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Somalia: The failed nation!


By Dr. Ali Said Faqi

As one of the failed nations of the 21st century, Somalia turned into a lawless, and heavily armed country with clan militias from other parts of the country traumatizing the nations most fertile, economically self-sufficient regions. The civil war coupled with the land expansion policy of tribes from the central region has caused the death of over a hundred thousand innocent people. In the last eleven years, the country has experienced one of the worst terrors of human kind. The law of the jungle became part of the normal daily life. The massacre, looting, raping and enslaving of the peaceful and less dominating tribal groups of the south became practically normal in the ordinary life of the people in this part of Somalia.

The world has abandoned Somalia after the so-called Operation Restore Hope led by the United States failed. In October 1993, the United States decided to pull out of Somalia after 18 U.S. Rangers were killed while hunting Somali warlord Mohamed Farah Aideed and trying to apprehend some of his collaborators. The mission of restore hope was to restore the peaceful flow of humanitarian relief to those areas of Somalia most affected by famine and disease, and to facilitate the safe and orderly deployment of United Nations peacekeeping forces in Somalia. The efforts of the United States, the international community and private organizations to deliver humanitarian relief to those areas of Somalia were severely hampered by the lack of governmental authority and, in particular, by armed bandits who made it a habit to steal relief commodities for their own benefits.

At least two major issues have contributed to the failure of all reconciliation efforts in Somalia:

1. Land issue

The civil war was fought mainly over the struggle to gain control over fertile regions that can provide economic resources that will guarantee a minority ruling group full control of the country and hence gain clan supremacy over others. Thus, the lower Shabelle and Jubba regions became the focal point and the epicenter for major conflicts in Somalia. As a result, the natives of these regions were displaced, their properties looted and were forced to work as slave laborers in their own farms. New merciless war booty tycoons and their political warlords have emerged that recruited their own tribal militia with heavy technicals to protect their newly acquired business interest and therefore expand their power and sphere of influence. Revenues generated from banana, charcoal and fishing exportation businesses produced a new form of tribal colonization, the first of its type in the civilized world. Thousands of non-native militias with their families migrated to the south and established a new haven for themselves and their relatives while committing terror and displacing natives, thus keeping them deprived of any form of human development. This has caused a new form of refugee crisis, which forced the natives to become refugees in their own region.

The newly formed transitional national government (TNG), which also gains support from these armed militias, has ignored the suffering of the people in the south and many analysts believe that the government has no intention of changing the status quo. Since its creation the TG has been accused to have financed the armed militias in the south and continues to arrange forced reconciliation meetings with the native tribes to legitimize the rule of the occupied forces. The recent visit of the TG President and the newly stationed troops loyal to the TG in the lower Shabelle region is seen as a show of solidarity to the armed militia that is constantly harassing and subjugating the natives of the region. The Mogadishu administration insists in calling these armed militias as its national army, despite all the complaints raised by locals regarding constant human rights abuses and massive engagement in the environmental degradation and destruction of the region. It is undeniable that the land issue is the major reason undermining any future breakthrough of peace and stability in the South. With armed militias on the ground supported by some elements of the TG re-enforcing their takeover and holding onto power, many Southern natives came to realize the urgency to demand and the need for the unconditional withdrawal of these foreign clan militias and their families from the region.

2. Ethiopian factor

The Tigrean government in Ethiopia became involved with Somali politics since the collapse of the Somali regime. At the beginning many believed that Ethiopia is genuine in its endeavor to help its neighbors bring about peace and stability in Somalia. Many, particularly those tribes that have been under Aideed's military occupation became very sympathetic towards Ethiopian policy, after helping the RRA in the liberation of Bakool and Bay regions.

However, in the eyes of most Somalis, the Tigreans failed to convey a convincing and friendly message to the majority of Somalis, who came to detest the reckless warlords and the criminal Somali politicians. Some of the latest moves by the Ethiopian government angered many Somalis and non-Somalis who initially thought that Ethiopia should have a role in the reconciliation process.

Ethiopians knew that Aideed junior's army is accused of committing crimes against humanity in Bay and Bakool, but they disregarded this fact and deliberately forced the RRA to welcome him in Baidoa. The presence of Aideed in Baidoa has created a moral dilemma for the supporters of RRA and is seen as another blow to the human rights issues. Such a behavior can only be interpreted as being that the Tigrean regime has no respect for human rights issues and it is, therefore, equally responsible of the senseless killings in Somalia. It became very evident to the Somalis that Ethiopians have only one major goal and that is to destabilize Somalia. Ethiopia needs to reassess its relationship towards the people of Somalia and change its present policy and create basis for normal relationship and peaceful cohabitation. As a nation in turmoil, Somalia cannot afford conflicts with its neighbors and I call on the Ethiopian government not to take advantage of this critical period in the Somali history.

What should the US do to help the people of Somalia?

As a lawless nation, Somalia has the potential to be the center of international terror network or mafia organizations. Evidence of the last 11 years has indicated that Mafia groups from Italy have been dumping industrial wastes including radioactive materials in the Somali seashore, thus contaminating the longest coast of Africa. With the longest unguarded coastlines in Africa, the country will remain a suitable operative center of the local and international mafia. Regardless of whether there is the presence of terror organizations in Somalia or not, the US and the international community should intervene in Somalia to help relieve the country's present misery. In doing so, the US and the world should avoid the use of Ethiopian troops inside Somalia, since it has no credibility in the country. The warlord attitude of Ethiopians has outraged many peace-loving Somalis that see Ethiopia now as the only foreign force destabilizing Somalia. Likewise, the use of any troops from Arab states will cause similar animosity; so far the Arabs have only sided with factions hijacking the peace and stability in Somalia. With their financial support to the Arta faction, they have further destabilized the country.

The majority of Somalis still retain the memories of the 1992 mission that ended without achieving any positive goals towards peace and stability in the country. It is therefore, important that the international body should interfere in Somalia with the sole intention of resolving the plight of the Somali people. The world should be aware that there is no group that can claim over the leadership of the country and thus all factions and militia groups should be forced to lay down their arms and a broad based national government be formed. The Arta faction that was formed in Djibouti turned to be a cancer to Somalia; with its continuous engagement in printing fake currency and destabilizing the peaceful regions, it contributed enormously to the misery and the suffering of the Somali population. The basics of any long-lasting peace will depend on the creation of regional autonomous administrations and enabling the natives of every village or district to determine and chose their own leaders.

Somalis by and large are expecting the establishment of an international war crimes tribunal that will investigate and rule on the crimes committed against humanity. It is pathetic and humiliating to the peace loving people of the world to witness criminals who have committed unspeakable atrocities against humanity remain free and unpunished in Somalia.


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