One of the most contested regions in East Africa is the Ogaden Region which lies along the Border between Ethiopia and Somalia. The Two Countries fought a Border Conflict in 1977 which saw the Soviet Union switch its allegiences from Mogadishu to Addis Ababa. After that conflict the Area became a hotspot in the Cold War. After the Collapse of the Soviet Union the Governments of both countries collapsed. Currently there is a Pro-Western Government in Addis Ababa and there is not a strong centralized Government in Somalia.
Since the Fall of the Siad Barre Government in 1991 Ethiopia has sent Forces into Somalia on three occasions. On All Three Occasions theses actions were seen to be proxy conflicts on behalf of the United States. The latest Incursion in December 2006 had Military Support from the United States. The US has been concerned about the rise of Somali Islamists ever since the Day of the Rangers in 1993. In that Battle 18 Members of the US Special Forces were killed trying to apprehend a Somali Warlord.
Ever Since the Controversial Decision to Prop up the TNG there has been a plethora of Problems for Prime Minister Zenawi. Obviously the Move was not popular with the Islamists in Somalia but that decision also led to rising tensions with Eritrea. The two countries fought a War that led to the establishment of an Independent Eritrean State. Now tensions are again rising along the border between the two countries. The Eritreans have been attempting to have the UN Mission leave its territory and the Ethiopians are still concerned.The situation in Somalia is not the reason to be concerned however. The Area of concern should be the Ogaden Region. Although it has not garnered major coverage in the International Media it has been reported by the various Online Media Outlets from the region. According to Some Outlets a new series of clashes occured last week with reports of heavy casualties on both sides during the series of skirmishes. In the Past the Ogaden has been the base of the Anti-Zenawi Opposition in Ethiopia.
What should the United States do in this instance? There has been Legislation Drafted that would Limit the amount of Military Assistance to be provided by the US to the Improvement of the Human Rights Climate in Ethiopia. This is a good Idea. The US should also assist Civil Society Groups trying to promote Good Governance in Addis Ababa and other areas of Ethiopia. And it should work with Prime Minister Zenawi to promote a Free Vibrant and Independent Media. That is what the US should do at the very least. Now that there is a Change in Washington maybe that will happen.