Like never before, Mogadishu is reeling from the worst carpet-bombing by an unlikely source: The Transitional Federal Government and their Ethiopian allies. Hundreds of innocent civilians are being killed or injured in a span of two weeks, and exoduses of refugees are hopelessly seeking a reprieve from this collective punishment. Even hospitals, already overflowing with the wounded, are being destroyed.
It’s an unprecedented attack from a government, whose number one responsibility is to protect its own citizens. Aghast by these actions, the Hiiraan Online Editorial Board calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities in Mogadishu to end the mounting casualties among the civilian population.
We believe that such carnage is only going to augment the anti-government resentment that’s already prevalent among the Somali people. TFG’s success will not be measured by how many people die from the indiscriminate shelling by the Ethiopians, but it will be gauged by its ability to convince its adversaries to join the political process. So far, the latter hasn’t happened.
Having said that, we understand that some anarchists are taking advantage of the unstable situation and we condemn their heinous acts. But we believe that the TFG has a fiduciary responsibility to prevent mass killings by all means possible. Unfortunately, what we have seen over the last two weeks is tantamount to total annihilation.
The recent bombardments that convulsed the densely populated neighborhoods of Mogadishu have the hallmarks of vitriol and vengeance. This could foment a nasty clan warfare that could derail the entire peace process.
Clearly, the feeble TFG has departed from its original reconciliation path. By doing so, it is making short term tactical errors and long term strategic lapses. The TFG has already lost moral control of the most populous, most important city in the country, all the while forfeiting a much-needed confidence to govern the nation.
Of course, Mogadishu is an intricate city. Pacifying it takes an enormous amount of political and social capital—something the Union of Islamic Courts easily secured last year. The only other way to pacify the capital—barring total annihilation—hinges on a serious diplomatic solution. Though the prospects of that are immensely compromised, we believe it’s salvageable.
Our grandest fear is that hope will be lost for Somalia, once and for a while—again.
Finally, we know for sure that carpet-bombing Mogadishu isn’t the answer. Genuine dialogue that leads to an all-inclusive system was, is and will be the only answer.