Ethiopia: Looking For The Exit In Somalia

August 29, 2012 (Strategy Page): Kenyan forces in Somalia still say they intend to launch an assault on the port of Kismayo. August, however, is almost over and August was supposed to be the month of the big attack on the Al Shabaab-held seaport. Kenyan naval forces have launched several gunfire attacks over the last three weeks. The attacks appear to be little more than raids intended to rattle the militiamen defending the port. One attack, however, allegedly killed several civilians. This past spring Kenyan government officials and military commanders began meeting with clan leaders in southern Somalia with the intent of getting the clans help to hammer out a political agreement for governing Kismayo and southern Somalia after Al Shabaab is evicted from the area.

Kenya doesn’t want Blackhawk Down Mogadishu type chaos in Kismayo and southern Somalia after the big attack. The code phrase for chaos the Kenyans are using is an administrative vacuum. Some of the talks have taken place in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. At least three major clans were involved in the discussions in Nairobi: the Marhan, Ogden, and Harti. If a power-sharing arrangement with the southern Somali clans has been made, no one is talking about it.

In July Ethiopian officers indicated that Ethiopian Army units would participate in the assault on Kismayo. The speculation then was that Ethiopian armor would be valuable in the assault.

There is another column marching toward Kismayo from the north, however, official reports do not mention Ethiopian forces as being part of the column, only Ugandan and Burundian military forces.

A composite force consisting of African Union peacekeeping troops and Somalia Transitional National Government (TNG) troops took the fishing town of Merca on August 27. Merca is about 70 kilometers north of Kismayo.

–Strategy Page