AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT
Americans apparently assumed that the Somalis wouldn't
bite the hand that was feeding them. This has turned
out to be a risky assumption to make.
Aideed was not interested in altruism, and like many
Somalis believed that the Americans had hidden agenda
vis-à-vis Somalia. He repeatedly called the humanitarian
intervention a military occupation "with a hidden
agenda". Then the giant American media quickly
turned him into the worst monster since Attila the Hun.
Cevik Bir from Turkey was quoted as saying: "I can kill
Aideed within four days". Later he recanted that remark
and suggested that Aideed should be offered the office of
the presidency in order to put an end to the escalating hostility.
He was met with strong opposition from the Americans, notably
Admiral Howe and the top US military brass.
putting un-elected man on the helm contradicted their brand
of democracy of one-man one-vote and a government of the people
for the people.
UN/US plan was:
b) Fair and free elections supervised by international observers;
c) To form a broad based secular government;
d) Independent judiciary system based on Western model;
e) Free and independent press;
f) Training a National Army and Police Force.
"I might as well tell the Americans and their stooges
that they won't gain much by fiddling around," Aideed
told an American reporter in one of his numerous secret hideouts.
to say, the "embarrassing" and "pushy"
questions at Admiral Howe's press briefings landed some
of the media representatives in Mogadishu, including myself,
on the verboten list at future press briefings. What irritated
the American and UN officials in Mogadishu more than anything
else was that interview with a wanted man in a secret
hideout. It was very embarrassing for the CIA paper pushers
in Mogadishu and at State and Defense Department officials
the media became "enemy" of the state. But most
of us had no idea what state they were talking about since
the majority of the press hounds in Mogadishu were not Yankees.
couldn't believe it. UNOSOM is going to get away with it again!
United States, even a president couldn't stop Washington Post
reporters from investigating the Watergate scandal. Here a
single low-level envoy can blacklist accredited international
journalists for reporting the mess that was Somalia, without
the approval of the UN Security Council. It defies all human
agency, Reuters in London, immediately sent an urgent letter
of protest to Butros Ghali in New York.
who was scheduled to pay a whirlwind visit in Mogadishu and
Afgoi did not want to make an enemy of a highly respected
worldwide news agency, like Reuters, and ordered his envoy
in Mogadishu to immediately lift the ban, or else
envoy needs more of the same doses to make him see the reality
of free press and democracy," said the reporter from
The Guardian newspaper. He was top on the blacklist and was
about to pack up his bags and go home, disillusioned.
every hour brought a new crisis. As things became doubly tough
for aid workers to operate in the besieged city, some of them
joined the multitude of journalists who predicted that the
mission now seems all but doomed to failure. Things were really
falling apart between 1993 and 1994.
ensuing brouhaha the great majority of the population were
indifferent in boardroom bickering and monotonous press briefings
and wanted only to be left alone. Besides, no one asked their
opinion. It was free-for-all situation. And the American tax-payers
in the "Land of the Brave" couldn't care less what
was going on in places whose names they couldn't pronounce,
until one of their boys' dead body was dragged in the narrow
alleys of Black Sea, where women armed with AK-47 sold petrol,
diesel and engine oil in rusted jerry-cans.
the Delta forces and the Rangers bungled their latest bid
to capture Aideed, his supporters at the same time warned
in a leaflet "that unless UN peacekeepers called off
the hunt for our leader, we will kill 1,500 soldiers or civilians
from America inside or outside the country in a way of martyrdom
never experienced in the world."
scores of helicopters from the USS Ranger anchored off the
Somali Coast showered the streets of Mogadishu tens of thousands
of posters offering an augmented award for general Aideed,
"Wanted for war crimes under a UN arrest warrant".
But the posters were quickly tore up at a frenzy pro-Aideed
rally and issued a "Wanted" poster of their own
for Admiral Jonathan Howe himself. Under a picture captioned
"Animal Howe" it described the UN Special Envoy
as a "wanted man" and says he was wanted for killing
women, children and elderly people.
the first time since the US Marines stormed the beaches of
Mogadishu, rival clans who were disillusioned with the United
Nations peacekeeping forces joined the rally en mass.
rival clan, the Abgal came to have a crack at the Americans
alongside their usual Habar-gedir enemies." (Scott
Peterson in his book ME AGAINST MY BROTHER Page 142).
pressure from the United Nations, the Americans decided to
make me as their main agenda point and try to ruin my credibility.
They did not succeed and I think they're starting to realize
it was a mistake," Aideed said in one of his pre-recorded
messages, which was broadcast over his radio station.
The similarity between today's hunt for Saddam Hussein and
General Aideed 10 years ago is striking indeed. Even today's
Baqdad is a carbon copy of 1993 Mogadishu; the daily shooting
of American soldiers, the lack of mass support for the coalition
forces and the urgent need for basic services, such as security,
water and electricity, the daily looting spree and the audio
tapes from Saddam Hussein would transport one back to the
smoldering carcass of Mogadishu.)-
that, despite advice by people who knew the Somali psyche,
the UN/US oligarchies in Mogadishu failed to recognize and
pinpoint what works and doesn't work in Somalia-a country
devastated by savage civil war followed by brutal ethnic cleansing
on the heels of the former military dictator downfall.
advice by a British historian was to invite the protagonists
(the growing number of warlords and faction leaders) and traditional
elders to listen what they had in mind about the future of
their country and the role they would play in restoring peace
and stability. He called it Meetings of the Mind. But for
some unknown reason, which many observers agreed would have
probably had worked if put to the test, was turned down as
"unworkable" by the central characters of the coalition
be interesting to know why Britain refused to join the international
task force in Somalia. But when a BBC's Focus on Africa reporter
tried to get an answer for this question, officials at Downing
Street (the British Prime Minister's official residence) played
their traditional tight upper lip. Obviously, they bitterly
remembered their bloody confrontations with Sayid Mohamed
Abdulle Hassan's rebellion in the 1920s.
had anticipated that President Bush's "God's work"
would turn into a gruesome purgatory that would turn many
peoples' stomach that Sunday afternoon October 3, 1993 near
the Olympic Hotel near Wardhigley, popularly called Black
Sea. More than 400 Somalis, mostly women and children died
and more than 1000 wounded, according to Red Cross officials
who visited the area after the carnage following the downing
of Black Hawk helicopters by Somali gunmen.
Somalis said the real figure of the dead people was double
that number. They knew it because it was they themselves who
buried their dead in shallow graves with their own bare hands.
known as Sunday Afternoon Massacre.
In a situation
like that, according to the Rules of Engagement, occupants
of buildings are given amble time to flee in a language they
can understand through a Loudspeaker to minimize civilian
casualties, or what's euphemistically called Collateral Damage.
But UN spokesman, Colonel Montgomery said all the inhabitants
in Aideed's stronghold, including women, children and a 96-year-old
blind man, were armed combatants who killed UN peacekeepers
and American soldiers.
"They had their daily council of war in those derelict
buildings," he said. There was a high-pitched hysterical
laughter and boos among the foreign journalists present at
hours later the Pakistanis opened fire on demonstrators who
protested against the presence of foreign troops in the country,
which they said were testing the new American weapons on the
Somali people. Many people, mostly women and children lost
demonstrations the sophisticated world use water cannons,
but in Mogadishu the Blue Helmets used modern weaponry and
rapid-fire action. It seems that they borrowed a leaf from
Arthur Marcinko's novel "Rogue Warrior", that says:
"verily thou art not paid for the methods, but for thy
results by which meaneth thou shelt kill thine enemy by any
means available before he killeth you."
still persisted why the Habar-gedir elders was not told to
surrender before using the deadly laser-guided missiles that
decimated them. UNOSOM and CIA officials were fully aware
that the meeting was not a war council but an attempt to remove
Aideed and open lines of communications with the United Nations
and the Americans, according to a lone survivor of the carnage.
"This was yet another full-fledged war council,"
the UN spokesman insisted again.
new about that: the world body's representatives made such
disparaging comments before. Remember the Congo when the Prime
Minister, Patrice Lumumba was assassinated under the UN flag,
(because it was alleged that he was a Marxist), and when for
the first time in the history of the world body more than
40 UN peacekeepers were killed in a single encounter with
Congolese resistance? Remember Beirut when bloody violence
dismembered the once beautiful Lebanon along religious lines?
Remember Liberia, Rwanda, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan,
Bosnia (where tens of thousands of Muslim men and boys were
massacred by Serbian forces in front of UN peacekeepers),
Somali atrocities is unique in that it's not religious or
sectarian, instead clan warlords battle for food or to control
this or that street with impunity, because they were aware
that no one in the world gives damn about Somalis killing
By M. M. Afrah©2003,