Thursday, December 25, 2008

Woe unto Somalia's killer Warlords

Since Somalia’s attainment of independence in 1960, the only known high profile Somali figure to have retired from politics wisely was former President Aden Abdille Osman. Right after June 10, 1967 when he lost the election to slain President Abdirashid Ali Shermarke and after the expiry of his mandate, Aden Abdille Osman left the political scene altogether in order to commit to his family and and work on his farm in the southern town of Janaale until the fateful day of June 8, 2007 when he departed the world aged 99 years. While in retirement, the ex-President had a brush with the law only on one occasion when in 1990 together with a group of 100 other Somalis, he signed a manifesto conveying apprehension at the destruction of property, the slaughter of the innocent, and the indiscriminate expulsion of Somali refugees by the ruling junta. Despite his arrest with 50 others by Siyad Barre’s panicky regime, he was released immediately only to see the heartless military rule collapse the following year. Adan will be remembered as a peaceful servant of the Somali republic and an independent minded doyen who fought tooth and nail to preserve the glamorous image of the Somali nation. He was a religious and God-fearing man who was less concerned with the allure of the world. President Aden was succeeded by President Shermarke who was tragically assassinated by a wretched fellow tribesman while barely two years in office.

At this point in time, Somalia’s infant democracy that was to serve as a beacon of hope for the rest of Africa and a bridge to peace and prosperity for its nomadic society was blown to pieces when a coup engineered by Mohamed Siyad Barre seized power with the help of young dedicated loyal military officers. This was at the height of the cold war when the world was wedged between communism and capitalism. Somalia became an ally of the evil Soviet Empire thus shattering any projection for stability domestically and outwardly. For the first six years the military was in power, the nation experienced some degree of stability and progress until the flare up of the 1977/78 war with Ethiopia over the Somali populated Ogaden region. The Ogaden War cost the two poor warring nations dearly in life and in property. Despite the cessation of hostilities, the fragile peace that was in place between the two nations created guerrilla activities that eventually led to the coordinated collapse of the administrations in Mogadishu and Addis Ababa.

Before this brutal war, Somalia had made progress in the eradication of illiteracy; some degree of progress was made in the agricultural sector with help from the Italian government; animal husbandry saw improvement with Libya marshaling aid meant to fight rinderpest and other livestock diseases; with assistance from communist China, roads were constructed to connect the regions and most importantly, though to the detriment of the nation, Barre built an army that came to be regarded as “the strongest army in black Africa.” The military government in Mogadishu advanced the fisheries sector with fishing trawlers and fishing gear coming from communist nations and former colonial power Italy; sea commerce increased tremendously; industrialization started to take root and remarkable improvements were effected to fight tuberculosis, malaria and polio; prenatal, obstetric and gynecological diseases received significant attention with the construction of a handful of hospitals while the creation of supplementary feeding centers and inoculation stations proliferated across the country. For the first time in the early 80s, Somalia experienced the implementation of water and sewage projects by German hydrological engineering firms and most importantly many woke up to the massive drilling of wells to ease water problems across the country.

The rehabilitation of the seaports in Berbera and Kismayu enabled the nation to handle increased maritime traffic that delivered much needed aid and other varieties of heavy cargo. Somalia’s northernmost harbor at Berbera once christened as having “the longest runway in Africa” and built with Soviet aid and expertise, received the blessings of the United States government after Somalia parted ways with the former U.S.S.R. Under contract agreement between the United States Navy and the Somali Ministry of Defence, MWK Int’l Ltd. Inc., a Seattle based engineering firm rehabilitated the almost dormant airport to international standards. The same company extended the harbor to include massive tanks for holding petroleum products.The Americans also installed modern derricks, constructed roll-off roll-on ramps designed exclusively to accommodate naval auxiliaries and heavy military hardware.It also installed promising navigation aids such as beacons and mooring buoys that added taste to the city known to northerners as “half Aden”. Further south, the port of Kismayu also experienced similar improvements in the late 80s after George A. Fuller Company, once one of the largest construction companies in the United States undertook the heavy task of expanding and modernizing the dilapidated quay so that extra marine traffic could be accommodated.

On the other hand, the military government made a demon of itself. The first attempted coup overturned the reputation it nurtured for close to a decade. Some of the coup plotters were executed by firing squad, others received life sentences, and others ended up in self-imposed exiles in the Middle East, North America, and Western Europe. Anyone arrested on suspicion of belonging to a coup plotter's clan either disappeared without trace or remained in jail for a long time without the prospects of a presidential pardon or the possibility of parole. Aerial bombing of areas inhabited by the Isaaq clan intensified during the run up to the 80s because there was a strong objection to the military rule. The military embarked on deliberate destruction of water wells and also increased surveillance of the North West and Eastern regions populated by the Isaaq and Majertein clans-two clans the junta perceived as spoilers. Lately, the Hawiye clan became a prime target with many prominent figures becoming victims of abuse and gross injustices.

Despite international condemnation of Barre's abuses and injustices by Amnesty International and by various concerned groups and nations, Barre continued with his onslaught unabated. By this time, Somalia was headed for collapse. The two men who currently head Ethiopia and Eritrea respectively, Meles Zenawi and Issaias Afewerki, were on the forefront of toppling the regime in Addis Ababa while receiving material and moral support from Somalia's military dictator, Major General Mohamed Siyad Barre. Likewise, on the other side of the border in Ethiopia, General Mohamed Farah Aideed, Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess, and Abdirahman Tuur were jointly devising strategic war plans to infiltrate Somalia and deliver a devastating blow to the regime in Mogadishu. The long awaited results finally emerged from both sides of the isle and mysteriously, both regimes collapsed instantaneously. Mengistu Haile Miriam of Ethiopia fled to Zimbabwe where he was given asylum while Siyad Barre ended up seeking refuge in Nigeria.

In Somalia, Abdirahman Tur set base in the current unrecognized breakaway republic of Somaliland, General Aideed established base in Mogadishu, and Colonel Jess pushed further to the south finally settling in Kismayu. The political imbroglio that followed fragmented Somalia in to cantons administered by feudal warlords-the men whose administrative inefficacy is the subject of this prolonged article.

Astonishingly, the entire infrastructure created by the previous military government became the property of prevailing avaricious warlords who either destroyed every conceivable standing structure in retaliation or sold them as scrap metal in the Middle East and elsewhere.

However, since 1991, the situation in Somalia has continued to deteriorate day by day. To this day it remains victim to hard-nosed men who decimated about a quarter of the nation’s population, displaced millions and maimed thousands of innocent civilians. They are men who ruined the nation’s entire infrastructure and reduced swathes of agricultural lands into deserts; they are suspected to have sold herds of striking wildlife unique to Somalia to foreign zoos; out of sheer ignorance they destroyed Somalia’s precious national archives, dumped hazardous wastes on to dry land and along the coasts while pocketing millions of dollars from pitiless foreign criminals like the mafia and furthermore they are responsible for willfully allowing the rape of thousands of defenseless women by their depraved militia. Somalia’s statues that served as historical milestones have not been exempt from looting either. Likewise, the piracy and assassinations rampant in the country make them suspect.

Known formerly as ‘warlords’, a handful of these murderers who are now referred to as esteemed (mudaneyaal) parliamentarians have a big say in the current malfunctioning Transitional Federal Government. Consequently, the current Somali government is a tribal government guided by a tribal constitution dominated by tribal-minded parliamentarians and headed by a tribal cum warlord President. It is worth noting that tribalism is the lowest form of human administration second only to that of animals. Blaming the legacy of imperialism for the current chaos in Somalia after 48 years of independence does not make any sense. It is equally senseless for Muslim brothers and sisters to fight over power for two decades while at the same time acknowledging Islam as a religion of peace that calls for good governance, equal justice, and peaceful coexistence. Why don’t Somali leaders look to the Qur’an for guidance if they want to escape the terrible penalty of this world and the Hereafter? Or do they doubt its authenticity?

[37] This Qur-an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah; on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book - wherein there is no doubt - from the Lord of the Worlds.
[38] Or do they say, "He forged it?" Say: "Bring then a Sura like unto it, and call (to your aid) anyone you can besides Allah, if it be ye speak the truth!"
[39] Nay, they charge with falsehood that whose knowledge they cannot compass, even before the elucidation thereof hath reached them: thus did those before them make charges of falsehood: but see what the end of those who did wrong was!
[57] O mankind! There hath come to you a direction from your Lord and a healing for the (diseases) in your hearts, and for those who believe, Guidance and a Mercy.
[58] Say: "In the Bounty of Allah. And in His Mercy, in that let them rejoice": that is better than the (wealth) they hoard.
[59] Say: "See ye what things Allah hath sent down to you for sustenance? Yet ye hold forbidden some things thereof and (some things) lawful." Say: "Hath Allah indeed permitted you, or do ye invent (things) to attribute to Allah?"
[60] And what think those who invent lies against Allah, of the Day of Judgment? Verily Allah is full of Bounty to mankind, but most of them are ungrateful. Suratul Yunis

By the way, what is better than asking Allah and fellow humans for forgiveness and then retiring from politics prudently altogether like Adan Abdille Osman? I’m quite sure what is written herein is not new to the ears of the squabbling Somali warlords. Many Somali leaders are better versed in the Qur’an and the Hadith than the writer of this article.

It is true politics corrupts the mind but is there any therapy to the corruption and bloodshed we are seeing in Somalia? Of course, the remedy lies with reflecting the contents of the authentic Qur’an and the Hadith.

Some of the warlords who terrorized the Somali people have departed and surely the remaining few will follow soon. Remember the prophets of Allah were tormented by their own people. Remember Prophet Ibrahim was thrown into an inferno simply because he destroyed useless hand made idols worshipped by his people and how Allah turned the fire in to peace and safety for Ibrahim; recall to mind how Moses was pursued by Pharaoh after he called him to worship Allah Only and release the Children of Israel from bondage; remember Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina because of his own marauding Qureish tribe that were a thorn in the eye and remember how he returned to Mecca victoriously to establish the greatest Islamic rule on earth; reflect how Yusuf was thrown into a well by his brothers because of jealousy and recall to mind how afterwards he reclaimed the sovereignty of Egypt and then forgave his covetous brothers while feeding them without measure; bear in mind how Jonah was swallowed by a mighty fish after he departed his people in the city of Nineveh only to return after they repented; recall to mind how Issa’s calls fell on deaf ears, how he was denied and threatened by his own people, the Children of Israel and then saved by Allah who took him unto Himself; consider how Ayub was afflicted by a deadly disease only to convalesce by the grace of Allah Almighty after a long suffering; remember how Allah saved prophet Nuh on the ark that came to rest on Mount Juddi after his people refused to heed his calls to Islamic monotheism; and commit to memory how the people of prophet Lut resorted to homosexuality and also recall to mind how they were destroyed by Allah’s mighty servant, Malakul Jibril.

Somalis are Muslims and they have put their trust in Allah. A time will come when they will collectively curse the warlords who intentionally destroyed their beautiful nation without iota of mercy. Only time will tell when these warlords will either perish in mysterious circumstances or be afflicted with debilitating terminal diseases. Because that has a beginning has an end, surely, what all Somalis look forward to is a prescribed time when they will unite to reclaim their dignity and shine in the world once again. Woe unto the warlords.

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