has been one depressing month, has it not? The war in Iraq,
the deadly disease SARS outbreak, the unusual freezing April
weather here in North America and on top of it all the lack
of progress at the Nairobi Talks.
up in the morning and scan the international media and you
discover that all other major world events, except the war
in Iraq, are relegated to the back burner as if they are not
away. Call me when this is over," I murmured to my computer
and switched it off.
situation is like Somalia repeating itself over and over.
Even our Website here
recently made the comparison in a commentary and the way I
understand the comparison is indeed striking. Good news and
bonanza for the looters. But lousy news for the decent Iraqi
people, who, like the masses in Somalia, long to see their
country return to a semblance of normalcy after the "smart"
Mogadishu shade, the Washington Post newspaper said.
in Mogadishu, thieves armed with AK-47 assault rifles are
breaking into homes, stores and ministries, walking away with
everything, from furniture, brand new passports (from the
ministry of foreign affairs) to clothes, cash, jewelry and
read this comparison so many times in the coming weeks it
would make you think you are in Mogadishu. You will see television
footages of the toppling the statues of Saddam Hussein and
cheering Iraqi crowds replayed endlessly, reminding the American
people of their President's strategic leadership.
the looters would give up their looting spree. Maybe there's
nothing worth stealing anymore. But, unlike the Somali Mooryaan,
the Iraqi looters may or may not help themselves with the
electric and telephone wires or the underground water pipes.
Not yet, but the recipe for more disaster is still there,
unless the US Marines and the Special Forces, with the help
of the disintegrated Iraqi Police Force, to do de facto police
work, just as they tried in Mogadishu in 1993 but woefully
failed, because of a change of heart in the Pentagon.
was that there were more weapons than the population of Somalia,
a country the size of Texas, the honchos in the Pentagon said.
was a mountain of relief food at Mogadishu Airport because
it was too dangerous to distribute. The same image was apparent
at Basra, Iraq's second largest city after Baghdad, and we
have seen pictures of starving and thirsty Iraqis fighting
over water and food. But the British army who occupied the
city refused to be tolerant of looting and lawlessness, and
we could clearly hear British soldiers uttering the four letter
words, "Get the fuck out, or I'll shoot!" And they
Brits, unlike the Americans in Baghdad have been trying to
stabilize the situation in Basra after nasty shootouts. Some
say the British are expert in Iraq because it was their colony
in the 18th Century or was it the 19th?
the British army had appointed a tribal chief, "determined
to be credible" and provides civilian leadership. Another
faction/clan leader, Somalia-style? Just wondering.
punch to their stiff upper lip promise of self-rule the British
Army created a cordon sanitaire around Basra and Najaf, because
as far as they were concerned, almost every Iraqi was a potential
Saddam Hussein sympathizer at heart.
probably right. Sporadic gunfire by snipers on rooftops continued
in the shantytowns, unabated.
In Somalia there is no worse comparison.
haven't stomped on crispy banknotes and shiny coins you missed
the train. I had the thrill of walking on them in front of
the gutted Somali National Bank in 1991, and the feeling was
surreal, so perfect, I had to step on millions of brand new
100 shilling banknotes to feel them myself, to convince myself
it is not carpet. The feeling makes your head spin
and laugh at the same time.
recall how you had slaved a whole month just to earn some
of these pieces of papers, and now they are as worthless as
toilet papers. The Iraqis must have watched on their TV screens
in 1991 Somali looters throwing these banknote in the air
like confetti. And now they are replicating them.
the British Prime Minister Tony Blair will have an encounter
with Homer Simpson in London. The Prime Minister will star
as an animated version of himself in an episode of The Simpsons
to read a few lines for the hit American cartoon TV series.
So much for a stiff upper lip!
THE BRIGHT STAR IN BAGHGDAD
opinions and views vary in a war, depending on what media
you are getting your information from, or who is reporting
them, but I will say kudos to Raage Omaar, our boy in Baghdad.
He beat off the so-called veteran war correspondents with
his first class scoops. He certainly deserves a Pulitzer Prize
for his unwavering live dispatches from a very dangerous environment.
Undaunted by the bunk bursting missiles exploding around him,
Raage continues to report the war day in and day out and we
wish him a safe return to his family and friends.
Raage Omaar, the highly respected British daily The Observer
said: "Confronted by daily news broadcast that details
the killing each other -the British public can be relied upon
to focus on some bright star. In this war that bright star
is the Somali born Raage Omaar. Little wonder his fan clubs
is growing, here and in the US."
the Somali Peace Talks that have been baffling many of us
since October last year, but now it seems that the only piece
of news coming from the warthog infested Mbagathi is the transition
of Farah Sindaco from the sports ground to the political arena
as another faction leader.
new about that: remember there is already full house of warlords/faction
leaders with only standing room left, and that one more faction
leader would make no difference, only to prolong the shouting
Welcome aboard, Farah Sindaco!
Afrah © 2003
Mr. Afrah is an outspoken Author/Journalist and
a member of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
He contributes hard-hitting articles to Canadian and international
newspapers and magazines on the Somalia situation "through
the eyes of a man who covered the country for more than two
Many of us remember his critical articles in his
weekly English language HEEGAN newspaper, despite a mandatory
self-censorship introduced by Guddiga Baarista Hisbiga Xisbiga
Hantiwadaagga Somaaliyeed in 1984 and the dreaded NSS. I am
very proud to know that Mr. Afrah openly defied the draconian
censorship laws and went ahead to write what he thought was
wrong in the country. He received several death threats from
the warlords and was briefly held hostage by gunmen in 1993.
But he remained defiant and continued to send his stories
of carnage and destruction to Reuters news agency. He still