“War is imminent. There is no other alternative.” Somali Jihad Update: “Islamists mass troops on Ethiopian border,” from Business Day, with thanks to D.:
MOGADISHU “” Somalia’s powerful Union of Islamic Courts began massing thousands of troops on the border with Ethiopia over the weekend, days after Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said he was ready to confront the Islamic militants in Somalia.
“War is imminent. There is no other alternative,” Islamist military officer Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim Bilal said by satellite phone from the border. “Ethiopia declared war, so we will defend ourselves and protect our country and people.”
The Islamists have declared a jihad on Ethiopian troops in the country to back the weak transitional government based in the northern town of Baidoa.
Ethiopia last week said it was ready for a confrontation with the Muslim militants, who control most of the country.
Residents of the border area have begun fleeing.
Meles told a news conference on Saturday he had explained Ethiopia’s position to western powers. “Both Brussels and Washington appear to believe that any military response on our part might be counterproductive, saying that dialogue is the best way forward,” he said.
“We, too, agree that dialogue is the best way, nevertheless as the direct victims of the aggression, we feel we might be forced at some stage to respond with force.
“It is our country that is being attacked. Naturally, we do not seek any green, red or yellow from anyone to protect ourselves.
“If, and when, we are convinced that all options of resolving the invasion through peaceful means are exhausted, only then we may act to respond in kind,” Meles said. The Islamists had trained, armed and smuggled hundreds of Ethiopian rebels into the country, he said.