As Threat of Regional Conflict Grows, a Critical Moment for Somalia

"From today, I am declaring jihad against Ethiopia which has invaded our country and taken parts of our homeland." The words of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, leader of the Islamic Council that now controls much of Somalia, on Oct. 9. He was reacting to the seizure of a town by the Council's opponents -- reportedly alongside Ethiopian troops.

It was the latest broadside in a rapidly escalating war of words -- and sometimes of weapons -- involving Somalia's Islamists, the beleaguered transitional government and regional states. At stake: whether Somalia will become the battleground for a wider war, a new front in the war on terror, or under Islamic rule find some measure of stability.

A Decade of Violence

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