Ethiopian fighter jets pounded several Somali towns held by a powerful Islamic militia, a sharp escalation in violence that threatens to engulf the volatile Horn of Africa in widespread violence.Ethiopia recognizes the threat knocking at its door, and is attempting to fight back before it is too late. Note the following:
Ethiopia confirmed the attacks, the first time it has acknowledged that its troops were fighting in Somalia, though witnesses have reported their presence for weeks.
The airstrikes hit the strategic town of Belet Weyne on the Ethiopian border and surrounding villages up to 12 miles away, said Sheik Mohamoud Ibrahim Suley, an official with Somalia's Council of Islamic Courts. A resident of Belet Weyne — Ayanle Husein Abdi — said the strikes hit a strategic road and a recruiting center.
Ethiopia said it was acting to defend itself.
"After too much patience, the Ethiopian government has taken a self-defensive measure and has begun counterattacking the aggressive extremist forces," said Solomon Abebe, Ethiopia's foreign affairs spokesman.
Abdi said that the planes hit an Islamic center where the Islamic officials in the region enrolled volunteers who wanted to join the war. Another witness, Said Abukar Sahal, said the strikes were targeting the roads and defenses of the Islamic militia.
The Ethiopian airstrikes on Sunday were the first against Somalia's Islamic movement. Ethiopia and Somalia have fought two wars over their disputed border in the last 45 years. Islamic court leaders have repeatedly said they want to incorporate ethnic Somalis living in eastern Ethiopia, northeastern Kenya and Djibouti into a Greater Somalia.Islamic court leaders are talking about jihad; they want to recover the Dar al Islam - the lands of Islam and by doing so ignore the borders that have been set by prior conflicts.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said his government has a legal and moral obligation to support and defend Somalia's internationally recognized government. He has repeatedly accused the Islamic courts of backing ethnic Somali rebels fighting for independence from Ethiopia and has called such support an act of war.
As Sunday's fighting wore on, the Islamic leadership in the capital, Mogadishu, began broadcasting patriotic songs about Somalia's 1977 war with Ethiopia. Although the two countries view each other as enemies, Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf is a longtime ally of Ethiopia.
This is what the Islamists are about. They are expansionist and are not content with the current borders. They want to expand, and the results are bloody.
Gateway Pundit also picks up on the Somali Islamists and their call on other Islamists to heed their call to fight against the infidels - the Ethiopians. Matthew Yglesias comments that while there are Islamists on one side (the Somalis), the Ethiopians are comprised of Muslims and Christians. Others blogging the expanding conflict on the Horn of Africa: SeeDubya, Dan Riehl, Pajamas Media, Ed Morrissey, Blue Crab Boulevard, Hot Air, and Bill's Bites.
Technorati: somalia, ethiopia, eritrea, african union, council of islamic courts, genocide, crimes against humanity, jihad, failure, and united nations
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