this age of free press, email chain letters, and sensationalizing
media stories, many people are willing to believe almost
anything these days. But if you do a little research you’ll
find people who never set foot in Somalia to witness what
has been going on the ground, for example, fabricate most
of the stories about Somalia.
A case in point
is a story written in one of the leading Kenyan newspapers.
The author says, among other hackneyed subjects, that
Hussein Aideed controls Mogadishu and the rest of Southern
dictates that, apart from professional ethics, it is crucial
that journalists are required to take time to search for
the truth before running to the computer keyboard and
dish out falsehoods and innuendoes. This is nothing but
a gross abuse of free press.
Just talk to
the boys with the AK47 in the streets of Mogadishu and
they will tell you that no one is in control in Mogadishu
except child soldiers and that Hussein fled to Baidoa
after a botched attempt to assassinate him in 2002 while
trying to take the main Mogadishu port. Several of his
bodyguards have been killed in the skirmishes, and vowed
not to return to the beleaguered capital. Instead, he
has been shuttling between Baidoa and Addis Ababa. The
truth is: the buck has nowhere to stop in Mogadishu. It’s
free for all. In short, no one is in control.
Factual inaccuracies, misrepresentations and outright
lies about the existence of Al-Qaeda in Somalia have been
constant and consistent theme in the American and other
Western media for sometimes now. I have said and I am
saying now that a foreign terrorist in Somalia will stand
out like sore thumb, while in actual fact there are terrorist
cells in the US, Britain, France and Germany, waiting
to strike again. We are also aware that there are Christian
terrorists, such as the IRA (the Irish Republic Army)
in Northern Ireland that has been waging guerrilla warfare
for decades, and ETA, the Basque separatists in Spain,
and the Italian Brigata Rosse, but they are never described
as Christian terrorists. On the other hand the Western
media constantly scream Muslim terrorists, or Muslim Fundamentalists.
Personally, I abhor all terrorists, whether they are Christians,
Hindus, Muslims or Jews. The question many people ask
themselves is why some individuals blow themselves with
portable TNT explosives as a last resort? These are called
suicide bombers. I remember advisory notes sent by Reuters
news agency to its correspondents around the world that
one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom
The incident in New York and Washington, DC was a terrible
tragedy. I was watching on television when the two airliners
hit the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. And these
heinous crimes remained vividly in my mind to this day
and as far as I know no Somali national joined the Taliban
in Afghanistan or Al-Qaeda. Of course there are Somali
terrorists but these are home grown locally known as Mooryaan
who mercilessly massacre their own countrymen.
Many of these
Mooryaan have nomadic backgrounds in the Central Province,
and a good number of them are old enough to start a family
and hold a decent job, if given the chance. Doubtless,
they never fought in foreign wars as part of an international
terrorism and blow themselves in suicide missions, kami
people have my deepest sympathies, but as I had often
made it clear in this and other websites at the time,
none of the perpetrators was a Somali national.
I know from
hard personal experience how high the price was, because
I too lost my first-born son and more than ten family
members, neighbours, friends and colleagues in Somalia’s
savage civil war. Burying your loved ones in shallow graves
as bullets fly over your head is the worst nightmare that
endures in your life forever.
A President without a Capital
WANTS SOMALI GOVERNMENT BACK HOME” one
recent headline in a Nairobi newspaper screams. Trite
words, perhaps, but why Britain’s sudden interest
in the very intricate Somali affairs after decades of
silence? Is it trying to undo the wrongs it committed
against the Somali people during the partition of the
Downing Street felt uneasy about Britain’s role
in giving large tracts of land, the size of France, to
Ethiopia and Kenya under one harebrained pretext or another,
shelving Bevin’s pitch of Greater Somalia in the
process. And now Mr. Blair has made plans to help rebuild
it, and he is all too aware of the risks his government
was about to take, and the explosive nature of the Somalia
No wonder Britain
declined to contribute a British contingent to the United
Nations International Task Force (UNITAF) in 1993. The
question that bugs me is: would Britain succeed where
the United States, the only superpower in the world today
and the United Nations, failed with disastrous consequences?
If the grim look on Mr. Chris Mullin’s face is anything
to go by, this isn’t Britain’s idle whim.
Britain’s Minister for Africa said at a press conference
in Nairobi that Britain is prepared to help Somalia train
forces to disarm militias and stabilize the country, where
he said, lawlessness prevented a new government from taking
probably trained by Britain’s crack Special Forces
dubbed as SAS would have to figure out what to do about
the estimated 60,000 gunmen who control the capital. Storm
the city, just like the Americans did in 1993, to mop
up resistance? Open dialogue with the greedy faction leaders
to order their militia to surrender their weapons without
firing a shot, and without rattling non-combatants? Open
separate dialogue with local merchants who had valued
their US Dollars above tribal loyalty? Our man in Mogadishu
says many of these arms merchants at the sprawling Bakaaraha
open-air arms bazaar are holding onto their ill-gained
money in anticipation of the worst. Evidently, for them
peace and return of stability means bankruptcy, and out
of business forever.
be cognizant that impressive arrays of extremely lethal
weapons are also in the hands of non-combatant citizens
as some sort of insurance policy. But these are locked
up in time of relative serenity, which is a rare commodity
in Somalia. They know from bitter experience that a tiny
spark can trigger off bloody clan warfare, and as always
they are of course the ones who suffer the most.
Dear Mr. Mullin,
Somalia requires radical surgery, not just empty promises
at hastily organized press conferences You talked about
the need for the government to return to Mogadishu, but
had not addressed the real problem vis-à-vis the
explosive situation on the ground, and that even putting
a million peace enforcers in Mogadishu and the rest of
the country will not help. In fact, they will end up defending
themselves inside fortified bunkers and trenches, just
like their UN predecessors, UNOSOM I and UNOSOM II spearheaded
by the Americans codenamed “Operation Restore Hope”
let alone disarming the multitudes of child soldiers and
Would the Americans pay a second visit? They are simply
not ready, especially in this election season, and with
their hands full of Iraq. Once bitten twice shy.
who are well versed in Third World politics confirm that
the job of an African President usually results in insomnia,
heart palpitations, ulcers and Alzheimer, among other
deadly diseases, and the President of a war-torn country
in particular, like Somalia, the symptoms are even more
severe. Many left their seats of power peacefully before
the virus caught up with them and joined the mainstream.
Cases in point are Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, Aden
Abdulla Osman, Kenneth Kaunda et al. They soon discovered
that life in a Presidential Palace is like being caught
in some colossal machine, one that’s running down
and down beyond control.
no way we can kid ourselves that President Abdullahi Yusuf
Ahmed wakes up one morning in the very near future, (say
a month from now) checks out of his Nairobi hotel and
presto flies to Mogadishu with his new Prime Minister
and his cabinet and starts the ball rolling again as if
nothing is going to happen to them. That’s of course
another trite that comes from a man like Chris Mullin.
Obviously, he is not familiar with the antics of the Somali
warlords. They march to the beat of a different drum.
I concur with
the idea that buying the weapons from the hungry child
soldiers, before the new President and his entourage arrives
in Mogadishu, could give the rest of the population the
confidence to deliver guns in their possessions. In return
they wish to see security cranked in the capital so that
they could go about their daily business without the fear
of being ambushed at makeshift road barricades. The price
tag could be billions of dollars, considering the number
of weapons in the hands of the population. Again the nagging
question that comes up is: who is going to foot the bill?
I had asked
the same question more than once.
The issue of
who pays the tab for the reconstruction of the country
from Ground Zero has been simmering since the stormy peace
talks started in Kenya two years ago, but so far none
of the industrialized countries and oil rich Arab countries
made any credible pledge.
Britain’s sudden interest in the Somalia affairs,
there are many interpretations at local Fadhi ku dirir
rumor mills in the country and in the Diaspora why Somalia
is now getting unaccustomed attention again from the United
Kingdom after a long conspiracy of silence. But for those
of us who know the Brits speculate that 10 Downing Street
had its own hidden agenda, that’s the urgent need
to see a stable government in Somalia so that the immigration
officials could have a reasonable excuse to deport the
thousands of asylum seekers in Britain. As a matter of
fact the process is already in full gear. Other European
countries with sizeable Somali refugees are likely to
follow Britain’s example.
It is an open
guesswork at the grapevines, and it remains to be seen.
But I’m not sure I like the view in my crystal ball.