|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 U L Y 1 9 9 0 s
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
How to Turn a Warmonger into a Hero
The Independent – London
July 17, 1993
General Aideed, top bad-guy on America's hit list
As dusk fell on the first evening after the US Marines landed in Mogadishu, two Cobra gunships beat across the city and curled round above the residence of General Mohamed Farah Aideed. Their nose-cone cannons swivelled as the gunships dipped and circled around the house, creating a thundering gale. It was a prophetic if ambiguous gesture.
General Aideed lived in a gracious house in a large, walled compound in south Mogadishu. Across the street was the Conaco House, where Robert Oakley, the US Special Representative, had taken up residence the night before. He and his staff had arrived at the airstrip outside Mogadishu and been escorted by Aideed's fighters to the house where he was now protected by Aideed's guards. Aideed personally welcomed Oakley to Mogadishu. In the next compound Osman Hassan Ali Atto, Aideed's clansman, business fixer and adviser, was printing leaflets: "USA is Friend - UN is Invader".
Were the Cobras giving Oakley a good-night assurance that he was well protected or were they giving General Aideed a grandstand view of US military might, in case he decided to take them on? Had they known him better they would have known it would take more than that to cow him.
Aideed is a hard, intelligent soldier who suffered six years in prison - largely in solitary confinement - under President Siad Barre. A thick-set, cold-eyed man, Aideed is feared because of his explosive temper and domineering manner. Interviews with him are ranting monologues in which he is right and the rest of the world is wrong. He seems to regard questions as personal attacks and he exudes a mixture of paranoid self-righteousness and thuggish aggression.
He is reliably reported to have ordered the murder of several opponents. He also launched the war in Mogadishu against his rival, Ali Mahdi Mohammed, and the Abgal clan that has led to the deaths of thousands of women and children. His battle with fighters loyal to Siad Barre in western Somalia in 1991 and 1992 led to the famine in which tens of thousands died. He would have been President, feted in Washington and New York, if he had won the battle for Mogadishu.
As it was, that battle ended in stalemate and the US Marines arrived. Mr Oakley forced Ali Mahdi and Aideed to shake hands publicly as he beamed on as peace-maker (they had actually enjoyed a ceasefire for nine months previously). So friendly were the Americans to General Aideed and the other warlords when they first arrived that many Somalis who had suffered months of shelling and street battles with Aideed's fighters were appalled. They feared that the Americans were about to install him and the other warlords as the new government of Somalia.
It now appears that top priority for the US during the landings was to save American lives and if that meant warm handshakes with General Aideed, so be it. Disarmament was not on the US agenda then and Aideed was apparently told he could keep his weapons as long as his fighters did not shoot any Americans.
In the long run, however, unless Aideed could be persuaded to disarm and share power with all the other clan-based factions in Somalia, there was bound to be confrontation. Aideed comes from a small and traditionally weak clan. His successful rebellion against Siad Barre had extended the power of his clan far beyond its traditional area. Aideed was unwilling to give up politically what he had won by war. He agreed to disarm but did not.
THE problems between Aideed and the US began in February when Oakley promised Aideed they would not let General Hersi Morgan, Siad Barre's son-in-law, return to Kismayu. Until then, General Morgan had been the Americans' chief "baddy" and the Marines had already attacked Morgan's positions in the port. The US Marine General, Robert Johnston, is said to have made Oakley retract that pledge. He saw Aideed as the long-term threat. Since then, as General Johnston was proved right and Aideed has fallen out with the US, General Morgan seems to have been rehabilitated.
When US gunships attacked Aideed's warehouse and his house last month, he held his fire but his radio continued to denounce the UN in Somalia. But when Pakistani troops approached his radio station on 5 June, ostensibly to look for weapons, his men took their revenge and 23 people were killed. A warrant was issued for Aideed's arrest and he became the UN's first Wanted Man.
General Mohammed Farah Aideed is typical of many soldiers from the southern hemisphere, trained in the military academies of the superpowers as part of the search for allies and global stability in the Cold War. Like many of them, he used his training and prodigious gifts of arms to make war on his own people.
Aideed was born in 1934 in the part of Somalia under Italian rule. His clan is Hawiye, his sub clan Habr Gadir, tough nomadic camel-keepers from the arid South-west. He joined the Italian-controlled army and in 1954 went to Italy to study at the Military Academy. After two years he was commissioned and then completed a police course. In 1958 Aideed was appointed chief of police in Mogadishu but, following another course in Rome, was appointed chief of staff of the Military Training Centre in Mogadishu. In 1963 he took a three-year course at the Soviet War Strategic Academy.
In 1969 Siad Barre, another Italian-trained soldier and policeman, seized power. Then, because Aideed was popular and effective in the army, Barre imprisoned him for six years without trial. He was released because his military abilities were desperately needed in the war with Ethiopia. This gave Aideed the chance to prove his reputation and his loyalty, so Barre made him a member of the Assembly and appointed him military administrator in the president's office. But President Barre never trusted him and had him dispatched to India as Ambassador.
When Somalia began to fall apart in 1988 Aideed was recalled, but instead he fled and helped to set up the United Somali Congress and built an anti-Barre alliance with other clan-based movements. He was elected chairman of the USC in 1990 and it fought its way to Mogadishu during the rest of the year. Apparently Aideed was usually in the front line. As his troops moved into Mogadishu they met resistance from the Abgal, the largest clan in the capital, led by Ali Mahdi. After a 10-month stand off, the war between them started in November 1991.
If the Americans had understood Somalia's clan structure they would have realised that Aideed was not simply a "warlord" heading a gang of baddies. When they spoke of "bringing him to trial", they forgot that the only courts operating in south Mogadishu are those appointed by General Aideed. They thought it would be easy to kill or capture him, but they were wrong. They tried to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut - and missed.
For more than six weeks Aideed has moved around Mogadishu in safe houses and the more gunship raids they have made on what they believe to be his headquarters, and the more Somali civilians they kill in the process, the more they are turning him into a hero.
There was a moment when the movement he leads, the United Somali Congress, the Habr Gadir elders and his allies in other clans might have sacrificed Aideed for peace. He had been in trouble with the 150-member USC central committee for some time. Many of them are middle class and want a bigger piece of the economic cake. Clan elders were angered by his failure to consult them. Many regarded him as arrogant and dismissive of traditional leaders. On 5 July a party meeting was scheduled, which had the chance to remove him. But on 30 June UN troops attacked an Aideed stronghold and fierce fighting in Mogadishu forced the USC to postpone the meeting. It also rallied support for Aideed. Anger about the deaths of Somalis at the hands of foreigners killed the move to dump him.
AIDEED is a skilful manipulator of the clan system. Before the Americans arrived he moved many of his heavy weapons to Gaalkacyo, about 500 miles north of Mogadishu. The road to Gaalkacyo, however, has since been controlled by a militia of the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF). At a conference in April, Aideed signed a ceasefire agreement with the SSDF militias and the road to Bossasso is now more or less open. UN participation in the peace conference was lukewarm because its forces are not present in that area, but the move has allowed him to bring heavy weapons back to Mogadishu and lets him to concentrate his fighters in Mogadishu and Kismayu.
He is also building an alliance with Islamic fundamentalists. They have presented an alternative focus for Somalis' loyalty outside the clan system. Lately he has begun to gather support among them by describing the UN as an American attempt to destroy Islam. This has also made the Saudi Arabian, Kuwaiti and Pakistani forces with the UN less supportive of American attacks on Aideed.
Last Monday's attack on Digfer Hospital will further boost his position. The US claimed it was an Aideed control point and a conduit for arms. Aideed's supporters and others in Mogadishu say the house was a meeting place for clan elders, not all of them Aideed supporters, who were meeting to work out a common peaceful approach to the UN. What is certain is that the UN figure of 17 dead is wrong. The Red Cross has given a conservative estimate of 50 dead and Aideed supporters put the figure at 74.
Aideed is also gaining support among other clans because of the growing relationship between the Americans and Mohammed Abshir Musa, leader of a faction of the SSDF and allied generally with Ali Mahdi. Abshir was Chief of Police in the 1960s when he was reportedly a good friend of the current American envoy, Robert Gosende. There are allegations that Mohammed Abshir was working with the CIA, which is not unthinkable given the context.
The problem with Mohammed Abshir, is that he belongs to the Darod clan, the same clan as former president Barre. Despite all the horrors that have happened since his overthrow, the memory of Barre is still so bitter that none of the other clans will stand for the return of Darod.
Increasingly, therefore, Aideed is regarded as a saviour who will stop the return of Barre's people. Mohammed Hadji Ibrahim, an elder in Mogadishu, not from Aideed's clan, said recently that they all depended on Aideed's forces now: "What we cannot agree to is to lose the rights for which we fought the previous regime. We don't want anyone to come and put his feet on top of our heads ... As long as they say they want to arrest Aideed, we will fight."
© 1993 Independent Newspapers (UK) Limited . All rights reserved.
In Somalia, Machiavelli vs. Rambo
By Frances Kennedy
The New York Times
July 22, 1993
ROME -- The United Nations has been painting Italy as a troublemaker, a disobedient child who thinks it knows better than its elders. When Rome dared to raise its concerns about the increasingly bloody course of the humanitarian mission in Somalia, it was quickly and publicly slapped down by U.N. officials from ground commanders to the Secretary General. Such high-handed behavior does little for the U.N.'s image and, worse still, it risks obscuring the real issue: that the methods and scope of the peacekeeping operation need to be reviewed.
The criticisms voiced by Rome, after three of its soldiers were killed in an ambush by followers of Gen. Mohammed Farah Aidid, are based on its heavy military presence in Somalia, its belief in dialogue to reach a settlement and its colonial links to Somalia.
No nation likes to see its soldiers return in body bags. With 2,600 troops, Italy is the second biggest force in Somalia, and its troops are in one of the most dangerous areas of Mogadishu. In six weeks, the Italians destroyed nearly two tons of arms in Somalia without a single shot being fired, but because of the ill-advised decisions of their U.N. commanders they became targets.
The Italians killed in the ambush paid with their lives for American air raids that had enraged and alienated the local population and not just the followers of General Aidid. The United States military attacks its targets from the safety of helicopters and planes and the marines retire to their ships overnight. The Italians and the rest of the force remain on land, vulnerable to reprisals.
Italy's criticism is based not just on self-interest but on an entirely different conception of the peacekeeping mission. Italian politics is exceptional in its reliance on compromise, so it's hardly surprising that Rome places a high priority on negotiation. This flexibility has served well on the international scene.
Italy played a crucial role in securing the accord that ended 16 years of civil war in Mozambique. It has also been discreetly active in promoting dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians. Italian soldiers in the multinational force in Lebanon were praised for their good relations with all parties.
The American military command, which has imposed a Rambo approach on the U.N. force, distrusts what it sees as Machiavellian maneuvering by Italy. It prefers to clearly identify an enemy -- General Aidid -- put a price on his head and go in with guns blazing, irrespective of the human cost. Until recently, General Aidid -- now defined as a war criminal, terrorist, the Saddam Hussein of Africa -- was Washington's best friend in Somalia. Then something changed; perhaps American officials realized he was stringing them along. The first fruit of this about-face was the U.N. forces' attack on his radio station in which 24 Pakistanis were killed. This prompted an escalation that has seen the death toll rise.
Against this spiral of violence, the much-maligned head of the Italian contingent, Gen. Bruno Loi, sought to prove a point after the ambush of his men at the strategic Checkpoint Pasta, named for an old pasta factory nearby. Resisting pressure from the U.N. command for retaliatory attacks, he negotiated with neighborhood elders and clan representatives to retake the post. The atmosphere was tense as the Italian tanks crawled through a potentially hostile crowd, but the barricades were dismantled one by one. Had the Italians used force, the result probably would have been another bloodbath. It was this independent behavior that incurred the wrath of the Secretary General, who tried to have General Loi taken off the job.
The third reason for Italy's challenge to the U.N. operation is that Rome feels it knows what makes Somalia tick. Part of Somalia was an Italian colony until the humiliating defeat of Mussolini's troops in Africa in World War II. In 1950, Italy became the administering power in the run-up to independence, creating the base for a close and cordial relationship. Even if Rome's reputation was tarnished by its support for the President-turned-dictator Mohammed Siad Barre, its investment and technical support created a reserve of goodwill.
The Italian Ambassador to Somalia, Enrico Augelli, was the only foreign diplomat to remain in Mogadishu as the country descended into chaos. He has painstakingly established contact with virtually every clan or subclan in the country, following the U.N.'s mandate to encourage "broad participation by all sectors of Somali society to promote political settlement. Mr. Augelli was withdrawn to Rome last month to avoid a head-on confrontation with Adm. Jonathan Howe, the U.N.'s special representative in Somalia, who did not appreciate the independence of Italy's military or political representatives on the ground.
The events of the last week clearly reveal the inadequacies of the post-cold-war U.N. The Somalia operation was supposed to restore its credibility after the fiasco in the former Yugoslavia. Instead, the Somali people's faith in the neutrality and goodwill of the U.N. is being undermined, and there are damaging divisions in the peacekeeping forces. A unified central command is essential to any operation, but it needs to reflect common goals, not those of just one country, in this case the United States.
The appointment on Tuesday of an Italian military official to the Secretariat's peacekeeping operation, while an obvious attempt to appease Italy, is being welcomed in Rome. So is the scheduled meeting of Italy's Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Bottai, with the Secretary General. But patching up the diplomatic rift will not resolve fundamental concerns about the military operation. Are the means actually achieving results or becoming an end in themselves?
Are the military decision-makers becoming dominant in what is meant to be a humanitarian mission?
Does the U.N.'s approval of the use of force to impose peace in Somalia need clarifying?
Unless these issues are resolved, there is the risk that Italy may pull out. Worse yet, foreign forces may find themselves still in Somalia years after the U.N. mandate expires in October.
Frances Kennedy is a correspondent in Rome for the British Broadcasting Corporation.
© Copyright 1993 The New York Times Company. All Rights Reserved.
Are "building blocks" the solution?
July 19, 1999
Nairobi (UN Integrated Regional Information Network, July 19, 1999) - One of the latest attempts to resolve the conflict in Somalia revolves around the concept of "building blocks", using a decentralised approach to Somali unity, rather than the now discredited efforts to produce a unified administration in one go.
The Somali Aid Co-ordination Body (SACB)'s latest donor alert for Somalia (July 6), worth US $17 million, for the current drought and food emergency, with an estimated 1 million people at risk, underlines the lack of progress in finding solutions for Somalia.
The latest current speculation that President Mohamed Egal of the self-declared republic of Somaliland might host a new Somali-wide reconciliation conference in Hargeisa seems premature. Although the suggestion, of holding a reconciliation conference of traditional leaders, appeals to several countries represented on the Standing Committee (of the Friends of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, IGAD), he would face significant criticism within Somaliland. There is still a considerable body of opinion which suspects Egal's adherence to Somaliland independence and would regard any Somali conference as evidence of his lack of enthusiasm for Somaliland and a continued desire to be president of all Somalia. Egal, indeed, would find it difficult to attend such a conference, let alone host it, unless it provided a significant improvement in Somaliland's international status.
More plausible is the possibility that Kenya, seriously concerned by the growing extent of Ethiopian and Eritrean activity inside Somalia and the spill-over into Kenya, working with Djibouti and through IGAD, will organise a new conference. President Daniel arap Moi has been talking to Somali leaders, including Hussein Aideed, and recently received Djibouti's former president Hassan Gouled Aptidon, who hosted two previous Somali conferences. At the end of June, the Somali desk in the Kenyan Foreign Ministry was instructed to report directly to the President's Office, underlining President Moi's interest in current Somali developments.
"Building block" theory
Kenya and Djibouti are, of course, both members of the Standing Committee whose current strategy for Somalia revolves around the "building block" approach, using the development of local administrative units as the basis for a decentralised approach to Somali unity. The Ethiopian and Egyptian-sponsored conferences at Sodere (January 1997) and Cairo (October 1997) only succeeded in highlighting the divisions among Somali faction leaders, and among interested regional powers. The idea of the "building blocks" arises from the SACB's evaluation of certain local administrative bodies as "responsible", and the UN's identification of zones of "recovery", "transition" and "crisis" in Somalia.
The concept has clear, if superficial, appeal, given the continued failure of Somali factions and parties to respond to efforts to recreate a unitary Somali administration. The possible units are frequently identified with the major clan families, which would allow for five or six territories. Two such units already exist, Somaliland and Puntland, based upon regions dominated by the Isaaq/Dir clan family, and by the Harti/Darod respectively. The Rahenweyne (Merifle and Digil) would cover the regions of Bay and Bakool and part of Lower Shebelli; a fourth region would be Jubaland, largely inhabited by Darod clans; and the territory of the Hawiye, in Central Somalia and including Benadir, would make up a fifth region, though Mogadishu, if it remained the national capital, might be administered separately.
The most functional of these areas is Somaliland which declared its independence from the rest of Somalia in May 1991. This "restoration of the sovereignty" of the former colonial territory of British Somaliland has survived a number of vicissitudes including two brief bouts of civil conflict and the continued failure of recognition by the international community. Nevertheless, the Somaliland government has managed to establish a functional administration over most of the area, including police and defence forces, a judiciary and a parliament incorporating the elders (Guurti) as an upper house. A permanent constitution is supposed to have been drawn up but little progress has been made. Critics of the government claim that this is deliberate and that senior government figures, including the president, are ambivalent over Somaliland's independence. Despite this, the economy, although battered by last year's livestock ban by Saudi Arabia - now lifted - has been surprisingly buoyant. Somaliland still faces the serious difficulty of the international community's failure to offer more than acceptance and the government's failure to win full support from the non-Isaaq clans in the region, notably the Dhulbahante and the Warsengeli which border Puntland.
Puntland, in the northeast, is seen as the other moderately successful model for a "building block". An administration and government, with Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf as president, was set up in July last year, following a conference at Garowe. Unlike Somaliland, Puntland has never seen itself as secessionist. Originally, its draft constitution supported the idea of Puntland as an element in a future decentralised federal state, though in the final version this had been replaced by references to a more centralised state of Somalia. Indications are that Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf has his eyes more on Mogadishu and the leadership of Somalia as a whole than just Puntland.
Other areas still have along way to go before they can be considered as moving out of the zone of "crisis", and be considered as functional "building blocks". The Hawiye, in central regions of the country, have attempted to seek a local solution to their divisions, to provide a unified approach to national level politics. They have, however, failed to find any acceptable balance between clan-based factions, warlords and local administrative factions. An administration, essentially providing for a possible Hawiye region, was created for Benadir, including Mogadishu, in August 1998. Set up by the Egyptian and Libyan-backed coalition of faction leaders Hussein Aideed, Ali Mahdi and Mohamed Qanyare, it was from the outset opposed by an Ethiopian-backed grouping involving such figures as Hussein Bod and Mussa Sudde. Libyan funding worth US $800,000 allowed for the deployment of a 3,000 strong police force at the end of the year. However, it proved unable to open the airport or seaport, and in March, the police force, unpaid for two months, spontaneously dissolved, with members taking their weapons as they walked out. Nor did the supposed administration have either the resources or the will to dismantle the factional groups, a necessity if any administration is to be effective. Disagreements between the Mogadishu warlords have intensified more recently with the open support of Eritrea for Hussein Aideed.
The failure of Hawiye clan unity has been underlined by the Belet Weyne conference. This began last November as a Hawiye peace and reconciliation meeting, resolving most of the traditional differences between the Hawiye clans before moving into the political phase of the meeting in February. The conference, however, was not attended by many leading Hawiye political personalities, including Hussein Aideed, Ali Mahdi, and Mohamed Qanyare, nor indeed by their main opponents. Musse Sude, for example, though he declared support for the meeting's conclusions was not there; Hussein Bod attended for a time, but in mid-June returned to Mogadishu, announcing he had been elected chairman. In fact, the conference ended on 2 July with the election of Colonel Omar Hashi as chairman of the 11-man Somali Consultative Council chosen as the Hawiye political leadership, and including representatives from all the main Hawiye clans.
The conference has certainly strengthened the position of the traditional Hawiye leaders, the Ugases, which presided over the reconciliation conference, but it has not produced a unified Hawiye leadership. It is far from clear that the representatives of the Habr Gidir and Abgal clans on the Consultative Council will be able to undercut the support still enjoyed by Hussein Aideed, Ali Mahdi, or even by Hussein Bod. The most probable result will be the appearance of still more factions on the streets of Mogadishu. There is no indication any are prepared to moderate their own claims to position and power in Mogadishu, or in Benadir, or more widely. One longer term problem regarding Mogadishu, now largely inhabited by Hawiye clans, is the widespread assumption of non-Hawiye clans that any capital of Somalia should be outside the control of any specific clan. It is not a view shared by the Hawiye.
Similar uncertainty prevails in the Juba valley where last October the leaders of various Darod clans, including General Adan Abdullahi Nur "Gebiyou" (Absame/Ogaden), and General Mohamed Siyad Hersi "Morgan" (Majerteen/Harti) were planning to organise their own administration. Now General Morgan has been driven out of his base at Kismayo by supporters of Hussein Aideed, and General Adan's rival for support among the Ogaden, Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess, is again making a serious bid for Ogaden support and for control of Kismayo. The conflict for Kismayo has been complicated by the involvement of the Somali National Front, a Marehan/Darod front from Gedo region. The Marehan have always had interests in Kismayo, and the SNF faction of General Omar Haji Mohamed "Masaleh", which threw its lot in with Hussein Aideed two years ago, was substantially involved in the ousting of General "Morgan". However, General Omar is also facing problems in Gedo region from another SNF faction, and also from Ethiopia which has been supportive of both General "Morgan" and General "Gebiyou", and of General Omar's opponents.
The possibility of a Rahenweyne administration in Bay and Bakool regions appears more plausible at the moment, despite the political complexities of its two main branches, the Merifle and the Digil, both of which are political confederacies as well as genealogical constructs. The victories of the Ethiopian backed Rahenweyne Resistance Army (RRA) over Hussein Aideed's Habr Gidir and the recapture of Baidoa in June have encouraged the likelihood that the Rahenweyne will recreate its Supreme Governing Council, a self-administrative body set up in 1995. It rapidly fell apart, when the Rahenweyne political faction, the Somali Democratic Movement split into three, and Hussein Aideed's father, General Mohamed Farah Aideed, and the Habr Gidir clan took the opportunity to seize a large area of the Rahenweyne regions of Bay and Bakool including the towns of Hoddur and Baidoa. With the aid of Ethiopian troops, the RRA have now retaken these and largely driven the Habr Gidir and Hussein Aideed's forces out of Bay and Bakool. This time, the Rahenweyne believe they are far more united, and their recent victories will provide the popular support necessary for a successful constitutional conference. The Malak (Sultan) of the Rahenweyne, the head of the Rahenweyne Council of Chiefs, says the Rahenweyne will hold such a conference and set up their own administration "soon".
The Malak has also indicated that the Rahenweyne are intending to advance further, and drive out the Habr Gidir from the airport at Balidogle, take over the Lower Shebelli valley and incorporate the ports of Merca and Brava and the coast as far south as Jillib, within a Rahenweyne region; the RRA has made it clear it has similar ambitions. They may, however, run into more considerable opposition in these areas. Hussein Aideed's support within his clan has steadily dropped in recent months following his reverses at the hands of the RRA, nor have his alliance with Eritrea and his use of Oromo fighters been popular. A Rahenweyne attack on the Habr Gidir in Lower Shebelli runs the risk that the Habr Gidir will once more unite behind Hussein Aideed to try and safeguard their lands, and prevent any Digil advance to the sea. It also raises the issue of whether the clans along the coast will welcome a Rahenweyne advance.
The appeal of "building blocks" lies in the realisation that any unitary Somali state is improbable for the indefinite future. It allows for other alternatives, a loose federal structure, even a confederal alternative modelled on the United Arabic Emirates. It also allows for greater participation and accountability. As an approach it is, however, only plausible if it can operate without external interference, and can get a degree of sympathetic and careful international support, not yet apparent. New institutions with public support have so far only emerged in Somaliland, and there the international community has added a serious level of uncertainty to the future by the failure to provide the necessary assistance or recognition. Puntland, with serious financial and administrative concerns unresolved, remains extremely fragile. Other regions have yet to make any significant progress in providing structures which have popular support or realistic alternatives to the warlords. The concept of "building blocks" suggests that Somali factions are being replaced by responsible and responsive local administrations arising out of genuine consultative processes. But theory and practice remain far apart.
© Copyright 1999 UN Integrated Regional Information Network. Distributed via Africa News Online.
SOMALI GUNMEN DRIVE THROUGH THE STREETS OF THE CAPITAL MOGADISHU
Somalis loot U.N. barracks near the Mogadishu port