Just hours after the Islamist forces abandoned Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, militias loyal to the transitional government seized the city today in a stunning reversal of fortunes.
According to residents, troops from the transitional government, along with Ethiopian soldiers who had been backing them up, poured into the capital from the outskirts of the city while militiamen within Mogadishu occupied key positions, like the port, airport and dilapidated presidential palace.
"The government has taken over Mogadishu," a transitional government leader, Jama Fuuruh, told Reuters by telephone from Mogadishu's port.
The turnaround has been welcomed by many pundits (especially the hawkish ones) with a cheer like a hungry Journey audience cheering the first piano chords of "Don't Stop Believing." Cliff May is mighty pleased at the Ethiopians and their big brass balls:
[T]the Ethiopians are not overly concerned about whether their tactics will win approval from the proverbial Arab Street – or the European Street or Turtle Bay. They are fighting a war; their intention is to defeat their enemies; everything else is secondary or tertiary.
Say, this "invade with overwhelming force and don't sweat the occupation" business is great! I keep peering into these binoculars I got from an soldier who's about to join the Iraqi "surge," but all I can see is blue skies smiling at me.
The Washington Times actually has a sober take: "The challenge for U.S. policy-makers is to find a formula for the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces while ensuring that al Qaeda allies do not overrun the entire country." And Matthew Yglesias and Spencer Ackerman activate their Wonder Twin powers to deduce just, uh, who was threatening the world from Mogadishu, anyway.
There are Somali groups who've carried out attacks against Ethiopia. And (emphasis added) "some elements associated with the former AIAI are sympathetic to al-Qaida and maintained ties with it, and may continue to pose a threat to U.S. and Western interests in the region.
Now ask yourself how many Somali Islamists are going to sympathize with al-Qaeda once US-backed Ethiopian forces have shattered the closest thing to an effective government that country has had since 1991.
And if you want more Somaliantary (Somalia + commentary) but written words frighten and confuse you, get thee to Bob Wright and Mickey Kaus over at bloggingheads.