What IS going on?
The question is whether or not the residents of Mogadishu were cheering or not when the Prime Minister of the TNG rode into town with his Ethiopian sponsors or not.
War is always a time of much propaganda and there seems to be very much of it about when receiving news from Somalia these days.
One usually like to turn to the BBC in times like this but it has to be said that they have been very sympathetic to the cause of the UIC (Union of Islamic Courts) these past few months with many articles talking about how law and order and peace was brought to Mogadishu since they took control. Their first reaction was to talk about panic and rioting and looting going on when the UIC retreated, whilst other news agencies mentioned crowds cheering the Government forces.
My guess is that it was a bit of both, probably many happy to see the back of the extremists who had taken the re-introduction of Sharia Law too seriously whilst many others had no confidence in the TNG, being a gathering of ex-warlords chosen mainly outside the country with the support of Somalia's enemies, notably Ethiopia whose troops were used to push back into the capital.
Then the other main question is the extent to which the UIC really did represent a terrorist threat to the region and the world as a whole. The US certainly thought so and it was certainly in Ethiopia's interests to paint them as so. Although the UIC top did include a few who had been associated with terrorism before, notably Mr Aweys, there was also a large faction of moderates, allies to Mr Ahmed. As far as I could tell from following the reports over the past few months neither side was particularly in the ascendence.
Somalis (and I am amazed that all of a sudden the world media wants to call them Somalians, no doubt under the influence of the all-knowing Americans) are in general moderate Muslims with a strong non-Islamic traditions such as music and poetry. They are not naturally the extreme Arabist Wahhabi type Muslims, albeit a few of them, such as Mr Aweys have been infected by bthat poison. My guess is that given the chance and time, the moderate Muslim faction would have prevailed as the people would get sick and tired of the extreme wahhabi ways. However, it seems that they have not been given the chance. Instead the country has been taken over by puppets of foreign powers, some of which such as the USA have a distinctly anti-Islamic agenda and I can think of no better way to recruit extremists to the Wahhabi/jihadist cause than such a humiliation.
Going back to propoganda, none is more blatant than the labelling of the UIC as Islamic/jihadist terrorists, posing an imminent threat to neighbours and the rest of the world. It is interesting to see how if these people were such a threat how quickly they could be beaten. I have no idea myself about how militant the UIC really has been, although it was a bit silly of thenm to call on a jihad against Ethiopia nad all of Somalia's foes. I would not have taken this too seriously as they clearly had no capacity to carry out such a war and it sounded more like a rally to the cause than a serious threat. Still, given the world situatiuon, dominated by the US' war on terror, it was a very silly thing to say.
Lastly, the propoganda woulkd have had us believe that there were thousands of Ethiopian troops in Somalia with the TNG and likewise thousands of foreign, including Eritrean troops helping the UIC. Well, subsequent evenst have shown that there WERE thousands of Ethiopian troops whilst I have NOT read any reports of Eritreans or sundry Jihadists having been killed or captured by the Ethiopians/TNG. Again, my guess is that the story of Eritreans being in Somalia helping the UIC was a story put around by the Ethiopian Government in order to get popular support for their involvement, the rivalry with Eritrea being one thing sure to unite most Ethiopians together.
So there we have it, a web of confusion, lies and propaganda and it is all happening now. I have asked Fred if he might use this as a project for school, being more relevant than looking at World War One propaganda, which is what they normally do.