distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is different."
--Marquise Du Deffand.
"In Mogadishu everybody shoots everybody; whose sides
they were on seemed to have nothing to do with it."
--French Journalist who visited Mogadishu.
Although we are in the same age group, give or take (I am
seventy), but we were merely nodding friends in the good old
days. However, people who knew you intimately now tell me
that you had passed the test in Puntland, and that you have
an inner strength possessed by few people. "He was born
to control," one of them told me the other day.
Another one remembers you as charismatic, persuasive, albeit
intolerant of dissent and independent press and freedom of
speech in your former enclave, which you baptized as Autonomous
Republic of Puntland. Many people believe that the most extreme
measures would be needed to change things in a country devastated
with death, doom and destruction, and I certainly concur with
As I said
before the South, Central and Southwest are not Puntland,
and to be in control there, truly in control, you must remain
above conventional emotions. In short, you must exert control
back in the country or risk failure. You must channel your
foremost endeavors towards higher things, principally service
to the country instead of clan loyalty.
still believe that electing a non-Southerner military man
is unlikely to be welcomed in Mogadishu, in particular, without
the support of the warring (Hawiye) faction leaders significant
progress would be problematic. But as the new President of
clan-based federal state it is your job to disarm the multitude
of boys in the streets, and neutralize the warlords who have
been jostling for power without rushing to the gun.
the healing process could begin in earnest.
of guns, you are all too aware that people in the South carry
assault rifles with much the same nonchallence as a Londoner
might carry an umbrella. Women and children are equally unmoved
by the sight. As a matter of fact market women also carry
guns in order to protect their goods display and their daily
meager earnings. Children as young as 12 carry assault rifles
to prove their manhood to the clan; it is a rite of passage,
as they like to say there. Some of them are not even taller
than the average M-16 assault rifle! They clump along the
streets of the once beautiful capital with the rolling gait
of B-movie gunslingers in Wild West. John Wayne would turn
in his grave.
Some times I miss Mogadishu!
Guns and other heavy weapons have virtually become part of
the people's daily lives. The notorious weapons markets in
the heart of the capital are nicely decorated with a display
of firepower that would put to shame the organizers of the
annual American weapons exhibitions in Kentucky.
Then there's the private army dominated by the warlords and
the merchants of death. And here comes the collusion between
the warlords and these merchants. The later don't just import
the weapons; they sell them to anyone with cash, preferably
the US Dollar, which like everywhere else, is the Grand Old
Daddy of international currencies. The Saudi and the UAE Rials
come as the second best. The source of these weapons and the
traffickers are no longer secret.
government wasn't grind to a premature halt you must convince
the donor community to cooperate. It would be unpleasant in
the short term, but there's no choice. The end justifies the
yours is not a government-in-exile, but there's nothing to
be ashamed of. There has been countless governments-in-exile.
For example, General de Gaulle was in-exile in Britain, screaming
"France Liberte" via the BBC in London, and only
returned to his country in his meticulously ironed general's
uniform, after the Americans and their allies liberated France
from Nazi occupation, resulting heavy casualties on allies
soldiers during World War Two. Dalai Lama of Tibet and his
supporters are still in-exile in India. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe
and his freedom fighters have been in exile for decades, and
the African National Congress (ANC) have been in-exile in
neighbouring countries until they liberated their country
from the brutal apartheid regime.
we have a familiar problem that needs to be handled with care;
and that's the hotly debatable issue of African peacekeepers
to disarm the militias. I said debatable because the ill-fated
1993/94 UN peacekeeping forces led by the United States are
still in the minds of the people. The fact of the matter is
that the current international policy is to steer away from
Somalia as much as possible, lest they put their soldiers
in harms way amidst people who are not yet ready to restore
peace and stability in their own fragmented country.
there's no other option, the first thing I would do is to
put Somali Generals with clean track records in charge of
such forces. Their orders must be followed unhesitatingly;
obedience must be absolute and that accountability and transparency
must be the catch phrase. Of course, there's no shortage of
Somali Generals and other high-ranking army and police officers
waiting in the wing to serve their own country once again.
way to achieve this in the limited time available is to instill
terrible fear on the warlords and their militia thugs who
thrive on chaos and anarchy.
the nagging question is: who is going to pick up the tab estimated
at 35 million Dollars? Of course there are several pledges
from potential donor countries. But remember in diplomacy,
like politics, nobody tells the truth, only instant plastic
smiles and bogus handshakes.
'Leadership' is tossed around casually these days, but many
of the visitors of this website conclude that, where Ali Mahdi
and Abdiqassim Salad, failed you would be able to pull it
off despite the road pumps ahead. Those pumps are, of course,
to be expected in a city like Mogadishu today, but then you've
to start somewhere, and as a military man the new challenge
will do you good. It could even work to your advantage.
rank had its privileges. However, being the President of a
country like Somalia wasn't very upbeat line of work, where
your own bodyguards could spray you with machineguns.
is approaching the moment of truth after years of uncertainty
and bloodshed. People are running out of polite platitudes.
They are anxious to get on with the business of living in
peace, and without the shadow of the gun.
is on you.
Mr. Chris Mullin is a very junior official at the British
Foreign Office and not Minister for Africa, according to an
impeccable source in London.
By M.M. Afrah©