Ethiopia's Quagmire


The U.S.-backed occupation runs into trouble:

Nearly two years after being driven from Mogadishu, Islamists have re-taken swathes of south Somalia and may have their sights again on the capital.

The insurgents' push is being led by Al Shabaab, or "Youth" in Arabic, the most militant in a wide array of groups opposed to the Somali government and military backers from Ethiopia, an ally in Washington's "War on Terror"….

Analysts say Islamists or Islamist-allied groups now control most of south Somalia, with the exception of Mogadishu, Baidoa where parliament is protected by Ethiopian troops, and Baladwayne near the border where Addis Ababa garrisons soldiers.

That is a remarkable turnaround from the end of 2006, when allied Somali-Ethiopian troops chased the Islamists out of Mogadishu after a six-month rule of south Somalia, scattering them to sea, remote hills and the Kenyan border.

The Islamists regrouped to begin an insurgency that has killed nearly 10,000 civilians. Military discipline, grassroots political work, youth recruitment and an anti-Ethiopian rallying cry have underpinned their return, analysts say.

[Hat tip: Dan Clore.]