|Zooming into the Past|
M O G A D I S H U C I V I L W A R S
Zooming into the 1990s interviews and statements, given by the spokespersons and leaders of Somali factions, enables us to prove that clan-animosity account of the Somali civil war has not been given the scholarly attention that its magnitude warrants, even after sixteen years of clan-warfare. This clan-animosity feeling can in fact be derived from faction joint communiqué and statements; and therefore, posting selections of these public relation statements should be a matter of concern to all Somalis – particularly, to those who are in the field of Somali Studies.
After all, clan factionalism disguised in English acronyms (formed from three or four initial letters which include the sacrosanct letter “S”) are now facts of life for Somalis. The words and deeds of the turbulent faction followers have ordained to presuppose that faction spokespersons assumed a monumental role in fuelling clan-hatred. As a result of that, the Forum rushes in to investigate and share with you excerpts of faction communiqués, hoping to find solutions to the current tragic political situation in Somalia. From our perspective, these selections are indeed those that Western scholars/(Somalists) most neglected, or could offer hints to the causes of the civil war.
M A R C H / A P R I L 1 9 9 1
OLD MAN BEGS FOR HELP FROM SOMALI GUNMAN IN CITY OF BAIDOA, SOMALIA
A young Somali smokes and holds a weapon as he and his friends sit on a car
Children pulling a donkey cart watch a carload full of armed militiamen pass through the streets of Mogadishu
Abdullahi Sh. Ismail: The Present Government Is A National Government.
London AL-SHARQ AL-AL-AWSAT in Arabic
March 16, 1991, p 3
Abdullahi Sh. Ismail
[Interview with Somali Foreign Minister 'Abdallah Isma'il by Sayyid Ahmad Khalifah in Jeddah; date not given]
[Khalifah] How would you assess the security situation in Mogadishu after the recent incidents?
[Isma'il] The situation in Mogadishu is very stable and we see no security threats, especially as the internal dialogue has started with a view to convening the national conference, which will resolve all problems.
[Khalifah] What is your government's first internal task?
[Isma'il] The transitional government has three tasks: first to establish security throughout the country; second, to alleviate the burden on the citizens; third, national reconciliation.
[Khalifah] Over what area does the government's authority extend, bearing in mind the reports that it does not go beyond the capital, Mogadishu?
[Isma'il] The government is present in all areas now, and the remaining pockets are being eliminated.
[Khalifah] Do you mean by pockets the Somali movements in control of the north and the south, as reported?
[Isma'il] No. I mean specifically the small area where some supporters of the former regime are present!
[Khalifah] By the way, where is Siyaad Barre at the moment? Has he been killed, has he fled the country, or is he resisting inside the country, as is reported?
[Isma'il] We are not interested in him at all. We have greater tasks ahead of us-tasks greater than searching for Siyaad Barre.
[Khalifah] Is the present government a one-party government representing only the United Congress, as is reported?
[Isma'il] Not at all. The present government is a national government... transitional. And among its tasks is to hold a dialogue with all in order to convene the national conference and realize national reconciliation.
[Khalifah] In view of the collapse and destruction of the Somali Armed Forces following the Mogadishu battles, how is security being maintained in Somalia at present?
[Isma'il] There is the police... and it is the militias which protect security. The Armed Forces will be built after the conference and after all the parties agree on that matter.
[Khalifah] There is talk of an Ethiopian role in supporting one Somali group to the exclusion of the others. How do you view Ethiopia's links with the situation in your country at present?
[Isma'il] We do not want to believe or deny what is reported about a negative Ethiopian role in our country in these difficult circumstances. But we are now in the process of making contacts with Ethiopia to work to strengthen stability in the region and establish normal relations between us.
Arteh says: Kenya is Supporting Siyaad Remnants
London BBC World Service
April 03, 1991
[From the "Focus on Africa" program]
Somalia's interim prime minister today accused the Kenyan Government of supporting remnants of ousted President Siyaad Barre's army. When rebels pushed Siyaad Barre out of Mogadishu in January, some elements of his army fled intact to the south. There were reports that they clashed with rebels on several occasions and there have also been reports that they are regrouping around the southern Somali town of Kismaayo. Prime Minister Omar Arteh is currently in the Gulf state of Oman, and on the line, Robin White asked him what exactly he was claiming:
[Begin recording] [Arteh] Well, Mr. Robin White, we have reliable information that Kenya is helping the remnants of the defunct regime with arms, ammunition, and other forms of assistance, to our dismay, and I had a very great respect for President Arap Moi, and I know him for a very long time. I always thought that he is a wise man with foresight, but it seems that the mischief makers in his government have overtaken him, and we are very much concerned, and we are warning Kenya that if they continue to play with fire, they will regret it. This is the only thing I can say now.
[White] How are these arms and ammunition getting into Somalia?
[Arteh] Well, as you know, the Kenyan authorities have subvented [as heard] planes carrying emergency aid to Mogadishu for our people who are in need of these provisions and he is allowing the same aircraft to go somewhere else where these arms and other forms of assistance can be given to those people.
[White] Where is this somewhere else? Is it Kismaayo?
[Arteh] Yes, Kismaayo and some other air strips (?sometimes).
[White] And how long has this been going on, according to you?
[Arteh] I think, as far as I know, this has been going on for nearly 3 weeks now, and even more.
[White] Why do you think that Kenyans would want to do this?
[Arteh] I do not understand. I think they should be asked that question themselves.
[White] But these are very serious charges. Are you absolutely sure of your facts?
[Arteh] Well, I must say very frankly that our president, Ali Mahdi, sent a letter to President Arap Moi with our minister of state for foreign affairs and he indicated in that letter that we want to have a close relationship with Kenya as a neighborly country, and I know that the president did not meet our minister of state for foreign affairs. I think that was [words indistinct], and it indicated that our suspicion is absolutely (?reasoned).
[White] So the Kenyan Government is refusing to talk to you?
[Arteh] Well, as a man who has been in politics and diplomacy for a very long time, I know and you know what it means when you send a letter to a president and he does not receive the man who is carrying that letter. You know what it means.
[White] The fact that President Moi did not receive your envoy, that is not a firm proof, though, that they are sending arms to the remnants of Siyaad Barre's troops.
[Arteh] No, that I mean... [changes thought] We had our suspicion before, but when that thing happened, our suspicion has come true. [end recording]
Hassan A. Mireh: We Do Not Recognize the Existence of a Government in Somalia.
London AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT
in Arabic, April 02, 1991, p 5
Interview with Dr. Hassan Ali Mireh, leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Somalia, by Khalid Bafagih in Jeddah; date not given]
[Bafagih] What is the aim of your moves in the present situation? Why did you not make these moves earlier?
[Mireh] The danger that has befallen Somalia has developed over time, and through our experience of conditions in Somalia, we have found that there is a pressing need for the Arab states to put pressure on the warring groups in Somalia to bring them together at a conference to be held in an Arab capital, as happened in Lebanon's case. The aim is to bring about a national political system in Somalia, not a one-party system. That is the only solution for stopping the bloodshed and building the homeland. Our cause was neglected because of the Gulf crisis. I hope it will once again return to the forefront and be given attention.
He added: We do not recognize the existence of a government in Somalia. It is one organization among many that occupies most of the country. We want to brief officials on developments with the Somali issue and to seek help or aid. I hope that aid to Somalia will reach all areas, not just one area, so that there will be a fair distribution of aid. This, in the knowledge that there are three Somali organizations: the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Somalia [DFLS], which I lead; the National Somali Movement; and the National Somali Front. These three organizations are rejected by the government on the pretext that they have no democratic base.
The DFLS is the oldest organization, having been established in April 1978.
[Bafagih] What is the direct effect of these disputes on Somalia?
[Mireh] At least 1,000 people have been killed as a result of tribal disputes. And some 600,000 to 700,000 refugees have left the capital for Kenya. Furthermore, Somalia's crops have disappeared completely, and this could lead to an imminent famine.
[Bafagih) What about the Saudi position?
[Mireh] The Saudi Government has said that it is following what is happening in Somalia and that it hopes that security and stability will be firmly established in the country. Saudi Arabia has called on the Somalis to unite and to abandon their differences to establish a united, stable Somalia and to build a future that guarantees the Muslim Arab people of Somalia their freedom and dignity enabling them to play their historic role in supporting Islamic solidarity. Saudi Arabia has spared no efforts. It has made praiseworthy efforts, and we want more of these efforts and hope that aid will reach all areas and everyone.
SOMALI GUNMEN DRIVE THROUGH THE STREETS OF THE CAPITAL MOGADISHU
Somalis loot U.N. barracks near the Mogadishu port