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TALKING POINT: THE RISE OF A FACTION LEADER
TALKING POINT: THE RISE OF A FACTION LEADER
By M.M. Afrah
Toronto (Canada)
E-MAIL: afrah95@hotmail.com
(Visitors to our Public Forum are free to post their comments on this article judiciously. No profanities, please.) -

The rise of Mogadishu's newest faction leader gave Ethiopia, Somalia's ancient enemy, great opportunity to farther polarize the Somalis, already weary of war and polarization since 1990. Muse Sudi Yalahow sounded "radical" and "tougher" to the Ethiopians than the other warlords in fighting spirit, leaving a catalogue of death and injuries in his wake.

As usual the victims are non-combatant civilians, mostly women, children and the elderly who stay in their flimsy dwellings. And Muse needed two things Addis Ababa had plenty of: guns to derail the national transitional government and guidance on how to tarnish the image of the Arta Group with their vacillating president, prime minister and a parliament chaired by a man who is at a loss to understand how to handle rowdy members.

No wonder, the President, his Prime Minister and the speaker of the parliament are at loggerhead, accusing each other of causing all the new evils in the country, including embezzlement of public funds. The only good thing about these tug-of-war is that the Somalis are watching and listening top leaders going at each other's throat for the first time since General Siyad Barre took over the country in a military and police coup in October 1969. No such scenario would have taken place during Siyad Barre's heydays.

The catch word was: "toe the revolutionary line or else…" Of course with the famous song: "Caynaanka hay. Weligaa hay." And everybody, including the old man and his minions, was happy - at least on the surface. Just scratch the surface and you will hear a lot of grumbling against the revolutionary regime. We all pretended to believe that everything was hanky dory and the old man can not make a mistake.

Against this background, Mogadishu once again became a battlefield with everybody blaming everybody else for starting the war. But Muse, who had no military training, as the other generals and colonels-turned-warlords, led his forces to the most sanguine battle field since the late General Aideed fought a relentless bloody war against forces loyal to Ali Mahdi until he was killed in action during an offensive.

Aideed's supporters, taking a leaf from Stalinist Russia, insisted for three days in a row that their leader had died from heart attack "while carrying out national duty." (Mohamed Farah Juma'ale and Abdi Haji Gobdoon: where are you now?)

Ali Mahdi wrongly believed that General Aideed's death clears the way for a peaceful conference, which he hoped the international community will help to convene.

"I hope his supporters when they decide to replace him, might choose a person that will choose the peace process," he told reporters. But that prophesy did not materialize as the General's son, a 34 year-old US Marine corporal and Africa's youngest warlord, vowed to avenge his father's death. He said the clan war must go on unabated. It was back to square one!

Now Muse is the man of the moment, but the other warlords refused to send reinforcements, because they had second thoughts. They virtually ignored his adventures and kept their distance. "Let the Hawiye eliminate each other, Mafia gangland style." They would say. They were skittish about him, so they all retreated to their shrinking strongholds and never uttered a favourable word about Muse and his wars against the Arta group. He took their point, but followed his own course of action. And pronto! He is in the limelight again.

On the other hand Ethiopia continued to smear the transitional national government in Mogadishu with grotesque caricature of a terrorist in the pay roll of Osama bin Laden. The Addis Ababa newspapers are having a field day, depicting the Tigrean regime of Meles Zenawi as the first authentic anti international terrorism in Africa, muting Daniel arap Moi's rhetoric who hoped to earn that honour from the Americans. As usual the American CIA is playing a guessing game before implicating Abdiqassim for his alleged link with Al-Islaah organization. Anyway they're busy over the skies of Afghanistan "to smoke out" Osama bin Laden and his Qa'eda network. Qa'eda means The Base in Arabic, but the bombers are so far unable to pinpoint the base at the time of writing this article.

This flip flop in the Horn of Africa underscored once more that Somalia's misery has the hands of foreign powers. The irony of the fact is that Muse relentlessly tried to justify his recent flare-ups in Mogadishu as defending his fiefdom from what he calls Mooryaan (Predators) from the Central Province headed by Abdiqassim Salad Hassan and his Afar Jeeblehyaal, (literal translation: people with four pockets, i.e. merchants). He often reiterates that non-Abgal clans SHOULD pack up their things and go back to their provinces. Rightly or wrongly, he pledges to restore the Banadir Region and its environments to its original inhabitants, i.e. the Abgal and the Rer Hamar. He believes it was the true path towards a federal state. The other warlords say it is regionalism and smacks of tribalism and a recipe for farther fragmentation of the country. Hence their refusal to cooperate.

"It is like ordering non-Romans to leave Rome en mass!" one of the "original" warlords exclaimed.

What is the justification for the loss of dozens of lives? The destruction of newly rebuilt infrastructures? The displacement of thousands of people? The revitalization of the economy, starting from scratch?

A CONCLUSIVE SOLUTION

a) If the Transitional National Government, still holed up in Hotel Ramadhan, actually feels responsible, they should open a dialogue with those who oppose it, Including Muse;

b) To IMMEDIATELY put an end to the billions of fake currency flooding the country, causing immense suffering to the ordinary Somali;

c) The Somali people have suffered enough from wars, hunger, disease, man-made famine and the disintegration of their country, it is a high time that the slide into farther anarchy was stopped;

d) Increased foreign interference and arms trafficking must be stopped once and for all. Countries must adhere to the arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council on Somalia since 1991 (if you believe in UN arms embargo).

In conclusion Somalis now need to come together, sit together to settle their differences peacefully, because the international community, including the African Union, the Arab League, the Islamic Conference Organization, the United Nations and IGADD, woefully failed to foster peace in that Horn of Africa country. The onus is now on the Somalis themselves. No one in the world gives damn about Somalis killing Somalis.

Last week a young man in downtown Toronto told me that it is not too late to save what was left of the country from sliding into a new Stone Age. He was right. But the thorny question is how?

M.M. Afrah Toronto

(Toronto)(Canada)


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