Major foreign policy test awaits Obama in Somalia

Ethiopia confirmed this week that it will pull troops out of the troubled nation, a move that experts worry could allow the country to fall into the hands of Islamist insurgents.

By , Correspondent

African nations this week failed to act in unison to ensure stability in troubled Somalia. Amid their disagreements, the country risks becoming another Afghanistan for President-elect Barack Obama's upcoming administration, experts warn, as Islamist militants threaten to topple the government and pirates continue wreak economic havoc.

Since 2006, thousands of Ethiopian troops have maintained a fragile peace in Somalia, staving off a rising Islamic insurgency. In early December, Ethiopia announced it would withdraw its troops from Somalia – a move many feared would allow the country to fall into Islamist hands. Now, despite earlier confusion that Ethiopia might delay that decision, the Ethiopian government has reiterated this week its decision to withdraw, Al Jazeera reports.

Although Ethiopia has decided to leave, the larger African Union will stay for two months, reports Agence France-Presse.

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But the remaining African Union troops will not be enough, warns Angola Press, a news agency based in Angola:

The gravity of events in Somalia will be a key challenge for Mr. Obama's administration, explains the Associated Press.

Yet, even as Somalia has become more of a regional threat, it has also become a point of contention among neighboring African countries, Agence France-Presse explains.

And as African countries waver in taking the lead in Somalia, so, too, does the international community. As UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban has called for a multinational force to administer security in Somalia, but has received no favorable response, he writes in a recent editorial published in the Business Daily Africa.

Analysts warn that Somalia is at a dangerous crossroads, one that demands a new and comprehensive approach, reports the Associated Press.

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