By Abdirahman I. Waberi
“In War, resolution; In Defeat, defiance; in Victory, magnanimity”
One may not notice but the War in Somalia differs from other conventional wars of its kind for the sheer lack of, either party holding prisoners of war. NONE!! Could this be a classic case of vicious War-crimes committed? Or simply deadlier then expected? Reports in the coming days will shed a light on the matter but my instinct tells me YES…War-crimes may have been committed. And by the way, not by the winning side but by those coward Mullahs who in the name of Allah sent Somali children led to believe it is OK to die and that they would be martyrs while they were (Mock-up sheiks) evidently preparing to cut and run. The born-again Islamists leaders with their newly given Arab names are no were to be found.
“They were not defeated, they were only killed” It is said of the French Foreign Legion.
The prolonged but sporadic incursions into Somalia’s Islamist strong holds by Ethiopia’s army over the years were mainly in border areas and villages. Now, it is finally transformed into this still unfolding nevertheless full scale Military invasion deep into lawless Somalia’s heartland and momentarily into the forbidden city of Mogadishu. The Ethiopian fire-power was also hauling hastily trained, nervous and initially frightened packs of TFG militia in Ethiopian Armed Personnel Carriers while some were growling behind the Ethiopian Tanks for cover. However, they are mainly from president Yusuf’s sub-clan who are as strangers to Mogadishu area as the Ethiopian forces. Meanwhile waves of amateur teenage boys (shabaabs) misguidedly thrown into the frontlines against the merciless firepower and compact trained Ethiopian forces they could hardly match up against believing that they had a chance were all either killed or run for their lives.
Many believe that this adventure formulate and motivate a brand new battleground not only for local clan and political rivalries but also for regional and international strategic interests. What amazes people is the facts that those once upon a time good and religious Islamic Court Union officers, who only came to make peace and briefly get rid of the criminals for a change, surprisingly distributed their weaponry back to local Mogadishu gangs and warlords they bragged their defeat. So much for good and peace-loving sheiks!! What a patriotic tactic in their primitive minds. I hope the BBC’s Yusuf Garaad who was seen as their biggest fan and single promoter has something to say about this disgusting occurrences.
Remnants of the I.C.U and their top leaders are now on the run and are believed to be heading south towards their own former Al-Itihaad base on the Island of Ras-Kamboni south of Kismayo an archetype of Somali-Islamist’s Tora-Bora. It is were Fazul Abdullah Mohammed of Comorros, listed in the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” with a $5 million bounty on his head; and Saleh Ali Salih Nabhan of Kenya; and Abu Taha al-Sudani of Sudan were seen few years back. Fazul was suspected to be with the ICU in Mogaidshu. Although Sheik Hassan Dahir Aways and Sheik Sharif Ahmed both denied such allegations and called it “Islamophobic Western Conspiracy” while on the other hand their comrade in arms and cousin of Aweys Sheik Yusuf Indha’adde proudly invited the likes of Fazul into Somalia in a BBC interview and news reports.
Adding insult to injury, the Associated Press has a copy of video depicting young Arab jihadists in the outskirts of Mogadishu. Sheikh Yusuf Indha’adde obviously knows where the "Young Arab Jihadists" are located. He is clearly seen on that propaganda tape with them. The video starts with a black flag featuring a Quranic verse. Such black banners have been used by Islamic extremists elsewhere. According to the Associated Press, the tape is similar to other videos produced by Islamic extremists in other countries where al-Qaida is active.
The I.C.U. after consolidated power among other Islamists moved swiftly and firmly to set itself up as a formal structure. It renamed itself the Somali Supreme Islamic Courts Council (I.C.C.) on June 2006 and constituted a consultation committee (SHUURA), were all the power rests. No one knows the central command structure of the SHUURA or the identity of its 75 members except Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, Hassan Abdullah Hersi (Al-Turki), Sheik Yusuf Indha’adde, Abdi-Rahin Adow and of coarse Sheik Hassan Dahir Aways and others.
The free world looks the other way for reasons comprehensible to many, and remarkably may not to more others in the region who do not live-through the Sept 11 experience or even the end of the cold war for that matter. On the other hand, it is unlikely that Ethiopian military power will subdue the Islamist challenge in the long run or change the situation bred by 16 years of chaos and lack of institutions other then Saudi funded Wahabi Madarassas inside Somalia. Indeed, the TFG’s reliance on forces of the old enemy is unlikely to endear it to the Somali citizenry, for long. Instead, the escalating war will likely ensure that Somalia remains a failed state for the foreseeable future,
Concern over Ethiopia’s current internationally unpopular regime using this military campaign to divert world attention from the recent ugly experience of Ethiopia’s elections in which the EU observers, the International press and the opposition parties all protested of government heavy handedness and clear rigging of elections. Consequently, $750 million dollars from donor countries withheld and felt heavily in local economy that just started thriving before the lections. This opportunistic campaign could never take off a better time. Thanks to an aggressive but a primitive enemy that lost time and space to its adversaries. Yet, the pretext for such invasion at this time is apprehensive because of many serious essentials that would definitely alter the sociopolitical landscape of the Horn forever; Good or Bad? Only history will tell. But unless the route causes of the problems are addressed, picture perfect invasion and quick military victories wouldn’t stand a chance for the same reasons the TFG could not make any tangible progress and glued to its death bed for over two years;
A) It is accredited to Ethiopia’s regime as the sole architect of the FTG’s formation in Kenya two years ago. Yet the FTG was only in paper since its inception while its leader Abdillah Yusuf was continuously begging Ethiopia’s Meles Zinawe to escort him (under the peril of the gun) into his long dreamed throne at Mogadishu. But that did not fit Ethiopia’s national interest at the time.
B) The TFG was then humiliated by three factors; Warlords, Its own president and later the ICU.
a. First, arrogant warlords who know no different then what they were always good at, killing and pillaging defenseless people for 16 years waved their fingurs and dared the TFG to move to Mogadishu.
b. Abdillahi Yusuf, Politically incorrect fool as its president who lacks all intuitions of leadership made every mistake in the book and shot himself in the foot time and time again. He genuinely hates and publicly belittles the very people he wants to lead (other tribes in the South Somalia). He keeps repeating remarks along these lines in much of his talking events that constantly frustrate his supporters.
c. Followed by recent Islamic Courts Union “ICU” (7 century Arabia mind-set armed with tribal pride and modern machineguns) who along with the warlords treated the self-destructing TFG, insignificant and irrelevant.
The TFG was desperate for a big brother while the debate about a peace keeping force into Somalia kept appearing the main dividing factor among its homeless parliament members while there was never a peace worth keeping in the first place.
So, this couldn’t be better for Meles Zenawi and his government to look like a formidable partner in the war of terror for the US and therefore exonerated for cutting corners in the Ethiopian democratization process. And once the Bush administration looks the other way so would the EU. Remember the famous quote uttered by president F.D Roosevelt’s secretary of State Cordell Hull “He may be a son-of-a-bitch, but he is our son-of-a-bitch” referring to Rafael Milino a Dominican Republic dictator during the second World-War? Well, you know the rest then.
There are unlikely to be any clear winners anytime soon, except all the Somali working women who happen to be the major bread winners in the Somali households because of the nation’s shattered male workforce who were compelled to stay home (Taliban style) and refrain from work since their extreme interpretation of Islam equals to that of the Afghan Talibans call such measures. It is not in the Somali culture for them to come out by the thousands and briefly celebrate for this taboo cause. But for the rest of Somalis, after more than 16 years of war, warlordism, floods and famine can only look forward to more of the same. But for those working women, there are some defeats more triumphant than victories.
Abdirahman I. Waberi