|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.
J A N U A R Y, 1 9 9 1
SSDF Rebel leader on Collaboration with USC
London BBC World Service in English
1615 GMT 9 Jan 1991
[From the "Focus on Africa" program]
Dr. Hassan Ali Mireh
Somalia's President Siyaad Barre has again issued a statement broadcast on Somali radio calling for peace in the civil war that has been raging in the capital, Mogadishu, for the past 10 days. Communications with Mogadishu are sporadic at the best and it is unclear whether rebel USC [United Somali Congress] or government forces are getting the upper hand, though the USC is claiming to be within an ace of taking control of the whole city. Well, another opposition movement, the SSDF [Somali Salvation Democratic Front], says it is now throwing its lot in with the USC. On the line to Nairobi, Robin White asked Hassan Ali Mireh, a leading member of the SSDF, exactly what they were doing to support the USC:
[Mireh] Well, we are telling our forces inside the country, especially in the capital, to fight on the side of the USC, and I am told by the last people who came from the last airlift that they have done so.
[White] How many people do you have with weapons in Mogadishu?
[Mireh] It is very hard to tell, really. Physically, I myself have not been there, but to be fair, you know, several hundred are already there and, they are expecting reinforcements any time.
[White] But these people, are they operating on their own or have they thrown their weight alongside the United Somali Congress?
[Mireh] Well, they have their own command, but they are really cooperating with the United Somali Congress because we see that we should cooperate and not only cooperate, fight side by side, but (?also) unite as soon as possible to save our country, really.
[White] Are you yourself in touch with the political leaders of the USC?
[Mireh] Yes, I am in touch with those in Rome as well as those in Nairobi itself.
[White] Now, some people might say that your movement, which has been going through pretty rough times of late, is just trying to cash in on somebody else's successes.
[Mireh] Well, whatever people might say, before we had our own plans and we will continue to have, until the success. And it was a fundamental policy of SSDF to cooperate, to unite with any Somali movement. It is in the Constitution of the organization, so it is not a new policy [word indistinct].
[White] What do you think is going to happen in Mogadishu? Do you think the rebels are going to win there, or do you think it could end up in stalemate?
[Mireh] Well, I believe that if the opposition-not only SSDF and USC, but the other forces-come and unite, I think the victory will, you' know, be assured. But if we are scattered, you know, and there are few groups here, few there, I do not expect really a major success, at least immediately.
[White] From your latest information from Mogadishu, how much of the capital is still in the control of the government?
[Mireh] Well, I believe quite a lot, really. It is not all in the government's hands, but they do have really very important parts of the capital in hand still.
[White] So, there is still a lot of fighting still to be done?
[Mireh] A lot of fighting to be done, very truly.
[White] Would you be prep? With the Mogadishu government?
[Mireh] You know, we do not consider the regime as a government to be negotiated with because there is no trust. I have several times told you: Nobody trusts Siyaad Barre and his regime to sit down and talk with them. But at the moment, our emphasis is on the opposition themselves to sit together and decide on something, real unity, because basically, you know, it is unacceptable that four or five different organizations with independent armies with no centralized leadership – it is even worse than Siyaad Barre and his group. It will be chaos for the country; I mean, our people and our country will be destroyed totally. [end recording]