Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year, an Eclipse of the Moon, and Escalation of War

Millions of people across the world have been reveling in commemoration of the beginning of the year Two Thousand and Ten (2010) corresponding to the Gregorian calendar. It also denotes the birth of Jesus Christ 2010 years ago. In some regions of the world especially in Africa, a unique eclipse of the moon was sighted while in some other regions a blue moon shone in the heavens-phenomena experienced twenty years ago. The bluish moon, according to cosmologists, is attributed to the dust and other chemicals emitted by the lower heavens. Volcanic ash and other chemical reactions on earth coupled with the rays of the moon and the stars cause the outer atmosphere to turn bluish. The eclipse of the moon must have been a source of solace for many who turn to the heavens for divine guidance.

While millions celebrate the fruits of peace and liberty, there are millions who continue to experience insecurity, hunger, illiteracy, thirst, political instability, poor governance, and a host of other ills caused by Mother Nature and by callous fellow humans. A prime example is the tiny nation of Somalia in the Horn of Africa. Somalia remained a democracy from its inception in 1960 until 1969 when a group of military officers took over the helm after the sudden assassination of the then democratically elected civilian president, Abdirashid Ali Shermarke. Since that goes around comes around, the tiny Horn of Africa nation descended into chaos when the military government headed by Major General Mohamed Siyad Barre was overthrown in 1991 by a ragtag militia led by General Aidid . Aidid died a few years later after being hit by a stray bullet from a warring faction that was pursuing him. To this day, Aidid’s followers commemorate the day he died for they consider him to have been a hero and a saint.

The ruling junta applied brutal force to advance its agenda. The government trade and marketing strategy was one based on monopoly where select agencies delivered goods and services to the public. There was hardly any sort of privatization.
The president and his henchmen enjoyed the fruits of independence while the rest suffered. The military government, which espoused opportunistic, cunning, and arrogant illegitimate political behavior, opposed any from of protests or demonstrations, peaceful or aggressive by university students or the general population.

Thus, most Somalis have been raised in a land of aggression, poor governance, and intolerance. Undoubtedly, some of those bad leadership traits deliberately filtered into their thoughts and processes. Immense pressure from the government-operated security apparatus known as the National Security Service (NSS) eroded their ability to think effectively in terms of leadership.

Task conflict, dysfunctional conflict, and potential opposition to governmental operations retarded any prospects for compromise. The absence of reallocation of resources, unclear performance evaluation systems, low trust, zero-sum reward practices, and lack of promotion opportunities hampered people’s prospects for leadership success. In a nutshell, the confused and convoluted form of leadership style espoused by the military regime ultimately led to the disintegration of Somalia.

As I write, the religiously-inclined Al-shabab faction that is in control of the central and southern regions of Somalia has issued a stern warning to all forces-domestic and foreign-engaged in the pacification of Somalia. During religious sermons delivered across mosques in Mogadishu, Al-shabab leaders pointed fingers mainly at the United Nations and the United States. These same leaders have been reported to have sent messages of relief to their brothers and sisters across the Gulf of Aden. Al-shabab leaders have been quoted as saying that they will take the war to Yemen. In a show of force, Al-shabab paraded hundreds of newly-graduated fighters in the streets of Mogadishu.

On the other hand, Somalia’s transitional government is devising a war plan that is meant to clean the country from Al-shabab menace. With the help of fierce firepower from the African Union troops in the country, the federal government aims to secure the areas under Al-shabab control within a short time. Hundreds if not thousands of government troops trained in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti, and Rwanda are expected in the country soon to take part in the all-out-war against the insurgents wrecking havoc in Somalia.

The anticipated massive mobilization of troops and hardware by the Somali government could lead to the unexpected unification of the forces of Al-shabab and the hard-line Hizbul Islam group led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys who is wanted in the west for terrorism related activities. The two factions are on the process of establishing an emirate for the Horn of African nation. They intend to have a Somalia governed by an Emir-an Emir who will have absolute power over the affairs and foundations of the entire nation while eying further expansion to neighboring countries.

The imaginary caliphate will eventually extend invitations to foreign fighters driven by religious zeal so that the theocratic beliefs of the Emir may be transported across Somalia’s borders. The aftermath of the resounding blitzkrieg will obviously lead to a humanitarian disaster. Wherefore, Somalia will be transformed into a new killing field where corpses will litter everywhere like in the era of black plague. Millions of unfortunate citizens will be affected with refugees spilling over to neighboring countries and across the shark-infested waters of the Indian Ocean and even beyond. There will be an increase in banditry, escalation of piracy, environmental pollution, sealing of borders, and increased naval and aerial reconnaissance. Businesses will come to a standstill, hospitals will run out of medicine, there will be shortage of food, taps will run dry, and in the initial end none will emerge winner.

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