The Ethiopian invasion of Somalia is ending freedom of speech in Somalia.
That was the blunt conclusion of undercover Ethiopian blogger Seminawork in his post Somali media under attack, as news came through that Somalia's Ethiopia-backed Transitional Government had shut down independent radio stations and even closed the offices of the international news station, Al Jazeera.
Somalia had some of the freest media in Africa. The Islamists who were labelled as enemies of freedom hadn't tried to close the radio stations which are under attack from the [Transitional Government] now.
Seminawork was one of many Ethiopian bloggers to cast a critical eye on the aftermath of the Ethiopian Government's decision to send its soldiers into Somalia to drive out Islamist forces and restore the Somali Transitional Government to power. (Here is the BBC timeline of the conflict.)
Lela Tensae painted a pessimistic picture of the months and years ahead in The thorn in the Horn:
Unfortunately, the blowback to this irresponsible and senseless war will be felt for years to come. And who will be the on the receiving end of this reckless act that was done in the name of self defense? Once again, it is the innocent people of Ethiopia, whose only desire is to live in a peaceful democratic country, which respects the rights and sovereignty of its neighbors.
From the American point of view this is win-win. [Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's Prime Minister] is our SOB for now, kicking ass & taking names while the rest of the War on Terror proves to be more frustrating than predicted. For Republicans and Democrats that remains true. The administration wants a clear win somewhere, anywhere and the new Congressional leadership doesn't want to rock the boat lest they do something that actually has ultimate electoral responsibility associated with it.
The Meles endgame in Somalia as in Ethiopia, is eternal rule, riches and that dubious position of international respect that thugs get for killing their way to the top of their personal heap of bodies. However, Ethiopia is now in a war now with no endgame in sight or even planned for besides more political support and cash in the pipeline for its dictatorship.
Eleni Agiz of Ethiopia Encyclopedia gave her take on how relationships between Somalia and Ethiopia had changed since the military confrontation in Somalia-Ethiopia Relations: Then, Now, and in the Future:
Shaky relationship: Somali region of Ethiopia wanted to separate and join its culturally, religiously, physically, linguistically similar neighbor Somalia; and Ethiopia crushed the separatists movement.
BAD relationship: Holy War between Ethiopia and Somalia. Ethiopia does not want crazy terrorists as neighbors – Ethiopia didn't mind having pirates and poor people as neighbors, but terrorists are unacceptable…not because America says so. Ethiopia is totally independent of the US…totally.
The Ameche Rant provided an indepth analysis of where the conflict left each of its main players. Unusually, it was broadly supportive of the military venture, saying that everyone was better off without the Union of Islamic Courts in power, and concluding that the victory was Ethiopia's, not the USA's.
But his post Ethiopia's War in Somalia and its Regional Implications was still cautious:
If Meles keeps his word and bring home the bulk of the troops within the next month or two; Ethiopia can keep its victory and cement its place as the dominant power in the neighbourhood regardless of what happens in Somalia, bar UIC restoring the pre-Christmas status quo…The only way Addis Abeba can squander the victory is if it tries to play peacekeeper thereby becoming a standing target for hit & runners as the Americans have become in Iraq or if it decides to keep on waiting for peacekeepers for more than, let’s say, four to six weeks.
Meanwhile, not everyone in the Ethiopian blogosphere wanted to talk about the conflict. Enset probably spoke for many in This Music is Really Good for You!:
I am in the mood for some respite from the crazy world of Ethiopian politics. I suspect some of you are, too. So please sit back, relax and enjoy these two videos from YouTube. The first one is an amazing guitar rendition of Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D Major by a South Korean who goes by the name FunTwo. The second one is from an equally impressive spoon sliding guitar virtuoso, the South African Hannes Coetzee. Enjoy!