he added.

Notice the emphasis on Christian Ethiopian troops.
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Another Somali Islamist blog is The Ignored Puzzle Pieces of Knowledge, where the blogger is one InshAllahShaheed.

In Somalia, the Jihad fe Sabeelillah against the Crusaders has been going on for a few days, walhamdullilah. The disgraceful Ethiopian Kafireen have started to cowardly fight the Somalians by using warplanes and jets like their cowardly counterparts: the Americans and their allies.

Those sissy school girls backed by the United Snakes of Amerikkka are too cowardly to fight like men on the ground with guns. AllahuAkbar, the Somalian Mujahideen are showing Sabr and are moving forth fe Sabeelillah without fearing death.

I don’t know where InshAllahShaheed hails from, but “United Snakes of Amerikkka”?? Does he hang out at Daily Kos when he’s off-duty from the jihad?

As a matter of interest, InshAllahShaheed has a whole page of video links for miscellaneous jihad war footage and snuff videos. I don’t recommend them to the faint of heart.

The struggle in the Horn of Africa between the Muslims on the coast and the Christians of the highlands has been going on for a long time. A little bit of history is in order.

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Ethiopia (also known as Abyssinia, from the name of its highland regions) has been a major power in sub-Saharan Africa since the beginning of history. A large Jewish contingent was represented there as early as the eighth century B.C., having migrated overland from Egypt, or across the Red Sea from the Arabian Peninsula.

Christianity came southwards from Egypt to Abyssinia in the fourth century. After the initial period of conversion, the Ethiopian Church came under the authority of the Coptic Church in Egypt, with a Primate appointed by the Patriarch of Cairo. Christianity eventually became the predominant religion in Ethiopia, though the country has been a patchwork of faiths since the earliest days.

The Islamic conquests in the seventh and eighth centuries cut Ethiopia off from the rest of Christendom. The Legions of the Prophet subdued Egypt and Nubia (Sudan), and occupied the littoral along the Red Sea and around the Horn, but the Islamic tide washed up against the highlands of Abyssinia and then receded.

At the end of the Dark Ages, Portuguese mariners set sail around Africa and into the Indian Ocean, looking for the fabled Far Eastern Christian kingdom of Prester John. When they discovered the Christians of Ethiopia, they thought they had found what they were looking for.

At the time the Ethiopians were under duress from the onslaught of the newest Legions of the Prophet, the forces led by the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. They asked the Portuguese for help, and in 1542 battle was joined by an alliance of European and African Christians against the Islamic army of the Turks. At first the Portuguese were defeated, but the following year they gained a decisive victory and the Turks were forced to withdraw.

From the Portuguese point of view, the Abyssinians practiced a strange and aberrant form of Christianity, and the Europeans saw it as their duty to correct their doctrine and bring Ethiopia under the authority of the Church of Rome. The Ethiopians, however, would have none of it, and relations between the two countries soured. The Jesuits stayed on for a while, at first tolerated, later despised, and finally expelled.

Ethiopia remained in its remote isolation from the rest of the Christian world until the great European colonial push of the nineteenth century. The French, the Italians, and the British all had encounters of various kinds with Ethiopia, but none was able to make the country into a colony. The British invaded and defeated Abyssinia in 1868, but did not remain in occupation. The Italians fought the Ethiopians at Adowa in 1896, and were astonished to be defeated by a large native force equipped with French weaponry.

Mussolini avenged this affront to Italian dignity by invading, occupying, and annexing Ethiopia in 1936. The period between 1936 and 1941 was the only time in history in which Ethiopia was actually conquered by a foreign power.

The Communist virus infected Ethiopia in 1974 when Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown and a Marxist dictatorship established. During seventeen years of Communist rule the Ethiopian economy was laid to waste, famine raged through the land, and border clashes were fought with Eritrea and Somalia.

The Church was severely persecuted under the Communists — the Patriarch was murdered by them in 1974 — but rebounded after the re-establishment of representative government in 1991. Ethiopia remains primarily Christian today.

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Considering this history, it’s no wonder that Ethiopia views the situation in Somalia with alarm: jihad has appeared on their borders yet again. The rest of us are fortunate that they were willing to mount a counterjihad against Mogadishu.

One assumes that our government gave them plenty of tacit encouragement to do the job. After all, they were ideal for the task — they know the terrain, speak the language, and have a real vested interest in completing the task.

Not only that, they are not going to be encumbered with the same Rules of Engagement which would tie the United States or NATO into procedural pretzels. It’s also unlikely that they will concern themselves overmuch with the Geneva Conventions as they apply to Islamic terrorists.

The big question is: what comes next? Somalia has been ungovernable for nearly twenty years. Can the Ethiopians force stability on a bunch of Taliban-wannabes, feuding warlords, and backward tribesmen?

Let’s see if the Legions of Abyssinia can accomplish what the United States and the UN so signally failed to do.

Resources on the history of Ethiopia:

Voyage to Abyssinia (Father Lobo’s 1622 account)
History of Ethiopia
Emperors of Ethiopia


Anonymous said...

Some facts you left out in your post:

1-Historical Abyssinia is northern Ethiopia and is predominately Christian. Modern Ethiopia as a whole (including the South and East) is about 45% Muslim and consists of some 80 ethnic groups.

2.the government of Ethiopia is hated by its own people. It is a minority government dominated by the Tigray People's Liberation Front-a pseudo marxist leninist group whose leaders belong to the northern Tigray ethnic group (6% of the population).

3. The TPLF government has jailed or killed thousand of anti-government pro-democracy activists as well as members of dissenting ethnic groups.

4. The main sticking point between Ethiopia and Somalia has always been the Ogaden-a somali ethnic homeland (of the Ogaden subclan).

5. The Islamists had the support of only one clan in Somalia.

6. Ethiopia is as backward and almost as tribalized as Somalia.

7. Meles Zenawi the president of Ethiopia is good friends of the Sudanese government.

8. Both the Islamists and Meles Zenawi used the war on terror to gain sponsors to secure their power (the Islamists from the Middle East, Meles from the US).

10. The US is increasing being hated by the vast majority of Ethiopians because of the US support for Meles's tyrannical government.

11. 2/3rds of Somalia (somaliland and puntland) has democractic rule and is very peaceful. Central and Southern Somalia is the part of the country that is now in chaos.

12. Last, but not least, there is a huge humanitarian crisis in both Ethiopia and Somalia.

Anonymous said...

In my polisci 200 class this past semester, we were following Somalia on a regular basis for a few weeks. My professor wrote many reports on the situation. I'm personally not shocked on the one hand that they (the ICU) lost control of Mogadishu. When they went into Kismayo, they broke from their tradition of working from the ground up. As much as I despise them, it was quite ingenious (incorporating local leadership to win over the population). If you guys are interested at all check them (the reports) out at :

Baron Bodissey said...


I was wondering if you would show up to take issue with my presentation.

I didn't "leave out" those things, any more than I left out Menelik I, Tewodros, the Zagwe dynasty, and Mengistu Haile Mariam. Not everything that can be said about Ethiopia can also be said briefly.

I could have written 10,000 words that none of this blog's regular readers would have wanted to read.

And even then, I'm sure you wouldn't have been satisfied with the finer political points of my account.

If you're looking for sympathy for your country, being a little less touchy wouldn't hurt at all.

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

That Ethiopia may be a tinpot third world tyranny is beside the point. A vicious al-Qaida supporting Taliban-style regime is being nipped in the bud by that tyranny. So Zenobia claims they're merely self interested bastards - could be, who knows - but they doing a great job of zapping the ICU.

And being a backward tyranny, they are not likely to be put off by ROE problems, or handfulls of friendly casualties, or MSM backbiting.

Grand. Its the first notable thing Ethiopia has done in 30 years other than have famines.

Snouck said...


1. do you think this victory of African Christians is a sustainable one?

2. Will there be meaningful, long term benefits to the USA to this feat of arms?

3. Will there be meaningful, long term benefits to Ethiopia to this feat of arms?

Wally Ballou said...

It's a mistake to look for "good guys" in a situation like this. Sometimes "realism" guided by national interest really is the best policy. Anything that helps kick Al-Q out of a safe haven is good for us, at least near term.

If Ethiopia can prop up and support the weak Somali government long enough for them to assert real control over both warlords and the "courts", both countries (and we) will be better off. It's hard to see how it could make things worse for us than the way they were going.

The evidence that the Bush admin has chosen correctly by passively supporting the Ethiopian action comes from the usual gang of idiots lined up against it. Aside from the OAU, just use Google Blog search for "Ethiopia Bush" to see how the moonbats are shrieking and thundering over this latest act of "US anti-islamic imperialism by proxy".

Baron Bodissey said...

Snouck --

1. "Sustainable" in Africa is always a relative term. If the Horn of Africa could be relatively calm for at least 5 years, that would be "sustainable" enough for me. I think the Ethiopians may be able to pull that one off.

2. Meaningful long-term benefit: nipping the African Taliban in the bud. Somalia was shaping up to be another Sharia nightmare state, with the same urge and capability to export Jihad to its neighbors and abroad.

3. Benefits for Ethiopia -- I'm not expert enough to answer that one; maybe Zenobia will come back and give us another virtual earful.

But it seems to me that the Ethiopians, like any other country with a large Muslim minority, gains enormous benefits when they drive al Qaeda from their borders.

Always On Watch said...

Scott said, Whatever the faults of the Ethiopian government maybe they are
doing the world a big favor here by exterminating al Qaeda in Somalia.

Furthermore, the Islamists in Somalia are finding out that their interpretation and implementation of "the will of Allah" might not be so invincible.

Ethiopia's curtailing of AQ is a New Year's present for all who love freedom.

You might be interested in reading THIS, which gives some more historical background.

Anonymous said...


I actually did not take issue with your post.
Your brief summary of medieval and recent Ethiopian history is pretty decent and I certainly don't expect you to write a complete history essay about Ethiopia on your blog.

I added a comment of what I thought are additional current and relevant points (points an insider will be aware of) about Ethiopia and Somalia.

I was not implying that you left out facts deliberately.

Baron Bodissey said...


Thanks for the clarification. I value your input, because you know a lot about this topic.

If you would like to answer some of Snouck's questions (or those of others), I would be interested in reading your replies.

Ronbo said...

Also, good news from Iraq:

Poor Homeless Tyrant May Be Executed Today

Anonymous said...

Maybe this answers some questions…
The demise of the official power of the Islamic Courts Union can only be a good thing as they had became dominated by Aweys-an ultra-militant extremist with ambitions to create a theocratic state that includes the Somali regions of Ethiopia, Kenya and the democratically ruled self-governing regions of Somalia (Somaliland and Puntland). Having said that, it is important to understand that the ICU had broad support within the Hawiye Clan (one of the largest clans in Somalia) because the leadership of the ICU is Hawiye, and they did get rid of the hated warlords that were behind the havoc in central Somalia. Success in Somalia will depend in how the well the secular transitional government is able to integrate the Hawiye clan and all the other clans peacefully to form an inclusive legitimate permanent government. The problem is that the transitional government also includes some of the warlords that are hated by the people, and is also itself divided in to different clan factions. If Somalia returns to warlordism and if Ethiopians are seen as occupiers backing an unrepresentative puppet Somali government, than the UIC could make a comeback. Right now, I think the UIC has lost credibility because of the way they conducted the war (sending teenagers to their death), and because their brand of Islam (Salafism) is too extreme for most Somalis.

Ethiopia is a tinderbox about to explode because the government of Meles Zenawi is extremely unpopular, poverty is rampant (36% inflation), hundreds of Ethiopians are in jail, the independent press has been squashed, the country is under martial rule and there are deep ethnic tensions within the country. Ethiopians do not want a hostile Islamist state next door, but they see Meles’s invasion of Somalia as a way to hoodwink the West into supporting his hated govt.

The irony is that we Ethiopians with US support have liberated central Somalia from tyranny, and the Somalis now have a good chance to form a national democratic government while we are stuck with a tyrannical government led by Meles Zenawi.

Globalbelai7 said...

Open Letter to Professor Ambassador Shinn:

Dear Ambassador Shinn and Patriotic Ethiopians around the world and friends of Ethiopia!

Greetings and best wishes for seasons festivities.

I read with interest and serious disappointment the Washington Post inteerview of Professor David Shinn. I could not believe such a respected Professor can go so wrong. The most important point is that he was wrong on Somalia when he was at State Department during President Clinton when the US was humiliated by the same Al-tihad group.

Now the Ethiopian Female Pilots are doing what the US and the UN forces could not do, the Professor goes wrong once more again. Ethiopia has been patient beyond my expectation and for that matter by the expectation of most patriotic Ethiopians for waiting so long to act when its flags are burned on a daily basis and Jihad was being declared on a daily basis from the loony Pseudo-Jihadists of Moqadisho. Ethiopia debated the issue in the Ethiopian Parliament and got the permission to undertake proportional legal measure to protect the National Security of its soveriegnity.

Now, let us examine, how the Professor was wrong before and now in 2006.

He was Chief of Intelligence of Horn of Africa at the Department of State during the 1991-93 and UN-US sco of Somalia. I wonder what his intelligence was telling him, but advising President Clinton to refuse the much needed arms to the US Commander and most importantly the withdrawal of US forces after such humiliation was Clinton"s and I will say the then Horn of Africa Intelligent Officer Dr David Shinn's greatest mistake of the century.

The most powerful nation on earth was chased by the weakest nation on earth. What followed was even more humiliating. The US ranks first as the only country or the only Super Power whose embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed and she did nothing. Most importantly the War Ship in Aden, Yemen was bombed by the same weak Somali terrorists and the US could do nothing. ''I wonder if he wrote President Clinton's intelligent briefing" of State Department at the time, but it was a tragic error to advise the President to run and cut then as it is to advise Ethiopian Female pilots to cut and run as the Arab League fools are suggesting, The truth is that even Bin Laden gloatted over while under the US nose in Khartoum.

This emboldened the Jihadist terrorists and what followed is history. A small error of judgement of US intelligence and in-experienced US Prestembident in the person of William Clinton emboldened the terrorists to what followed over the past few years including the unacceptable tragedy of Sep 11, 2001. Todate, the US or NATO has not captured Bin Laden and Aymen th, Egyptian physician turned the world's most feared terrorist.

Now Professor Shinn, after spending a term of dipolomatic visit in Ethiopia and having known the Ethiopian people very well, is making a serious mistake by making judgement that Ethiopians will be forced to be led by fear of Pseudo Jihadist Terrorists. Here again, he has intentionally forgotten what happened to Altihad Al-Islamia and foreign terrorist over the past 10 years or so when Ethiopia literally wiped them out in the Ogaden and they lived another day to come back as Pseudo Islamic Courts Union.

Colonel Hasan Tahir is the same person who massacred my people in Harar in 1977 when the foolish Mengistu re-deployed the most famous 3rd Brigade other wise known as the Lions of the Ogaden. The decision was fatal as Colonel Tahir, today's Pseudo-sheik murdered my people all the was to the outskirts of Nazareth, Adama baredly 200 km from the Capital Addis Ababa.

Now, Ambassador Shinn, I would like to alert you that Ethiopians are not Americans nor are they UN officers. These are highly disciplined and courageous soldiers that are going to honor the invitation of the Somali Government and do the measured and legal action which their parliament, the African Union and the UN Security Council allows them to do.

I hope they will not withdraw before Moqadishu is at peace and the Transitiional Government is capable of administering their country.

As to the terror he fears long term, it has already happened. Our close friend and respected Cabinet Minister and Ethiopia's UN Ambassador was gunned infornt of his office in Addis where he received 13 bullets down his shoulder. The people of Jimma in the South West Ethiopia have suffered humilitation when their Mosques and Churches were burnt downa and people were decapitated by the same stupid and misguided Somali Jihadists. It cannot get any better or any worse to be exact The situation is already untenable. Ethiopians and the Government of Somalia have to succeed for the sake of their people. There is no place to hide and there is no continent to pull their Military Ship or their soldiers too.

We know each other, and we know that peace is better than war. I believe my people will prove the Professor wrong by peacefully accepting the Transitiional Government in Somalia and making a uniqe solid partnership with the US and international community against global and regional terrorists.

The Days of Terror in the Horn of Africa is numbered and Ethiopia will have a unique place in history for turning the tide of global terror towards global peace.

With due respect Professor David shin and I do respect and like you a lot, this time you are dead wrong and hope you will change your views.

With respect and honor for your service and continued interest in Ethiopia, I remain;

Yours sincerely

Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH
Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc

Globalbelai7 said...

Dear Baron:

Mery Christmas and Happy New Year!

I posted an article I wrote on another web and you might find it helpful.

If you think this was out of your discussion line, my applogy in advance.

I like your discussions and felt a different perspective may add value to the discussion.

With regards

Belai Habte-Jesus, MD,MPH
Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc

Baron Bodissey said...


Your comment is on-topic, and, although it's a bit long, we're all glad to have your point of view. Welcome aboard!

Evanston2 said...

Let's all back up to the Big Picture. In the Bad Old Days before the U.N. and League of Nations, when a nation became internally weak it was automatic for a neighbor to invade and exploit it. This was HEALTHY. "Dysfunctional" cultures were invaded/infected with more functional cultures. It's about time a neighbor invaded Somalia. It's also too bad they can't unapologetically stick around and impose a better life than the crap-hole that Somalia became after the Soviets withdrew their support. Instead the Ethopians and others will have to be all meek and polite to the so-called "world community" and "human rights" groups whose policies have perpetuated the power vacuum and constant internecine warfare in Somalia. If there's ever been a country that needed invading, it's Somalia.

Aeneas said...

Ethiopia and a New Policy of Containment

What the recent military action in the Horn of Africa illustrates is that we need an updated version of the Truman Doctrine of Containment to prevent the spread of Islam on the African continent, as well as globally and to guide our foreign policy decision making process. Ethiopia would be a key regional ally under this policy, and its recent success in Somalia is an example of its determination and resolve on this issue.

The “Bloody Borders Project” map illustrates a distinct line of conflict in sub Saharan Africa. This sort of information should be a guide to policy making for our governments. I am of the opinion that economic, technical and military aid should be focussed in these regions, even at the expense of aid to other parts of Africa. In a sense aid to the countries on the front line would not really be aid but our contribution to their efforts to ensure the freedom of us all. Furthermore we should support and encourage secessionist movements in countries like Nigeria and Sudan so that resistance to the spread of Islamist extremism can be consolidated.

As part of such a new containment policy, perhaps NATO should also engage in a formal military alliance with India, and perhaps Israel should be brought into NATO as a deterrent to aggression against that democratic country (i.e. war against one is war against all!). In short NATO needs to move away from the its Cold War thinking and adapt to contemporary realities. Russia is not a threat but a potential ally.

Recent action by the Ethiopian military illustrates that we have common interests. If the Ethiopian Government is as unpopular as Zenobia suggests that we need to send a message to the Ethiopian people that we will help them develop their economy and increase their prosperity and quality of life as a matter of immediate urgency. Assistance to Ethiopia should be made into a foreign policy priority by the governments of the west because, in my view at least, it is in their interests to do so.

Anonymous said...

What the United States should be promoting in Africa is democracy and economic development, not a civil war between Muslims and Christians. Giving assistance to the Ethiopian govt when it is a corrupt minority govt means nothing to Ethiopians because the assistance will only be squandered. Ethiopia is already the largest recipient of aid in black Africa, and we are getting poorer not richer.

Panday said...


I couldn't care less if Ethiopia were run by two-headed, hermaphrodite wiccans. They're smashing the al-Qaeda minions in Mogadishu and that's good enough for me.

Captain USpace said...

Lots of good stuff here!

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
slaughter your enemy...

see a job worth doing
it's a job worth doing right