In Somalia, there have been quick and decisive military victories over the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) by the Ethiopian-backed forces of the Somali Transitional Federal Government.
Among those observing the military offensive and its potential consequences is Dr. Ken Menkhaus, associate professor of political science at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. Menkhaus was asked by VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua whether the speed of the military victories ensures stability for the Somali Transitional Federal Government.
“No, not at all. It is a surprising victory. The Ethiopians have had much greater success than any of us thought. And I think much of that can be attributed to some very serious mistakes that were made by the UIC and also some internal disagreements within the movement. But we are not likely to see stability come in Somalia. I hope so. That would be only the result of serious political dialogue to bring the Mogadishu groups and clans fully into the Transitional federal Government. But in the absence of that, we are likely to see two types of armed insurgency reemerge in Somalia. One is going to be the residual hardcore Islamists, the Shabaab militia, and the other is going to be clan resistance to the TFG,” says Menkhaus.
Menkhaus thinks the clan resistance could be “more effective, more powerful and potentially more disruptive.” He says he expects senior Islamist officials to be protected by their clans, despite the fact that they triggered a war with Ethiopia.
As for a peacekeeping force, Menkhaus says it would be very difficult and there appears to be little international political will for one at this point.
“The most effective scenario for a protection force is if the Transitional Federal Government becomes a true government of national unity. Then a protection force is neutral in Somali politics.