Is the Game Over in Mogadishu?

Abdinasir Hussein Moallin
Mysore, India

It's hard to believe that Qanyare is no longer the strong man and the popular " president" of Dayniile District. The leader of counter-terrorism Alliance is on the run, and nobody knows his whereabouts. Jowhar? Ceelbuur? Godey? Addis Ababa? Tora Bora (Afghanistan)? I really don't know. For those who care about him please contact the nearest ICRC tracing office or the head of the BBC's Somali service.

Where is Yalahow? Any idea? Is he in KAARAAN? Madiino? Wherever he is Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed wants him DEAD or ALIVE.

It seems that UNHCR has some work to do in Southern Somalia. Internally Displaced Warlords are on the rise. According to the BBC, nine of the 11 Mogadishu-based warlords have now fled the city.

The news from Mogadishu has never been more interesting. The capital city without warlords? Are we sure? If this is true we have something to celebrate.

As a person from Mogadishu, a victory over criminal warlord deserves celebration. But I don't want to celebrate without full knowledge of what's really happened and who the main actors are.

What I know, so far, is that, hundreds lost their lives, and about 2, 000 injured in the past month. There are two rival alliances. The Islamic Courts and the US-backed secular warlords. The Islamic Courts are on the offensive and the warlords are fighting for their survival. Warlords seem be victims in Mogadishu and a single group is in control of Mogadishu for the first time since 1991.

For me this is not enough. I need to know more before celebration. Like many Somalis, I really do have more questions about the recent happenings in Mogadishu.

Who are the Islamic Courts? Who is Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed? What are the objectives of the Courts? From where do they get funds? Do the Islamic Courts intend to hunt all the Warlords including Abdullah YUSUF and those from HABARGIDIR? The Occupied Territories of the Lower Shabbele Region? Do they have a broad-based national agenda? Who are shareholders of these Islamic Courts? Do the latest events in Mogadishu, Balcad and Dayniile signal the end of survival-of-the-fittest state?

Difficult questions? If Islamic Courts can displace powerful warlords, these questions must be so simple.

Somali press, particularly those from Mogadishu, write too much about the celebratory mood in the capital city. The head of BBC's Somali section described the events in Mogadishu as a " popular uprising". For me, I don't see things in that way. There is no a dawn of a new era for Mogadishu. And celebrations… may be temporary. Brief.

So, is the game over?

If our perception is that the elimination of several warlords would lead to a peaceful solution to the crisis, we are underestimating the enormity of our problems.

If we have a memory like an elephant our recent past can offer valuable lessons. In 1991, millions of Somalis rejoiced the fall of Gen. Mohamed Siad Barreh as the end of tyranny in Somalia. Similarly, in 1996, other millions were under the mistaken impression that the death of a Somali warlord, Gen. Farah Aideed, would spell doom for the lawlessness in the country.

Remember what happened after those two events. The fall of Siad Barreh had given way to the beginning of a new era of warlordsm, tribalism, starvation, massacres and other gross violations of human rights. Ali Mahdi and Gen. Aideed played roles that made the former dictator look as though he was a complete novice.

The death of Gen. Aideed had also created the second-generation warlords, who proved to be good students of USC (United Somali Congress) educational system. Ask people of BAIDOBA about the second-generation MUJAHADEEN.

For those who believe that Mogadishu will not see more violence and bloodshed, think again. Expect another phase of Somali civil war. Why? The answer is simple. There has not been any change in Somali people and Somali thinking. Change occurs only when people change themselves. The establishment of the Islamic courts will not change the set-up of Somali society.

Everyone knows that our problems are more than just one dictator and a few criminal warlords. Somali civil war has always been multi-dimensional. When one phase comes to an end another one comes into being. And this time nothing has changed.

Moreover, one of the biggest obstacles to peace and reconciliation in Somalia has always been the continued presence of external forces in Somali politics. Today there are more invisible hands than ever before. In this situation, whatever happens in Somalia, our people have no role in the decision-making process. The role for Somalis is to follow the orders. It is the role of non-Somalis to decide when things have to happen and how things should happen.

So, for me, it's too early to jump to the conclusion that the Islamic Courts have forced the warlords to flee from Mogadishu and the bloody civil war has ended with the removal of several warlords.

Celebration … unfortunately not now. The King Is Dead, Long Live the King.

Abdinasir Hussein Moallin
Mysore, India