Just a few days after the Ethiopian government formally announced plans to withdraw its troops from Somalia following a pact signed between Ethiopia, the UN and the Somalia government, the Ethiopian army has poured hundreds of additional troops into southern Somalia, reports claim.
The reports claim that witnesses in border towns in Bakool region have spotted Ethiopian soldiers driving in armored and military transport, arrive in the Bay region, where the country’s parliament is based. The troops are said to be heading for Baidoa, the capital of Bay region.
However the Ethiopian government has not spoken publicly about the arrival of fresh troops and they have been concerns from the Islamist groups over the situation.
Hard-line Islamists had refused to take part in peace talks until the Ethiopians left Somali territory – the two countries have twice fought border wars and the Somalia government is also deeply divided between President Yusuf and Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein.
Roger Middleton, from the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA), was reported as saying that morale is low in Ethiopia’s army and troops are needed on the border with Eritrea.
Middleton also said the situation may not improve and could become more complicated. ‘It is possible that the government and moderate Islamists form a broad-based government. But a more likely scenario is a proliferation of armed groups fighting each other.’
It is also reported that the Ethiopians may now use troops and air power against the Islamists, instead of only having troops on the ground, who are vulnerable to attacks.
The Ethiopians are at the end of their tether because of the squabbling in the interim government, which they have backed at such enormous human and financial cost.