|Zooming into the Past|
M O G A D I S H U C I V I L W A R S
Zooming into the 1990s interviews and statements, given by the spokespersons and leaders of Somali factions, enables us to prove that clan-animosity account of the Somali civil war has not been given the scholarly attention that its magnitude warrants, even after sixteen years of clan-warfare. This clan-animosity feeling can in fact be derived from faction joint communiqué and statements; and therefore, posting selections of these public relation statements should be a matter of concern to all Somalis – particularly, to those who are in the field of Somali Studies.
After all, clan factionalism disguised in English acronyms (formed from three or four initial letters which include the sacrosanct letter “S”) are now facts of life for Somalis. The words and deeds of the turbulent faction followers have ordained to presuppose that faction spokespersons assumed a monumental role in fuelling clan-hatred. As a result of that, the Forum rushes in to investigate and share with you excerpts of faction communiqués, hoping to find solutions to the current tragic political situation in Somalia. From our perspective, these selections are indeed those that Western scholars/(Somalists) most neglected, or could offer hints to the causes of the civil war.
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Somali gunmen drive through the streets of Mogadishu
OLD MAN BEGS FOR HELP FROM SOMALI GUNMAN IN CITY OF BAIDOA, SOMALIA
A young Somali smokes and holds a weapon as he and his friends sit on a car
Children pulling a donkey cart watch a carload full of armed militiamen pass through the streets of Mogadishu
Arteh Ghalib: I repeat here to the whole world that instability in Somalia is a mere rumor
London: AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT in Arabic
November 18, 1991, p 4
[Unattributed interview with Somali Prime Minister Omar Arteh Ghalib in Jeddah; date not given]
[Excerpts] [AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT] What are the most important achievements in the fields of services and rebuilding the country since the government's formation?
[Omar Arteh] The situation in public life in Somalia – namely, the total destruction of all that is important and vital to people's survival – is clear. This is why it has been of the utmost importance, and the new government's first priority, to concentrate on restoring services. Nevertheless, we have been able to partially restore basic services such as water and electricity to residential areas and establishments. Telephone services have also been restored, and most establishments, ministries, and all government buildings have been rebuilt.
Life has started to gain vitality in the capital, Mogadishu, and other cities. We cannot claim that security has been completely restored to Somalia, which was weakened by the power struggle with President Barre. But on the whole, it can be said that relative security has been established. [passage omitted]
[AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT] Somalia is known to enjoy substantial interest on the part of Western states. What is these states' position on the present crisis in Somalia?
[Omar Arteh] Perhaps you are referring here to the U.S. and Italian positions on present conditions in Somalia. The two states were friendly states of Somalia's, and the former, the United States, sent a delegation which examined the situation in Somalia and emphasized the continuation of relations between the two countries. As a result, the U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu is expected to be reopened. It was closed after the regime announced before its full assumption of power that it could not guarantee the security and stability of diplomatic missions in Sudan.
As for the Italian Government, its interest has continued. In fact it has sent urgent aid, and its embassy has resumed diplomatic activities in the capital alongside the embassies which are already operating, namely, the embassy of the custodian of the two holy mosques and the Sudanese and Egyptian embassies.
[ALSHARQ AL-AWSAT] What is your assessment of the Western response in helping the Somali people?
[Omar Arteh] I repeat here to the whole world that instability in Somalia is a mere rumor and that it must help the Somali people, who face problems of food shortages and a shortage of medical supplies to treat the wounded and handicapped. Various kinds of urgent relief are available to the major states, and they must devote attention to salvaging people in Somalia.
[ALSHARQ ALAWSAT] How far did the Djibouti conference succeed in laying down the foundation for a Somali national unity to replace tribal fragmentation, which has harmed the country considerably?
[Omar Arteh] The conference is a historic event in Somali political life and has gone a long way toward implementing its aims. All the conference needs now is the support of the fraternal and friendly states that participated in it and blessed its aims. I sat again that the conference is a historic event, since it was recently joined by those that originally opposed it. They have now become its defenders. This, because we have implemented both the letter and the spirit of the resolutions adopted by the conference. We must be given a short period of time in order to see that the resolutions adopted by the Djibouti conference have found their way to Somalia. I urge everyone to adhere to this approach. [passage omitted]
[AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT] Is there anything new with regard to the question of North Somalia and its joining the South for the sake of unity and rebuilding?
[Omar Arteh] When I was 15 I believed in and advocated unity between North and South Somalia, which were colonized by two different countries-so what about now? I am more attached than ever to the unity achieved. It must be protected as an indispensable victory within the framework of safeguarding the Somali identity. I believe that the issue of the northerners-who believe that they suffered neglect under President Barre and who led campaigns against him-can be settled by restoring their rights and admitting the mistake. The situation in the North can be remedied by drawing on other constitutions such as those of the United States, Somalia, Tanzania, and the United Arab Emirates.
For my part, as I said earlier, participation in partitioning Somalia would be an insult to me. This is why we are striving to find a solution within the Somali family and to reach a fair solution to the issue of the North, which is my issue too, since I am opposed to injustice.
Ghalib Terms Issues behind Fighting ‘Minor’
London: AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT in Arabic
December 03, 1991, p 4
[Interview with Prime Minister Omar Arteh Ghalib by Sayyid Ahmad Khalifah in Riyadh; date not given]
[Excerpts] Despite the pessimistic reports from Mogadishu, where fighting continues between the two wings of the [United] Somali Congress, Somali Prime Minister Omar Arteh Ghalib painted a less pessimistic picture of conditions in his country in an interview with AL, SHARQ AL-AWSAT at his residence in Riyadh. [passage omitted]
Arteh said: "Last Sunday I contacted President Ali Mahdi, and he told me that a cease-fire agreement had been signed with the parties to the conflict, but it seems that the agreement was breached sometime after my contact with President Ali Mahdi."
[Khalifah] That means that Ali Mahdi is in Mogadishu; so which area is he in?
[Ghalib] Yes, President Ali Mahdi is in Mogadishu, specifically in the Karaan area.
[Khalifah] According to humanitarian organizations, the fighting is continuing, claiming hundreds or thousands of casualties. What will the outcome be, and what efforts are you making in that regard?
[Ghalib] There can be no solution without a cease-fire and a responsible national dialogue. I still believe that the problems that sparked the fighting between the two wings of the United Congress are minor, but the losses are great and dangerous.
The dispute in Somalia is between two sides, and there is absolutely no significant dispute among the other political forces. [passage omitted]
[Khalifah] Several sides have called for foreign forces to be sent to Somalia to disengage the warring forces. Do you support such calls?
[Ghalib] This inclination does exist, and it is proposed as a final option. But we are now trying the local and regional solution, inasmuch as we should give a chance to the internal national attempts being made by tribal chiefs, men of religion, and some Somali intellectuals. We should also give the endeavors being made by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd a chance. After that, and in view of these good offices, we can decide on the entry of foreign forces to disengage the warring forces in Mogadishu. [passage omitted]
Omar Arteh Urges Dialogue between Warring Parties
London: AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT in Arabic
December 08, 1991, p 4
[Sayyid Ahmad Khalifah report: "Somali Prime Minister Tells AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT: I Welcome U.S. Appeal to Stop Fighting and Urge World to Help Relieve Famine"]
[Text] Jeddah, AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT-Somali Prime Minister Omar Arteh Ghalib has welcomed the U.S. statement the first since the Somali crisis started which calls on all groups in Somalia to stop the fighting and bloodshed and to move toward a dialogue to achieve peace and stop the bloodthirsty conflict between the two sides.
In a statement to AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT Omar Arteh said: As prime minister, I respond to this appeal, just I responded to the appeal by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin-'Abd-al-'Aziz. I informed President Ali Mahdi of it immediately, but I could not contact General Aydeed directly, so I informed him through a third party who conveyed a verbal message from me. I still await his reply, and hope that will be positive.
Arteh said: The response to the appeal of the two parties to the armed conflict in Somalia is the last chance for Somali leaders. I want to see President Ali Mahdi and Gen. Aydeed shaking hands in the holy places in response to the mediation of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin-'Abd-al-'Aziz.
The Somali prime minister warned the two parties to the conflict in Mogadishu that a failure to respond to King Fahd's initiative and the recent U.S. appeal would force him to raise the matter with the Arab League, the OAU, the Islamic summit in Dakar, and the UN Security Council which will convene a special session on 18 December.
Omar Arteh pointed out that he fully supports whoever says that the ongoing war in Somalia is pointless, as was clearly stated by the U.S. State Department's spokeswoman.
Omar Arteh urged the world not to focus on the news about the fighting or ignore the more serious aspect for the Somali people, namely, the famine threatening Somalis in the South as a result of the war and in the North as a result of this year's drought. "This prompts me to launch an urgent appeal to the whole world to send humanitarian aid to both the South and the North, especially food, medical supplies, blankets, and other urgent necessities."
With regard to the fighting, a Somali source told ALSHARQ AL-AWSAT in Nairobi that the impetus of the battles has escalated since last Tuesday and that signs of weakness have started to emerge among Gen. Aydeed's forces in the face of Ali Mahdi's militias mobilized from the provinces and areas adjacent to Mogadishu inhabited by the Abgal tribe.
The Somali source described the destruction and fighting taking place there as complete devastation, total death, and an inferno causing the loss of thousands of human lives after the total destruction of Mogadishu, which now looks like the Japanese city of Hiroshima in World War II.
SOMALI GUNMEN DRIVE THROUGH THE STREETS OF THE CAPITAL MOGADISHU
Somalis loot U.N. barracks near the Mogadishu port