The Happy Arab News Service

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Horn of Africa Blows at Midnight

I was not posting about the Horn of Africa for a while because, since the Islamic Courts (ICU) were overthrown, it was all more or less about the same. Over last weeks hundreds and thousands died in Mogadishu in heavy fighting between the Ethiopian and government forces and local clans apparently allied with the remnants of the ICU. Dozens of thousands fled the capital. In short, a usual monotonous and boring routine not worth of attention. Yet today there happened something that may signal a new twist in this conflict

Ethiopian rebels who have fought alongside Islamic militants in neighboring Somalia stormed a Chinese-run oil field at dawn Tuesday, killing 74 people and destroying the exploration facility in a restive border region.

It was the first such attack on a foreign company in this Horn of Africa nation, in contrast to Nigeria on the western side of the continent, where rebel groups frequently attack international oil concerns.

Chinese officials said nine Chinese oil workers and 65 Ethiopians died and seven Chinese were taken away by the rebels. It wasn't known if the rebels suffered any casualties.

The assault by more than 200 gunmen lasted nearly an hour, and followed a warning last year from the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front against any investment in eastern Ethiopia's Ogaden area that could benefit the U.S.-allied government.

Formed by Ethiopia's ethnic Somali minority, the Muslim group has been fighting for secession of the Britain-sized region with 4 million inhabitants since the early 1990s, but it had mounted only occasional hit-and-run attacks on government troops in recent years.

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Almost half of Ethiopia's population are Muslims. Ethiopia fought several wars in Somalia and at the peak of their power (which lasted no more than a few months) the ICU were repeatedly threatening Ethiopia with Jihad and pledging their commitment to the creation of a 'Greater Somalia'.

So Ethiopia went to Somalia to stop the 'Greater Somalia' from coming to Ethiopia. Yet it starts looking as if the 'Greater Somalia' is nevertheless on its way to Ethiopia.



My previous coverage of this conflict is available under 'The Horn of Africa' and other tags below

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