Can we get a few battalions of Ethiopians in Iraq?

Islamist forces in Somalia beat a hasty retreat today to their stronghold in Mogadishu, Somalia’s battle-scared capital, crumbling faster than anyone expected after a week of attacks by Ethiopian forces…

The Islamist fighters, who had seemed invincible after taking Mogadishu in June, now seem powerless to stop the steady advance of the Ethiopian-backed forces of the transitional government…

Still, the conflict is hardly over. Thousands of people continue to march in the streets of Mogadishu, rallying behind the Islamists, and analysts are unanimous that an Ethiopian occupation of Mogadishu, a city thick with weapons and xenophobia, could become a bloodbath…

Witnesses reported that Ethiopian fighter jets and helicopter gunships were firing missiles at the retreating Islamist pickup trucks, easy targets in the open desert.

They’ve already liberated Bulo Burto, the town where the jihadis had instituted their “pray or die” policy. They hope to have control of Mogadishu within 48 hours.

Which brings us to our op-ed of the day:

As with Iraq in 2003, the United States has cast this as a war to curtail terrorism, but its real goal is to obtain a direct foothold in a highly strategic region by establishing a client regime there. The Horn of Africa is newly oil-rich, and lies just miles from Saudi Arabia, overlooking the daily passage of large numbers of oil tankers and warships through the Red Sea…

The U.S. instigation of war between Ethiopia and Somalia, two of world’s poorest countries already struggling with massive humanitarian disasters, is reckless in the extreme…

Since 1993, there had been no Security Council interest in sending peacekeepers to Somalia, but as peace and order took hold, a multilateral force was suddenly deemed necessary — because it was the Islamic Courts Union that had brought about this stability. Astonishingly, the Islamists had succeeded in defeating the warlords primarily through rallying people to their side by creating law and order through the application of Shariah law, which Somalis universally practice…

The best antidote to terrorism in Somalia is stability, which the Islamic Courts have provided. The Islamists have strong public support, which has grown in the face of U.S. and Ethiopian interventions. As in other Muslim-Western conflicts, the world needs to engage with the Islamists to secure peace.

The author is Salim Lone. Follow the link and scroll down to the bottom to see what he used to do for a living.

Update: They’ll regret this.

But [Ethiopian PM] Meles has said he does not intend to keep his forces in Somalia long, perhaps only a few weeks. He has told visiting dignitaries that his goal is to severely damage the Islamic movement’s military capabilities and allow both sides to return to peace talks on even footing. Meles said he would not send troops into Mogadishu, but instead encircle the city to contain the Islamic forces.