PLEASE SEE UPDATES BELOW
Over this Christmas weekend, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia had enough of the latest Islamic "dispute" over "occupied lands" (From Israel, to Lebanon, to Thailand, to Russia, to the Philippines, Islamist demands are always cast as the jihadis as the victimized party) in his country. The neighboring "Islamic Courts Union" of Somalia ("ICU"), yet another jihadist outfit left unmolested by the President's failure, had been pressing Ethiopia for weeks and had shown a, shall we say, robust appetite for violence.
Ethiopia, unlike the United States however, doesn't have to play by a different set of rules. Instead, Ethiopia acted as a state should: forthrightly, with strength and obvious disdain for its enemies and those who would do them violence. Despite the fact that the European Union had sent one of its largest idiots to the African hell-hole for "peace talks", Ethiopia didn't blink.
The ICU had vowed all out war against the Ethiopian-backed transitional government of Somalia, with Islamic commander Hassan Bullow stating that "This war is a religious obligation and we are here to fight for our religion against the enemies until we die....The world is silent today while Ethiopian forces are killing us inside our country, but tomorrow when we defeat them and chase them things will be changed, we will enter their territories and at that moment the world will shout."
However, when Ethiopia dropped the gloves, the Islamists were revealed as the cowards and pitiful creatures that they are:
Islamic fighters attempting to wrest power from Somalia's internationally recognized government retreated from the main front line early Tuesday, witnesses said, a day after Ethiopian fighter jets bombed the country's two main international airports.
Troops loyal to the Council of Islamic Courts withdrew more than 30 miles to the southeast from Daynuney, a town just south of Baidoa, the government headquarters.
The Islamic forces also abandoned their main stronghold in Bur Haqaba and were forming convoys headed toward the capital, Mogadishu, residents in villages along the road told The Associated Press by telephone.
"We woke up from our sleep this morning and the town was empty of troops, not a single Islamic fighter," Ibrahim Mohamed Aden, a resident of Bur Haqaba said.
On the northern front, government and Ethiopian troops entered the town of Bulo Barde, where just two weeks ago an Islamic cleric said anyone who did not pray five times a day would be executed.
"We have withdrawn as part of our military strategy," said Sheik Mohamoud Ibrahim Suley, an official with the Islamic council in Mogadishu.
Come now, Suley! Surely there are some little girls or bound hostages you could kill to pep you up some? I do so hate to see a jihadi this depressed.
This is how you defeat jihadists: you kill them until they run and hide like the piss-pants cowards they are.
Mr. Bush? How is that January speech coming along?UPDATE:
Cliff May over at NRO's The Corner adds the following post, which makes it even more clear what needs to be done:
I've just been talking with an FDD researcher who has been monitoring developments in Somalia via Arabic media. It does indeed appear that the Ethiopians are defeating Islamist forces there. Why are they achieving what American forces in Somalia in1993 did not and what American forces in Iraq today apparently are not?UPDATE II:
More "boots on the ground" may be part of the explanation. The Ethiopians are not attempting to have a "light footprint." They are not worried about whether they will be seen as "occupiers" or whether their "occupation" will be viewed as benevolent.
Secondly, the Ethiopians are not overly concerned about whether their tactics will win approval from the proverbial Arab Street--or the European Street or Turtle Bay. They are fighting a war; their intention is to defeat their enemies; everything else is secondary or tertiary.
Anyone have an alternative interpretation?
From the New York Times, two days ago:
Ethiopian officials said today that they had run out of patience with the Islamist leaders, who have declared war on Ethiopia and vowed to turn Somalia into a recruiting ground for anti-Ethiopian fighters.
"What did you expect us to do?" said Zemedkun Tekle, a spokesman for Ethiopia's information ministry. "Wait for them to attack our cities?"
Mr. Snow, meet Mr. Tekle....UPDATE III:
From the New York Times, today:
As the situation in Somalia began to shift, it seemed that the Islamists may have overplayed their hand. Just a few months ago they were the most powerful force in the country and popular in many areas for restoring order after 15 years of anarchy. The transitional government, which is internationally recognized but weak and divided, was urging the Islamists to return to peace talks to discuss sharing power.
But all that changed last Wednesday at dawn when the Islamists attacked Baidoa from two directions. Witnesses said that their waves of young fighters were summarily mowed down by the more experienced (and older) Ethiopian-backed troops. On Saturday, the Islamists announced that Somalia was now open to Muslim fighters across the world who wanted to wage a jihad against Ethiopia, which has a long Christian history though it is actually about half Muslim.
The next day, Ethiopia struck. [It was threatened on Saturday and attacked on Sunday. Mr. Bush?]
With warplanes and tanks, the Ethiopian military pushed deep into Somalia and began uprooting the Islamists from their positions. Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's prime minister, said his country had been forced into war by the Islamists and that Ethiopia would try to neutralize the threat as quickly as possible.
The toll is rising in Mogadishu. At Benadir hospital, crowds of women pushed at the gates to get inside to see their wounded sons and husbands. Witnesses said the hospital's courtyards were stacked with dozens of corpses buzzing with flies. Some of the women even threw stones at the Islamist commanders visiting the hospital and shouted, 'Why have you done this to us?'
The day Iraqi women throw stones at the jihadis and wail at their misfortune is the day that we, like Ethiopia, begin winning. The lessons here are clear and beyond debate. To the extent we understand them, we will begin to pull ourselves out of the mire of self-inflicted defeat.