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(This is the first diary of war by a veteran Somali Journalist 1990/1992-a war fought under the merciless Somalia sun in the immediate aftermath of the ouster of military dictator, Major-General Mohamed Siyad Barre from power after ruling the country for more than two decades with an iron fist.
Like any great-war diary, the force of the talent behind it makes it forever timeless. This is the brutal expose' of the rotten core of a country ruled by ruthless, bloodthirsty warlords, their sinister power and barbaric acts that divided the Somali people along clan, sub, sub-clan lines. Mr. Afrah wrote the Diary (slightly edited with new material) before the international task force spearheaded by the Americans stormed the beaches of Mogadishu on December 9, 1993--
The Webmaster


WAR DIARY BY M. M. AFRAH 1991/1993

Lido Beach January 26, 1993


This morning Sheikh Abdi, my former neighbour showed up at the beach for the first time. He repeatedly refused to leave his half-demolished home and the mosque near-by, which lost its minaret after it received a direct hit from a T-55 tank shell.
"The Dacasley (flip-floppers) with guns took control of what was left of our homes, and I felt like shouting my frustration from the rooftops, but there are no more rooftops left in Mogadishu," he whimpered. The word Dacasley is a new slang in the Somali lexicon. The preceding words, now extensively used, are faqash, Mooryaan, bililiqeysi.

The Sheikh, who has only salvaged from the wreck of his home the Holy Qur'aan and few tattered garments, told us that after the old Sinai Market caught fire and the Asiley airstrip was abandoned, the militia gunmen are desperate for the drug Qaad and cigarettes, because the Kenyan Qaad pilots refused to land their light aircraft on a deserted airstrip. The Sinai open-air market and Asiley airstrip are located at Ali Mahdi's stronghold in the north of the divided city. The Asiley airstrip, which was the hub of activities, was abandoned during the week after it received nonstop hits from Aideed's artillery guns in the south of the city.

9.35 P.M. -According to the BBC's World Service and the Voice of America, in brief news items, followed by the Gulf War coverage, said that one of the main antagonists in the Somalia conflict, General Mohamed Farah Aideed rejected to personally attend the peace talks in New York organized by U.N. Secretary General, Butros Butros Ghali and the names who would represent him are briefly mentioned. Only one is a familiar personality, and that's Abdullahi Addow, former Somali ambassador to the US.

"What kind of mentality prevails in this country?" Professor Elmi Noor wondered.
"Nothing ever seems to get off the ground!" I snapped back.
How much we missed Aweys, our fishing expert and boat builder, was felt at our evening banquet table and across the beach. But the positive side is that many of us became fishermen, swimmers and boat "captains" under the tutelage of Aweys. Many young nomads from the hinterland no longer shun seafood. Some learned how to tackle a fishing rod for the first time in their lives. Thanks Aweys, wherever you may be now.

Then we turned to the latest development. It was plain what was going on. The two main Mogadishu faction leaders, who ironically belong to the same Hawiye clan, did not want peace, because they didn't feel it was in their own interests. If peace comes they both stood a lot to lose. We all agreed that the clan leaders wanted Somalia to become extinct, the unarmed and powerless would perish from the face of the earth. Evidently, Somalia has gone belly up and the world community stands by, because Somalia, unlike Kuwait, is not endowed with the magic word O-I-L. Suffice to say public confidence have been eroding since the day they turned their guns at each other for want of leadership. The faction leaders believe that they can be violent and good guys in the same breath!

Reports reaching us at the beach say that one of the clans have been selling weapons and ammunition to both sides of the conflict. It is believed that the "neutral" clan ransacked the largest ammunition dump in Wajit, southwest of the country and Dayniile south of the capital, and has turned from camel herding to gunrunning. Other smaller Hawiye clans have been selling their own weapons to the highest bidders. All this is adding fuel to the raging fire.

--This evening the Voice of Germany said in a brief news item that Somalia would be stable if the warlords were disciplined like small children. When I translated this to Sheikh Abdi, "Easier said than done. It's not easy to discipline a child who has thousands of armed predators under his command, who are told that they were helping to defend the clan against an enemy clan," the Sheikh said, shaking his turbaned head.
Realizing that I was going to make no comment, the Sheikh beckoned a young man, who was sitting on the sand, watching seagulls fighting over fish, and told him to tell us his story about the shipment of weapons. The young, who said his name is Abdinassir and belongs to the Biyamaal clan, said a Greek vessel traveling under a Liberian flag of convenience has been ferrying weapons from the Gulf to one of the faction leaders. He said an estimated two hundred tons of high-grade weapons and ammunitions arrived last week alone, but more of the same weapons arrived two weeks ago at Merka and were later transported to Mogadishu by road.

I could see what this means: more flattened buildings, more graves and more kids with their arms blown off. Then I gripped my pen and said: "How did you get such information?"
"I helped unload the Greek vessel "The Alamos" with other non-combatants in Merca, but when we were done with the job, they refused to pay us, and threatened to shoot us. So I arrived in Mogadishu yesterday with only the clothes on my back and a bottle of water," adding that Sheikh Abdi saved him from gunmen in North Mogadishu who suspected him as a spy for General Aideed.
"It was a journey into sheer horror. There are a string of barricades between Merka and Mogadishu manned by teenagers with guns, and I needed to have a lot of prayers to withstand it," said Abdinassir.
"You shouldn't have taken the trouble to come to Mogadishu. Anyway, welcome to Lido and join the bandwagon," Professor Elmi said. The young man hid his uneasiness as best as he could and thanked us for the welcome, a rare commodity in Somalia these days.

If the new weapon's shipment is true we are in for unending clan warfare.

January 27, 1993-Ali Mahdi has acquired a radio station of his own, and it is now easier to follow his own version of the civil war-turned-clan warfare. Ali Mahdi who still calls himself the interim president of Somalia inaugurated the station, which broadcasts on the 42-meter band FM, yesterday. After that General Mohamed Noor Galaal, General Mohamed Farah Aideed's clansman who defected to Ali Mahdi at the height of the conflict along with several associates of his, listed what he referred to as "the crazy general (Aideed) who committed and is still committing a catalogue of crimes against the Somali people since the overthrow of his predecessor, Major-General Mohamed Siyad Barre. In his hard-hitting commentary, he called the Somali people to fight "the butcher of Mogadishu."
He also described Aideed and his comrades-in-arms "Garashleyda", referring to Aideed's top financier and entrepreneur, Osman Atto, who runs a garage and a warehouse where stockpiles of deadly weapons are stored and vehicles, locally known as "Technicals" are customized for the war effort. Technical is a bastardized Italian word "Tecnico," meaning war machines in Italian military jargon.

Another voice said that the station would provide "a balanced and objective reporting of all events concerning the war against the Butcher of Mogadishu."
General Aideed's radio station broadcasts parallel to those of his archenemy-Ali Mahdi Mohamed. Both stations refer to themselves as "Radio Mogadishu, the Voice of the Somali People," with the same signature tunes and the same music. Evidently the whole exercise is to cover their backsides and control vital information the people have the right to know and instead dish out propaganda and misinformation and personal verbal abuses.

If the booming artillery guns permits, we will now have alternative listening-General Aideed's or Ali Mahdi's recriminations, misinformation and lies. The choice is yours. No sweat!

WAR DIARY 1991/1993©
By M.M. Afrah,
To be continued….

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