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Transporting War to Somalia

by Abdinoor Mohamed


Since the terrorist attack on the American twin towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington on 9/11, the US government had plunged itself into a war on terror in an effort to crack down the terrorists who masterminded that attack on her soil. Its plan was to destroy all terrorist hideouts in the world over. Afghanistan had come to the rank of the American priorities in waging a war on terrorists as Osama Bin Ladin was believed to be  hiding in that mountainous country which, unlike the open land of Somalia, is an ideal place for guerrilla warfare. And in collaboration with the North Alliance forces the Americans and their British Allies had cracked down the Tallibans in Afghanistan



But when the fundamentalist government of the Talibans was defeated the war did not come to an end. The US had turned its spleen onto other countries such a Somalia as a next target of invasion or bombardment. Thanks to the then Transitional National Government (TNG) set up in Djibouti and headed Dr. Abdiqasim Salad Hassan who appealed to the US and international communities to restrain from attacking Somalia. 

The TNG went far to the extent that it had invited the US officials to come to Somalia and visit those places they suspected to be training camps for terrorists. Journalists from various agencies and TV’s and radio stations have also arrived Somalia and toured all the way from the South to Northeastern locations of Somalia with the intention to find out truth about Al-Qaeda  presence on Somali Soil.


Unfortunately they did not find any trace of terrorist hideouts in any part of the sites they visited. That was a sigh of relief for all Somalis who feared of Afghanistan type American bombardments to kill them and reduce their war-shattered country into mere ashes of history.   

Although the search for Al-Qaeda presence in Somalia virtually ended,  the American suspicion of possible Al-Qaeda members in Somalia has lingered much longer. A security treaty with neighboring nations such as Djibouti facilitated the Americans to build anti-terrorist coalition to safe guard the red sea and the Indian Ocean. However,  rise of Islamic courts in Mogadishu over the past few years has made the size of American suspicion much thicker than ever before. The Islamic courts have established a network among themselves, vowing that they will rule the country with Sharia Law. 


While these courts were taking root in Mogadishu there were gory warlords who lost hope over in reconciling their differences to work together for the common good of their nation and people. The courts have been gaining strength by the day as the warlords were busy how to widen their gap of differences through mass killings and looting of people’s properties.

They attended a number of reconciliation conferences but never came close to agree on any issue raised in the conference. But in October 2001, the Kenyan government invited them to come and talk in Eldoret (later moved to Mbagathi in the outskirts of Nairobi) in an effort to surmount the political hurdles lying on the hard road to nation-building. But the Islamic courts found themselves no where in the process of reconciling the Somali faction leaders and this had made them feel sidelined or otherwise pushed to the corners of isolation.


When Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed was elected President in October 2004 he immediately picked up Ali Mohamed Ghedi as his prime minister who set up his government by appointing a cabinet too large to be sustained with meager inputs received from donors. Things took a downward curve when a  row broke out in the Somali Parliament  over the  the bringing of foreign forces to Somalia. As the argument grew bitter by the day it finally culminated in a shameful brawl inside the interim parliament buildings (Grand Regency Hotel).  That split had given a tarnished image to the Somali parliamentarians in the world of diplomacy.


They did not even respect the nation and Government that had hosted them to hold their parliament sittings in Nairobi. That was a bad mark in the face of the Somali Interim Parliament. Those days there was an ever increasing gap between warlord seculars and non-secular islamists who were both alleged of receiving external assistance to fight inside the country. It had become clear that the two groups were at loggerheads as they were on a course that eventually led to a disastrous collision. Time had come when a number of warlords in Mogadishu launched an alliance to fight terrorism and restore peace. The ball started rolling. On one side, the islamists were accused of giving shelter to Al-Qaeda elements and receiving arms and ammunition from groups linked Bin Ladin, while the other party was accused of receiving cash in the tune of millions from the Americans to buy arms.


We have no proof of these accusations but Somalis are sure of one thing: that both the islamists and warlords did not have arms and ammunition factories. And since they had enough stock of arms in their stores it is beyond doubt that someone had given them to fight inside their country, destroy their country, kill their own people, defend the political ideology of other nations. How crazy!


The Moslem Arabs and the Americans have succeeded to transport their war to Somalia. It is difficult to understand why Somalia is exposed to such a terrible security situation and branded as terrorist hideout when non of the nineteen hijackers who slammed American planes on American buildings was a Somali. They were Arabs of different nationalities so why can't the war be taken to their countries instead of targeting Somalia?.


It is clear here that Somalia has become a soft victim for those countries who have a war between themselves but have no territory to fight. These nations send their children to school but deny Somali children to grow up in a decent environment.  And as children grow and open their eyes in a chaotic situation, they will lose sight with peace. Later on they will be recruited as militia by the rival forces long before they become adults. So Somalia is not only a suitable ground for military boxing but also it is a source of raw material for the future wars. How sad.


 Now see the terrible scenarios that are unfolding before our own eyes. Ethiopia and Eritrea have taken sides in the Somali crisis. Ethiopia has sided with the TFG in Baidoa while Eritrea is accused of sending aircrafts loaded with arms to the Islamic courts in Mogadishu.  If the trend continues like that, there will be no Somalia in the Somali territory, many will claim its ownership as each one who participated in the war would look back to the blood he or she had shed in the Somali soil.


In support of such a clash in a bigger scale, there are insecurity incidents that have been taking place in the country over the past few weeks. Many MP's were attacked in Baidoa without knowing any apparent reason or motive behind the assault. First a cabinet minister for Constitution and Federal affairs Abdalla Derow Isaq who was also  an MP has been shot dead in broad daylight in the center of Baidoa town. Where will this shooting leave the TFG? This is a question no one should answer in haste, at least in those days when the political waters of Somalia are getting murkier.

Secondly the Prime  Minister of the Somali Transitional  Government, Prof. Ali Mohamed Ghedi, survived a vote of no confidence after 126 MP’s voted against him.


A government which lacks the support of that big number of MP’s is less likely to enjoy a sound political environment with its cabinet and parliament.  Thirdly, On 28 July 2006, it has been reported that more than a dozen ministers have resigned from the Transitional Federal Government after they had laid blame on the Prime Minister, Mr. Ali Mohamed Ghedi for his inefficiency to run the government, or not being transparent in his accounts and for failing to enhance the reconciliation talks with the Islamic courts in Khartoum, Sudan. This move infuriated the prime minister and called these resignations as mere machinations of foreign governments. If these ministers' resignation letter is accepted( which the prime minister pledged he would) then it will be a harsh blow to the government and to Mr. Ghedi himself as more may follow suit.


On the other side of the political coin, the clerics are not handling any cases of crime at their court houses but instead they are absorbed in a grand scheme of political maneuvers, craving to be visible in the political limelight. They expanded their influence in a number of areas in and outside Mogadishu. Even the Presidential Palace formerly occupied by Hussein Aideed, has fallen to the courts after Aideed handed it over to them.


The situation in Mogadishu is so polarized now that the Ethiopian presence in Somalia and the military equipment allegedly supplied by Eritrea to the Islamic courts are the talk of the day.  The long tussle between the African union and the Arab league over the direction Somali politics would take has now degenerated into a nearly full-blown conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea inside Somali Soil. The two countries failed to resolve their border dispute and are transporting their war to Somalia as a cover up of their incompetence to end hostilities in their respective countries.


If at all war is transported to our country, it is not the war mongers who die in the battle but those soldiers and young militia who are fighting will lose their life. Worse still is the fact that the people residing in the war areas will get killed, displaced. Looted and raped.  Their farms will be destroyed, and they will be sent to camps of displaced populations to wait for food donations from NGO's and UN agencies. 


Unlike the war in the Middle East where the victims are getting immediate media attention, the situation in Somalia will appear in  the television screens when most of the people  have perished. Think of a Somali child who is hungry and sick, would he get money in the pipeline as much soon as aid reaches the Lebanese child?  The sad part of the story is that we are neither hearing from the humanitarian agencies nor seeing any plans and strategies to prepare for the worst if the worst comes.


Abdi-Noor Mohamed
Mogadishu, Somalia.

[email protected]



The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "Hiiraan Online"

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