Thursday, December 21, 2006

In Fact, They Don't Know It's Christmas

Nearly fifteen years after the fiasco of the U.S. withdrawal in the aftermath of the Battle of Bakara Market, events in Somalia give us a low-budget model of what the world could expect from a similar no-fault withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Ethiopia and Eritrea (as well as other, Islamic, states) back opposing factions which have for the last 3 days been shelling each other around the town of Baidoa in the country's interior. Ethiopia's support of the putative national unity government has escalated over the past year to officially-denied division-level military engagement in support of their proxies, and the situation may now have passed the point of no return, as the Islamists declare a state of war.

The prospects of parallel developments in Iraq, should the Blame-America-First Left succeed in a near-term withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, cannot be ignored. Iran has already made its support of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army an open secret, and the prospect of direct Iranian military backing of his forces in the event of U.S. withdrawal can be regarded as a practical certainty. The recently expressed Saudi intent to prevent further erosion of Sunni influence in the country could be expected swiftly to assume military form as well.

The one certainty is that the key distinction between Somalia and Iraq is the poverty of Somalia compared to Iraq's oil wealth: the slow-haemorrhaging, low-level, lone-technical-machine-gunning-through-a-village carnage of Somalia's last decade is certainly a pale shadow of the swift and industrial-strength destruction two proxy armies backed by Saudi Arabia and Iran could wreak in Iraq.

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