Friday, December 29

"And now they are taking our children..."

On the weekend I ran into a friend whom I haven’t seen in a couple of months. After chatting for a few moments I asked about her family. Her face immediately clouded over and her voice was barely audible: “The boys…are gone.”

“Gone?” I repeated in amazement. “What do you mean gone?”

She explained that they had recently left the family home and gone into hiding, fearing that they would also be rounded up and sent to war. “Sometimes, you know, they still come around during the days…but never for the nights. Most of the boys in the neighborhood have fled now. There is no one left.”

“Before this thing used to be only in the rural areas, but now they have come to Addis,” she continued angrily. “And for what? Tell me! Haven’t they already done enough to us here? Nobody wants this war! Nobody!”

Her voice trembled, as she looked at the ground.

“And now they are taking our children…”

(For more of what they are doing to Ethiopia's children, check out the latest post from Ethio-Zagol if you haven't already done so...)


Anonymous said...


Thank you for your honest post's. It is people like you who help us keep the faith in humanity. It is great to know that there still are people who care enough to look underneth the surface and see what is taking places in Ethiopia or as a matter any where injustice rules.

Stay Safe and thank you.

Ljit said...

Thanx for caring, Mengedegna! Keep it up, please!

Anonymous said...

Selam Mengedegna!

Have you run into these articles from NY times and Huffington post??

Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy, December 27, 2006

The State Department "came out of the closet" and openly declared its support for the Ethiopian offensive in Somalia, the New York Times reported today. The Times reports on the State Department's press strategy:

The State Department instructed officials to play down the Ethiopian invasion in public statements.

"Should the press focus on the role of Ethiopia inside Somalia," the State Department memo said, "emphasize that this is a distraction from the issue of dialogue between the [transitional government] and Islamic courts and shift the focus back to the need for dialogue." "The press must not be allowed to make this about Ethiopia, or Ethiopia violating the territorial integrity of Somalia," the memo said.

Is the State Department's press strategy working? Certainly, the press is reporting on the Ethiopian offensive. But as the Bush Administration has become more open about its support for the Ethiopian invasion, U.S. press criticism appears to have become muted somewhat.

An African Union and Arab League call for Ethiopia to withdraw all its troops from Somalia was prominently reported by the BBC, but doesn't seem to have appeared at this writing in the US press.

Last week the Washington Post reported some key facts. It said that the Bush Administration had given "tacit approval" and a "green light" for Ethiopia to invade. Yesterday the Post muddied the issue, saying that the U.S. had "remained on the sidelines."

Last week the Washington Post also reported division in the Administration on the significance of links between the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia and Al Qaeda, with the intelligence community, in particular Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, expressing skepticism about Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer's claim that the Islamic Courts Union is controlled by Al Qaeda.

But yesterday's Washington Post merely says that regional analysts think the claim is exaggerated.

A key problem is that once a story is established US news media tend to depend on cues from politicians to establish what is an appropriate subject of controversy. But members of Congress have not been speaking up about Somalia. You might think this is in part due to the holidays, and in part you would surely be right. But Senator Biden was in the press today, criticizing the Bush Administration's plan to "surge" troops in Iraq, and saying he was going to hold hearings, so presumably he or others could have gotten in the press talking about Somalia, if they wanted to.

And it's surely the case that representatives would be more likely to speak out about Somalia if they heard from more constituents that they were concerned about what the Bush Administration is doing there. So, one way to improve the press coverage is to tell your representatives in Congress that the US should be supporting diplomacy in Somalia, not war. You can, if you wish, use this link to do so.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 26 — The United States on Tuesday signaled its support for the Ethiopian offensive in Somalia, calling it a response to “aggression” by Islamists who have since the summer been consolidating power in the country.

A spokeswoman for the State Department, Janelle Hironimus, said Ethiopia was trying to stem the flow of outside arms shipments to the Islamists. Ms. Hironimus added that Washington was concerned about reports that the Islamists were using child soldiers and abusing Ethiopian prisoners of war.

The statement was the most detailed by the United States since last week, when the long-simmering tension between Ethiopia and Somalia boiled over.

Ethiopia has long been a strong ally of Washington in the Horn of Africa. The American military has for years trained Ethiopian troops at bases in the eastern region. The training is part of a Pentagon effort to build the Ethiopian military into a bulwark against regional terrorist networks.

Maj. Marie Boughen of the Army, a spokeswoman for the United States Central Command, which has military responsibility for the horn, said no American troops were participating in the Ethiopian offensive or working as advisers for it.

The Ethiopian military presence in Somalia, while tacitly blessed by Washington, has nonetheless been awkward for American officials. They have publicly urged a return to peace talks by warring Somali factions, but some officials have also said an Ethiopian invasion could be the only factor to prevent the Islamists’ complete takeover of Somalia.

On Tuesday, a day after an Ethiopian jet strafed the airport in Mogadishu, the capital, the State Department issued internal guidance to staff members, instructing officials to play down the invasion in public statements.

“Should the press focus on the role of Ethiopia inside Somalia,” read a copy of the guidelines that was given to The New York Times by an American official here, “emphasize that this is a distraction from the issue of dialogue between the T.F.I.’s and Islamic courts and shift the focus back to the need for dialogue.” T.F.I. is an abbreviation for the weak transitional government in Somalia.

“The press must not be allowed to make this about Ethiopia, or Ethiopia violating the territorial integrity of Somalia,” the guidance said.

The Bush administration is using American ambassadors throughout the region in an effort to have African nations press the Islamists to return to the negotiating table.

Senior leaders of the Islamist coalition, the Islamic Courts Union, have issued a global call to jihad for Muslims to travel to Somalia to fight troops from Ethiopia.

American intelligence officials said they did not believe that foreign fighters had traveled to Somalia in great numbers and that mostly Somalis made up the force fighting the Ethiopians.

American intelligence officials theorize that the Islamists, who wrested control of Mogadishu in June from a coalition of warlords supported by the Central Intelligence Agency, have ties to a Qaeda cell based in East Africa that is responsible for the bombings of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

This year, the C.I.A. began a covert operation to arm and finance the warlords, who had united under the banner of the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism. Operated from the intelligence agency’s station in Nairobi, Kenya, the effort involved frequent trips to Mogadishu by case officers from the agency and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to the warlords.

The operation backfired. When the payments to the warlords shifted the military balance of the country in their favor, the Islamists started a strike against the American-backed coalition and ran it out of Mogadishu.

Since June, the State Department has reasserted its control of Somalia policy, trying to build support for a plan to bolster the transitional government with peacekeeping troops from other African nations.

more links...

Somalis Split as Fighting Halts and Hint of Insurgency Looms.....