Somalia continues to be a major source of unrest on the turbulent African continent; but some new aid has entered into the attempt to help enforce peace. On Sunday, November 20, 2011, Ethiopian troops entered into Somalian soil, with the intent of creating a new front in the international military offensive against the Shabab militant group who are already battling a host of other forces.
The major shock from this action comes from the reactions of the Somali citizens. Ethiopians, who have been a historic enemy of the Somali people, are being welcomed into the lands with open arms. People despise the rule of the Shabab to the extent that these ancient foes are preferable to this militant group; giving detailed insight into the mental, and political will of the public in Somalia. This group has blocked western aid, in a time of great famine, and combined with the extreme Islamic Law that is enforced has the public in an outcry.
Many officials in the west are unsure about the wisdom of this interdiction by the Ethiopians. They argue that the enmity between the Ethiopians and the Somalis as a whole have the probability to create many international incidents. However, a number of American officials are supporting Ethiopia's actions. These supporters are mainly found in the military and intelligence areas of the American government. Officials in favor of this interdiction argue that the Ethiopians have the military muscle necessary to oust the Shabab, while dissenters are afraid that it will give the Shabab propagandized support in Somalia.
This issue creates a major consideration for the policy makers in Washington. With Ethiopia having relatively strong ties to the United States, there must be a limit to the involvement that America is seen to have in the region. While the United States cannot be seen to have direct, or even indirect, influence in the region, the use of Ethiopian troops allows for stability in the region. This is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it allows the governments involved to open up new understandings and dealings that have the distinct possibility of subtly being influenced by America once the fighting is over. America can work through Ethiopia to provide aid and provide the internationalist political attitude favored by the Obama administration. Also, this allows the American government to show how even though they care about the hegemonic power of America, they are also willing to remain neutral in third party affairs, specifically when the connection to American interests is tenuous at best. This shows restraint that America can play upon in the international community.