Is Ethiopia back in Somalia?

“Predictable” is pretty much the last adjective I would pick for Somalia. But here’s something that we might have seen coming: after pulling out last month, witnesses now report that Ethiopian troops are back in Somalia. When it comes to Somalia, Ethiopia just can’t seem to get enough. The countries have fought border wars for ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
588851_090203_somalia5.jpg
588851_090203_somalia5.jpg

"Predictable" is pretty much the last adjective I would pick for Somalia. But here's something that we might have seen coming: after pulling out last month, witnesses now report that Ethiopian troops are back in Somalia.

When it comes to Somalia, Ethiopia just can't seem to get enough. The countries have fought border wars for decades. In 2006, when the Islamic Courts Union government took control of Somalia, Ethiopian troops started slipping over the border -- much as they are reported to have done today. A few months later, they invaded. So though the troops are out again, have no illusions that Ethiopia will yield its Somali influence so quickly.

That should make things nice and awkward in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, where Somalia's newly elected President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed got a standing ovation at the African Union conference. You see, Ethiopia ousted Ahmed, who was president back in 2006.

“Predictable” is pretty much the last adjective I would pick for Somalia. But here’s something that we might have seen coming: after pulling out last month, witnesses now report that Ethiopian troops are back in Somalia.

When it comes to Somalia, Ethiopia just can’t seem to get enough. The countries have fought border wars for decades. In 2006, when the Islamic Courts Union government took control of Somalia, Ethiopian troops started slipping over the border — much as they are reported to have done today. A few months later, they invaded. So though the troops are out again, have no illusions that Ethiopia will yield its Somali influence so quickly.

That should make things nice and awkward in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, where Somalia’s newly elected President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed got a standing ovation at the African Union conference. You see, Ethiopia ousted Ahmed, who was president back in 2006.

Now, Ahmed has promised to reconcile with his neighbors. But he’ll have to do the opposite to win respect for his government in Somalia, where Ethiopian troops are reviled as occupiers. Al Shabaab, (shown above) the Islamist radical group that Ahmed will need desperately to rein in, has more than once vowed to wage jihad on Addis Ababa. Here’s where it gets unpredictable.

ABDIRASHID ABDULLE/AFP/Getty Images

Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

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