|Zooming into the Past|
Factions and Their Moralizing Efforts:
Increasing Influence of Islamic Radicals Viewed
Pro-Aydeed Radio Supports Islamic Solution to Government Crisis
Northeast Officials Opt for Islamic Law
Pro-Aydeed Demonstrators Call for Shari’ a Law
Political Islam and Aydeed’s opportunism
Islamic Courts, Reconciliation Councils Viewed
In post-911 context, the possibility of Islamic clerics taking over Somalia has recently worried the West – particularly the US. It is primarily this fear that will lead the West to endorse the ambitions and plans of the warlords. This will give the warlords the capability (both financial and military hardware) to prolong the civil wars in Somalia. Such frantic post-911 scenario that the West might buy from the Somali warlords is not only misleading but also can have a negative impact on the long term security of the region.
As the Somali saying of “Fiqi Tolkii Kama Janna Tago” dictates us, there is a thin line between clan factions and Islamists in Somalia. The history of the emergence of clan-based political/ and armed factions illustrates that factions mobilized their clansmen by utilizing what Roobdoon Forum refers as Islamic Liberation Theology. Unfortunately, after lack of national consensus, these clan-based factions failed to create an all-inclusive government, which led to fifteen years of intensive but sporadic clan clashes, and ended up to establish Jiffo enclaves. These armed clan-based factions consider their enclaves as clan sovereignty while forgetting that the term sovereignty implies responsibility. Here are glimpses of notes (Part III) from Somali faction mobilization techniques:
Increasing Influence of Islamic Radicals Viewed
Paris L’ EXPRESS in French
1 Jan 1993 pp 28-30
[Article by Jean-Marc Gonin: “The Islamists Are Waiting for the Right Time”; first paragraph is L’EXPRESS introduction]
[Text] Humanitarian aid is strengthening the Islamic fundamentalists. Betting on the sufferings of the Somali people and the presence of foreign troops, the extremists are playing their own game.
Her frightened look moved the world. Millions of television viewers watched mob violence directed against Leyla Hassan Sadiq, who was being chased by an angry crowd in Mogadishu, which accused her of having had sexual relations with foreign soldiers. The suspicion had no foundation. The young Somali woman got out of this scrape without too much harm: a knife slash on the palm of her hand and another one on her shoulder. In the eyes of many people, it was just another incident. An outburst of “mob violence” of the kind that has occurred from Khartoum to Bangui and from Dakar to Dar es Salaam. This is particularly likely in a Somalia that has no laws, no police, no courts of justice, and where rumors have the force of evidence.
However, the violence unleashed against Leyla was a kind of signal. One may fear that it is only the first serious incident caused by the simultaneous presence of thousands of Western soldiers and a Muslim population. The “gal,” or white man, inspires distrust, scorn, and, at times, disgust. Already the Muslim Brotherhood is circulating leaflets that are calm in tone and contain no hatred. What do they say? Simply, that the presence of Western troops on Somali territory is an attack on “Qur’anic morality.” This is a moment to be remembered. Such warnings are enough to sow doubt and give credit to the worst slanders. Leyla, who had only accepted a bar of chocolate given to her by the Marines, was the first victim. Shortly after the attack on her she came to question even the sincerity of the feelings of those who criticized her. She said, “In fact, the men are jealous because we women necessarily have easier contact with the soldiers. It is envy that led them to attack me.”
Starlin Arush, cofounder of a movement for the defense of Somali women, fears this hypocrisy more than anything else. This young woman, who was engaged in vocational training in Turin just two years ago, is totally involved in social and humanitarian aid for her fellow Somalis. In her view the fundamentalists are now looking for ways to gain power. The civil war, which plunged the country into divisions, anarchy, misery, and famine, served to strengthen their propaganda by presenting religion as a force for bringing people together and restoring public order. In opposing the struggles between clans, they say, “Our clan is Islam.” Starlin Arush predicts that the massive intervention of foreign forces will increase their influence. Using the pretext that this is a return to colonialism and playing on nationalist feelings, they lie in wait.
In Medina, the old residential area of Mogadishu where until now the worst disorders and mob rule have been the order of the day, Muslim law is now being applied. According to a doctor in a hospital, Qur’anic law began to be applied about six weeks ago. A council of sheikhs, a kind of court in Medina, reportedly hands down sentences without any right of appeal. Thieves have a hand cut off. The death penalty is given to murderers. Hassan, a young geologist, said: “This is a good thing. The population, the honest people, support the application of Muslim law. They are tired of being robbed and attacked without any authority to turn to. I hope that this practice will spread to the whole city.”
In Mogadishu the status of women is deteriorating. Starlin Arush said: “Previously, under Siyaad Barre, women were well-integrated into society. They worked, they dressed in Western style, and they received, by law, the same salary as men for doing the same thing.” As a consequence of the civil war they now stay home. Their husbands, serving in the various militia forces or killed in combat, have left them to carry all of the burdens of their families. And intolerance against them has rather quickly appeared: now they wear traditional clothing, cover their hair, and have totally disappeared from public view. Starlin Arush said: “Islam, however much it gives broad freedom to women, has been turned into an instrument for alienating us.”
Somalia never practiced its religion with any great devotion. Although they are followers of the Sunni tradition of Islam, many Somalis continue to observe “pagan” ceremonies from their nomad past, which have nothing in common with the message of the Prophet. The fundamentalist movements have had difficulty in establishing themselves, all the more so since they are in conflict with clan institutions. This is a source of friction incompatible with their efforts to spread their views. However, as in other Muslim countries and thanks to the support of foreign countries (such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Sudan), the message of the Islamists is beginning to be heard.
A Well-Defined Strategy
Marka, a port on the Indian Ocean 150 km south of Mogadishu, appears to be one of the strong points of al-Ittihad, the most radical of the fundamentalist groups in the country. Its “bearded” supporters control the port and the hospital. They have opened an elementary school and a military training camp. A year of work and a well-defined strategy were enough to enable them to reach their objective. According to an eyewitness, a volunteer worker for a humanitarian organization, it all began early in December 1991 with the arrival of a bus. Fighting had devastated the capital, and a number of refugees chose to flee to this old port where Portuguese vessels once moored. About 100 persons were crowded in on the benches of the bus. From the time they arrived they expressed their faith. Devoutly attending the mosques, they gave violent sermons against the infidels.
Very few people understood then that these were Islamic fundamentalists. The majority of the people were attracted by their message of peace. People thought of them as saviors. They announced that they wanted to disarm the people and arrest the looters. They were well dressed and always behaved very well. They know how to make themselves appreciated. Their appearance is in contrast with that of people who arrive from Mogadishu, dressed in rags. They are full of zeal and, together with local personalities, were given responsibility for the management of port activity.
They were immediately successful. Thanks to port charges assessed on shipments-300 million Somali shillings, or about 45,000 French francs per ship-they rapidly grew rich. Although, at first, they did not have more than a few rifles, three months later they had three “technical cars” (four-wheel-drive vehicles with a heavy machine gun mounted on top). Before the American landing they had seven “technicals.” Revenues from port duties and protection money collected from the local office of the International Red Cross (International Committee of the Red Cross) made it possible for al-Ittihad to acquire this respectable arsenal. It is said that this flotilla of “technicals” faded away toward Ethiopia shortly before Operation “Restore Hope” was launched. About 300 members of the organization live in Marka and are being trained for combat. This is really a small army. Other camps are reportedly spread out elsewhere in the country, including Mogadishu.
The deployment of men from al-Ittihad along the coast has been reported in several places: in Boosaaso, in the northeastern part of Somalia, in Baraawe, where they also collect taxes from unloading ships, and in Kismaayo, the large port in the south, where their influence is still limited. Their activity as “tax collectors” has also led them to set themselves up in several customs posts along the Ethiopian border.
It appears that al-Ittihad has solid support in Sudan and in Iran. Last week the Iranian radio service began a program in Somali in which it used the tested techniques of propaganda on the air. In these broadcasts Western soldiers are accused of all kinds of misconduct, and humanitarian organizations are said to harbor the darkest of intentions. On its hit parade of slander are allegations of the forced Christianization of Muslim orphans. This is a rumor that is already circulating throughout the country.
Although it is already present on the scene, the Somali fundamentalist movement is not (yet) in a position to impose its will on the country. The clan chiefs remain in control. These “warlords” profit both from the loyalty of their soldiers and divisions among the fundamentalists. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood criticizes the paramilitary activity of al-Ittihad. Abdul Kadir Mohamed Kutub, one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, said: “Taking power by force of arms is not a solution.” These reasonable views are shared for the moment by an immense majority of the people, provided the Marines and the foreign Legion do not stay in Somalia too long.
Pro-Aydeed Radio Supports Islamic Solution to Government Crisis
(Clandestine pro-Aydeed radio)
Radio Mogadishu Voice of the Great Somali People in Somali
1700 GMT 26 Mar 1994
[Commentary by Farah Mohamed Dur Gube; read by Khadijah Mohamed Jim’aleh]
[Excerpts] Over 30 years ago Somalia achieved its independence from the European colonizers. Our country was ruled by various governments which were all oppressors and not founded on Islam. The last of these was that of the dictator Siyaad Barre. [passage omitted] Following these corrupt governments, Somalia underwent four years of chaos with no law and order, and was beset by many problems. [passage omitted]
Almighty and powerful Allah has prescribed a comprehensive constitution to govern the universe we live in. There is no doubt that whoever deviates from Allah’s constitution in favor of a manmade one and follows the crooked path which Satan has made deceptively alluring will lose out and perish. [passage omitted]
How, then, can this 34-year old problem be resolved? It is simple. The solution is to follow the holy Koran, which is the constitution revealed by God to administer this world. There is no doubt that God will help and will save whoever follows his path and distances himself from the commands of the jinni and human devils. [passage omitted] Therefore, we should live and govern ourselves. Sincerely in accordance with Allah’s book in order to achieve success both in this world and the next.
Northeast Officials Opt for Islamic Law
Mogadishu Voice of the Somali Republic in Somali
1100 GMT 29 Jan 1995
Mohamed Abshir Mussa, the vice chairman for defense in the Somali Salvation Alliance, SSA, and the chairman of the Somali Salvation Democratic Front, SSDF, met politicians, well-informed people, intellectuals, and the council of administration for the northeastern regions of Somalia at the headquarters of Boqor [traditional Somali king] Abdullahi Boqor Mussa in Boosaaso.
During the meeting, the vice chairman and officials discussed the current situation in the country, agreements reached and the role SSA supporters should play in the implementation and application of Shari’a Law.
The SSDF officials in the northeastern regions of Somalia agreed that Islamic Shari’a should be implemented in their area, the book of Allah should be respected, and Islamic courts operating in accordance with the book of Allah should open as soon as possible.
The report from northeastern Somalia adds that a rally in support of a way of life in line with Islamic Shari’a was held at the football stadium in Boosaaso, the capital city of the northeastern regions of Somalia under the (? leadership) of officials from the region.
Pro-Aydeed Demonstrators Call for Shari’a Law
Paris AFP in English
1438 GMT 23 Feb 1995
[By Hugh Nevill]
Mogadishu, Feb 23 (AFP) - Some 4,000 residents of south Mogadishu demonstrated Thursday [23 February] for the introduction of Islam’s harsh Shari’a law as militiamen ignored an agreement to take guns and battle-wagons off the streets.
The chants at the October 21 parade ground in favour of Shari’a law, with its public whippings, amputations and execution by stoning, were led by Moslem imams.
The crowd, most of them supporters of south Mogadishu warlord Mohamed Farah Aydeed, also chanted support for the demilitarization agreement he reached Tuesday with north Mogadishu strongman Ali Mahdi Mohamed, and speakers warned a US-led task force protecting the withdrawal of UN troops not to remain any longer than necessary. [passage omitted]
Sporadic fighting there since last September has left more than 100 dead. A local peace agreement was signed between elders on January 31-the eighth such accord for Bermuda.
Ali Mahdi, himself an Abgal, has introduced Shari’a law in the north, and the Abgals have also introduced it in the area of Bermuda that they control and in the south Mogadishu enclave of Medina, where the Abgals chased out the Murusades last December after fierce battles. Residents say the harsh punishments have made those areas safe for ordinary people, who no longer fear theft on the streets.
Elsewhere in Somalia, where virtually all residents are Sunni Moslems, Shari’a law is applied only in the small town of Luq in the southwest. It is inhabited by Marehans.
Aydeed has not committed himself publicly on the issue. The peace agreement signed by Aydeed and Ali Mahdi on Tuesday bans all weapons from the streets and confines battle-wagons to designated zones.
But the cars traveling the streets of this battered city were still bristling with guns Thursday, as usual, and the “technicals,” pick-up trucks carrying heavy machine guns, were still cruising.
Occasional volleys of warning rifle-fire rang out in the streets, and at the gates of the UN-controlled airport Pakistani troops fired in the air to deter would-be looters.
Another 485 Pakistani UN troops flew out Thursday, bringing the force down to 4,200, almost all from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The last 2,500 troops are due to leave on Tuesday as US and Italian marines protect their rear against any attacks by Somali militias. Troops from the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Pakistan and- Malaysia are standing by aboard an 18-vessel armada offshore.
The marines will leave in the first few days of March after embarking tanks and other heavy equipment.
US and UN troops – 30,000 strong at their peak – arrived here in late 1992 to halt looting of aid going to victims of a devastating famine and to try to restore peace to Somalia-, which has been without a government since the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siyaad Barre in January 1991. Clan fighting since before Siyaad Barre’s ouster has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Somalis.
The US troops withdrew in March last year after becoming embroiled in the fighting and losing 36 men. The UN troops, who are leaving Somalia much as they found it, have lost 121 men.
Political Islam and Aydeed’s opportunism
London AL-MAJALLAH in Arabic
15-21 Oct 1995 pp 40-41
[Report by ‘Afaf Zyn]
London - When the UN Security Council decided to end the UN operation in Somalia on 31 March, its decision won unanimous support. It was described as “a turning point in Somalia’s history” and the history of the United Nations. Resolution 954 addressed a political message to the commanders and leaders of the Somali factions that “the United Nations and its member states have become impatient with political games,” particularly after the UN ‘Restore Hope’ operation had accomplished its objective in ending starvation. The United Nations urged the warlords in Somalia to exercise a national sense of responsibility and achieve a solution to take their country out of the ruins of civil war. The ‘Restore Hope’ operation in Somalia, at the beginning of December 1992, was led by American forces. These forces arrived at Mogadishu’s shores at the height of a chaotic situation caused by armed confrontations between Somali militias, united by their desire to topple President Siyaad Barre’s regime. President Barre’s rule ended on 27 January 1991 after 22 years in power. During this period, Somalia became a member of the Arab League and established close relations with the Red Sea countries, led by Saudi Arabia.
Seven :Months after the withdrawal of the UN forces, including the U.S. forces, from Somalia on 31 March and the Somali leaders’ assumption of power, all signs indicate that an almost certain confrontation will again take place between the warlords and yesterday’s allies, Gen. Mohamed Farah Aydeed and interim President Ali Mahdi Mohamed. Because Somalia enjoys an important strategic position in the Red Sea area, attention in the Gulf Cooperation Council states, Egypt, and the North African belt is again focusing on this country where developments can have different effects on the Horn of Africa region, which is vital to regional security and peace.
Two weeks before the UN forces began withdrawing from Somalia, Robert Oakley, special envoy of Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton to Somalia, stated in Nairobi that “following the withdrawal of the UN forces, the situation in Somalia could deteriorate to something similar to the violence in Afghanistan.” When ALMAJALLAH asked him to clarify what he meant, he said: “The Somali factions, including Gen. Farah Aydeed, must quickly reach a new formula to share power and rebuild the country’s institutions. Otherwise, the institutional vacuum in the country, coupled with the political vacuum - in the absence of an executive authority acceptable to all the parties - will lead the country to a dangerous situation similar to what exists in Afghanistan. There, factions united by their resistance to foreign presence began fighting each other when the Soviets departed, because they were anxious to divide the Soviet occupier’s legacy.” One of Oakley’s noticeable activities during the relief conference in Nairobi was his meeting with Aydeed. The strange thing was that a few months before this meeting, retired Admiral Jonathan Howe, the UN secretary general’s special envoy to Somalia, offered a $25,000 reward to anyone leading to Aydeed’s arrest. The command of the UN forces had accused Aydeed of being responsible for the armed ambush in Mogadishu, on 8 June 1993, in which eight U.S. marines were killed. Aydeed’s supporters opened fire at the American soldiers at the height of the hostilities in Somalia, which spread in response to inflammatory slogans by Aydeed. He was implementing a plan to win the support of the Somali people, who are inflamed by hot political slogans, at a time when all political values had been destroyed with the fall of the first and the last president of a free and united Somalia.
From a fugitive who disappeared from the sight of UN forces to a “national leader” busy recasting his role at the expense of the people’s sufferings, Aydeed changed several political roles within a few months. The Somali National Alliance (the grouping of pro-Aydeed factions) held a conference in southern Mogadishu on 25 June 1995. At the end of this conference, the alliance announced the appointment of Aydeed as president of Somalia for three years and authorized him to extend his term by another two years, if necessary. Aydeed’s government won Libya’s recognition when it was announced. What is strange is that the notables of the Habr Gedir – Sa’ad sub-clan, to which Aydeed belongs, held a conference four days earlier and removed Aydeed from his post as chairman of the United Somali Congress, the political framework of this tribe. Interim President Ali Mahdi rejected the election of his opponent, Aydeed, describing the whole affair as “a comedy that will not help solve the situation in this vital part of the Arab and African worlds.”
Despite this rejection with which Aydeed’s ambitious plan was met by his clansmen and later by his political rival, interim President Ali Mahdi, Aydeed has continued with his plan, undisturbed, relying on an international blessing, which he apparently won during his meeting with American envoy Robert Oakley on the sidelines of the relief conference in Nairobi. Considering the famous political saying that “there are no permanent friendships, but only permanent interests,” is it in the interest of the United States for Somalia to witness the birth of the second modern state at the hands of Aydeed? What reasons make the U.S. Administration want to cooperate with Aydeed and help him rebuild the Somali state when earlier it supported the UN decision to declare Aydeed an outlaw and to offer a fat financial reward for anyone leading to his arrest?
More than a month before Aydeed declared his state in southern Mogadishu and during a news conference he held in the Somali capital on 13 May, the Somali Islamic organization “Jihad-al-Islam” threatened to launch a war against all the factions if they do not find a solution to the political impasse in Somalia within two months. A spokesman for Jihad-al-Islam said at a news conference that “the Islamic organizations will declare a holy struggle [al jihad al-muqaddas] to liberate the country, save the Somali people, and establish the rule of Islamic law [Shari’a].” Shaykh Abbas Bin Omar, the Jihad al-Islam’s spokesman, called on all the Somali Islamic factions to unite under one banner to launch the holy struggle. He noted that “thousands of youths have begun arriving at the headquarters of the Islamic organizations offering to defend the interests of the simple people, who have become the fuel in the warlords’ struggle for power and gains.” Shaykh Abbas Bin Omar said that his organization constitutes “a new authority, which emerged at the appropriate time to save the Somali people from the disasters of civil war.” The Jihad-al-Islam’s spokesman revealed that his organization has obtained “complete support from the Taliban Movement in Afghanistan and other neighboring states,” which he did not name.
The emergence of a political Islam movement in Somalia and the announcement that it is ready to play a serious political role to rebuild the state was one of the most significant political developments in this country, where state institutions fell with the fall of its first president after independence. The Somali people are mostly Muslim, living in rural areas where tribal institutions play a vital role in running their social and political lives. Religious organizations never clashed with the government security authorities during Siyaad Barre’s rule. Religious societies worked for the public interest. They were involved in social activity. They had no political ambitions to play a national role and become an influential player in the political arena. With the fall of Siyaad Barre’s regime and the outbreak of civil war, all the warlords burned their cards, leading to the creation of a dangerous political vacuum. This situation worsened with the unexpected UN decision to withdraw from Somalia. This political vacuum was created before Somalia could stand on its feet again to rebuild itself and restore the state institutions under a strong central government that would spare the country the evil of division into small states, such as the Northern Somali State, which revived the Northeastern Somali State in 1993. Thousands of Somalis have escaped from the militias and from hunger and sickness on small boats to Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
Therefore, it was not surprising, in this atmosphere, to see the emergence of political Islam movements in Somalia, led by the Jihad-al-Islam Movement. They embarked on an ambitious national role to rebuild the state institutions, aided by their humble experience and guided by political principles suggested by the Taliban Movement or other Islamic governments in the region or the Islamic world. A review of the struggle in Somalia shows that political Islam movements in the country have blatantly and illegitimately been subjected to Aydeed’s opportunism. One month after the UN “Restore Hope” operation began in Somalia, the political Islam movements, in November 1992, adopted a strategic decision to secretly establish an alliance with Aydeed to fight the U.S. and UN presence in Somalia. They did not want to make this public to avoid several problems. This strategy served Aydeed’s interests. He was planning to confront the UN and the American forces to force them to recognize him as the sole party in Somalia to succeed Siyaad Barre. This alliance continued while the UN forces were in Somalia. When the United Nations began planning to withdraw its forces and preparations were made for Somali peace talks in Addis Ababa, Aydeed surprisingly arrived in Ethiopia on board an American military aircraft. A U.S. Marine force also accompanied him to the airport in Mogadishu and made sure he got on the American military aircraft parked on the runway. All the observers who attended the Somali reconciliation conference in Ethiopia realized that Aydeed’s political role was taking a new turn with Washington’s blessings. The United States changed its position toward the primary warlord in Somalia, thinking it was dealing with an established fact. After he used the Islamic groups to fight the UN forces and obtain recognition, Aydeed turned against these groups during the Addis Ababa conference, promising to remove them from any political function to rebuild Somalia.
Some Eritrean and Ethiopian sources say that Aydeed promised to give the U.S. Administration all the information it needed about the political Islam movements in Somalia and in the Horn of Africa states. A few days after the conference in Addis Ababa, U.S. President Bill Clinton sent an important message to Secretary of State Warren Christopher, which, according to THE WASHINGTON POST, said that “the American aid to establish the Somali police force will come from the 1994 budget for peacekeeping operations. We have decided to provide $12 million for the establishment of the police force in Somalia.”
According to the latest reports from Somalia, citing people who have recently arrived in London, Aydeed has begun taking several measures to consolidate his authority. The destroyed ministries’ buildings have been restored to house his government’s administration. Ministers in Aydeed’s government have begun reporting to work regularly every morning. Aydeed’s police forces have begun collecting the heavy weapons from the tribal militias that supported him. The heavy equipment and weapons will be painted in one color in preparation for the establishment of a single Somali Army. Former police officers and army soldiers are being regrouped, and centers have been opened for their training and rehabilitation. Aydeed’s private militia has undergone training and has been turned into a force for his personal protection. On the administrative level, reports from Mogadishu indicate that Aydeed has imposed taxes on many imported goods and private property. At the same time, Aydeed pumped about 50 billion Somali shillings ($5 million) into the money market to revive trade and the economy. At the beginning of October, the Islamic Conference Organization convened a conference for all Somali factions in Jeddah. Aydeed himself did not attend the conference, but he sent a delegation. This conference ended with an important political statement, calling for a preparatory conference in Somalia before the end of November to form an acceptable national government and try to end the war between the clans. The conference also called for the adoption of the Shari’a as a source of legislation in Somalia.
AL-MAJALLAH asked Ali Hassan, a prominent Aydeed adviser in London, why the general did not attend the Jeddah conference. He said: “The general received an invitation addressed to him as the leader of the United Somalia Congress and not as the legitimate president of the country.” The strangest thing in Aydeed’s behavior is that he is a president striving for legitimacy that he does not have. Will Aydeed’s sole legitimacy be the irreversible legitimacy?
Islamic Courts, Reconciliation Councils Viewed
London AL-MAJALLAH in Arabic
15-21 Oct 1995 p 30
[Report by ‘Umar al-Ansari]
Mogadishu - The new phenomenon that has begun to impose itself on the Somali political scene is the Islamic courts. They have begun proving themselves, although they have been in existence for no more than three years.
Shaykh Sharif Muhidin, president of the Somali Shari’a courts, has affirmed that the Shari’a courts are the only thing that can lead Somalia to safety, after all the agreements have failed. He noted that the Shari’a is the only thing on which the Somalis agree.
Shaykh Muhidin added that what these courts have accomplished in such a short time shows that the Somali Muslim people have accepted them. It is noteworthy that the Islamic courts, which began operating in Mogadishu, have gradually spread to many provinces, particularly in the center, the south, and the northeast.
Some Muslim ulama’ have reservations regarding the Shari’a courts, because, they think, only a judge can apply the Shari’a. This is something that Somalia lacks by virtue of its circumstances. However, the Somalis object to this, insisting that these courts were established by people who can interpret the Shari’a. They also say that the people accept them. Had it not been for these courts, there would have been no stability and the gangs would have continued to carry out their criminal actions. The Somali reconciliation councils also have played a big role on the popular level. They continue to carry out different activity. There are two reconciliation councils in Somalia. One of them is the Somali Reconciliation Council, which Somali academicians have established. Dr. Abdirahman Maalin, a Canadian citizen, is the chairman of this council. His deputy is Dr. Ali Shaykh Ahmed Abukar, a professor at the (former) King Sa’ud University in Saudi Arabia.
The two men mobilized a number of Somali academicians, notables, and scholars. The council has achieved big successes on the popular level. It has so far persuaded many Somalis to abandon violence and tribal fanaticism. The council holds reconciliation meetings between conflicting parties. It has prevented war between two tribes after one of them kidnapped a child of the sultan of the other tribe.
Council Chairman Dr. Abdirahman Maalin says that the council is undertaking its work gradually from the bottom upward. Dr. Maalin hopes that the council would achieve a comprehensive reconciliation among the various Somali tribes within a very short time.
The second group working for reconciliation is composed of notables and sultans. The Somali Reconciliation Council seeks the help of this group, which is controlled by lawyers from the Habr Gedir tribe, to which Aydeed belongs. This group has also achieved big successes. It has initiated a reconciliation between the two main warlords, Ali Mahdi and Aydeed. Its chairman Dr. Hasan Dambal has confirmed that the council has secured an agreement in principle from Ali Mahdi to accept the solution the Somali notables will work out. However, Aydeed still represents an obstacle to their efforts. Dr. Dambal confirms that if Aydeed refuses to accept the council’s solution within the next three months, the council and the Habr Gedir tribe will abandon him. According to Dr. Dambal, Aydeed is a general commanding a tribe and not an army. The tribe lends him support. If he rejects peace, the tribe will definitely abandon him.