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 2


Somali gunmen drive through the streets of Mogadishu




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






Somali Leader Calls for Imposed

Peace Force


By Randall Palmer

January 30, 1992



GENEVA, Jan 30, Reuter - A leading Somali politician called on Thursday for an international peacekeeping force in his country, where fighting has killed or wounded some 20,000 people since last November.


Omar Arteh Ghalib, prime minister in President Ali Mahdi Mohamed's government created out of inter-clan talks in Djibouti last July, said the world community had waited too long to try to bring peace to Somalia.


"In 1991 the United Nations has failed to carry out its duties," Omar Arteh told Reuters in an interview during a trip to Geneva to address the U.N. Human Rights Commission.


Somalia has been torn with fighting off and on since President Mohamed Siad Barre fled office a year ago after 21 years in power.


The fighting has been particularly intense since November. But it was only last week that the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire and imposing an arms embargo on the country.


Omar Arteh said that while he appreciated new U.N. interest in his country, this would have little effect since Somalia was already bristling with arms.


What was needed now was an international peacekeeping force, along with substantial humanitarian relief, he said.


"When there's a physical presence of these (peacekeeping) forces, then this will be a pressure on the factions," the 56-year-old politician said.


The fighting since November has pitted Ali Mahdi against his military chief of staff, General Mohamed Farah Aideed.


Aideed, who called in a speech on Sunday for an immediate ceasefire, has said in the past that he opposed foreign peacekeepers.


The world community has often been reluctant to send in peacekeepers without the approval of all sides.


But Omar Arteh said the United Nations must live up to new responsibilities and organise a force in conjunction with the Arab League and the Organisation of African Unity.


"It must be imposed," he said.


He said Ali Mahdi had sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali informing him of his acceptance of the ceasefire call.


The Somali National Movement declared the independence of the north of the country last May. Siad Barre's supporters still operate in the west of the country, while Aideed and Ali Mahdi struggle for control of the capital Mogadishu in the centre.


Aideed and Ali Mahdi are from the same Hawiye clan and the same faction, the United Somali Congress.


Omar Arteh said the president told him in a phone call from Mogadishu two days ago that the fighting there had subsided. But he said a foreign force would still be needed to maintain any calm that may descend on the country.


Omar Arteh, a tall northerner who was imprisoned in solitary confinement for six years for opposing Siad Barre's crackdown on the Somali National Movement, called for the unity of Somalia to be maintained, even if in a loose federation.


"I'm a unionist," he said. He wanted eventually to visit the north to find out the opinion of the people rather than the leaders, he said.


He welcomed the announcement by U.N. Undersecretary-General James Jonah in New York on Wednesday that Boutros-Ghali was considering inviting Somali factional leaders to New York, but said any meeting must be based on July's conference in Djibouti.


"I welcome this suggestion provided that it's a followup to the Djibouti national reconciliation conference," Omar Arteh said.


He said the Djibouti meeting elected Ali Mahdi and himself as leaders for two years with the approval of Aideed and that they should be given a chance to govern.


© 1992 Reuters Limited




Siad Barre's once luxurious villa left to rot


Pascal Irastorza

19 January 1993


Villa somalia - then

Villa Somalia - now


MOGADISHU, Jan 19 (AFP) - The Villa Somalia, once the luxury palace of Somalia's president Mohamed Siad Barre, has been left to rot since the dictator was toppled two years ago.


But rival warlords General Mohamed Farah Aidid and Ali Madhi Mohamed are both believed to have their eyes on the villa complex as their future residence.


Perched on high ground overlooking the old town, on the "green line" which cut across the city between areas controlled by Aidid and Ali Mahdi, the villa has been shut up since Siad Barre fled.


After half an hour of wrangling, a guard, who lay down his gun in the shade but would pick it up again at nightfall, finally agreed to give a tour of the premises, insisting that "no journalist has ever set foot inside" since Aidid had control.


The first glimpse is breathtaking. It must have been a beautiful spot before it was ravaged by the fighting. Many of the trees were in bloom despite the air of neglect.


In the drive leading up to the complex, protected by wrought iron gates, the first building on the right housed tanks and artillery, the guard said. The American troops took the armoured vehicles away when they arrived on their humanitarian mission to Somalia.


"There were three garages for artillery around the villa to protect Siad Barre," explained the guide, who refused to give his name for "security reasons", adding "Aidid doesn't want people to visit this place."


"It's because he is dreaming of living here", AFP's Somali chauffeur added slyly.


The guide showed round the building, surrounded by leafy walks, where Siad Barre received visitors, in reception rooms decorated according to the president's whim of the moment. The ceramics on the floor are surprisingly poor quality and there are imitation wooden slats in plastic crudely nailed on the walls.


© (Copyright 1993)



Somali Factions Are Far From Agreement AS TROOPS WITHDRAW


Robert M. Press

18 January 1994

The Christian Science Monitor



PROSPECTS appear to be growing for renewed fighting in Somalia after the withdrawal of major international peacekeeping forces by March 31.


Behind-the-scenes political maneuvering between rival Somali factions, which have been meeting in Nairobi, has not resulted in any agreements. And a new round of interclan fighting appears to be under way in Brava and other coastal areas south of Mogadishu, the Somali capital.


"As things stand now, war is inevitable" after US and other peacekeepers withdraw, says Abdullah Hashi, a senior member of a Somali faction opposed to militia leader Gen. Mohamed Farah Aideed.


On Jan. 8, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said the UN would need 16,000 troops to protect transportation routes and keep relief supplies flowing once the US withdraws. At the end of 1993, about 30,000 troops remained in Somalia. But a gradual exodus of Western troops is under way, and the number that will remain after March 31 is not yet clear.


Informal talks between rival factions here have gotten nowhere, says Mr. Hashi. He adds that General Aideed appears to be trying to line up new military alliances.


Another pessimistic assessment comes from Yussef Sheikh Ibrahim, minister of information for the self-proclaimed independent Somaliland in northern Somalia. When UN troops are scaled down, the "biggest fighting" yet may occur, he says.


There will never be peace unless General Aideed leaves Mogadishu and goes back to his central Somali region, Mr. Ibrahim claims. "He has no right to be there." All Somali factions holding areas other than their home territory will have to withdraw, he says.


While in Nairobi, Aideed and his entourage have been staying in a deluxe hotel - a far cry from his usual austere surroundings in Mogadishu.


In contrast to Hashi's observations, Aideed spokesman Mohammed Abdullatiff says Aideed has been holding productive "informal consultations" with members of rival factions.


Aideed met here with Somaliland President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, who after the meeting spoke with the Monitor about the danger of renewed "civil war" in Somalia. He referred to Aideed as a "colorful warlord" who has been "doing evil."


Mr. Egal said the UN had paid too much attention to Somalia's warlords and urged the organization to begin working more closely with traditional leaders. Somaliland has relied on long conferences of elders and other traditional community leaders to resolve political disputes in its territory. At one of these conferences last year, Egal was elected president of Somaliland.


Aideed also met with the military leader of a key Somali party lined up against him, the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF), whose leaders appear split over how much to cooperate with Aideed.


Col. Abdullahi Yussef Ahmed, who stresses the need for dialogue with Aideed, says only "minor" differences remain between Aideed and rival factions. These differences include such details as the number of people who will head a proposed transitional national council.


"If we have another {peace} conference, no matter where, we may reach a final agreement," said Col Ahmed in an interview here. "Somalis, if left alone, can work out their own agreements" without help from the UN, he added - a view shared by Aideed.


But a Western relief worker in Somalia says that calls to "leave us alone" usually come from "the ones who have money and power." The displaced are telling the UN, "We need you," says the relief worker, who asked not to be named.


A senior SSDF civilian leader says Ahmed is acting alone in his efforts to reach a settlement with Aideed.


In June, however, Ahmed and Aideed reached an agreement to halt fighting in the region surrounding Galkayo, in central Somalia. That pact still holds.


© 1994 Christian Science Monitor. All Rights Reserved.








Somalis loot U.N. barracks near the Mogadishu port





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