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Somalia: A Victim of Cold War

by Abdi-Noor Mohamed
Monday, February 14, 2011

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Many intellectuals and renowned scholars have tried to analyze the situation of Somalia following the demise of the military regime in 1991 by shedding light on the causes of the war and the achievements/losses so far sustained over the two decades of strife in the country. I have not had enough time to listen to all the interviews but I admired the competence with which they had articulated their views. I must admit that I have learned so much from them and I am proud to have such a high caliber Somali intellectuals around the world . But in spite of  this vast knowledge and information, I think there is a need to add one more point which I think has not been mentioned or at least not taken seriously as a point of departure to fully analyze the situation.  My argument is based on the fact that Somalia is a Victim of the Cold War and/or the end of it, let me say. In the seventies and eighties when the cold war was at its peak we were the darling of the East and the West whose charm and beauty have been coveted by other nations of the world. We traded between the superpowers to prove our importance and role in the stability of the region thus generating tremendous amount of military and financial support.  This advantage had its own disadvantages as the contest of the superpowers over the control of Somali waterways had allowed dictatorship to thrive and attract international attention which in turn had facilitated the regime to tighten its grip further deep into the nation´s leadership. But still, I can say, we were a sovereign nation with a place of honor in the community of nations.  
Today 20 years after the end of the cold war, we are nothing more than a bunch of pirates, extremists, terrorists and warlords fighting over resources with no vision to see beyond the interests of their clan. Somalia has lost the glamour to flirt with the cold war victors (in this case the US and the West) since it has no geographical or strategic importance to them. In the cold war heydays the story was different. There was a time when the soviets and the Americans had dropped their arms talks over the issue of the Somali-Inhabited region of Ogaden in Ethiopia. 
Those days the Somali- Ethiopian conflict has touched deep international dimensions to the extent that the Russians and the Americans have taken sides of the conflict as Carter's National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski declared that the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT)  between the US and the Soviet Union “lies buried in the sands of the Ogaden", signifying the death of détente according to global security.

With the end of the cold war, the red sea has become a dangerous pirate-infested waters. So is the whole nation particularly in the South where God had blessed with two rivers and a fertile soil.  Somalia is now literally reduced to a nation in shock.  Its intellectuals are drained, its businessmen are war-profiteers, its  children have no future, it has no army nor does it have effective police force, its leaders are selected by the international community and not elected by their people, its government and parliament are paid by donors, its land is divided into segments of clan enclaves, half of its people are armed, killing each other, while the other half is starving to death, those who have found their way out of the country are disintegrating in the Diaspora such as Sweden where we have more than 30,000 Somali immigrants with many more expected to flee the country as a result of chaos and strife.
There are many ways to analyze the Somali war. Maybe there are those who can talk and write volumes about Somalia, attacking one tribe and crowning another, cursing one and blessing the other, blaming one and praising the other. But in the end it is the power vacuum created by death of a long ruling dictatorship that the country has crumbled over itself like a pack of cards. The fall down of the regime has been caused largely by the end of the Cold War as otherwise it would have clung to power and suppressed the innocent masses with the money and weapons it had been receiving from the contesting superpowers. For me I have nothing to say more than two poems to express my views on the current situation of Somalia. I can also add few lines to suggest which way I think we could stop the blood-shed in Somalia and maybe I can send a message of hope to world leaders. 
The poems:
Somalia is a nation without a nation
Somalia is a nation without a nation
It is a nation without a national unity
There is no place you can call a nation
As the nation lives in a nation of terror
Mogadishu is a city without a city
It is a city merged within the city
There is no place you can call a city
As the city lives in a city of death

Kismayo  is a town without a town
It is a town within a town of no town
There is no place you can call a town
As the town lives in a town of fear
Somalia is a nation without a state
It is a nation lost in the middle of loss
As it is a nation of war at war with itself
It is a nation in endless despair
Fading in a horizon of terror
Thawing away like a wax
As it weeps Without tears

It is a nation in shock 
Disappearing like a needle 
Slipped in a deep chaotic well 
As it leaves behind 
Nothing but rings of good-byes

In Conclusion, the only hope one can see for Somalia is to follow the footsteps of our brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen and the rest of the Arab world where the power of the people is moving what many thought to be immovable. To the world leaders, i would say: . Now it is the time to shift to the side of the people as President Obama has already demonstrated in his speeches over the events unfolding in Egypt.  Please follow suit.

Abdi-Noor Mohamed
Writer and Film maker
Vaxjo, Sweden.

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