Wednesday, January 3, 2007

War and Reaction in Ethiopia

War and Reaction in Ethiopia by Jordan Flaherty January 03, 2007

Awasa, Ethiopia -- "The United States is Ethiopia's best friend in the world," more than one Ethiopian has told me in recent days. On this point, there seems to be much agreement. However, conversations this week from Moyale, on the Southern border with Kenya, to the capital city of Addis Ababa, have revealed mixed reactions to Ethiopia's recent invasion of neighboring Somalia. In the first days of the invasion, many expressed hesitancy, especially in the south of the country, where many people know or are related to Somalis. "My wife is Somali," one merchant in Moyale told me. "Of course I don't think we should be fighting them."

Few people here believed Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi when he said this week that this war was not inspired by the US. When asked the reason for this war, Idriss, a businessman in the Southern city of Dilla smiled and said, "we were tricked by your government." A Women's rights activist from Addis Ababa said, "of course, we are a proxy army for the US. Do you remember when the US tried to send troops to Somalia? The US soldiers dragged through the streets?" Others repeated the government argument that Ethiopia had been attacked by Somali fighters, and was launching this war in defense. As the Ethiopian army rapidly swept through to Mogadishu, and even to the Islamic Courts'

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