Thursday, July 27, 2006

A new regional conflict brews in the Horn of Africa

Somalia, which is in the horn of Africa, is on the brink of war with their neighbor, Ethiopia. But, you don't hear much of that on the news because of the conflict between Israel and Lebanon.

Somalia became independent from British rule in 1960. But, since 1991, and the overthrow of President Barr, there has been lots of lawlessness, due to rival clans waging war against one another.

Why could war break out?
The current crisis in the country has been sparked by escalating tensions between Ethiopia and the Union of the Islamic Courts (UIC), the Islamic militants who control the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Ethiopian troops have moved into two towns in south-western Somalia after their government backed Somalia's interim government, headed by President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed. The UIC, which has spread its control to much of the southern part of Somalia, has vowed to wage a 'Holy War' and drive out the Ethiopian troops.

Many Western commentators fear the UIC could be offering safe havens for Islamic radicals and allowing al-Qaeda to run training camps in Somalia, although the militia denies it has links with the terrorist group. The UIC say their aim is to restore a system of Sharia law in the city and put an end to brutality and fighting on the streets. To further complicate the situation, a UN report earlier in the year linked the UIC with Ethiopia's rival and neighbour Eritrea.

There is no protection for the religious freedom in the government. The federal government is very weak, and Somalia is mostly controlled by Muslims. And, the people are pressured to respect Islamic traditions. Many Somalian Christians have fled to Kenya. But, those who are left are under great persecution. They are considered apostate, and face persecution and possible death. Dr Khataza Gondwe, Advocacy Officer for Sub-Saharan Africa for the Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) Group, says "The situation for Christians is awful, the one thing Somalians agree on is 'let's kill Christians'." The Christians who have fled to Kenya still face persecution from Somalian Muslims who have also fled.

The interium government and the Islamic courts are due for talks in August. But, with previous talks breaking down, there seems to be no peace in sight.

It's hard to believe things will improve unless the UN and western superpowers get behind peace talks for the region.

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WomanHonorThyself said...

Great post Barb, but dont hold your breath for the UN to help Christians or Jews for that matter...sigh. Keep up the good work!

Barbara said...

I so agree. We might be 'in' the UN, but the UN is not for America, or for Christians!