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Operation Somalia: The U.S., Ethiopia and now Kenya

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By Aaron Maasho

Ethiopia did it five years ago, the Americans a while back. Now Kenya has rolled tanks and troops across its arid frontier into lawless Somalia, in another campaign to stamp out a rag-tag militia of Islamist rebels that has stoked terror throughout the region with threats of strikes.

The catalyst for Nairobi’s incursion was a series of kidnappings by Somali gunmen on its soil. A Frenchwoman was bundled off to Somalia from northern Kenya, while a British woman and two female aid workers from Spain, abducted from a refugee camp inside Kenya,  are also being held across the border.

The incidents caused concern over their impact on the country’s vital tourism industry, with Kenya’s forecast 100 billion shillings or revenue this year expected to falter. The likes of Britain and the United States have already issued warnings against travel to some parts of the country.

Kenyans have so far responded with bravado towards their government’s operation against the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group. Local channels regularly show high approval ratings for the campaign, some as high as 98 percent.

from Photographers' Blog:

AUDIO SLIDESHOW: Two Decades, One Somalia

In the 20 years since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled, Somalia has faced hunger, flooding, fighting, suicide attacks, piracy and insurgency.

Prevailing violent conflict inside Somalia makes it difficult if not impossible for aid agencies to reach people.

Ethiopia/Eritrea: Another war?

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Ethiopia is beating the war drums again. After a lull of more than a decade, the Horn of Africa giant is now threatening to attack its neighbour and foe Eritrea over claims it is working to destabilise the country.

When Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said his country would no longer take a passive stance towards Eritrea, it marked an escalation in the bitter war of words that has ensued since a devastating border spat ended in 2000.

Is Eritrean policy shift just “tactical”?

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ALGERIA

Eritrea’s arms seem to have been folded in a sulk for a long time now. The Red Sea state has, for some, taken on the black sheep role in the Horn of Africa family. But President Isaias Afewerki is looking eager to get off the naughty step.

His opponents say he was put there for good reason. Eritrea became increasingly isolated in the region after a 1998 – 2000 border war with neighbouring – and much bigger – Ethiopia.

from Global News Journal:

What should the world do about Somalia?

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Islamist militants imposing a strict form of Islamic law are knocking on the doors of Somalia's capital, the country's president fears his government could collapse -- and now pirates have seized a super-tanker laden with crude oil heading to the United States from Saudi Arabia.

Chaos, conflict and humanitarian crises in Somalia are hardly new. It's a poor, dry nation where a million people live as refugees and 10,000 civilians have been killed in the Islamist-led insurgency of the last two years. A fledgling peace process looks fragile. Any hopes an international peacekeeping force will soon come to the rescue of a country that has become the epitome of anarchic violence are optimistic, at best.

What hope for Somalia?

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Fighting in Mogadishu. Kidnaps of foreign aid workers. Hijacks by pirates. Africa’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The news from Somalia seems to be relentlessly negative, writes Reuters Somalia correspondent Guled Mohamed. So it has been for the best part of 17 years since warlords overran the country in 1991 to usher in the modern period of chaos in this part of the Horn of Africa.

Where is Eritrea headed?

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eritrea_president.jpgEritrean President Isaias Afwerki is probably one of Africa’s least-known yet controversial leaders. After a successful 30-year independence war against neighbouring Ethiopia, he won praise from the West in the 1990s for being part of a “new generation” of  progressive African leaders. In recent years, however, the Eritrean president has been increasingly criticised from abroad as running his small Horn of African nation along authoritarian lines.

Not usually keen on giving interviews to Western media, President Isaias Afwerki sat down this week for a nearly two-hour chat with Reuters’ Asmara correspondent Jack Kimball and East Africa bureau chief Andrew Cawthorne. In it, he criticised the United Nations, denied an incursion into Djibouti, outlined Eritrea’s economic policies and accused the United States of trying to destabilise his country.

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