BACK 1992/1994 - PART SIX
Ghali, the then UN Secretary-General of the United Nations
was extremely concerned that US troops in Somalia ceased
disarming the population "unless gunmen prevented
them from escorting humanitarian aid." Mr. Butros-Ghali
also wanted the US task force to help remove mines in
the North, train Somali military police and restore law
and order in compliance with Article 7 of the United Nations
Rules of Engagement. "Otherwise the whole exercise
would eventually become futile," Mr. Ghali said at
a US military spokesman said a "general disarmament"
is not the goal of Operation Restore Hope. However,
US troops will not allow weapons to be openly displayed
by Somalis. He said it was unrealistic to disarm a
country the size of Texas. "You would perhaps
require millions of soldiers to do the job. It's tall
order," he said.
reluctance of the Americans to collect weapons from the
bandits, at least in the capital, and dismantle the Green
Line remained mystery to the majority of peace-loving
who were initially frightened of the American Marines
and the French Foreign Legionnaires, and who for two years
held the city in a grip of fear, unearthed their guns
and begun throwing up makeshift roadblocks which they
euphemistically called "Isbara" (bastardized
Italian word) in various parts of the city, and renewed
their acts of banditry and mayhem.
were by now convinced the American's inability to step
up the authority given to them under Chapter Seven of
the United Nations on a nation torn apart by clan feuding
and banditry. The bulk of the freelancers are the hardcore
convicts who escaped from Mogadishu Central Prison at
the height of the popular uprising.
days later the UN Secretary-General repeated his call
for the Americans to disarm the warlords and bandit
gangs as part of the effort to get food to the starving
French Government supported his position. Foreign Minister
Roland Dumas said that the first phase of the mission
was to open humanitarian corridors by force to bring aid
to the population, which is dying of hunger. US Secretary
of State for African Affairs, Herman Cohen recalled the
500 Pakistani UN contingents, which was pinned down at
the airport by local gunmen as soon as it arrived in October
and food aid was virtually impossible to deliver safely.
US Congressional official who visited the city soon afterwards
said the Pakistanis did not even have the authority to
defend themselves and were forced to hire gangs of gunmen
as guards. He discovered that the same gangs diverted
the emergency food aid to the black market.
BITING THE BULLET
In a dramatic move, the two main faction leaders in Mogadishu,
Ali Mahdi Mohamed and Mohamed Farah Aideed finally decided
to bite the bullet and announced an immediate ceasefire.
Spokesmen for Ali Mahdi and Aideed said in a joint communiqué
that the two men had agreed on a six-point plan to halt
the circle of violence in the capital.
THE SIX POINT PLAN ARE:
withdrawal of militia from Mogadishu;
of hostile propaganda between their groups:
urgent need for a "unity committee" to reconvene;
to all Somalis to end hostilities immediately;
notorious Green Line dividing the city should be dismantled.
meeting between the two rivals was held at the heavily
fortified UN mission headquarters (formerly US Embassy)
and was witnessed by US Representative, Ambassador Robert
Oakley, United Nations Special envoy Admiral (retired)
Jonathan Howe and top American and UN officials as well
as the international media.
after the agreement was signed, the two faction leaders,
who had not met for more than a year, and vowed to crush
each other, now embraced each other and shook hands in
front of a large crowd of television cameramen and journalists
representing the international press. (Journalists covering
the Somalia pitch were estimated at 3,000 men and women
from all over the world).
are getting better here," a relief worker told a
visitor after the ceasefire agreement was announced by
MAANTA, the UN radio station in Mogadishu
and both the radio stations of Ali Mahdi and General Aideed
has improved. There are fewer gunmen in the streets and
we're getting a good night's sleep," another expatriate
relief worker said buoyantly.
hours latter scores of heavily armed Technicals, the customized
battle-wagons, ambushed a convoy of trucks bringing relief
supplies to the north of the city.
were Aideed's boys," said one of the drivers who
lost his truck and the cargo to the gangs as they tried
to cross the Green Line. But several eyewitnesses said
they were the hardcore convicts who escaped from the Central
President Bush underestimated the kind of problem he was
sending his troops in to solve. Obviously the UN Secretary-General
knew the scope of the problem," Kenya's Daily Nation
said in an editorial on December 21, 1992. The mass circulation
said: "of course, Washington says it does not want
to play the policeman's role in Somalia, or anywhere else
in the world, but the crux of the matter is that the Americans
must stay longer, they must stay as long as it takes to
restore order in our neighbour."
gunfire continued in the heart of the city and expatriate
aid workers took refuge in the US Command Center because
of harassment and threats, only to return in days of relative
calm. Many lost their vehicles to the militia gunmen.
loyal to General Aideed decided to launch spectacular
hit-and-run operations of their own against what they
perceived as foreign occupation of their country, (Iraqi-style
today). Marine patrols were fired at overnight near the
port, and widespread looting of food aid still continued
at the new port and at distribution centers. Pakistani
UN peace- keepers who escorted trucks carrying emergency
food aid have been shot at and the trucks commandeered,
despite the much-publicized Aideed/Ali Mahdi peace deal.
military officials still insisted that they would never
eliminate the basic cause of lawlessness.
you take away their guns the bandits and thugs are
going to find some other ways to intimidate the public,"
Marine Lt. Colonel Ronstoks said.
"You can try to lessen their capability of violence,
and we're having an impact on that," he added.
advance convoy of US Marines who drove to Baidoa ignored
scores of heavily armed gangs on battlewagons in the countryside.
"We will do nothing about them unless they aim their
guns at us," said a Marine Captain in charge of the
convoy. He said their mission was to clear the food corridors
and escort relief convoys.
Malaysian officer of the international task force described
the Aideed/Ali Mahdi peace deal as a "forced"
meeting arranged in a "fit of despair," by Ambassador
Oakley and Admiral Howe who were "sick and tired"
of the political deadlock between the two faction leaders.
Somalis believed that the ceasefire, like two previous
ones, would not be honoured, despite American and UN pressures.
the vexing question of disarmament haunted people in Somalia,
faction leaders Ali Mahdi Mohamed and General Aideed have
told the United Nations they would attend a UN-sponsored
conference in the Ethiopian capital (one of a series of
fruitless conferences) to prepare for peace talks, UN
officials told journalists at an impromptu press conference
the delegates returned home empty handed. The problem
arose when groups started bickering over who would attend
the conciliation conference. Many delegates, the United
Nations and the US wanted a wide range of civilians, such
as traditional clan elders, religious leaders and intellectuals
to decide the country's future. But General Aideed said
only those who ousted the military regime should attend
and his entourage stormed out of the conference hall in
a huff after the other delegates, backed by the UN Secretary-General,
objected his proposal as "unworkable." and "untenable."
talks in Djibouti in June 1991 and later another one hosted
by Egypt in 1997 was bogged down on similar grounds by
vociferous pro-Ethiopian warlords who used their antics
to reject any progress made towards the formation of a
representative and all-inclusive government.
week later an aide to General Aideed said that the U.S.
and other foreign troops had adopted a colonial-style
policy of divide and rule: "Because they had long
term imperial design on our country," he told a cheering
crowd of Aideed supporters.
yet another relegation bid against him, the fifth in more
than five decades, this time by the Americans and the
United Nations, General Aideed told the Americans and
the United Nations to leave the country "as quickly
a hard-hitting broadcast over his radio station, Aideed
repeated his familiar accusation against UNITAF of breaking
into homes and ejecting the occupants on the excuse of
looking for weapons.
situation is unpredictable. The General's quit notice
could be a prelude to another round of fighting,"
Reuters news agency reported from Mogadishu.
why anyone would want to colonize an impoverished country
such as Somalia? "Somalia has huge reserves of both
oil and gas and there are lots of people who would want
to control these," General Aideed told CNN's Christine
Amanpour in Mogadishu.
pointed the finger at the giant American oil company CONOCO
Inc., which has been directly involved on the US government's
role in the UN-sponsored humanitarian military effort.
Nearly two thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American
oil giants Conoco, Amoco and Chevron, but only Conoco
maintained functioning office in Mogadishu throughout
the years of anarchy. Its exploration efforts in the north-central
Somalia reportedly yielded the most encouraging prospects
just months before former dictator Siad Barre was ousted.
Its representative in Somalia is none other than Osman
Ali Atto, one time financier and confidante of General
Aideed, but later fell out over policy matters.
American news agency, Associate Press (AP) disclosed that
although the vast majority of the ground troops in Somalia
came from Italy, Pakistan, Morocco and France, with contributions
from Egypt, India, Australia, Malaysia, Tunisia, Sweden,
Nigeria, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, much of the strategy was
planed by Americans, based on intelligence gathered by
American structures, like the CIA. Virtually all the aircraft
came from the United States.
UN Command structure itself, both on the political and
military sides had heavy Yankee flavour, many on loan
from the Pentagon, the State Department and other US government
list included Jonathan Howe, a retired admiral who served
as the Special Envoy for UN Secretary-General and was
responsible for most of the big decisions. He replaced
Ismat Kettani, the Iraqi diplomat, who briefly held that
position. Ambassador Robert Oakley, a former US Ambassador
in Mogadishu, represented President Bush.
The military commander, Lt. General Cevik Bir was from
Turkey, but much of his staff is Americans, including
second-in-command, General Thomas Montgomery. And much
of the intelligence staff who sorted out through disinformation
from the outside was composed of US military intelligence
officers and agents from the CIA with a sprinkling of
the Associated Press was saying in a roundabout manner
is that the Americans were running the whole show in the
name of the United Nations, as was the case of the Korean
War in the 1950s, the Vietnam War of the 1960s/1970s and
the Gulf War in the 1990s.
the general consensus was that the Americans must accept
one fact; that they have to change tactics vis-à-vis
the roving armed gangs who continue to terrorize the ordinary
Somalis, despite the presence of the Americans with their
superior firepower, helicopter gunships, night vision
goggles and hi-tech information gathering system.
But it was not to be so.
By M. M. Afrah©2003,