Somali Islamists Still Getting Butts Kicked (update)

Ethiopia’s trying to beat Israel’s six-day record. Their army is fifteen miles from Mogadishu, and the Islamists are turning tail:

The young fighters of the Shebab, the backbone of the Islamists’ army, whose name comes from the Arabic word for youth, are deserting in droves.

“We can’t resist,” said Musa Abdullahi, 18, who quit his unit after half his comrades were cut down by Ethiopian helicopter gunships. “We thought this fighting would be like the others. It’s not.”

It’s hard when there are armed men with guns shooting back at you instead of women and children running away, Musa.

And here’s one for the “war never solves anything” crowd:

…the goodwill they [the Islamists] earned is being sapped away by their decision to attack the transitional government and declare a holy war against Christian-led Ethiopia. That provoked a crushing counterattack by the Ethiopians, who have the strongest military in East Africa and have sided with the transitional government because Ethiopia views the Islamists as a threat to its own security.

Residents in one of Mogadishu’s slums threw rocks at the Islamists’ pick-up trucks today.

Ahmed Nur Bilal, a retired Somali National Army general, said the war had been a horrible miscalculation.

Ethiopia still says it doesn’t want to occupy Mogadishu, but they may have to in order to root this problem out. As long as they fight hard and demonstrate resolve there is no stopping them–unless diplomats and internationalists talk them out of fighting.

Hmmm…there’s a lesson here somewhere.

QUICK UPDATE: This guy wins the Baghdad Bob Award:

Leaders of the Islamic movement have said that the war is merely “entering a new phase.” The movement’s leader Sheik Mohamoud Ibrahim Suley told the Associated Press on Wednesday that “our snakes of defense were let loose, now they are ready to bite the enemy everywhere in Somalia.”

They may yet launch a guerilla war, but I don’t think Ethiopia is going to be particularly scrupulous in how they counter an insurgency. That might just backfire as well.