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Fidel Castro remains a divisive figure among Somalis

Hiiraan Online
Saturday, November 26, 2016

Mengistu Haile Mariam (R) with Fidel Castro on a visit to Cuba in 1974

Mogadishu (HOL) - Former Cuban strongman Fidel Castro passed away Friday night at the age of 90. In a shaking voice, his brother and current president Raul Castro, announced on state television that the comandante who led his rebel army to a unlikely victory against a CIA-sponsored paramilitary and embraced Marxist-Socialism was dead.

For millions around the world, Fidel Castro's name was synonymous with revolution, and Soviet-style communism. It was his unwavering commitment to the latter for which Somali's remember him.

Many Somali's blame Fidel Castro and the 15,000 Cuban soldiers he sent to reinforce Ethiopian troops during the War for Ogaden in 1977 for being the catalyst that destroyed the hope for "Somali-weyn" or Greater Somalia.

Siad Barre, confident with Somalia's military prowess and emboldened by Mengistu Haile Mariam's struggle to consolidate power launched an invasion into Ethiopian held Ogaden. After a string of initial victories, the SNA occupied almost 90% of the Ogaden.

Ultimately, the Soviet Union was forced to choose between two allies and abandoned Somalia in favour of Ethiopia. The Soviet's trained 50,000 Ethiopians, sent military hardware and sent between 15,000-17,000 Cuban soldiers.

The Soviet support turned the tide of battle and after a crushing defeat at Jigjiga Siad Barre recalled the SNA from Ethiopia.

Somalia was never able to recover from the excursion and many believe that it was the beginning of the end for Siad Barre's rule.

For Somalis, Fidel Castro is just as polarizing in life as in death. Here is what some are saying on Twitter about him this morning.


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