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Toronto (Canada)
2 June. 2002

M. M. Afrah

In every situation, there's a time to speak out and a time to keep quiet. Too bad many so-called leaders in Somalia have to learn everything the hard way and with the help of the gun, instead of peaceful dialogue and compromises.

In many cases it is tougher task to say nothing in the face of genocide against innocent civilians, yet speaking up also involves risk. Recently the editor of a Xeroxed independent daily tabloid in Mogadishu was face-to-face with heavily armed militia, just because he criticized clan leaders as well as the TNG for doing nothing to stop the mass murder in the capital.

Let's look at the thorny question of why people from the same stock, profess the same religion and speak the same language have decided to kill each other and in the process massacre innocent civilians.

The reason is obvious. Clan "A" starts causing a fuss about clan "B" for absorbing the machinery of power while disenfranchising Clan "A" who claims the province in question is his own exclusive fiefdom and has the right to run the show. Clan "C" will not come to reinforce Clan "A" unless he is given a piece of the "cake".

Then a neighbour with ulterior motive joins the fray, ignoring a call from other neighbours to back off. A uniform reaction to the antics of the faction leaders and the TNG was impossible because the people at the grassroots lacked strong political organization and the men in Addis capitalized the clan division. The strategy worked. The end result was renewed bloodshed and it was always the civilian non-combatants who paid the price in a big way.

Tough talk and trading heavy artillery and mortars on heavily populated residential areas of the capital will never solve problems. Nothing can be gained from war-- only death doom and destruction. The stack reality is that nine of ten people hit were civilians, who were in no way involved or even remotely instrumental to the feuding. For a people already enfeebled by eleven years of intense bombardment and indiscriminate shootings, the ensuing shocks of political instability, severe shortage of resources with which to feed and clothe themselves and their children, erratically unclean drinking water, medical inattention and schooling have taken their toll--a vicious circle that refuses to go away, despite efforts by some well meaning people.

Ugo Betti, the Italian Playwright once wrote: "If friction is to be stopped, the only way is to remove the cause; if disturbances are to be put an end, the way is to eliminate the disturber."

In the case of Somalia, the root cause of the recent confrontation that took place in Mogadishu between two faction leaders, Muse Sudi Yalahow and Mohamed Dheere on one hand and the TNG on the other is the question of who will rule the Province and assert that the TNG, better known as the Arta Group is just another faction and had no mandate to rule Banadir and Lower Shabelleh Regions or even the whole country. History teaches us that time-tested federal system of government is the best solution for any country to adopt. The will to take a firm step forward to adopt this system of government, no matter on whose toes we tread in the process, should supersede servility to the rookie politicians who hamper the revival of Somalia.

We can no longer trust leaders whose only claim to the position they occupy is the ability to keep their respective clan-elders grinning, well-satisfied on the national loot. If the current political and military uncertainty continues to prevail in Mogadishu, more fear will be instilled in those who still cling to life, forcing them to move farther from the battlefield. Worse, the Kenyan government closed its border for more influx from Somalia, saying enough is enough.

We at this Website reiterate once again the people at home and abroad should not hasten to take sides at the slightest provocation. To take arms against each other should be the furthest things from our minds. Lasting stability, international aid and the reunification of dispersed families all rest on peace. Most important, unless we discard the clan-tribe virus and restore the old nationalistic spirit of the 1940s-50s, we will be piling more woes on ourselves in eternity.

By M. M. Afrah,

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