|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 N E 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
SSDF Spokesman Expresses Support for UN Actions
London BBC World Service in English
1515 GMT 29 June 1993
[From the "Focus on Africa" program]
[Text] Most of Somali's armed factions have now taken a position on whether they agree with the United Nations handling of General Aidid and several have been critical. His strongholds in southern Mogadishu have come under sustained attack by U.S.-led troops, searching for Aidid. He's been in hiding since the UN issued a warrant for his arrest and there have been dozens of casualties, both military and civilian. So far, the Somali Salvation Democratic Front [SSDF], who control much of northeastern Somalia and are not known to be friends of Aidid, haven't commented. So, when SSDF spokesman Mohamed Abshir came into the studio, Robin White asked him how they feel about the UN's attitude toward Gen, Aidid.
[Begin recording] [Abshir] I feel that the (?quit) system against the United Nations, mostly by the British press and British NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] in Somalia, [was] unfair and unfounded because it was the duty of the United Nations-they were mandated by the Security Council, they were mandated by the Somali people and the Addis Ababa conferences-to disarm the people, whether the warlords, militias, bandits, private clan armies, and the UN was supposed to start this as early as December last year.
[White] You support this action basically?
[Abshir] Yes, I do support [it] and the northeastern region authorities do support the total and simultaneous disarmament of all the people in Somalia, without which there cannot be reconciliation or humanitarian aid distribution.
[White] Do you think that they made a mistake just by going for Aidid? Should they have gone for other people at the same time?
[Abshir] They should have started the process of disarmament much earlier and I think it was their idea and their plan to do so, with the proper warning to the people everywhere in Somalia, giving deadlines of when disarmament would start, [and] points where people should hand over their arms. But I think Aidid has not given them the chance to do that, and he started fighting with the United Nations before they were to embark on that process.
[White] Some people say this action against Aidid has backfired, that it has, in fact, got more support for him and that people now have rallied around him. Do think that's true or not?
[Abshir] That's absolutely untrue and the Somali people as a whole are against Aidid. They see Aidid as the second man who was responsible for the Somali tragedy-first being Siad Barre and the second being Aidid himself.
[White] So, who are all these people demonstrating in his support in Mogadishu?
[Abshir] Well, we don't see many people supporting Aidid. We see 200 in one place, 400 in another place or another day, and those are Aidid supporters. But what the press failed to report or to convey to the international community is the counter demonstrations in Mogadishu and in other parts of Somalia.
[White] So, I can take it that if Aidid showed up in your territory and you got your hands on him, you would arrest him and hand him over to the UN?
[Abshir] I don't think he would choose to go to our territory, to our area, because as far as the northeast is concerned, it's still in war with his action, which he's tried 49 times to invade the northeast [sentence as heard]. [end recording]
SSDF Group Arrives To Follow Up on Addis Ababa Talks
Mogadishu Radio Mogadishu in Somali
1700 GMT 17 May 1993
[Excerpts] A large delegation from the Somali Salvation Democratic Front [SSDF] and the SNDU [expansion unknown-for minorities in the Darod tribe] led by Mr. Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the chairman of the Political and Defense Committee of the SSDF arrived on 16 May at 7:50 pm at the international airport in Mogadishu. The aim of the delegation's arrival was to hold follow up talks on the Addis Ababa agreement of Somali organizations and in particular, to help end the clashes among the brotherly peoples, who live in the central regions of our country and Kismaayo areas, with the Somali National Alliance [SNA] and especially the United Somali Congress [USC].
The delegation was warmly welcomed at Mogadishu international airport by Mr. Mohamed Farah Aidid, the SNA chairman, who is also the USC chairman, and Mr. Abdi Warsameh Isaaq, the SNA vice- chairman who is also the Southern Somali National Movement [SSNM] chairman. [passage omitted]
Mr. Mohamed Farah Aidid, who delivered a speech after the delegation arrived at the residence of the SSDF leaders, expressed his happiness at welcoming the delegations from the SSDF and SNDU on behalf of the SNA and especially the USC and its supporters.
Mr. Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed of the SSDF, who also spoke, expressed his thanks for the brotherly and lovely way in which he had been welcomed.
Mr. Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed gave a detailed report on the victories of the Addis Ababa agreement and the way it had brought change so far in bringing the Somali people together, in the unity and togetherness of Somali people, and their trust for one another. He said there was a need for the Somali peoples to consult one another on their unity and togetherness and to forge a united stand in implementing the agreement.
Mr. Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed also gave a briefing on how the SSDF and SNDU are ready to show how the Somali people can decide their own destiny, starting with bringing peace and opening up the settlements. Likewise, he mentioned that if the Somali people could reach a compromise through mutual consultations, then no one could harm its unity.
Mr. Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed answered a few queries, including the meaning and benefits of the Addis Ababa resolutions, the stage of development of UN Operation Somalia [UNOSOM] work in backing these resolutions, and the SSDFs state of internal unity. He said that the Addis Ababa decisions were very beneficial to the Somali people and hence there was a need for the people to play a big role in their implementation.
He said the degree of destruction of the country over the last two years was known and that before now the SSDF had never established constant relations with UNOSOM and hence could not assess its objectives toward this end. He added that the SSDF, which was the first organization to wage armed struggle against the dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, was still holding its own and likewise its internal unity was very good.
He stressed that the Somali people should forget the problems encountered in the past and should not follow them up but should rather now turn to work on ways to regain their sovereignty, mutual love, and unity. Present at the occasion were senior officials from the USC and SSDF.
Aydeed Interviewed on UN Role, Aid Situation
London AL- WASAT in Arabic
Jan 11, 1993 pp 21-22
[Interview with Somali "National Alliance Leader" Mohamed Farah Aydeed by Salah 'Abd-al-Rahim al-Amin in Mogadishu; date not given]
[Text] [Al-Amin] The fact that you and [Interim President] Ali Mahdi have, with U.S.-UN intervention, agreed to end the war is taken by some people to mean that, apart from tribal conflict and personal interests, that war had no aim or cause. Is that correct?
[Aydeed] I do not wish to talk about the past, but in Somalia tribal conflict over the social structure is the problem. Tribalism was created by former President Siyaad Barre. It is a cancer when mishandled. We have now made plans to end it, including a program for tribal unification. Actually, there were some initiatives by other countries to settle the conflict but some of them were biased toward certain parties to the conflict. That is why we did not accept them, as in the case of the recent initiatives of the OAU at its conference in Senegal.
[Al-Amin] You had opposed foreign intervention in Somalia, then you accepted it. What made you change your principled position?
[Aydeed] I did not oppose humanitarian aid for Somalia but I did oppose foreign intervention, especially by states which have vested interests in the Somali conflict or which were involved in it, such as Egypt, Italy, Nigeria, and Kenya. At any rate, I now do not oppose the U.S. and UN presence and I do believe that occupation or interference in our internal affairs is not an objective of that presence. That is my conviction now.
[Al-Amin] Will the Addis Ababa conference succeed in resolving Somalia's factional differences?
[Aydeed] We blame the United Nations for not consulting us on matters which concern us. It did not consult us on the type of forces sent to Somalia nor on the conferences held on Somalia nor on the new arrangements in the country. We believe that the Addis Ababa conference should be held in Somalia to give the Somalis a chance to hold a dialogue to solve their problems. The United Nations did not invite all the warring factions to the conference, bearing in mind that we had started a dialogue before the conference to unify positions. That could lead to division of ranks and failure of the national reconciliation efforts.
[Al-Amin] Your attitude towards the Arab states is unfriendly. Why?
[Aydeed] Contrary to our expectations, the Arab states did not provide the aid needed to fight famine and end the war. That made the Somalis somewhat bitter.
[Al-Amin] You had always said that you did not trust the UN supervision of the relief operations in Somalia. Why?
[Aydeed] We believe that the UN efforts are slow and inadequate. Furthermore, we do no know the size of the aid extended to Somalia through the United Nations nor how it is distributed. We want that to be done with our knowledge and participation. We have experts in that field. We wish the international community would increase humanitarian aid to us, not confining it strictly and directly to the United Nations. We also wish it would take the form of rehabilitation programs.
[Al-Amin] You have accused some neighboring states of supporting Siyaad Barre's forces. How big a threat do the pro-Barre forces pose to the current situation in the country?
[Aydeed] Siyaad Barre is in Nigeria but his forces, led by his son-in-law General Morgan, are creating problems for us on the borders with Kenya which gives them supplies, ammunition, and means of transport and which allows them to recruit soldiers in the Somali refugee camps north of Kenya. We have officially asked it to stop this aid, which undermines relations between the two countries and the situation in the Horn of Africa.
[Al-Amin] The Islamists in Somalia are convinced that the foreign intervention fundamentally targets them, and they oppose it as a matter of principle. Against that background, how do you view the country's future?
[Aydeed] The Somalis are 100 percent Muslims. We believe that Islamic unity should be achieved on the basis of a sound interpretation of religion. In the past, the Somali Islamic Union purchased arms on the open market to support Barre and they fought on his side against us but we defeated them. At any rate, I do not expect the Islamic Union to have a great effect on the country.
[Al-Amin] Some Jewish organizations claim that you have accepted Israeli humanitarian aid, particularly in the field of providing shelter for the refugees. Is that true?
[Aydeed] The Israeli offer of aid was submitted to the recent UN conference on Somalia held in Addis Ababa, not directly to us. We generally welcome any humanitarian aid to Somalia from any state. Israel has contributed $30 million to the UN relief effort in Somalia.
SOMALI GUNMEN DRIVE THROUGH THE STREETS OF THE CAPITAL MOGADISHU
Somalis loot U.N. barracks near the Mogadishu port