War in Somalia (2006–2009)

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Ethiopian invasion of Somalia
Part of the Ethiopian–Somali conflict and the Somali Civil War

An Ethiopian T-55 tank advances on Mogadishu
Date20 December 2006 – 30 January 2009
(2 years, 1 month, 1 week and 3 days)
Southern and Central Somalia

Inconclusive, see Consequences

Invasion: Invasion:
Commanders and leaders
  • Somalia: 10,000 soldiers[18]
  • Ethiopia: 9,000–50,000 soldiers[18][8][19]
  • AMISOM: 5,250 soldiers
Casualties and losses
Somalia (TFG):
  • Unknown
  • 15,000 deserted[24]


  • Uganda:
    • 7 killed
  • Kenya:
    • 6 killed
  • Burundi:
    • 2 killed
Civilian casualties:
(see § Casualties)

The Ethiopian occupation of Somalia, also called the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia[28] or the Ethiopian intervention in the Somali Civil War,[29] was a conflict largely involving Ethiopian forces and the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), supplemented by troops from Puntland. The initial weeks of the conflict focused on deposing the Somali Islamist group, the Islamic Court Union (ICU), but the hardline militant group Al-Shabaab soon took center stage as an insurgency intensified in the wake of the ICU's collapse.[28]

Ethiopian military involvement began in response to the rising power of the ICU, which had gained control of the majority of southern Somalia by late 2006. In order to reinforce the weak Transitional Federal Government, troops from the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) began deploying into Somalia during June 2006. By December of the same year, the combined ENDF/TFG coalition, alongside a covert US military contingent, were openly at war with the ICU. Concurrently, the ICU's organizational structure collapsed, and ENDF/TFG forces entered the capital city, Mogadishu during the last days of 2006.[28] In early 2007 a violent insurgency began, centred on a loose coalition of ICU remnants, volunteers, clan militias, and additional Islamist factions, of which Al-Shabaab assumed a pivotal role. In the same period, the African Union (AU) established the AMISOM peacekeeping operation, sending thousands of troops to Somalia to bolster the besieged TFG and ENDF. The Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), the successor to the ICU, further incited Islamist rebels and participated in the fighting.[30]

Over the subsequent two years, the ENDF, the TFG and AMISOM, became entrenched in a protracted struggle against an escalating insurgency, leading to the displacement of nearly one million inhabitants from Mogadishu.[31][32] The city became the scene of three devastating battles in this period, March–April 2007, November 2007 and April 2008. Over the course of the conflict the TFG's fragility remained unchanged from its state prior to the ICU's disintegration. Though violence significantly escalated in 2007, the most violent year of the occupation was 2008. By the end of 2008, the ARS had been assimilated into the TFG's parliament in an effort to halt the growing insurgency and create a representative government.[33][28]

In December 2008, TFG President Abdullahi Yusuf resigned after stating that he had lost control of Somalia to the insurgency.[34] At the start of 2009, former head of the ICU Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was elected president. That same month, claiming to have eradicated the 'Islamist threat' and declaring victory, Ethiopian forces entirely withdrew from Mogadishu, ending the two year occupation of the city. ENDF forces further withdrew from the majority of Somalia. Despite assertions by Meles Zenawi's government that the 'Islamist threat' in Somalia had been neutralized, it was widely observed that by the time of the January 2009 withdrawal, large portions of the country, including much of Mogadishu,[35] had fallen under the control of the hardline militant group Al-Shabaab.[28]


Historic background[edit]

Boundary disputes between Somalia and Ethiopia over the Ogaden region date to the 1948 settlement when the land was granted to Ethiopia. Somali disgruntlement with this decision has led to repeated attempts to invade Ethiopia with the hopes of taking control of the Ogaden to create a Greater Somalia. This plan would have reunited the Somali people of the Ethiopian-controlled Ogaden with those living in the Somali Republic. These ethnic and political tensions have caused cross-border clashes over the years:

Information warfare, disinformation and propaganda[edit]

Even before the beginning of the war, there have been significant assertions and accusations of the use of disinformation and propaganda tactics by various parties to shape the causes and course of the conflict. This includes assertions of falsification of the presence or number of forces involved, exaggeration or minimization of the casualties inflicted or taken, influence or control of media outlets (or shutting them down), and other informational means and media to sway popular support and international opinion.

Eastern African countries and international observers had feared the Ethiopian offensive may lead to a regional war, involving Eritrea, which has a complex relationship with Ethiopia and whom Ethiopia claimed to have been a supporter of the ICU.[39] The Eritrean government repeatedly denied any involvement despite Ethiopian claims to the contrary.[40][41][42] Ethiopia would also deny deploying troops in Somalia despite being widely reported.[43] The TFG also denied the involvement of Ethiopian forces.[44]

Prelude to the invasion[edit]

On June 17, 2006, Ethiopian troops moved into Somali territory. Local Somali officials and residents in Gedo region reported about 50 Ethiopian armored vehicles had passed through the border town of Dolow and pushed 50 km inland near the town of Luuq.[45][46] ICU head Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed would claim that 300 Ethiopian troops had entered the country through the border town of Dolow in Gedo region that morning in support of the TFG, and that Ethiopian forces had also been probing Somali border towns. He would go on to threaten to fight Ethiopian troops if they continued intervening and further stated, “We want the whole world to know what's going on. The United States is encouraging Ethiopia to take over the area. Ethiopia has crossed our borders and are heading for us.”[47][46]

The Ethiopian government would deny the deployment of its forces in Somalia and countered that the ICU was marching towards its borders.[43][48][45] The TFG, in response to accusations of an Ethiopian military deployment, would vehemently deny them. They countered by asserting that the ICU was fabricating a pretext to assault its capital in Baidoa. Additionally, the TFG arrested several reporters from Shabelle Media Network and imposed restrictions on their radio station after they reported on the ENDF incursion.[49][50] Another significant deployment of ENDF troops moved into Somalia on July 20, 2006.[51]

Burhakaba incident[edit]

The first clash between ICU and Ethiopian National Defence Forces occurred on 9 October 2006. TFG forces, backed by the Ethiopian troops, attacked the ICU positions at the town of Burhakaba, forcing the courts to retreat.[52] AFP reported that residents in Baidoa had witnessed a large column of at least 72 armed ENDF vehicles and troops transports depart from city before the incident.[53] Meles Zenawis government denied that ENDF forces were in Somalia, or that they had participated in the incident, but local residents in Burhakaba confirmed the presence of large numbers of ENDF in the town. The Economist reported that the Ethiopian military incursion had set off a fierce reaction even among the most moderate of the ICU, and a recruitment mobilization began in order to raise a force to take back Burhakaba.[54] The ICU claimed that the ENDF had also sent another large deployment across the Somali border. Following the battle, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed announced "This is clear aggression...Our forces will face them soon if they do not retreat from Somali territories" and declared Jihad against Ethiopian military forces.[55]

On 29 November 2006, the courts claimed Ethiopian forces had shelled Bandiradley. The next day ICU forces ambushed an ENDF convoy outside of Baidoa.[56]

December Clashes[edit]

On December 8, 2006, the ICU were attacked by TFG forces, backed up by Ethiopian troops. According to the BBC, ICU Chairman Sharif Sheikh Ahmed called on Somalis to "stand up and defeat the enemies".[57] Another official said Ethiopian troops had shelled the town of Bandiradley. The Deputy Defence Minister of the TFG, Salat Ali Jelle, confirmed the fighting but denied any Ethiopian troops were involved. The Ethiopian government denied repeated claims that its troops were fighting alongside TFG militia.[citation needed] Witnesses in Dagaari village near Bandiradley said that they saw hundreds of Ethiopian troops and tanks take up positions near the town with militiamen from the northeastern semi-autonomous region of Puntland.[58][citation needed]

On December 13, a Reuters report said that the ICU claimed 30,000 Ethiopian troops had already been deployed into Somalia.[16]

Forces involved[edit]

Forces involved are difficult to calculate because of many factors, including lack of formal organization or record-keeping, and claims marred by disinformation. For months leading up to the war, Ethiopia maintained it had only a few hundred advisors in the country, yet independent reports indicated far more troops.

According to Wired magazine, approximately 50,000 Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) troops backed by tanks, helicopter gunships and jets had been involved in the offensive against the Islamic Courts Union during December 2006.[59] Jeremy Scahill asserted that 40,000 to 50,000 ENDF forces had participated in the invasion.[60] Interior Minister of the TFG, Hussein Farrah Aideed, claimed 12,000 to 15,000 Ethiopian troops had been deployed Somalia.[61] The Ethiopian government claimed only 4,000.[61] During the invasion phase of the war, US Special Forces and AC-130 gunships directly intervened in support of the ENDF.[62]

The insurgency that would follow the collapse of the ICU would be composed of numerous different groups and factions, making it difficult to determine who was responsible for attacks and abuses, though Al-Shabaab would be the most powerful and active element.[63]


The weak and fragile TFG, which was only capable of controlling small parcels of land far south of Mogadishu, made the unpopular decision to invite Ethiopia to intervene in Somalia.[64] Before the full-scale invasion began, more than 10,000 ENDF forces had been built up in and around Baidoa over the months since the first incursion in June 2006.[65]

Invasion (Dec. 2006)[edit]

The Battle of Baidoa began on December 20, 2006, when the TFG's forces allied with occupying Ethiopian forces attacked the ICU. Heavy shooting broke out between TFG troops and Islamists 25 km (16 mi) southeast of Baidoa.[66][citation needed]

Map of the initial Ethiopian advancements in December 2006
  • December 20, 2006: Major fighting broke out around the TFG capital of Baidoa. Thirteen trucks filled with Ethiopian reinforcements were reported en route to the fighting. Leaders of both groups briefly kept an option open for peace talks brokered by the EU.[67][citation needed] Following the carnage Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys is reported to have observed that, "Somalia is in a state of war".[68]
  • December 22, 2006: Nearly 20 Ethiopian tanks headed toward the front line. According to government sources Ethiopia had 20 T-55 tanks and four attack helicopters in Baidoa.[69][citation needed]
  • December 23, 2006: Ethiopian tanks and further reinforcements arrived in Daynuunay, 30 kilometres east of Baidoa. Heavy fighting continued in Lidale and Dinsoor.[70][citation needed] The Battle of Bandiradley began on December 23, 2006, when Puntland and Ethiopian forces, along with faction leader Abdi Qeybdid, fought ICU militias defending Bandiradley. The fighting pushed the Islamists out of Bandiradley and over the border south into Adado district, Galgadud region, by December 25.[71]
  • December 24, 2006: Ethiopia admitted its troops were fighting the ICU for the first time,[72] after stating earlier in the week it had only sent several hundred military advisors to Baidoa. Heavy fighting erupted in border areas, with reports of airstrikes and shelling, including targets near the town of Beledweyne. According to Ethiopian Information Minister Berhan Hailu: "The Ethiopian government has taken self-defensive measures and started counter-attacking the aggressive extremist forces of the |Islamic Courts and foreign terrorist groups."[72]
  • December 25, 2006: Ethiopian and TFG forces captured Beledweyne. Defending Islamist forces fled Beledweyne concurrent to Ethiopian airstrikes against the Mogadishu and Bali-Dogle airports. Heavy fighting was also reported in Burhakaba.[73]
  • On 26 December 2006, the United Nations envoy to Somalia urged an end to the fighting, and the President of the United Nations Security Council, proposed a draft statement calling for an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of all international forces, specifying Ethiopian troops. US, Britain, France, and Russia, objected to the statement, saying peace talks and agreement were necessary before troops could withdraw.[74]

December 27, 2006: The leaders of the Islamic Courts Union, including Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Sheikh Abdirahman Janaqow resigned, and the organisation was disbanded.[75] The ICU had evacuated many towns without putting up a fight. The ICU top two commanders, defense chief Yusuf Mohammed Siad Inda'ade and his deputy Abu Mansur were away on the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca. Ethiopian and TFG forces were en route to Somalia's capital, Mogadishu having captured the strategic town of Jowhar, 90 km north from the capital.[76] That same day the African Union, supported by the Arab League and the IGAD, called for Ethiopia to withdraw from Somalia immediately.[77]

After the Fall of Mogadishu to the Ethiopian and TFG forces on December 28, the Islamists retreated from the Juba River valley.[78] Heavy artillery fire was reported on December 31 in the Battle of Jilib and the Islamists fled by midnight, leaving Kismayo, without a fight and retreating towards the Kenyan border.

On December 31, 2006, A heavily armed column of government and Ethiopian troops advanced from Mogadishu through Lower Shabelle towards Kismayo. They reached Bulo Marer (Kurtun Warrey district) and were heading to Baravo.[citation needed]


Military events in January 2007 focused on the southern section of Somalia, primarily the withdrawal of the Islamists from Kismayo, and their pursuit using Ethiopian airstrikes in Afmadow district concurrent to the Battle of Ras Kamboni. During this battle, the United States launched an airstrike conducted by an AC-130 gunship which they claimed was against suspected Al-Qaeda operatives. A second airstrike was made after the battle later in January 2007.[79] Early in January, the Ethiopian government claimed it would withdraw "within a few weeks"[80]

Following the Fall of Mogadishu, the security situation began to rapidly deteriorate. On 7 January, anti-Ethiopian protests broke out in Mogadishu, with hundreds of residents hurling stones and shouting threats towards ENDF troops. Ethiopian troops opened fire on the crowd after stones struck their patrol car, resulting in the death of two; including a 13 year boy. That same night a former ICU official was also assassinated in the city by gunmen.[81][82] On 19 January, insurgents in Mogadishu launched an assault on the ENDF/TFG held Villa Somalia. A 30 minute battle ensued involving tanks, though there were no reported casualties on either side. Soon after, the ICU claimed responsibility for the attack, declaring it as part of a "new uprising".[83][84][85] The following day an ENDF convoy in the city came under ambush. Residents reported that the Ethiopian troops had responded by firing into crowds indiscriminately.[84] The incidents began sparking concern of an Islamist insurgency.[83]

Deployment of AMISOM[edit]

On 20 February 2007, the United Nations Security Council granted authorization for the deployment of a peacekeeping mission by the African Union, known as the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). The mission's primary objective was to provide support for a national reconciliation congress in Somalia.[86] From 2007 to 2009, the military component was predominantly composed of troops from Uganda, Burundi, and a few Kenyans. During 2007, the operation relied heavily on Ugandan Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF), as Uganda played a crucial role in offering support to the initiation of the mission. By the end of the year, Burundian troops also joined the effort. However, AMISOM's initial mandate did not permit the use of offensive force, resulting in limited involvement in the conflict between Ethiopian forces and the insurgency. This dynamic led to growing tensions between AMISOM and the ENDF, exacerbated by a lack of transparency from Ethiopia regarding its objectives within Somalia.[87]


In late February and early March 2007, insurgent attacks on ENDF/TFG forces in Mogadishu became a daily occurrence, growing in both complexity and sophistication.[88] On 15 March 2007, TFG President Abdullahi Yusuf accused ICU rebels in Mogadishu of being responsible for shelling Villa Somalia with mortars moments after he arrived. In a telephone interview with Al-Sharq al-Awsat, President Yusuf declared that no ICU leadership would be allowed to partake in the national reconciliation process.[89] In the ensuing days, insurgent activities intensified further. Between 16 and 18 March 2007, there was a rapid escalation in attacks, accompanied by an increase in mortar fire volume. An large ENDF convoy was ambushed, leading to a major battle near Mogadishu port, and a high-ranking TFG regional police commander was assassinated by in Kismayo.[90]

By the end of March, the fighting intensified in Mogadishu and more than a thousand people, mostly civilians, were killed.[citation needed] Combat deaths numbered 9 Ethiopian soldiers, 6 Somali soldiers, and an unknown number of insurgents.[citation needed] Hawiye clan militiamen[citation needed] allied with the Islamists[citation needed] clashed with TFG and Ethiopian troops.

In June 2007, as ENDF troops were getting mired in the insurgency, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi publicly stated that the Ethiopian government had “made a wrong political calculation” by invading Somalia.[91] During September 2007, the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) was formed. The following month Al-Shabaab spokesman Mukhtar Robow would state that the group did not recognize and had no relationship with the ARS.[92]

Situation in Somalia in December 2007

In December 2007, Ethiopian troops withdrew from the strategic town of Guriel, which was then taken quickly over by insurgents.[93] By the end of December 2007, there were over 700,000 internally displaced people and 6,000 civilians had been killed in Mogadishu. The United Nations said it was the worst ever humanitarian crises in Africa. The TFG claimed that the ICU was regrouping, but the Ethiopian Government refuted this claim.[94]


Situation in Somalia in August 2008

In February 2008, Al Shabaab captured the town of Dinsoor after probing it several times. This marked a change in their strategy which previously focused mainly on the capital Mogadishu.[95][96][97] In late May after capturing the two towns near Kismayo.[98] The Insurgents agreed not to attack Kismayo a city ruled by clan militia.[99] A new Islamic court was opened in Jowhar, 90 km away from the capital Mogadishu.[100]

On March 3, 2008, the United States launched an air strike on the Somali town of Dhoble. U.S. officials claimed the town was held by Islamic extremists, but gave few details to the press.[101][citation needed] It was reported that Hassan Turki was in the area. The same area was targeted by US bombers one year earlier.[102] An air strike occurred on May 1 in Dhusamareb. It killed the leader of Al-Shabaab Aden Hashi Eyrow along with another senior commander and several civilians; however, the attack did nothing to slow down the Insurgency.[103]

On 14 April 2008, HornAfrik Media reported a significant ambush on an ENDF convoy travelling between the districts of Buulo Berde and Jowhar. This event signalled a significant shift, as insurgents had not previously initiated attacks in the region. Eyewitnesses from the local community described a fierce battle, resulting in the loss of several vehicles and heavy casualties among the ENDF forces. Despite the intensity of the ambush, reports indicated that the Ethiopian troops managed to escape and regroup in the town of Jowhar.[104] The following month, on 8 May, another large-scale ambush on an ENDF convoy took place 300km north of Mogadishu, leading to a major skirmish. In the aftermath of the encounter, Sheikh Abdirahin Ise, an Islamist spokesman, asserted in an interview with AFP that their forces had achieved a 'significant victory'.[105]

In August 2008, a coalition of TFG members of parliament issued a collective statement openly condemning the ENDF for the killing of civilians. This rebuke marked the first instance of TFG members publicly criticizing the occupation. It came in response to an incident where Ethiopian troops were widely reported to have been responsible for the deaths of over 90 civilians on the outskirts of Mogadishu.[106] In September 2008, in Mogadishu, the Ras Kamboni Brigades, in collaboration with fighters loyal to the ICU, initiated their first attack. Subsequently, after a night-long battle against AMISOM forces, friction emerged between the two factions. This was triggered by an official from the Ras Kamboni Brigades declaring that the ICU had disintegrated. This statement provoked ire among ICU rebels in Mogadishu, who countered by pointing out that they had provided support to the Brigades and urged the official not to reiterate his comment.[107]

By October 2008, virtually all opposition groups in the Ethiopian parliament had come to the consensus that ENDF forces should be withdrawn from Somalia.[108]

Djibouti Agreement and Ethiopian troop draw down[edit]

After long talks in Djibouti over a ceasefire between the TFG and the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia, agreement was reached that the parliament would be doubled in size to include 200 representatives of the opposition alliance and 75 representatives of the civil society.[109] A new president and prime minister would be elected by the new parliament, and a commission to look into crimes of war would be established.[110] A new constitution was also agreed to be drafted shortly.[111]

In the months preceding the talks, Ethiopian troops had been continually mired in conflict and were sustaining heavy casualties. The Djibouti Agreement called for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia.[87] In early December 2008, Ethiopia announced it would withdraw its troops from Somalia shortly, and but later stated that it would first help secure the withdrawal of the AMISOM peacekeepers from Burundi and Uganda before withdrawing. The quick withdrawal of the AMISOM peacekeepers was seen as putting additional pressure on the United Nations to provide peacekeeping.[112]

Following the agreement to merge the ARS and TFG, inter-insurgent disputes would escalate over the issue of Ethiopian troops still within Somalia. Islamic Courts, ARS, Al-Shabaab forces would periodically clash with one other over support to the government or foreign troops.[113][114][115] In the months leading up to the agreement, some Islamic Courts groups in Somalia explicitly declared their independence of either the Asmara or Djibouti factions of the ARS.[116]

In December 2008, President Abdulahi Yusuf resigned after stating the he had lost control of the country to Islamist insurgents.[34]

January 2009[edit]

January 2009 saw the withdrawal of the major ENDF deployment to Somalia, and the accession of former Islamic Courts Union leader Sharif Sheikh Ahmed to the Somali presidency. On 12 January 2009, the last ENDF troops departed from Mogadishu, ending the two year long occupation.[34][28] By the time of the Ethiopian withdrawal, the TFG possessed control over only a few streets and buildings in Mogadishu with the rest of the city coming under control of Islamist factions, particularly Al-Shabaab.[31] Following the withdrawal, the Somali Football Federation and ICU remnants jointly announced that Mogadishu Stadium would finally be open to the public after having being used as an ENDF base.[117] On New Years Day 2009, Shabelle Media, reported that ENDF forces were carrying out search operations of ICU rebels in Hiraan Region. According to Shabelle Media, ICU rebels had set up defensive positions near an ENDF base, and residents nearby fled in an anticipation of a large scale confrontation.[118]

Situation in Somalia in February 2009, following the Ethiopian withdrawal

Al Shabaab rejected any peace deal and continued to take territories, including Baidoa. Another Islamist group, Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a, which is allied to the TFG and supported by Ethiopia, continued to attack Al-Shabaab.[6][119][120] Al Shabab accused the new TFG President of accepting the secular transitional government and have continued the civil war since he arrived in Mogadishu at the presidential palace.[121]

After the parliament took in 200 officials from the moderate Islamist opposition, ARS leader Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was elected TFG President on January 31, 2009.[122]


Islamist insurgents, ENDF troops, TFG forces, AMISOM forces, and other involved parties in the conflict sustained considerable casualties. The true extent of these losses remains uncertain, primarily due to a lack of transparency from the involved parties and a dearth of reporting on casualties.

ENDF/AMISOM losses[edit]

ENDF forces in Somalia sustained heavy casualties[123][124] but the extent and figure of losses remain uncertain, primarily due to censorship on the war enforced by Meles Zenawi's government from 2006 to 2009. In early 2007, NBC News reported that in Addis Ababa, "...a general blackout of information about the war prevails". Opposition groups in the Ethiopian Parliament to the ruling TPLF were never informed on the number of soldiers who had been killed in Somalia, a policy which the TPLF continued until and after the withdrawal.[125][108][126] By the end of 2007, ENDF casualties had reached an 'unsustainable level'. Somali witness accounts in Mogadishu estimated a rate of approximately 200 Ethiopian casualties weekly.[127] Independent experts claimed the ENDF casualty rate was around 100 troops a week by the end of the occupation. Estimates of losses are further complicated by the practice of ENDF troops in Somalia routinely disguising themselves in Somali TFG uniforms to conceal their presence.[127][128] Shortly after the January 2009 withdrawal, Meles Zenawi publicly declined to disclose the number of ENDF casualties incurred during the occupation, stating on national television:

''...regarding the details on those killed or wounded in Somalia, I think the House does not need to know about how many were killed or wounded...I also think that I do not have an obligation to present such report."[126]

The figures for AMISOM troops killed in Somalia from their deployment in early 2007 to 2009 has also never been publicly revealed. African Union officials only publicly commented on casualty estimates on their entire operation for the first time in 2023.[129] AMISOM suffered several hundred casualties, but the figure from 2006 to 2009 is unknown. Ugandan Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF), was one of the largest AMISOM contingents, but never published figures on troop casualties.[128][130]


In December 2008, the Elman Peace and Human Rights Organisation said it had verified that 16,210 civilians had been killed and 29,000 wounded since the start of the war in December 2006.[25] In September of that year 1.9 million displaced civilians from homes in Mogadishu alone during the year 2007 had been documented.[27][131]

Aftermath and Consequences[edit]

According to the Conciliation Resources 2010 report titled 'Endless War'[132]

The three years from 2006 to 2008 were catastrophic for Somalis. Military occupation, a violent insurgency, rising jihadism, and massive population displacement has reversed the incremental political and economic progress achieved by the late 1990s in south-central Somalia. With 1.3 million people displaced by fighting since 2006, 3.6 million people in need of emergency food aid, and 60,000 Somalis a year fleeing the country, the people of south-central Somalia face the worst humanitarian crisis since the early 1990s.

War crimes[edit]

The force of about 3,000 Ethiopian troops faced war crimes allegations by human rights groups.[133] The Transitional Federal Government who invited them were also accused of human rights abuses and war crimes including murder, rape, assault, and looting by human rights groups[134]

In their December 2008 report 'So much to Fear' Human Rights Watch warned that since the Ethiopians had intervened in 2006 Somalia was facing a humanitarian catastrophe on a scale not witnessed since the early 1990s. They went on to accuse the TFG of terrorising the citizens of Mogadishu and the Ethiopian soldiers for increasing violent criminality.[134]

On April 19, 2008, Ethiopian soldiers reportedly massacred 21 Islamic students during the Al-Hidaya Mosque massacre.[135]

Suicide attacks[edit]

Islamist fighters in Somalia opened a completely new aspect in the Somali Civil War: suicide attacks. Here is a list of reported attacks:

Coalition government[edit]

Prime Minister Nur Hassan of the transitional government and Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of opposition group Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia signed a power sharing deal in Djibouti that was brokered by the United Nations. According to the deal, Ethiopian troops withdrew from Somalia, giving their bases to the transitional government, African Union peacekeepers and moderate Islamist groups led by ARS. Following the Ethiopian withdrawal, the transitional government expanded its parliament to include the opposition and elected Sharif as its new president on January 31, 2009.

Mediation had begun between the Islamic Party and the new Transitional Government of Sharif as well as a growing divide being reported in the Al Shabaab organization that controls much of southern Somalia as a large number of Al Shabaab leaders who had held positions in government during the six-month reign of the Islamic Courts Union in 2006 had met behind closed doors with the President of the Transitional Government and the TFG had announced that Sharia law would be implemented in Somalia, but it had not acted on it.[140][141] Sharif's forces and African Union troops clashed with the Islamic Party and Al Shabaab forces, leading to at least 23 death.[142] Pro-TFG militias were allegedly being trained by Ethiopia, while the newly formed Islamist Party had been established by Eritrea-based Sheikh Aweys.

Continued occupation[edit]

Despite the withdrawal of most ENDF troops following the 2008 Djibouti Agreement, there has been a continued occupation of Somalia by the Ethiopian army. Two weeks after the January 2009 withdrawal, it was reported that Ethiopian troops had once again crossed the border following the fall of Baidoa to Al-Shabaab. Bereket Simon, spokesman for the Ethiopian government, described the reports as fabrications and responded "The army is within the Ethiopian border. There is no intention to go back,"[143]

Sharif Sheikh Ahmed continues to campaign for the withdrawal of the occupying Ethiopian forces. In May 2020 the Forum for National Parties which he leads, described the presence of non-AMISOM Ethiopian troops in Somalia as;

A blatant disregard for the longstanding agreement between the Federal Republic of Somalia and the AMISOM troop-contributing countries (TCC), which clearly defines the scope of the African Union peacekeeping mission in our country.

The letter went on to accuse the ENDF of a 'cavalier attitude' in there response to having shot down a civilian plane in Berdale which was carrying medical supplies for assistance in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum for National Parties blamed the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, for not only failing to secure the withdrawal of the non-AMISOM Ethiopian troops but having worked in collusion with them to interfere in the South West election in 2018 and Jubaland election in August 2019.[144]

On 13 November 2020 Bloomberg reported that Ethiopia withdrew thousands of troops from Somalia and redeployed them to assist the Ethiopian government in the Tigray conflict.[145]

Continuation of the conflict[edit]

Ahlu Sunna[edit]

In February 2011 Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a militias attacked Al Shabaab in central Somalia including killing an Islamist commander. Ahlu Sunna clan militias, reportedly armed by Ethiopia, retook control of Galgaduud's provincial capital Dhusamareb and the trading town of Guriel in fierce battles that killed upwards of 100 people.[146]

Key men[edit]

Transitional Federal Government (TFG)[edit]

An August 24, 2006 article in the Sudan Tribune[147] identified several fraction groups involved with TFG military units:

  • Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed – TFG president, former leader of the SSDF.
  • Mohamed Omar Habeeb (Mohamed Dheere) – controlled the Jowhar region with the help of Ethiopia; after losing in Mogadishu as part of the ARPCT, regrouped his militia in Ethiopia and since returned (see Battle of Jowhar).
  • Muuse Suudi Yalahow – Controlled Medina District in Mogadishu but was forced to flee by the ICU. Has since returned to the city.
  • Hussein Mohamed Farrah – son of late General Mohamed Farrah Aidid. Although his father was a key anti-U.N. force in the mid-1990s, Farrah is a naturalized U.S. citizen and former U.S. Marine who controlled Villa Somalia. Former leader of the SRRC militia. The Sudan Tribune says Farrah is in the patronage of Ethiopia, and Western interests see him as their best hope to improve Somali-Western relations.
  • Abdi Hasan Awale Qeybdiid – former finance minister under Gen. Aidid; arrested in Sweden for war crimes, but later released due to lack of evidence.
  • Colonel Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud – affiliated with the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA). Came to power after his militia (with the help of Ethiopian paramilitary forces) drove out Aidid's militia from Baidoa, which became the seat of the transitional government. Currently TFG Minister of Finance.
  • Mohamed Qanyare Afrah – former Security Minister and member of ARPCT
  • Barre Aadan Shire "Hiiraale" – leader of the Juba Valley Alliance (JVA); controls Kismayo (and until its loss to the ICU, Marka region).
  • Hassan Abdullah Qalaad

Islamic Court Union (ICU)[edit]

Islamist leaders[edit]

See also[edit]


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