Late last year Ethiopian forces invaded Somalia, and with Somalia's Transitional Government (TG) forces drove the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) out of Mogadishu - and with the help of American air strikes, supposedly out of Somalia. Somali residents had lived in a state of anarchy since the dictator Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. The Union of Islamic Courts restored order and allowed people to go about their normal lives in relative security.
In UI-controlled areas children could go to school safely, and once more hospitals could treat the sick without flows of injured, struck down by daily violence. However, the UIC ruled with a strict code of Sharia law, meaning the security came at the cost of some personal freedoms and civil liberties. With the UIC ousted, 2007 has seen a new chapter of violence and insecurity in Somalia.
The UIC began their sweep to power, taking the capital of Mogadishu last June. By December they controlled most of Southern and Central Somalia. The Transitional Government's one remaining stronghold was Baidoa and a small area surrounding it, where it is widely believed Ethiopian troops were stationed to protect the government.
The United Nations was responsible for the imposition of the TG. In early December they still recognized it as the only governing body in Somalia or "the only route to peace and stability" - as it was called in Resolution 1725 - despite it being made up of warlords. They were responsible for much of the violence, insecurity and terrorization of the civilian population before the UIC took power.
The U.S. provided strong support against the UIC forces: Strong support to the very warlords who, by inflicting heavy casualties, forced the withdrawal of U.S. forces in a peacekeeping mission in the early 90s. U.S. support failed to stop the UIC advance. Shortly before the Ethiopian invasion the U.S. presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council (UNSC). The Resolution laid out the rules of engagement for a proposed Inter-Governmental Authority on Development and African Union force to enter Somalia. The force was to protect the TG, to restart the peace negotiations between the TG and the UIC, but ultimately to reinstall the UN-recognized government and engage any forces running contrary to that mission.