Islamist defeat in Somalia. BBC: 'Ethiopian and Somali government forces have reached the outskirts of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, after Islamist forces abandoned the city.' CNN: 'MOGADISHU, Somalia (Reuters) -- Triumphant Somali government forces marched into Mogadishu on Thursday after Islamist rivals abandoned the war-scarred city they held for six months before an Ethiopian-backed advance. The flight of the Islamists was a dramatic turnaround in the volatile Horn of Africa nation after they took Mogadishu in June and spread across the south imposing sharia rule. Terrified of yet more violence in a city that has become a byword for chaos, some Mogadishu residents greeted the arriving government troops, while others hid. "People are cheering as they wave flowers to the troops," said resident Abdikadar Abdulle, adding scores of government military vehicles had passed the Somalia National University west of the city center. ... "We have been defeated. I have removed my uniform. Most of my comrades have also changed into civilian clothes," one former SICC fighter told Reuters. "Most of our leaders have fled."'
TFR on islamist defeat in Somalia. The Fourth Rail: 'Nine days after the onset of open warfare between the al-Qaeda backed Islamic Courts and the Ethiopian backed Transitional Federal Government, the Islamic Courts have surrendered. "After having crucial and urgent meeting tonight in the capital, the leaders of executive and Shura councils of Islamic Courts Union and deputy leader of executive council of ICU, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed and Sheik Abdirahman Janaqow resigned and issued a joint press statement over the current situation in Somalia particular in Mogadishu," reports SomaliNet. ... The Ethiopians are looking for a quick exit from Somalia, and have indicated they will leave soon. "Once we accomplish the mission – half is already over and the rest will not take long – we will leave," said Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The Islamic Courts are signaling they will conduct an insurgency. ... The ICU may also be working to integrate its security forces and other elements of the organization into the new, TFG led government to destroy it from within.'
Lessons learned: The word is resolve. Froggy at Blackfive answers the question, "How deep to go?", and offers some reasons for the Ethiopian victory over islamist forces in Somalia: 'Off the top of my head, I would say that Ethiopia is not afflicted with a pernicious and defeatist media machine that is capable of manipulating public opinion, and even if it was, it doesn’t look like the Ethiopian president would give a damn in any case. The word that comes to mind is resolve. When a leader resolves to send men into battle, he is obligated to withstand the criticism of the media so that the troops who are withstanding hostile fire from the enemy are able to decisively defeat that enemy. This is the area where the President, Rumsfeld, and the Generals have been found wanting.' Steve at ThreatsWatch is of a similar mind: 'The absence of our engagement is a wholly arrogant and self-serving definition of peace and devoid of principle. Those who are guided by a fear of perceived American arrogance through her actions often arrive at the same result through their guidance toward inaction, comfortably removed from remaining conflict with clean and distant hands, eyes averted. Take from the Ethiopian advance the lesson of will.' Daveed Gartenstein-Ross at PJM makes the same point, and adds:
Moreover, Jibreel says that the ICU’s collapse has been hastened by its growing unpopularity. “The ICU was terrorizing villages and towns using technicals [pickups with heavy weponry mounted in the rear bed] that the population can’t stand up and fight against,” Jibreel tells Pajamas Media. “But they were not wanted by the people. They were alien. They were trying to use an alien ideology of fanatic Islam, and they had no clan backing.” One of the ICU’s major blunders was decreeing that women couldn’t leave the house without a mahram (male relative who would act as a guard). Professor Ali explains that because of the civil war that enveloped Somalia in the 1990s, more than half of the breadwinners in the country are women. This decree crippled their ability to earn a living. Nor was this the most draconian of the ICU’s rules: in one southern Somali town, the Islamic Courts threatened to behead citizens who failed to pray five times a day.
Sadr aide killed in raid. Hyscience: 'In a sign that the ROEs may be changing, a top deputy of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was killed Wednesday during a raid by U.S. and Iraqi troops in the southern holy city of Najaf. Sahib al-Amiri was shot and killed by a U.S. soldier during the early morning raid and is said to have provided explosives for use against Iraqi and U.S. forces.'
Hajj begins. AP via Jerusalem Post: 'Nearly 3 million Muslims from around the world, chanting "I am here, Lord" and raising their hands to heaven, marched through a desert valley outside Mecca on Thursday in the first day of the annual hajj pilgrimage. This year's hajj takes place amid increasing worries across the Islamic world - over the bloodshed in Iraq, violence in the Palestinian territories and a new war in Somalia. Amid the crises, tensions have increased between the two main sects of Islam, Sunnis and Shi'ites, who come together in the five days of hajj rituals centered around the holy city of Mecca, birthplace of Islam's Prophet Muhammad.'
Saudi writer buys freedom with silence. The Muslim Woman: 'Wajeha Al-Huwaider a Saudi-born writer and journalist is campaigning for women’s rights in the male chauvinistic society of Saudi Arabia. In August 2003, the Saudi Interior Ministry from writing in the Saudi press banned Al-Huwaider. Since then, she has published her articles on the reformist Arabic websites, and has gained international recognition. In November 2004, she was awarded the 2004 PEN/NOVIB Free Expression Award at The Hague for her work for freedom of expression and advancement of women’s rights. She staged a public protest on August 2006 on Saudi King Abdallah bin Abd Al-Aziz’s ascension to the throne. She came onto the streets with a sign saying ‘Give Women Their Rights.’ This was not acceptable to the authorities who however arrested her because of her self-expression. The authorities bartered her freedom with a pledge that would not only cease her but would also desist her from all her human rights activism. Security personnel threatened that if she broke her pledge, she would lose her job with Aramco. She was also not permitted to return to her home in Bahrain, and was forced to remain in Saudi Arabia. This ban was lifted on September 28.'
Russian plane lands after hijacking attempt. Fox News: 'PRAGUE, Czech Republic — A Russian Aeroflot airliner made an unscheduled landing at Prague's Ruzyne international airport on Thursday after an apparent hijacking attempt, police said. A passenger aboard was detained by police. The Airbus A320 flying from Moscow to Geneva, landed in Prague shortly before 11 a.m., airport spokeswoman Pavlina Hajkova said.'
Anbar outlook improving. CENTCOM:
RAMADI, Iraq— “In one of Iraq’s most turbulent areas, we’re seeing signs that the situation is changing,” says Navy Commander James Lee. He just finished a six-month tour with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as their representative on the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) for Al Anbar Province that includes the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah. “At one point the local tribal leaders and the population at large fought against us. But as they observed our continuing efforts to improve their communities, they’ve taken noticeable steps switching their alliance from sympathizing with the insurgents to helping us get the security situation under control,” Lee explained.
“We’re working on schools, water and sewage treatment plants, hospitals and primary healthcare centers, electrical generation and distribution networks, waterway maintenance, roadways, police and fire stations and the local residents appreciate our efforts. Those times I would get discouraged about the ongoing challenges, it just took a stop in one of the many villages we were assessing for projects to get re-energized about our mission. The thankful smiles of their youngsters did it for me every time.”
Lee joined the PRT just as it was getting organized and he was one of the first on the ground at their new office in Ramadi. He worked directly with Al Anbar Governor Ma’Moun Sami Rashied, a fellow engineer. “He’s a courageous man, having survived over 20 assassination attempts on his life. I believe in my heart he’s a patriot of Iraq and there’s no question he loves the Al Anbar Province and its people. The sacrifices he and his family have made (including the kidnapping of his son who was eventually returned unharmed) is something to be admired.”
Ma'Moun is a believer in renewable resources and in Iraq's agricultural economy - particularly the succulent dates in Anbar Province. Read the full article at the link.
US Army rescues kidnapped Iraqis. MNF-Iraq: 'CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq – U.S. forces rescued two Iraqis who were held captive by insurgents in the Euphrates River-city of Hit, Iraq, Wednesday. Soldiers from the Friedburg, Germany-based 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division rescued the kidnapping victims after pursuing insurgents who were fleeing in three vehicles containing the captives. In their escape, the insurgents fled on foot, abandoning their vehicles and victims. The soldiers found the victims under a palm tree, handcuffed near the abandoned vehicles. No one was killed or injured during the incident. ...'
Israel: American olim think army. Jerusalem Post: 'Yonatan Cooper always knew that he would immigrate to Israel, but it was the death of his close friend, Michael Levine, in the recent war in Lebanon that prompted the 24-year-old to pack his bags and join 220 olim on a Nefesh B'Nefesh/The Jewish Agency flight Wednesday. ... On the flight to Israel, Cooper was joined by 21 other olim who plan to join the IDF within the coming months, and one oleh, Eliyahu Joselit, who has already served two- and-a-half years. Joselit, who joined the IDF as a volunteer in the Nahal Haredi unit, was allowed to keep renewing his time with the IDF. He had served more than two years when he was suddenly told that it was "deeply, deeply against the rules" for him to continue to volunteer and that he must make aliya in order to continue serving in the IDF.'
Commentary. Richard Fernandez at The Belmont Club has an in-depth article on "The Blogosphere at War." It is impossible to do justice to Wretchard's analysis in a summary, so I'll just note that it examines the blogosphere's structure in terms of collection, analysis, and dissemination ("finders, thinkers, and linkers"), provides real-world examples including the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 and the "Captain Jamil Hussein" debacle, and highlights the critical step of reaching the "legitimizer" - that established, entrenched organization or entity that lends authority to a fact or narrative. Go read the article as soon as you get the chance.
In Somalia, the military defeat of the islamist forces is nothing short of stunning. I think it's a given that they will try to conduct an insurgency and make life unpleasant for Somalis; there's no reason not to expect that. But as a military force, they're finished.
I'd like to return for a moment to the PJM article on the islamist defeat in Somalia. Gartenstein-Ross enumerates several key factors. The first, of course, is the will to win, and the absence of a defeatist leftist media follows close behind. As today's posts and earlier ones indicate, this is pretty well understood throughout the pro-victory blogosphere.
But Gartenstein-Ross names several other, more specific factors, which may be equally important, and which I think bear out the analysis of West Point's Militant Ideology Atlas.
Dahir Jibreel, the transitional government’s permanent secretary in charge of international cooperation, is in constant contact with transitional government leaders who are conducting the military campaign. He says two other factors were critical in Ethiopia’s military success. One is that the ICU committed a strategic blunder by spreading its forces too thin. ...
Moreover, Jibreel says that the ICU’s collapse has been hastened by its growing unpopularity. “The ICU was terrorizing villages and towns using technicals [pickups with heavy weponry mounted in the rear bed] that the population can’t stand up and fight against,” Jibreel tells Pajamas Media. “But they were not wanted by the people. They were alien. They were trying to use an alien ideology of fanatic Islam, and they had no clan backing.”
Combating Terrorism Center:
Jihadi propaganda—which is designed to reclaim this lost credibility—can be countered with the following messages:
— Jihadis want a totalitarian system of government in which no one is allowed to think for themselves. Not even the Saudi government is strict enough. Anyone who does not share their understanding of Islam will be declared an apostate and executed. If you want to know what a Jihadi state will look like, contemplate the Taliban—the only state in recent memory that Jihadis consider to have been legitimately Islamic. ...
One of the ICU’s major blunders was decreeing that women couldn’t leave the house without a mahram (male relative who would act as a guard). Professor Ali explains that because of the civil war that enveloped Somalia in the 1990s, more than half of the breadwinners in the country are women. This decree crippled their ability to earn a living.
Jihadis are routinely condemned for the following reasons:
— Declaring other Muslims apostates
— Attacking other Muslims
— Attacking women, children, and the elderly
— Attacking the sources of a nation's wealth, such as tourism and the oil industry
— Creating political and social chaos
Nor was this the most draconian of the ICU’s rules: in one southern Somali town, the Islamic Courts threatened to behead citizens who failed to pray five times a day.
— The Jihadi message is so weak and unappealing that they have to use violence to persuade people. They claim to be saving Islam, but they are giving it a bad reputation. They are hurting their own people and national resources.
So it appears that the insights of West Point's playbook are supported by the recent events in Somalia.
The information war follows some of the same principles as the ground war. Those of us who are intent on defeating the jihadis and fascists can optimize our efforts by being aware of what works and what doesn't. Few people become convinced of an idea by being lectured or shouted at; on the other hand, most reasonable, intelligent people tend to trust conclusions they've arrived at on their own when presented with the relevant facts. That approach - plus persistence and the will to win - will help us in advancing the cause of freedom.