NELSON INSTITUTE DIRECTOR COMMENTS ON ETHIOPIAN ROUT OF SOMALI ISLAMISTS

December 29, 2006

HARRISONBURG—In a featured commentary published today in the online edition of the foreign policy journal The National Interest, Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, comments on the apparent rout of the forces of Somalia’s Islamic Courts Union (ICU) by Ethiopian troops who went on the offensive last weekend.

According to Dr. Pham, “ U.S. strategic interests have been served by [the Ethiopian government’s] troop offensive and the ICU’s setbacks. The question now becomes what to make of the new power shift on the ground.” The article argues that “the Ethiopians need to move quickly to capitalize on their momentum and finish off the ICU, especially its leadership,” and “the international community needs to reengage and facilitate the creation of an effective government.” The latter, however, “must begin by recognizing the facts on the ground,” including recognition of the de facto statehood of Somaliland, which “remained above the recent tide of Islamic radicalism and conflict,” as well as consultation with traditional clan elders in a bottom-up approach to state-building for the rest of the Somali territories.

The text of Dr. Pham’s essay, “In Somalia, An Africa Hawk Rises,” can be accessed online by clicking here.