The Islamic Courts Union continues to fight an insurgency against the Somali Transitional Federal Government and Ethiopia.
In 2006, the ICU briefly captured most of southern Somalia. They called for jihad against Ethiopia and provoked an Ethiopian counterattack. The Ethiopians overran the ICU forces in nine days. The ICU has tried to organize an insurgency modeled after Iraq.
Islamic Courts Union (ICU) is led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys. It is a radical Islamist movement calling for the installation of Sharia law in Somali. It is connected with the broader Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda. The Muslim Brotherhood terrorist front, CAIR, publically supported the ICU takeover of Somalia and urged Western governments to recognize the ICU.
On June 5, 2006 the ICU captured the capital city of Mogadishu and expelled the UN backed Transitional Federal Government. The TFG had little popular support. It is corrupt and riven with factionalism as warlords and clans compete.
The warlords retreated from Mogadishu, but many clan militias remained in the city and kept a low profile. In Somalia, the warlords maintain a balance of power to prevent any single faction, such as the ICU, from seizing power at the expense of the rest.
The ICU lost popular support early on. They installed a harsh and literalist form of Sharia Law. They ordered Somali women to wear veils and hijabs, prohibited them from swimming and engaging in a number of economic activities. Their repressive rule created a popular backlash.
By November of 2006, ICU forces cornered the remaining TFG forces near the city of Baidoa. Baidoa is northwest of Mogadishu near the center of the Southern half of Somalia. It is a transportation hub between Mogadishu and Ethiopia. The ICU laid seige to the city.
The ICU called on Arab support during its brief rule. Arab money funded the organization and some Arab Islamists joined the call to jihad against Ethiopia.
In December, Ethiopia counterattacked. The ICU over-extended itself and pushed past its culminating point.
Somalian warfare revolves around “Technicals.” These are pickup trucks with mounted machine guns. The trucks can carry militiamen with rifles and RPGs. Gas is expensive, so technicals have short range. Somali forces engage in hit and runs to either frighten off their enemies or cut them off from supply lines. The ICU spread its forces thinly and outpaced its logistical supply line. Somali warlords harrassed the ICU rear.
The US and Ethiopia coordinated their intelligence and cooperated to overthrow the ICU. The US Coalition Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa operated out of Djibouti, which neighbors Ethiopia and Somalia in the north.
The Ethiopians defended the city of Baidoa with the TFG then went on the offensive. They overran nearly all ICU positions in a matter of days. Artillery and air strikes quickly fragmented ICU forces so they could not coordinate. Ethiopian armored fighting vehicles outclassed anything the ICU possessed. Within 9 days, the Ethiopians recaptured Mogadishu.
Roggio mapped out the Ethiopian offensive here.
This is a major win in the Global Insurgency. It stopped the Islamists from establishing a client state to replace the loss of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Somalia remains a vulnerable region, however.
The ICU surrendered the capital city and withdrew to the far South. Today, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys continues to forment an insurgency and terrorist campaign. The ICU plants IEDs and uses suicide bombers and attackers to disrupt the Transitional Federal Government.
The African Union was supposed to send peacekeepers to help establish a real Somali government. They have not. The Ugandans sent 1,600 peacekeepers who only guard the airport and seaport near Mogadishu. In general, the Africans support the TFG, while the Arabs are supporting the ICU.
The Somali War is simmering again. The ICU may make a comeback, but it is unlikely if the Ethiopians remain.