|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.
A U G U S T - S E P T E M B E R 1 9 9 1
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
Ali Mahdi Holds News Conference in Mogadishu
Mogadishu Radio Mogadishu in Somali
1700 GMT August 20, 1991
[President Ali Mahdi Mohamed's news conference with unidentified reporters held in Mogadishu; date not given-recorded]
[Reporter] Mr. President, my first question: The Djibouti conference has decided that the prime minister of the new government should come from the northern regions of the country. There is no clear statement in the media to the effect that the Somali National Movement has withdrawn their decision to secede, so what is the position of the new government on this?
[Mahdi] As you know, there were talks going on between us and the delegations which came from the northern regions. Some of the delegations have returned, but others are still here. I cannot say anything about the matter at the moment. We hope our brothers will join us and will withdraw the decisions they previously announced, but if this does not happen and they do not return at an appropriate time, then we will have to appoint a prime minister. [Words indistinct] it is still not clear how they are going to share the cabinet posts, but I am sure that they will share posts fairly. If my brothers return to the Republic, all their reasonable demands will be met.
[Reporter] Mr. President, when do you think the campaign against the Siyaad Barre remnants will start? Is it going to start after the formation of government troops or is there a short timetable?
[Mahdi] As you know, the fronts which are fighting for their just cause reached a clear agreement in Djibouti and they agreed to launch a fierce attack against Mohamed Siyaad Barre to capture him or to kill him wherever he is. He is outside the government administration. His plans warrant a counterattack. You will hear about the steps which will be taken against him very soon. [passage omitted]
[Reporter] Mr. President, you said that you will secure law and order. Can you tell me when weapons will be collected in the city in view of the fact that groups have come to an agreement?
[Mahdi] First when we start this action of collecting weapons in the town, we will start with anybody carrying arms in the streets, anybody who fires guns at random, anybody who drives armed cars in town. We will start the weapon gathering with these people so that the town is free of arms carried by people in the streets. When we have succeeded in this, we shall then start with those people who keep firearms in their homes or hide them elsewhere, and with those people we will take appropriate action.
Ali Mahdi on Rival Fighting in Mogadishu
London BBC World Service in English
1515 GMT September 13, 1991
[From the "Focus on Africa" program]
Yesterday on this program, General Aydid, commander of the USC [United Somali Congress] fighting forces in Somalia, who claims to be the USC's chairman, called for the resignation of the USC president of the interim government, Ali Mahdi. Factions supporting the two rivals were slugging it out on the streets of Mogadishu until a cease-fire on Tuesday [10 September] night, and a fresh outbreak of fighting threatened the Djibouti Agreement, under which the interim government has been set up. Well while he was in Mogadishu, our correspondent Peter Biles went in search of President Ali Mahdi and talked to him through an interpreter.
[Begin recording] [Biles] Mr. Ali Mahdi, I would like to ask you first of all what you think lies at the root of the conflict that has again erupted in Mogadishu over the past few days.
[Mahdi, in Arabic with simultaneous English translation] The fighting which has erupted in the past few days in the capital was due to a confrontation between loyal forces and other rebels forces which wanted to jeopardize the stability and the new political order of the country.
[Biles] By which you mean the forces of Gen. Aydid?
[Mahdi] Of course. These forces which have tried to jeopardize the stability and the new political order established in the country were forces loyal to Gen. Aydid.
[Biles] It seems that what is going on here at the moment is basically a power struggle.
[Mahdi] Yes it is true. It is a sort of power struggle, and they want to wrest the power and have the power, and take over the power not in a legal, political manner.
[Biles] Is it true to say that the control of Mogadishu is now divided, that Gen. Aydid's forces control some areas and that your supporters are in control of other sectors of the city?
[Mahdi] The capital today is in the hands of the National Armed Forces. It is entirely within the hands of our national Army today.
[Biles] But what about Gen. Aydid's men?
[Mahdi] The forces of Gen. Aydid have been compelled and pushed to their original barracks.
[Biles] So what happens now? There is a temporary cease-fire, but even as we speak there is gunfire going on the background. How are you going to resolve this particular problem?
[Mahdi] Except for sporadic gunfire, which could be heard around the capital, the situation is entirely now under our control.
[Biles] Have you made any effort to see Gen. Aydid and resolve the differences that exist?
[Mahdi] So far we have not met.
[Biles] Do you think you should so?
[Mahdi] Yes that is going to be necessary, and if it is going to be in the interest of peace and security of this country, I personally have no objection to meet him.
[Biles] What is your response to Gen. Aydid's insistence that you should resign?
[Mahdi] Personally I feel very unhappy to hear such affirmations from the side of Gen. Aydid. This is, I want to say is not something which has anything to do with the wish or the will of one person; it is something which depends on the wishes and the will of all those political forces which have agreed that I should be the president of Somalia for the coming period. At any time, whenever they decide that I should quit the power and I should go, I will do that but not because of the will of one person.
[Biles] What do you think is going on there at the moment?
[Mahdi] Is not necessarily a power struggle confrontation. [sentence as heard]
[Biles] There is some sort of confrontation as there is return of fire.
[Mahdi] It has nothing to do with power struggle. These shootings that you now hear, it is something maybe to do with the uncontrolled elements roaming around the capital [words indistinct]. [shots heard in background] [end recording]
SOMALI GUNMEN DRIVE THROUGH THE STREETS OF THE CAPITAL MOGADISHU
Somalis loot U.N. barracks near the Mogadishu port