Friday, December 29, 2006

More Lessons For Israel From Somalia: Lebanon

Two days ago, I drew some parallels between the Ethiopia's action against Somalia and the inaction Israel has taken against Hamas.

There are other parallels as well--with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross writes for Pajamas Media:
The startlingly rapid retreat of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), a Taliban-like group linked to Osama bin Laden, surprised military intelligence officers who less than a week ago were predicting a total route of Somalia’s secular transitional federal government.

The intensity of air strikes by Ethiopia, which has long been allied with the transitional government, has helped turn the tide. Ethiopia’s ground forces, already based in Somalia, have also played a critical role.

Ethiopia’s success was not inevitable: This past week an American military intelligence officer told Pajamas Media that the ICU “will overrun Baidoa,” where the transitional government has been headquartered, and that the only question was when Baidoa would fall. Pajamas Media spoke with the same officer yesterday. He is now optimistic about the Ethiopians’ chances, with one caveat: “Unless you kill the ICU, it will come back. My worry is they’ll drive the ICU out and it will come back in a couple of months.”
Some points:
  • Similar to Somalia, Lebanon also is infested with an Islamist group--sponsored by Iran, not Al Qaeda--which poses a serious threat to the government.

  • Bother Ethiopia and Israel used intensive air strikes. Ethiopia's success, as opposed to Israel's failure, may be due to the unwillingness of the ICU to hide behind civilians as Hezbollah regularly did. Also, Ethiopia seems to have used ground troops from the start--something Israel was criticized for not doing.

  • The fear of the ICU returning is paralleled by the quick return by Hezbollah to full strength. Despite their success, Ethiopia has to deal with the fact that as in Lebanon, there is no one willing to take a stand against the destabilizing Islamist terrorist groups. The one solution: destroy the ICU--and destroy Hezbollah.
Strategy Page notes that:
The clans that traditionally inhabit, and control, Mogadishu, are apparently renouncing the Islamic Courts (an organization controlled by clans further south), and joining the Transitional Government once more. The Mogadishu clans were forced to "join" the Islamic Courts earlier this year.
This is a sharp contrast to the situation in Lebanon, where Hezbollah has been able to claim victory, hold on to their influence, and even increase it. Of course, an important difference is that unlike Hezbollah, the ICU is not the private army of an enemy state--see Michael Totten's Hezbollah's Putsch - Day One.

See also:
Ethiopia in Somalia: Israel Cannot Be Blamed--But Can It Learn?

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