AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT
General Aideed who crossed three continents, first India (as
an Ambassador), Italy and then Ethiopia to take over the leadership
of the United Somali Congress (USC) to dislodge President
Barre, did not anticipate encountering such formidable obstacles
before reaching his goal-the Presidency.
for the office of the Presidency has become his obsession
since General Barre and his Somali Revolutionary Council (SRC)
came to power in a military coup in October1969. Aideed was
not included in that Council, which was supposed to rule the
country by consensus, until General Barre decided to run the
country's affairs by decree without consulting with the other
20 members of the SRC.
Aideed's cronies, Salad Gabere, Abdulkadir Dhel, Khorshel
and others have been sidelined in the day-to-day affairs of
state by the "inner circle" and the trio was latterly
dubbed as "Sama Diids," meaning those
who object the good deeds of the Revolution. Salad Gabere
and his associates have been executed by a firing squad. Aideed
was spared from the firing squad but was detained in a remote
detention center for hatching up his own coup among young
disgruntled army officers.
General Aideed was a bitter man.
Barre's downfall in 1990/91 it was the Manifesto Group
led by Ali Mahdi Mohamed who denied him to take over the
national radio station and eventually Villa Somalia, the
seat of power. And now the Americans and the United Nations
Operations for Somalia (UNOSOM). No. He will fight to
the end, because whoever holds Mogadishu controls the
rest of Somalia, he believed. Moreover, he has been pushed
around and bullied for too long that he decided it was
time to fight back in order to achieve what was due to
bungling the latest operations to catch the general, Italian
soldiers and French Foreign Legionnaires, with orders from
UN High Command, attacked Digfer General Hospital where Aideed
was thought to have been holed up with 150 of his gunmen.
They stormed the hospital, but failed to capture the elusive
general. It was said that he was in the basement (Digfer is
the only building in Mogadishu with a basement), but managed
to get away with his gunmen through a back door to one of
his numerous hideouts. Hospital workers said gunmen on the
roof of the hospital had alerted him.
posse has come "within a hairs breadth" of catching
Aideed, Admiral Howe said. But many Somalis who knew the man
said he is in deep cover and there would be "a big price"
to pay in terms of human lives before he is captured.
a spokesperson for Bill Clinton, a young Governor from Arkansas,
who now occupied the White House, said the President approved
the air strikes and the operations would continue.
alleged that Aideed was using women and children as human
shield and it is hard to get to him without first eliminating
those women and children. "And that means mass slaughter,"
a Marine Colonel told Reuters. "It is like looking for
a needle in a haystack," he added with a grin.
Jilaow Abdi is a balding gray-haired man in his late sixties.
He was chief of Siyad Barre's National Security Service (NSS),
Banadir Region and one time mayor of Mogadishu. He currently
co-chairs the UN Police Committee and helps re-organize the
Somali Police Force, which disintegrated during the anarchy.
soft-spoken Jilaow resembles Aideed, but is several inches
taller than the wanted man. He also belongs to the Abgal clan,
which are staunch supporters of the United Nations presence
in Somalia. Nevertheless, dozens of crack American troops
slid ropes from their hovering helicopters just as prominent
Abgal elders, including a former Vice President, were meeting
in Jilaow's villa in Ali Mahdi stronghold, the last place
Aideed would ever hide, and arrested the Abgal elders. The
soldiers thought they were arresting General Aideed and his
aides, despite denial by Jilaow that he was not the fugitive
a soldier hit him with a rifle butt he admitted he was the
wanted man! The U.N. spokesman was mysteriously silent about
the mistaken identity, saying only that the Abgal elders were
released few hours later.
is an example of misleading intelligence reports the Americans
are fed with by people who pose as bona fide informers,"
said Ahmed after the ordeal.
himself surfaced to give a television interview to ABC in
which he denied for the June 5 ambush of the Pakistani soldiers.
"I am here in Mogadishu and I am protected by God and
my people;" he told the American television reporter,
the second he gave to American television reporters since
he went underground.
BETWEEN COALTION FORCES
A professor of the defunct Somali University at Lafoole said
that the United Nations Security Council and the man in the
White House are engaged in a political kung fu in far away
Washington and New York unaware of the excesses being committed
by their representatives in a little known African country.
drive his arguments home the professor pointed at the
escalating rift between the United States officials on
one hand and its Western allies, notably the Italians,
the French and the UN Secretary General on the other on
the Somalia policy,
and the chain of Command had eroded beyond restoration. Cracks
appeared when the Italian contingent of the coalition forces
renewed a fresh dialogue with the traditional elders over
the heads of the US/UN Command after the abortive operations
to capture general Aideed. Whatever happened to the normal
chain of command in Somalia? There was none; there were U.N.
military commanders, American special envoys from the Pentagon,
the State Department and spooks from the CIA, all vying for
control of forces that used different radio frequencies, ammunition
and spoke in half a dozen different languages.
was the Americans who had the last say in policy matters and
logistics with no one taking responsibility for anything.
As a result the much-hyped unified command (UNITAF) quickly
who felt they were being sidelined in Somalia, their former
colony, brought the dispute between the coalition forces and
the Americans to the open. Kofi Annan who was then the U.N.
Under Secretary for Peacekeeping forces, at a press briefing,
to explain U.N. operations in Somalia, said Italy's Commander,
General Bruno Loi, would be sent home and his 1,400 troops
transferred out of Mogadishu for taking orders from Rome rather
than from the United Nations Command in Mogadishu.
Defense Minister Fabbio Fabri, reacted angrily, saying: "General
Loi has carried out instructions from the Italian Government.
He has never acted of his own alone."
went to the core of the dispute that the Italian units took
orders from Rome, which Mr. Annan said was "unacceptable".
Senior American officials said there had been difficulties
with the Italians for quite a while. "They have a different
agenda. This is not standard operating procedures," the
officials said. Other U.N. Officials told the press hounds
that the Italian troops attempted to begin their own negotiations
with Aideed outside of the U.N. Command.
In a rejoinder
the Italians also strongly denied accusations that they paid
Somali gunmen not to attack them-Mafia-style protection, which
the Italians are good at it. But there was no prove to substantiate
the Italians have decided to try to ride out the storm
of accusations against them. With backing from Rome,
General Bruno Loi was glowing with success for the first
time, imitating General Graziani after "defeating"
Fascist Italy's number one enemy of state, the Libyan
hero Omar Mukhtar, the Lion of the Desert, who inflicted
heavy damages on successive Italian expeditionary forces
in Libya for more than two decades.
an effort to save face, UN Secretary-General Butros
Ghali appealed to the United States not to pull out
of Somalia, because the UN mission was doomed to failure
if US forces and other countries pull out before a peace
is implemented, "the warlords will believe that
the world was not interested in peace."
UN Secretary-General Butros Ghali
CLINTON'S POPULARITY RATE PLUMMETS
interview with Washington Post he repeated that if the United
States and other countries halted their efforts to disarm
the warring clans, the warlords would realize that the world
was not determined for peace to be restored.
Senator Sam Nunn, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Forces
Committee said that expanding the peacekeeping mission in
Somalia was a mistake and it's time for Congress to narrow
the U.S. role there so it has a definable ending point.
Senator Robert Byrd of Virginia, a member of President Clinton's
party called for a rapid withdrawal before more Americans
are killed. "I think that the capture of one person is
not going to end this," Senator Byrd said.
the force fighting the United Nations and the Americans, with
their hi-tech weaponry, helicopter gunships and night vision
goggles, was made up of a few hundred irregulars clad in sarongs
and flip-flops or beach sandals with little or no military
training. The U.S. Marines quickly dubbed them "the skinnies."
Many of them are not taller than the average M-16 assault
Clinton's newly-found popularity at home was jeopardized by
strong disapproval of his Somalia policy.
"This is a policy that is incredibly in disarray,"
Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said of Clinton's
Somalia policy in an interview with CBS's "FACE
of an American pilot and the death of 18 soldiers, the downing
of two Black Hawk helicopter gunships and the dragging the
dead body of an American soldier in the streets of south Mogadishu
changed Bill Clinton's popularity rate. A Gallup poll published
by USA TODAY/CNN said two thirds of Americans
do not believe that the U.S. policy in Somalia was a success.
matters worse for Bill Clinton, jubilant women and children
danced with strips of human flesh dangling from sticks and
dragged the remains of three more American soldiers in streets
and market places, with young boys trying to get piece of
the action. Other youths jovially danced on the carcass of
the downed helicopters. The Rangers run out of ammunition
and some of them were fatally wounded in the most belligerent
firefight never witnessed in Mogadishu before.
Malaysian contingents of the international coalition forces
in armored cars drove to the scene to rescue the surviving
members of the Delta Force. The Somalis respected members
of the Malaysian unit and as a result a temporary truce was
declared to allow the Malaysians to collect the dead, the
wounded and the surviving soldiers.
gruesome scenes prompted Washington to insist it will not
give in to brutal warlords. "The brutality of the warlords
would not thwart efforts to win peace in Somalia," a
Whitehouse spokesman said.
my colleagues were also killed after angry mobs attacked them
at the scene of a U.N. air raid on one of Aideed's command
post. At least two other journalists were wounded during the
attack in which Reuters press photographers Dan Eldon, Hos
Maina, television soundman Anthony Macharaia and Associated
Press (AP) photographer Hansi Krauss died.
for Italian State Television, Ms. Ilaria Alpi, returned safely
to the Hotel Saxafi at K4 that housed most of the international
press after being reported missing. She said she escaped the
mob by hiding between two milch cows!
and her Somali driver and a bodyguard were killed during her
second assignment in Mogadishu in December 1994.
abrupt switch of policy the United States and the United Nations
dropped the hunt for Aideed in "favor of a new inquiry."
President Clinton, facing public pressure at home to "Bring
the Boys Home", started to pull out U.S. Special Forces
who were sent to specifically lead the chase.
trying to catch Aideed the Americans have been using a sledge-hammer
to crack a nut," wrote a reporter for the Italian weekly
EPOCA in his last dispatch from Somalia.
US succeed in Somalia? This is the question, which goes in
the minds of many people as the American, Canadian, Australian
and European forces handed over responsibility to Pakistani,
Indian, Egyptian, Malaysian, Nigerian, Zimbabwean and a number
of third world troops.
the famine was a success, but the Americans were waiting to
see a government formed in this place in the middle of nowhere,"
Reuters quoted a U.S. serviceman as saying. "But the
whole shenanigan was turned to a personal vendetta and the
hunt for one man," he added.
U.S. servicemen said that the people of the United States
would only remember the scene of soldiers shot dead and their
bodies being dragged through the streets. That scene will
remain vividly in their minds whenever Somalia or Somalis
Robert Oakley was quoted as saying that as many as 10,000
Somalis have been killed between June and October 1993 when
the U.N. violated the "the first axiom" of peacekeeping
by taking sides in a civil conflict. The Ambassador did not
say which side the U.N. backed, but said the spectres of the
US-let forces taking up arms in a Muslim country provoked
"meaningful input" in Somalia by Libya, Iraq, Iran
laughed when they heard the Ambassador's comment, because
for one thing the militia never needed an input from the countries
the Ambassador had mentioned. Reason? When the former military
dictator fled the country he left behind huge stockpiles of
weapons he had accumulated during the last two decades. This
included multiple rocket launchers known as BM, SAM6s, hundreds
of T55 Soviet-made tanks, armoured personnel carriers (APCs)
tens of thousands of RPGs (rocket propelled grenades), 85mm
mortars, long range artillery guns, hundreds of thousands
of machineguns and millions of ammunitions and hand grenades,
enough arsenals to equip the armed forces of three African
countries. However, the only input the mainstream Somali people
urgently needed was food aid, medicines, clean drinking water
and an end to the mayhem. But none of these was forthcoming
from the oil-rich Arab countries, despite repeated appeals
by well-meaning Somali intellectuals. Somalia, a full member
of the Arab League and the Islamic Conference Organization
(ICO) was abandoned to the vultures.
General Aideed, the most wanted man by the United States and
the U.N. was flown aboard a U.S. military aircraft (the same
aircraft that dropped laser-guided missiles to his command
post!) for a peace talks in the Ethiopian capital of Addis
Ababa, which draw heavy criticism in the United States.
officers vowed to fight any plans to bring Aideed back to
Mogadishu. The earlier trip was arranged by the State Department.
later killed in action during an offensive against his archenemy.
His son, Hussein, a U.S. Marine corporal, filled his father's
shoes and vowed to avenge his father's death. At the age of
32 the Western media described him as Africa's youngest warlord.
The good news is that, with all those foreign soldiers in
the country, (more than 40,000) Somalia survived the Aids
holocaust. Despite the prevailing merciless conditions in
the country, the Somali women unwaveringly refused to expose
themselves to the deadly HIV virus. KUDOS to the Somali women!
By M. M. Afrah©2003,