|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.
A U G U S T 1 9 9 0 s
Somali gunmen drive through the streets of Mogadishu
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
Aidid's bloody legacy
HRVOJE HRANJSKI of The Associated Press
The Tampa Tribune
August 03, 1996
SUMMARY: The death of brutal Somali warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid offers a glimmer of hope for the country he helped ravage.
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The death of Mohamed Farah Aidid, the tough faction leader whose militias forced U.N. peacekeepers to abandon Somalia, may offer a way out of five years of civil war that left hundreds of thousands dead of violence and starvation, rival militia leaders said Friday.
A U.S. manhunt for Aidid during the peacekeeping mission led to a battle that killed 18 U.S. soldiers and a reported 300 Somalis. The slaughter, in October 1993, prompted President Clinton to speed up the withdrawal of U.S. forces, which was completed the next year.
The official cause of Aidid's death Thursday was a heart attack, although White House spokesman David Johnson said the 61-year-old general reportedly died from surgery to treat a gunshot wound he received during fighting.
He was buried Friday, and the streets of Mogadishu, the capital, were quiet.
Aidid was wounded in a July 24 battle for the key Medina neighborhood that controls an important road out of the city.
Shortly after his burial in a simple Muslim ceremony, Mogadishu radio stations run by his two arch-rivals announced unilateral cease-fires.
The radio stations - run by Ali Mahdi Mohamed, who controls north Mogadishu, and Osman Hassan Ali Atto, a former Aidid backer who formed his own militia - also noted that talks among as many as 15 political factions were possible if the team named to replace Aidid was ready to negotiate.
"All Somalia's people are witnessing that fighting cannot settle the Somali problem," Ali Mahdi said.
Ali Mahdi said Aidid's death had created an opening for a new international conference where all Somalian factions could decide the country's future. But he also noted that his fighters remained on the battlefields and would return fire if attacked by Aidid's men.
Aidid's radio station said a 30-member committee had been appointed to head his United Somali Congress-Somali National Alliance, whose members are drawn primarily from the Habr-Gedir sub-clan of the Hawiye clan, one of six in Somalia.
The radio broadcast a statement, apparently from the new committee, calling on the soldiers of the National Army - Aidid's militiamen - to "remain watchful and defend their rights."
The station also declared a 30-day mourning period , and broadcast somber music and messages of condolence to Aidid's family. Aidid is survived by his third wife, Khadija Said Gurhan, and 14 children.
Ioan M. Lewis, a British expert on Somalia, said Aidid's death opens the situation to "positive developments."
Attempts since 1991 to broker agreements among the faction leaders in Somalia have generally been "a complete waste of time," largely because Aidid wasn't interested in negotiating, Lewis said.
White House spokesman Johnson said the Clinton administration hopes that Aidid's "removal from the scene can set the foundation for a more peaceful future for Somalia."
Aidid was the leading force behind the overthrow of former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. During the dictator's increasingly brutal 21-year rule, Aidid served in the army, Cabinet and as Somalia's ambassador to India. Siad Barre named him intelligence chief but began to suspect Aidid of plotting against him and jailed him from 1969 to 1976.
As Siad Barre's rule weakened, Aidid turned on his boss.
Aidid's fighters drove the fallen leader from Mogadishu in January 1991. Shortly afterward, two Hawiye sub-clans - one led by Ali Mahdi and the other by Aidid - began quarreling over the spoils.
The country of 8 million people dissolved into a collection of fiefdoms with no central government. Thousands of heavily armed militiamen, brandishing weapons Siad Barre received from the Soviets and the West, roamed Mogadishu and the rest of the country terrorizing civilians and destroying the economy.
Often traveling in jeeps or trucks grossly overarmed with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, and frequently under the influence of khat, a popular narcotic plant, they disrupted education, business and farming.
More than 350,000 Somalis died in the famine and the fighting.
Five hundred Pakistani U.N. peacekeeping troops were sent to Mogadishu in September 1992 to protect aid workers trying to distribute food and medical supplies to people displaced by the fighting.
The first U.S. Marines went ashore at Mogadishu on Dec. 8, 1992. Western diplomats tried to negotiate with Aidid and other Somali leaders to end the chaos. But the United Nations soon accused Aidid of ambushing peacekeepers and issued a warrant for his arrest.
By February 1993, thousands of Somalis in Mogadishu, egged on by Aidid, were rioting against the foreign intervention.
Aidid repeatedly denied responsibility for the ambush that killed Pakistani peacekeepers in June 1993. , and accused the U.N. forces of favoring his rivals.
The United States withdrew in March 1994, and the final U.N. contingent pulled out a year later.
Renewed fighting broke out this year as Aidid battled a coalition of other factions for control of south Mogadishu and large areas in the south of the country.
Hospitals and clinics in Mogadishu last week reported more than 100 people killed and another 400 wounded in the past month.
There are still an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 people displaced from other areas of Somalia living in Mogadishu and another 475,000 Somali refugees outside the country.
© (Copyright 1996)
Aidid Aide, Ato Interviewed on Aidid's Death
London BBC World Service in English
1705 GMT 3 Aug 1996
[From the "Focus on Africa" program]
It is probably too early to make any confident predictions about what might happen in Somalia after the death of faction leader General Farah Aidid, who was buried yesterday. It came in the thick of new fighting against his bitter rivals, Ali Mahdi Mohamed and Osman Ato. There were reports that Aidid had been wounded in a battle in Mogadishu. His aides claimed he died of a heart attack. Secondly, there are those, such as the Americans and the United Nations, who think with Aidid gone, there might be a window for peace. After all, he was the man who waged the war against American troops in Mogadishu and killed United Nations peacekeepers. But the question is what do the Somali leaders themselves think? On the line to Mogadishu, Elizabeth Ohene asked the late Gen. Aidid's interior minister and member of the funeral committee, Mohamed Qanyare Afreh, how they felt about the funeral.
[Begin recording] [Qanyare] Ah, it was very popular; if you were supposed to be in Mogadishu you must be wondering how people come from their homes and they gathered all the streets and routes and around the grave and it was very, very, very popular.
[Ohene] Now that he is dead, what is your organization going to do?
[Qanyare] He was heading the government not an organization. I don't understand what is the meaning of the organization in that context. He was heading the government. So, you must put clear, Elizabeth, your question very clear.
[Ohene] So, what is the next step for the government, then?
[Qanyare] The government will now conduct according to the constitution in order get a new president for the government.
[Ohene] What? You will be electing a new leader? Would you? '
[Qanyare] Yes, the interim charter, Article (?63) of paragraph 4 says within seven days must be get new president.
[Ohene] So, who elects the new president then? Who is going to elect him?
[Qanyare] He will be elected by the composition of the leadership council plus cabinet ministers.
[Ohene] Now, other faction leaders have called for a cease-fire. They are saying that maybe, this is time for peace. Is this the time for peace in Somalia now?
[Qanyare] It was time for peace for a long time. They refused the peace. They said they ceased fire, because they were continuing to fire at us. We were not firing except that we defended ourselves. So, they were attacking us every now and then. We were not attacking anything. If we were not attacking anything, we have nothing to stop or nothing to continue.
[Ohene] How do you remember Gen. Aidid? How would you remember him?
[Qanyare] We will always remember him and he will be in our hearts and we will remember as highest as to remember a [words indistinct]. [end recording]
[Announcer] Late Gen. Aidid's interior minister, Mohamed Qanyare Afreh. Well, Gen. Aidid aides have been insisting that they would continue to follow his policies, but his arch rivals Ali Mahdi and Osman Ato declared unilateral cease-fire yesterday in Mogadishu. On the line to Nairobi, Kadria Ahmed asked Osman Ato, if he saw Gen. Aidid's death as increasing the prospects of peace.
[Begin recording] [Ato] Well, a day [words indistinct] really does not contribute peace in Somalia. The peace itself has already been at hand and there are very many Somalis who are working on it. This is why we have got peace initiative, peace at the level of districts and the regions and now to the national.
[Ahmed] You are saying you are sure that nothing in Somalia is likely to change.
[Ato] Well, what I saying is that I am looking forward and we are very optimistic to achieve peace through dialogue and reconciliation among various groups and the factions and this is ... [pauses] some steps have already been taken and we are looking forward that this will continue in the future.
[Ahmed] Now, fingers have been pointed directly at your militia for the shooting of Gen. Aidid. Do you accept responsibility?
[Ato] Pointing finger by one particular group or some particular individuals does not really help the Somali peace. Aidid was among the very many Somalis that had been hurt in the fighting.
[Ahmed] Yes, but can you tell us categorically on this program whether it was militias who were responsible for this shooting or can you categorically say that no, they were not responsible?
[Ato] I can only tell you that I was not on the site, but, certainly has been hurt in the middle of fighting. Who shot that bullet, I cannot verify.
[Ahmed) You, of course, were with Gen. Aidid before you went your different ways. Are you interested, at all, in occupying this position which he has just left vacant?
[Ato) Well, this depends on the reconciliation of the USC-SNA [United Somali Congress-Somali National Alliance] and I believe the choice should be left to the executive body of the USC-SNA. [end recording]
Aydeed Radio Says: Aydeed Died of Heart Failure
(Clandestine) Radio Mogadishu Voice of the Masses of the Somali Republic in Somali
0430 GMT 2 Aug 1996
[FBIS Translated Text] An emergency meeting held by the National Guiding Council of the Somali Republic last night, 1 August 1996, at 2200 announced that the president of Somalia, His Excellency Mohamed Farah Aidid, died suddenly of heart failure at 1530 hours on 1 August 1996 while performing his national duties.
The National Guiding Council, shocked by the sad death, sends its condolences to the government, the Somali public, and the family left behind by the late Excellency Mohamed Farah Aidid, may God rest his soul in peace.
The Council passed the following resolutions:
1. That the late president should be given a state burial.
2. That the burial be performed today, Friday, 2 August 1996, after Friday prayers.
3. That funeral prayers be performed at Masjid ulRahma [in Mogadishu].
4. That the body of the late president will be transferred from Masjid ul-Rahma in Wardiigley district following the funeral prayers.
5. The burial will take place at Horiyoh [also within Mogadishu district], specifically in the vicinity of (Soos).
USC-SNA Issues Statement on Aidid's Death, Urges Cease-Fire
(Clandestine) Radio Mogadishu Voice of Somali Pacification in Somali
1115 GMT 2 Aug 1996
An official statement from the United Somali Congress-Somali National Alliance
[USC-SNA] says that when it became known that General Mohamed Farah Aidid died on 1 August following injuries sustained when the self-proclaimed group attacked bases of the USC-SNA, Somali Salvation Alliance [USC-SSA], and USC-PM [expansion unknown] in Makka and Medina Districts on 24 July, the USG SNA, (?in keeping with its policy) of [word indistinct] and reconciliation of the Somali people, has called for:
1. The implementation of a [word indistinct] cease-fire in all areas where fighting is taking place in Somalia.
2. [Words indistinct] to move toward pacification, reconciliation, and ways for the Somali people to find peace.
3. It calls on all Somali groups to convene an emergency meeting to consider the future of the nation.
4. All the forces of the coalition for peace, comprising the USC-SNA, USC-SSA, and USC-PM to [words indistinct], and to continue pacification efforts.
The USC-SNA is calling on national charity groups and relief organizations to deliver emergency assistance to the Somali people.
Ali-Mahdi Radio Carries Statement on Aidid's Death
Mogadishu Voice of the Somali Republic in Somali
1700 GMT 2 Aug 1996
USC-SSA [United Somali Congress-Somali Salvation Alliance], USC-PM [United Somali Congress-Peace Movement] and USC-SNA [United Somali Congress-Somali National Alliance] today, 2 August, held a meeting under the chairmanship of Mr. Ali Mahdi Muhammad, the President of the Somali Republic, who is also the chairman of the USC-SSA, to discuss the future of the Somali people following the death on 1 August of General Muhammad Farah Aidid, who was an instigator o the civil wars and the stumbling block to the efforts to find a solution to the Somali issue.
After lengthy deliberations the participants of the meeting issued the following declaration:
1. Gen. Muhammad Farah Hasan Aidid, who was responsible for the series of civil wars in the country over a period of four years and eight months, starting from 17 November 1991 to 1 August 1996, died of injuries sustained during a battle in Makka and Medina with the peace-supporting coalition of forces of the USC-SSA, USC-PM and USC- SNA;
2. The Somali people, in general, and warring communities, in particular, are called upon to settle their differences peacefully. The Somali people are fed up with renewed civil war, considering the destruction inherited from the past civil war;
3. The USC-SSA, the USC-PM and USC-SNA, who share the same principles, will continue their efforts aimed at reviving Somali unity and restoring lost nationhood;
4. Aidid supporters are called upon to end the policy of self- proclamation and the use of the gun and are instead called upon to sit at the negotiating table with a view to resolving the Somali issue. The organizations also propose to hold a national conference and then form a broad-based government. The USC-SSA, USC-PM and USC-SNA appeal to the international community to provide us with humanitarian aid and to assist in national reconciliation.
SOMALI GUNMEN DRIVE THROUGH THE STREETS OF THE CAPITAL MOGADISHU
Somalis loot U.N. barracks near the Mogadishu port