|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.
M A R C H 1 9 9 1
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
PM Arteh Ghalib: I Am the SNM, I Created It in 1964
London BBC World Service in English
1709 GMT 21 March 1991
[From the "Focus on Africa" program]
Somalia's interim Prime Minister, Omar Arteh Ghalib, has been appealing for massive international aid to reconstruct Somalia after the fall of Siyaad Barre. He is going ahead in spite of the fact that the interim government set up by USC [United Somali Congress] rebels when they captured Mogadishu early last month has not been recognized by other rebel movements which opposed Siyaad Barre and that efforts to call a roundtable conference have come to nothing. Well, Omar Arteh Ghalib is in Saudi Arabia at the moment and he saw King Fahd last night. On the line, Robin White asked Omar Arteh how he got on:
[Ghalib] Well, it was a great pleasure for me to see King Fahd, His Majesty King Fahd, and after such a long absence, and I must say that it was not only asking for help, but also for consultations, and I am very happy to say that he was responsive both to the discussions we had on consultations regarding our crisis and the aid for which we have asked.
[White] What aid did you ask from him?
[Ghalib] Well, what we mostly need for our people is fuel and food and telecommunications. We are completely isolated. We have no telephone links, no telex links. All the telecommunications have been disrupted. So these are the three pressing needs: fuel, food, telecommunications, and then ordinary development projects that have been suspended.
[White] Has he offered you fuel for free?
[Ghalib] Well, I do not want to comment on that, but I must say that our discussions were very fruitful. He was very responsive to our needs, and I am absolutely satisfied.
[White] And what about help with telecommunications? What have the Saudis done there?
[Ghalib] Well, we are still holding the discussions now. The minister of telecommunications is with me on the delegation, and he is going to have discussions with his counterpart, and we are – I am optimistic that what we need and what we have asked for will be forthcoming.
[White] Presumably, you are asking for money. I mean, you are not going to put a lot of telephones in a suitcase and take them back with you to Somalia, are you?
[Ghalib] Well, not in that sense. These telecommunications are to resume connections with the outside world, but not... [changes thought] What we need is too big to be taken in our pockets.
[White] Does the Saudi Government recognize you as the legitimate government of Somalia, because there is a lot of dispute in Somalia itself as to whether you are the legitimate government or not. Do they recognize you...
[Ghalib, interrupting] Mr. White, we are not wasting time to know whether a certain government recognizes us or not. That is absolutely a waste of time. What we are concentrating on is to help our people, our helpless people who have been evicted from their homes, whose homes have been destroyed, whose properties have been looted. This is what we are concerned with. We are not talking about recognition.
[White] I asked about this question of recognition because I understand that other Somali movements, like the Somali National Movement [SNM], which controls most of northern Somalia, they have also been going around asking for money and help with communications, that kind of thing. Does it worry you that other movements are doing that?
[Ghalib] It does not worry us because there is no one, none of them can claim that he is more SNM than I am. I am the SNM, I created it in 1964, it was my party, and it was revived in 1981, and I was sentenced to death, as you know, for supporting that movement. So why should I wage a campaign against myself? We welcome... [changes thought] Both the president and myself have declared that any help that comes to Somalia should go both ways, both to the north and to the south. But it is only natural that any help that comes from a friendly country should be channeled through the government.
Prime Minister on Domestic Conditions, Ties
London AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT in Arabic
20 March 1991 p 3
[Interview with Somali Prime Minister 'Umar 'Artah Ghalib
Ghalib by Sayyid Ahmad Khalifah in Jeddah; date not given]
[Khalifah] What is the aim of your current visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?
[Ghalib] This is our first visit to the fraternal country since the end of Siyaad Barre's rule. In fact it is the first time I have left the country as prime minister. Of course the aim is to brief the brothers here, especially Custodian of the Two Holy Places King Fahd Bin-'Abd-al-'Aziz, on the realities and the details of conditions in our country in order to study them in detail and discuss the possibility of helping us urgently so as to salvage Somalia and what is left of its people.
[Khalifah] How are conditions in your country at present?
[Ghalib] Actually we have made huge efforts to salvage the country's security and stability since conditions have calmed down. We do not want to deceive to ourselves or others by saying that we have been successful in that regard. There is still resistance in the South, conducted by the group belonging to the ousted president, Siyaad Barre. But despite the existence of these security problems, the people and the government are determined to return life to normal. You can sense people's determination to return to the cities and to pursue their daily lives in trade and agriculture.
[Khalifah] Why did your efforts fail to convene the national conference in time? What is your reply to the accusations that you formed the present government without any consultation?
[Ghalib] The conference was postponed because we did not reach a final agreement with the other Somali forces. Its postponement does not signify any failure or indicate an explosive situation. The postponement proves that there are great hopes for the Somalis' unity. We not only formed a government, but also sought to establish an urgent national salvation situation. So we immediately started making contacts in order to lay the foundations for transitional and permanent rule through the national conference. If the conference convenes today and decides the shape of transitional rule, we will welcome those chosen by the Somali national forces to lead national action. We do not insist on remaining in power. We insist that matters should not be left to the haphazardness, chaos, and risks which were bound to prevail after the collapse of Siyaad Barre's rule and his escape!
[Khalifah] How do you view your country's political future in terms of the form of system?
[Ghalib] The definite option is a democratic multiparty system. This is clear in all the forces' programs. But the details, the definition of the stages, and other such matters are left to the national conference, which must be held, whatever the obstacles. This, because there can be no stability, security, and peace in Somalia without it.
[Khalifah] You are known to have problems with Ethiopia over Ogaden, and this could justify some of the Ethiopian concerns when a change or a transformation takes place in your country. But why does Kenya help the Siyaad Barre regime, when its political system leans toward democracy, in contrast to the Barre regime?
[Ghalib] Actually we are astonished by the Kenyan position. I do not conceal the fact that we have warned, and continue to warn, Kenya about the consequences of its unjust behavior. To resolve this matter we have sent our foreign minister, who is in Nairobi now, to deliver a message in that regard to President Daniel Arap Moi. We believe that Kenyan elements with vested interests lie behind the adoption of that policy, which harms relations between the two countries. As for Ethiopia, we are also trying to build new relations with it and to reach an understanding on all issues.
Somalis loot U.N. barracks near the Mogadishu port