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 president calls for international peacekeepers


January 09, 1992


“Traditionally, the Somali people love keeping small arms, camels and horses with them,” Aidid said.


MOGADISHU, Jan 9 (AFP) - The leader of one of the Somali capital's two warring factions has made an impassioned plea for an international peacekeeping force to restore peace after nearly two months of carnage.


At least 4,000 people have been killed and thousands more maimed or wounded, many of them civilians, in the bitter power struggle between interim President Ali Mahdi Mohamed and his opponent General Mohamed Farah Aidid.


Following an inconclusive visit to Somalia last week by U.N. special envoy James Jonah, Ali Mahdi called Wednesday for international aid to end the daily mortar and rocket barrages that have reduced parts of Mogadishu to rubble.


Aidid, however, rejected the proposal, saying Somalis should settle their own affairs.


Ali Mahdi, interviewed in a plush villa in eastern Mogadishu which is under his control, told reporters: "We will accept a peacekeeping force, and we are ready to adopt a ceasefire. We would like to assist the United Nations in finding a solution.


"The police and military administration have collapsed. There are a lot of young boys who are armed and we canot disarm them alone," the 52-year-old president said as shells landed near his compound and his soldiers fired back at Aidid's sector.


Aidid, however, also interviewed Wednesday, rejected Ali Mahdi's proposal for foreign troops to intervene to stem the bloodshed.


"Foreign intervention in our country will not solve the already complicated situation. it will complicate things further. We are able to solve our problems ourselves," he said.


"Forcing our people to lay down their arms is not a good solution," said Aidid, 56, a former ambassador to India. "Traditionally, the Somali people love keeping small arms, camels and horses with them," he added.


© (Copyright 1992)




Dire Straits in Somalia Clan warfare drives people out of capital city, stymies relief effort


Peter Grier

The Christian Science Monitor

January 08, 1992


"I don't see things improving in Somalia unless the Somalis take things into their own hands," says Natsios.


A NEW outbreak of bitter clan fighting is turning the troubled East African nation of Somalia into the worst humanitarian crisis facing the world today.


Since late November, two rival factions have been battling for control of the capital city of Mogadishu, sending tens of thousands of refugees streaming into a countryside already afflicted with severe malnutrition.


"It is not a good situation at all," says Andrew Natsios, director of the US Department of State's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. "It's reminiscent of the 1984 Ethiopian famine."


The violence has slowed the flow of relief supplies to a fraction of what is needed. Many relief organizations have been hesitant to send workers into a chaotic situation that recently claimed the lives of an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) staff member and a doctor working for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).


"Food is already scarce, and without emergency relief food distributions, the number of hunger-related deaths is likely to escalate dramatically," says a recent United States Agency for International Development (AID) report.


Somalia has been in the grip of civil war since 1988. Although the nation's longtime strongman, President Mohammed Siad Barre, was overthrown in January 1991, the assorted rebel groups that ousted him have been unable to rally around a new government and have fallen to fighting among themselves. The latest outbreak of shooting dates from Nov.17 and involves two clans within the United Somali Congress, the rebel organization that controls Mogadishu. They have done relatively little damage to each other while exacting a heavy civilian toll.


With thousands of Mogadishu residents killed or wounded already in the crossfire, people are fleeing into the countryside. But without transportation they can't flee to villages or neighboring countries. With little food, water, or sanitation, they are deteriorating quickly.


Even before this latest movement of people began, the civil war had plunged Somalia into chaos and famine. The UN estimates some 4.5 million of the country's 8 million population have been affected in one way or another. Earlier this summer, an ICRC survey found that 40 to 60 percent of children in central and southern Somalia were suffering from severe malnutrition, with 20 to 30 percent more experiencing moderate malnutrition.


As in a number of other troubled African nations, young men with automatic weapons are the scourge of refugees. In some instances relief agencies have been asked to supply not food, but seeds, which are treated to be inedible themselves. Andrew Natsios explains that if the civilians "are caught with food, then the gangs may kill them. They prefer just getting the seeds so they can plant them."


The 1992 harvest won't alleviate the situation. Only about 5 percent of Somalia's usual crops were planted last year.


Last month the White House approved a $40 million increase in emergency aid for Somalia. And in recent weeks the Belgian military has completed an airlift aimed at landing 270 tons of food and medicine in Mogadishu, paid for jointly by the UN and the European Community. A ship with 800 tons of Red Cross supplies has been unable to dock at Mogadishu because of continued shelling of the port.


The International Committee of the Red Cross has been the main organization working to distribute relief supplies through Somalia. However, due to the danger, only a handful of foreign relief workers are still in the country, including among others representatives of the French group Medicins sans Frontiers and Save the Children Fund/UK.


American officials insist that, to stave off catastrophe, the UN and private relief groups must get into the country. US government relief agencies do little distribution themselves, dispensing most of their budgets as grants to these private groups. In the end, a long-term solution is out of the hands of foreigners.


"I don't see things improving in Somalia unless the Somalis take things into their own hands," says Natsios.


© 1992 Christian Science Monitor. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All Rights Reserved.



Somali Faction Dismisses Need for Ceasefire Talks


January 07, 1992



NAIROBI, Jan 7, Reuter - An armed group engaged in a vicious seven-week ethnic feud in Somalia's capital Mogadishu has said there is "no point" in meeting its main rival to try to secure a ceasefire.


A statement by warlord Mohamed Farah Aideed's faction given to Reuters in Nairobi on Tuesday, but issued from the war-torn city on January 5 said rival leader Ali Mahdi Mohamed had been ousted and a new interim administration established.


"Therefore, there is no point in meeting with Ali Mahdi," said the document signed by a close aide to Aideed, Omar Ahmed Jees.


Up to 20,000 people have been killed and wounded since the latest round of fighting broke out on November 17.


Somalia, an impoverished Horn of Africa country, was plunged into anarchy when guerrillas ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre a year ago and turned to feuding with each other.


James Jonah, the United Nations special envoy who visited Mogadishu at the weekend to urge faction leaders to agree on a ceasefire, said he was pessimistic about peace prospects.


"There is no organised civil society left. In such conditions the life of man is nasty, brutish and short and in the 20th century this cannot be tolerated," Jonah said on Monday.


The Aideed faction statement said it had called on the U.N. to help organise a national reconciliation conference.


Somalia has virtually collapsed as a nation state, carved up into tribal enclaves ruled by gangs of armed youths.


Political analysts said the prospects of sending an international peace-keeping force had increased as a result of the U.N.'s failure to broker a ceasefire in Mogadishu.


Ethiopia is spearheading calls for sending in an international force that could ensure humanitarian assistance and has said it would contribute to such an operation, the analysts said.


This option is expected to be discussed at a Horn of Africa summit in Addis Ababa this month drawing together Kenya, Sudan, Djibouti, Ethiopia and the self-governing Ethiopian province of Eritrea.









Somalis loot U.N. barracks near the Mogadishu port





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