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Toronto (Canada)

Feb, 13. 2004


M. M. Afrah

"Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man."
Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948

Mohamed Warsame Hadrawi is one of the great moral and Peace Crusader of our time whose lifelong dedication to the fight against injustice, war mongering and acts of violence won him the admiration of many peace-loving Somalis everywhere.

Since his release from detention in a remote corner of Somalia for more than a decade of incommunicado and isolation, Hadrawi has been at the center of peace crusade on behalf of the ordinary Somalis who have been kept hostage of the gun by a bunch of brutal and merciless warlords for more than a decade.

The collapse of law and order was well underway long before the clan warfare. Urban centers continued to suffer violence, political chaos and economic disruption. Pastoralists and the farming population have less fared well as water wells (bore holes) have been poisoned and nomadic encampments in northwest and central province destroyed by the military. The inhabitants were accused "for harbouring anti-revolutionary elements and for spreading false rumours prejudicial to national security." General Barre's regime generally branded the armed insurgents, SNM, SSDF, USC and SPM as "bandits" in the payroll of un-named foreign countries,

This was a potential disaster in the making. It was a nasty preview of conditions to come. It became apparent during the ensuing years of civil war and an unprecedented bloodshed, but the Gulf War, which broke out at about the same time, dwarfed this tragedy.

Hadrawi, a prolific playwright and song composer, depicted in his plays the prevailing chaos, corruption, nepotism and the mismanagement of public funds and the confiscation of emergency food aid, which attracted the attention of the politically sensitive revolutionary government, which in turn earned him detention, without trial, and incommunicado, in a harsh environment comparable to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned by the apartheid regime for more than 27 years, breaking stones.His plays and his patriotic poems have been banned by the military regime. State Radio Mogadishu has even ceased to put on air all his masterpieces, including his popular number "Belet-weyne" (Beer Lula) sung by Hassan Adan Samatar as anti-revolutionary! To defy the ban coffee shop owners in the city continuously played the pre-recorded "Beer Lula" in ear-splitting volume day and night. The panicky NSS simply ignored them but cased some of the joints, just in case.

Now, the present crop of warlords is spreading rumours that Hadrawi "is seeking publicity and self-promotion in order to stand for an election for a political office." This smacks of smear campaign against the great man.

Undaunted, Hadrawi continued to preach peace, stability and non-violence in the Somali Peninsula during his current "Long journey to Peace" overseas. In his interviews he challenges faction leaders/warlords gathering in Nairobi to create a political system that builds public trust and institutions, including independent judiciary, freedom of speech and association, among other human rights, and to end their narrow political ping-pong, and bickering once and for all.

Hadrawi's courage, dedication and patriotism should remain our source of inspiration.


It is hard to imagine that the world's greatest supermarket of weapons of all types and caliber freely open their doors every morning in Mogadishu to sell their deadly arsenal to anyone who can afford at bargain prices, depending on that day's intensity war fever in the city when the price of an AK-47 assault rifle goes up. Their customers include 12-year-old boys and the city's freelancers, the assassins-for-hire otherwise known as Mooryaan.

It is also hard to match the overwhelming majority of the people with this weapons bonanza country who are subject to chaos, hunger, and anarchy that seldom appear in the Western media since the Americans and the UN walked away from job half done in 1994 "as not worth undertaking in the first place". For all practical purpose Somalia became the world's first privatized state. Evidently, drug traffickers and gunrunners have been taking advantage of the lack of a government to accumulate wealth and hire their own fully armed private army.

It is not clear how this massive weaponry end up in Somalia or who are the suppliers, despite UN appointed "independent" monitors who seldom visit the country citing insecurity. (Recently UN official, a member of the UN field security team, was abducted by militia gunmen operating in Kismayu, but was later freed unharmed after 10 days in captivity.)

Had the dormant UN monitors visited the Bakaaraha, one of the thriving supermarkets of weapons, they would have witnessed test shots fired by prospective customers. They would have witnessed that, despite a 1992 arms embargo, weapons are freely available in this sprawling open air "Supermarket of Weapons", offering everything from RPGs (Rocket Propelled Grenades), Mortars, Landmines, Milan anti-tank rockets, anti-aircraft missiles and heavy machineguns. And for the first time in Somalia the Israeli made Uzi machineguns are on sale at bargain prices.

They would have witnessed fully labeled huge wooden crates conspicuously showing the names of the suppliers and their countries of origin, and even the name of the middleman.
The wooden crates are sold separately as construction material.

There are of course several other supermarkets of weapons in the city, such as Sinai and Argentina Markets, where apart from buying weapons, you can also exchange your US dollars, Euros and Saudi Real, among other convertible currencies. But the US Dollar is still the Grand Old Daddy of International currencies.

In the future, it will be impossible for any government to disarm the young militia boys as the majority are drug (Qaad) addicts and have no skills of their own and are numerically too many to absorb in future armed forces.

This is a problem of great proportions and one cannot simply brush it aside.

Every warlord/faction leader is aware that it is important to collect arms and shut down the mushrooming supermarkets of weapons in order to affect any security-at least in Mogadishu. But it transpires that the owners of the gun bazaars are some of the very people who are now gathering in Nairobi talking peace and reconciliation, while at the same time deliberately ignore the weapons problem for their own vested interests. Evidently, closing down the arms bazaars do not bode well with these Mafia-like godfathers.

In one of my past TALKING POINTS I had pointed out that the possession of a gun gives people a sense of confidence to protect their interests, even if in the process they violate the rights of other citizens. They will never relinquish arms so easily.

Many sincere and responsible people I know personally will think before they hand over their weapons. One valid excuse is that there is no government to guarantee their safety. "What if other clans attack us?" they would say. Without some sort of guarantee a lot of people will mount stiff resistance. They feel arms collection without effective law enforcement officers and transparent politicians at the helm, puts their future in the dark.

This is not an issue to be taken lightly. If a new government does not come up with a resettlement and employment program, it will certainly fail in its cleaning up campaigns.


Some officials, including the Kenyan Foreign Minister, Kalonzo Musyoka insisted that the Somalis should reach consensus when they are sure it will burst later and pave the way for a renewed violence. And as Mahatma Gandhi used to say Violence breeds Violence-a prelude to the all-familiar vicious circle. What I can not understand is why the sponsors and the participants of the talks failed to give top priority to the vital 3Ds-Disarmament, Demobilization and Demining during the more than a year of senseless talks, first in Eldoret and later in a warthog infested Nairobi suburb known as Mbagathi. Simply put, the international community, i.e. the United States and the European Union are disillusioned with the complex Somali clan system and petty politics and are threatening to cut the funds without bothering to highlight the 3Ds, which is the core problem in Somalia.

Uganda President Yuweri Musoveni was right when he said the Somalis are dying in genocide in slow motion. Mr. Musoveni, a former guerrilla chieftain himself, knows what it means to die in Genocide in slow motion.

On the other hand some of the participants claim that the document they had signed on January 29 in front of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki was doctored and the text altered, and unless the problem is addressed they would walk out of the talks. As a matter of fact some of them have already checked out of the posh five-star Safari Park Hotel, huffing and puffing, according to our man in Nairobi.

If the accusation is true, we would like IGAD and the Kenyan Foreign Minister to enlighten us who had altered the text of this vital Transitional Charter, and WHY?

By M. M. Afrah©2004

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