26, Dec. 2003
"CLEANSING" THE SUPREMER REVOLUCTIONARY
M. M. Afrah
BACK 1969 AND THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH
AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS
note from your Webmaster: This flash back is for those
of you, who for one reason or another, missed the grim
days of military dictatorship, scientific socialism and
the dreadful and dangerous warlords who have held the
Somali people hostage for far too long-The Webmaster)
Barre began "cleansing" the Supreme Revolutionary
Council (SRC) from what he described as reactionary
elements. In theory the SRC was supposed to rule the
country by consensus, but the General began issuing
a string of circulars and decrees without first consulting
with the other 20 members of the SRC.
is true that weekly meetings were convened, purported
to reach a consensus on the day-to-day affairs of the
state, but in reality the final decision was the President's
prerogative. He had the power to over rule any decision
reached by the majority of the SRC members.
The first dissenting
voice came from Salad Gavere Kediye and three other fellow
Salad Gavere was perhaps both the most outstanding product
of the Revolutionary system. His early career was most
like that of his colleagues in the SRC, who took over
power from the civilian regime of Mohamed Ibrahim Egal
whom they considered as corrupt and inefficient, a gallant
army officer trained in Italian and Soviet military academies.
He was said to be the real master-minder of the coup.
He was founder of the Public Relations Office (PRO) whose
task was to explain to the masses the aims and objectives
of the October 1969 Revolution, an office essential for
the success of the military coup.
1971 Colonel Salad was in a position to exercise influence
on the directions of the Revolution. In that early
period, when Barre's authority was not absolute over
his colleagues, the Colonel clashed with him over
the attempt to sign a twenty-year treaty of friendship
and cooperation with the then Soviet Union and war
with Ethiopia over the occupied Somali region.
General Barre began talking openly of waging war against
Ethiopian colonialists, Colonel Salad expressed forcefully
his views at the Council meetings. It was a plea that
Somalia should not go to war in the existing circumstances.
"We do not have the means equal to those Ethiopia.
Besides Ethiopia is under the protection of the United
States. Let us prepare and arm ourselves in a serious
manner," Salad was quoted as saying.
Colonel Salad has became a marked man and, Barre, who
has promoted himself to the rank of Major-General (Idi
Amin-style) ordered the NSS and the military intelligence
to shadow him.
to red tag intelligence files with the words "Sir
Culus" (Top Secret) looted during the popular
uprising against the regime, there have been numerous
references to Colonel Salad's "circle", or "Salad
and his friends," emphasizing the existence
of a shadowy, "but coherent plotters". But Colonel
Salad enjoyed a particular intimacy and an interchange
of ideas with prominent SRC members, such as Abdulqadir
Dhel, Khorshel and others with similar school of thought,
which increasingly intensified after General Mohamed Siad
Barre single-handedly introduced unpopular domestic reforms
in the spring of 1973.
rationing became the order of the day and the people's
hopes of decent living standard grew dimmer. The erstwhile
high sounding socio-economic rhetoric, provision of
a better living standard, clean water, education and
good health to all under the banner of Scientific
Socialism rung hollow in the hears of the majority.
defence and security continued to get unprecedented bigger
share of the national budget, areas like food and health
continued on the relegation path to the periphery.
As a result
long queues for sugar, cooking oil, maize, rice and wheat-floor
has became a common feature in the country. Even fish,
which used to be plentiful in the coastal regions had
disappeared from the markets, because Russian fishing
trawlers vacuum cleaned Somalia's territorial waters in
compliance with their twenty-year treaty of friendship
and cooperation with the revolutionary regime.
As is common
with all dictators, General Barre had to find a escape-goat.
Colonel Salad Gavere and "his co-plotters" provided
him with the ready answer.
were summarily executed after they were found "guilty"
of plotting to overthrow "the blessed" October
Revolution by the kangaroo National Security Court. Since
then the General mercilessly eliminated the opponents
of his regime "as a lesson to others with similar
sick mentalities," with a hastily composed song "Sama
diidow dabin baa kuu dhigan laguugu dili doono"
This song was put on the air by Radio Mogadishu day in
and day out and people asked themselves: "Who is
next to face the music?"
other members of the SRC and the rest of the population
have opted the old adage of "seeing no evil, hearing
no evil and speak no evil."
scenario reflected white spread poverty caused by mismanagement
of the national economy, corruption, nepotism, as well
as lack of concrete initiatives that would have given
hopes to millions of Somalis. Grumbling and private murmurings
(Sotto Voce) among the SRC members and cabinet ministers,
after the summary execution of Colonel Salad Gavere and
his "co-plotters" and the state of the economy
had filtered to the ears of the President via the NSS
reaction was to mobilize mass demonstration in support
of the Revolution and condemn the "Sama-diid"
(people who oppose the good intentions of the Revolution)
a mammoth rally at the Unknown Soldiers Monument in the
heart of the city, Siad Barre accused certain "reactionary"
elements and their unnamed foreign paymasters of holding
nightly meetings in a bid to destabilize the Revolutionary
Government. He said the government was closely monitoring
their activities and warned that more same-diid heads
he said: "We believe in good neighbourliness, but
when a neighbour subjugates and oppresses our brothers,
we have no other option but to assist our brorhers."
This was evidenced by the daily strafing of Ethiopian
jets on nomadic encampments in Western Somalia, (the Ogaden)
possibly fold our arms and watch our brothers being slaughtered
by the Ethiopian colonialists," he said amid shouts
of "Let us fight!"
this background, General Barre launched an all out war
against Ethiopia in 1977. Somali forces
over run dozens of Ethiopian military garrisons at Mustahiil,
Godey, Qabri-Daharre, Dhagah-buur, and the important Ethiopian
tank base at Jigjiga, deep inside the Ogaden, and were
able to drive the rest of the defeated Ethiopian army
out of the region in a matter of months.
by November Somali forces were firmly entrenched around
the ancient citadel of Harar. But in March the following
year Soviet-Cuban led Ethiopian forces counter-attacked
and re-established Ethiopian control. Consequently, General
Barre announced the official withdrawal of his forces.
He fell out with his erstwhile Soviet mentors for siding
with Somalia's enemy and subsequently tore up the twenty-year
treaty of friendship and cooperation with the Kremlin.
of an EtAF MiG-21, shot down by Somali AAA in the
summer of 1980. (via Tom Cooper)
he severed diplomatic relations with Cuba, Ethiopia and
Libya, hoping that the West and conservative oil rich
Arabs would come to his rescue, but Washington (Jimmy
Carter was in the White House) said it would provide him
what it described as defensive weapons only as well as
civilian aid in exchange for naval and air facilities
at Barbera with its longest Soviet-built runway in Africa
South of the Sahara.
his loss of the war and the reluctance of President
Jimmy Carter to respond to his urgent request for
replacement of the military hardware that he had
lost in the war, Barre survived, except for a poorly
organized coup attempt in April 1978 by disgruntled
army officers who fought in Ethiopia and a nasty
road accident on the Mogadishu-Afgoi road.
then General Barre virtually isolated himself at Villa
Somalia, surrounded by a bunch of Yes-men, popularly known
as Kobe-qadeyaal. A West African proverb says: "One
has to come out of his house in order to learn."
This proverb applies to all wannabe presidents as well.
To be continued…
By M. M. Afrah©2003,