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Who is fighting the so-called “Ethiopian occupation” of Somalia?

by Abdulaziz Mohammed
Monday, September 17, 2007


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Reason and logic dictate that human beings have every right to resist an aggressive, occupying force. On the surface, given the long standing history between Ethiopia and Somalia, it would sound and look right and appropriate for, at least, some Somalis to oppose, yes, with violence against Ethiopian forces’ presence in Somalia—of all places Mogadishu, the seat and symbol of Somali sovereignty. After all, the Somalis and Ethiopians have engaged in the long past and recent times numerous wars, which at times were religious in nature, the last of which was to regain or retain—depending on which point of view of the two sides—a Somali region which the British colonial power had sliced from greater Somalia and rewarded it to their Ethiopian ally against World War II fascism.


Nothing can perpetuate as effectively, between human beings, hatred and enmity as land dispute; on this, look no further than the intractable Israeli-Arab conflict. History, however, also teaches us that, sometimes, even diehard enemies could set aside—all be it temporarily—their conflict for a common enemy. The newfound relationship between Ethiopia and Somalia is forged by the Somali desperate need for relief from mainly a self-inflicted suffering of 17 years, on one hand, and the Ethiopia’s/others’ fear and apprehension of the global monster du jour of Islamic terrorism on the other hand. Was not the Islamic Courts Union, instead of occupying themselves with the Somali national interest and reconciliation, which championed the Wahhabi global terror? Was not the ICU which implemented a new and alien—to the Somalis—kind of Islam in Mogadishu and wherever under their jurisdiction? Yes and yes!


In these sensitive times, it would be a clear sign of imbecility, on anyone’s part, not to have foreseen and expected the Ethiopian reaction—fully goaded and funded by a greater power which suffered from terror by religious extremists—to the threats dispatched at them from Mogadishu. So, Ethiopia and its superpower ally had to do what they had to do. Also, it was very clear that the interest of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which became impotent and helplessly under the Damocles of the ICU, would perfectly lineup with and readily welcoming the Ethiopian interest to intervene. Mind you, this is not the first time that Somalis sought Ethiopian intervention in Somali affairs. I shouldn’t remind any Somali that not too long ago many Somali groups, for their clan-based power ambitions, did not find it a shameful thing to do to flock to Ethiopia—then led by Mingistu Haile Merriam, a man who had nothing in his heart for Somalia but its utter devastation—to receive the embers for setting Somalia on fire.


I submit that Ethiopia now is not the same Ethiopia of our fathers, let alone our forefathers; the Ethiopia then would not have let Eretria, their only access to the sea, go independent from it—a situation that rendered this old empire landlocked; nor would it had recognized each ethnic group and their distinct language, culture, land and border within Ethiopia. This is not to say that everything is well, or there is no oppression going on within Ethiopia now, but it has come a long way from its old days—thanks to the Tigre! This Tigre power in Ethiopia, led by Meles Zanawe, has not forgotten the crucial support they received in Mogadishu in their quest to overthrow Mingistu. Nor did they break their promise to their then Eritrean ally against Mingistu government for full independence. Why would they, the Tigre leadership in Addis Ababa, be so dumb now as to harbor any illusion as to occupy Somalia for subjugation, a tall order task that Ethiopia could not afford financially or militarily?


I ask: Who is fighting the so-called Ethiopian occupiers in Somalia now? To answer this question, one should consider the source of bombings and assassinations which, by the way, is only confined to Mogadishu. First, it is a very small group in Mogadishu. The larger population in Mogadishu is neither involved nor supportive of such actions. The truth is that these people are the remnants of the same group who made Somalia the hell-hole it became for the last 17 years, even without any foreign presence in Somalia as their excuse. What credibility should theses thugs have now, as freedom-fighters and defenders of the faith, with any reasonable Somali anywhere when the fact is that these are of the same gangs that had blundered on their own a nation? No credence shall they receive, on their latest false claims that they are waging a war for freedom from Ethiopian occupation of Somalia, that real peace will come if only Ethiopian forces left Somalia, those who made the Somalis refugees, scattered all over the globe as stateless beggars. Look who they are killing even now, in their daily bomb-planting and grenade-throwing here and there, our own innocent brothers and sisters in Mogadishu!


As a Somali, If it takes Ethiopia—all the historical bad blood between my country and Ethiopia notwithstanding—to assist my country to stand, once again, on its capable collective feet, I am all for it. Perhaps, it was Allah, in his mysterious ways, as nothing happens without His will, who custom ordered the Tigre from the highlands of Ethiopia to proceed to Mogadishu and remove the gangs of many faces, the last of which was to put on a false mask of Islam, from the backs of true believers! Having said that, I do mourn the many loses of our innocent Somali lives in the back-and–forth bombings between the Ethiopian forces and the Al-Capone type gangs in Mogadishu. On this tragedy, the following Somali saying could not be any more adequate to describe it:


“Dub Munaafiq shiday muumin baa ku gubta.”

(A fire lit by a hypocrite burns the innocent faithful)


That was clearly a well calculated, cynical tactic on the part of criminal gangs, who never cared about the sanctity of their fellow Somali lives, of deliberately mortgaging lives—knowing and counting on fully well what would be the terrible result of the Ethiopian forces’ reaction in superior firepower—to induce populous support for their own dastardly designs.    


As for the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), it may not be perfect, but it is what we got. It certainly is a lot better than the chaos, and let he who has a better system of government for Somalia at heart work with what we got. The idea that out of a new chaos and mayhem will come something better and agreeable to all Somalis is ludicrous, as the last 16 disastrous years of Somalia will testify. For me, the first name, TRANSITIONAL, of the current government in Mogadishu means a “bridge” only between the chaoses of the past and would be the ideal of local, regional and national peaceful elections in which all Somalis respectively and together would choose their representatives. In fact, this is the time when good intentioned Somalis should start to experiment, in parallel to the TFG, a grass-roots effort of rolling the dice in elections for local and regional self-governance. This would undoubtedly be a way of checking the power of the TFG. It is also the means of not only steering the Transitional Federal Government in the right direction of heeding and bending to the will of the people, but also an effective way to defang that old and ugly nemesis of Somali GOOD-GOVERNANCE: the one-clan or group—at the expense of the rest—ambitions of ruling all Somalia. Let the people of the Heeran region, for instance, be the masters—responsible that is—of their own regional and local affairs. Let the residents of Dhuuso Mareeb (no fart left behind) town be the owners of their town politics. There should be no permission needed or sought now from the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu for people in their regions and localities to proceed in organizing and forming their local, democratic administrations.   


In conclusion, my dear Somali brothers and sisters, Somalia—despite all the calamities of the last 16 years which we brought on ourselves—our country and people have a great potential. Without a doubt, better days for our country and people are ahead of us. There is a great wealth buried in our land, one of the longest coasts for access to the rest of the world belts our country. Our people, given the chance, can learn and quickly adapt to this new brave world of technological and globalization wonders. Just see and read about how Somali refugees in North America, Europe and even South Africa, in little over a decade, have—to the amazement of some, and to the envy of others—from nothing established businesses. We could see, sooner than we imagine, our country economically become the Hong Kong or the Abu Dhabi of Africa. The only thing that is in our way to unleash such potential is wanton violence and the need for some small groups, unrepresentative of the overwhelming majority, to satisfy their own personal ambitions in continued violence. Enough is enough!


Abdulaziz Mohammed 

E-mail: [email protected]

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