The African Union will meet the Arab League and a regional development authority in Ethiopia on Wednesday to try and stop all-out war in neighbouring Somalia. The bombing of two Somali airports by Ethiopian troops yesterday morning has aggravated recent fighting between the two sides in the conflict. Somalia’s been in the grip of civil war for 15 years. An interim government in place since 2004 was ousted from the capital Mogadishu in June by the Union of Islamic Courts.
Backed by the West but holed up in the provincial city Baidoa, the interim government is now being supported by the Ethiopian army, one of Africa’s largest. Ethiopia wants to prevent a hard-line Islamic state on its doorstep. So does the West. Somalia’s Islamic Union says it wants to restore order to the country. Its call for a holy war against Ethiopia has brought in thousands of foreign fighters. Meanwhile, aid agencies are stepping up supplies to refugees. Somalis have already had to endure droughts and the worst floods for years. Now they find themselves in the middle of a war zone.