Alex de Wall in the Boston Review:
There are four variants to the threat that arises when the U.S. supports local military establishments. First, the government receiving the funds may manipulate counter-terror operations for its own political purposes. Take Ethiopia, for instance. Close observers of militant Islamism in the Horn of Africa say that al-Qaeda affiliates were largely defeated before September 11—their cells broken, their sponsors intimidated. Small numbers of Islamist extremists were hiding out in Somalia—but unlike Afghanistan, Somalia is a commercially open society where anonymity is impossible. But Ethiopia was also fighting a proxy war with Eritrea, with Somalia as the battleground, and was deeply fearful of Eritrea’s capacity to destabilize the region. In December 2006, espying Eritrean advisers in Mogadishu, Ethiopia sent its troops into Somalia. To garner U.S. support, it announced that it was targeting al-Shabaab. The United States bought the ruse and ended up as partner and sponsor in a military mission. Seven and a half years later, there is no end in sight.