SOMALI WAR: Where Is The Engine Of Trouble? Nov 10, 2011 1:56:40 GMT 3
Post by adongo23456 on Nov 10, 2011 1:56:40 GMT 3
SOMALI WAR: Where Is The Engine Of Trouble?
By Adongo Ogony
Many of us hear about Al Shabaab the terrorists and Somali the messed up country but we hardly have a clue as to what really is going on. How did Somali get into this mess and why are we engrossed in it? Where will it end?
Despite the chest thumping and furious screams of patriotism I decided to take my detective glasses behind the scenes and find out what the heck was going on. What I gathered is interesting. I am still working on it but this is what I have found out so far.
The current leader of Al Shabaab in its present form is Ahmed Abdi Godane who calls himself the “EMIIR”, a holy position not unlike Ayatollah title close to Kingship or royal entitlement or monarchial rule. In reality he has no such powers.
Ahmed Abdi Godane
Incidentally Godane is from Somaliland where he started his religious crusade got arrested and somehow escaped jail and moved south. Today he is one of the most elusive underworld leaders. He can be anywhere at any one time.
In 1991 as the government of Siad Barre crumbled Somali fell into the hands of several warlords. The north east corner of Somali declared independence and became known as Somaliland. The bulk of Somalia was practically a war zone and General Farrah Aidid and Ali Mahdi Mohamed the two original warlords battled it out and eventually ended up with Mogadishu split into small enclaves each with its team of thugs and warlords running the show and the endless checkpoints. Between 1991 and 1994 chaos and mayhem was the order in Mogadishu culminating in the now infamous “Black Hawk Dawn” incident where 18 US rangers and Delta Force specialists were killed and dragged through the streets of Mogadishu.
By March 1994 all American troops had been evacuated from Somalia leaving behind 20,000 UN peace keeping soldiers. The war for control of Mogadishu went on unabated.
In the battle to take power Aidid armed the CIIR tribe, his tribe and put key Generals from that tribe in control of large sums of money and weapons. Aidid’s right hand man was Hassan Dahir Aweys who today is the most powerful Al Shabaab leader. He lives in his villa in Mogadishu and is said to be known to the TFG and AMISOM forces.
Top Al Shabaab leader Hassan Dahir Aweys
In fact word on the ground is that soon after the Kenya invasion of Somali, Hassan Aweys called tribal elders of his tribe the CIIR to his villa in Mogadishu for a talk on how to deal with Kenya. Hassan met with the GARAAD(Sultan) of the tribe Mr. Habaq Gidir and several elders. Hassan wanted the elders to declare war with Kenya and unleash the youth to take up the battle. The elders told Hassan that Al shabaab has killed 60 members of their tribe and therefore they cannot support them.
Hassan offered to pay $ 20,000.00 per person killed. The elders rejected the offer saying Al Shabaab kills doctors and other medical personnel and school kids and they cannot support such a group. Hassan was furious about that and promised the leader of the GARAAD that he, Hassan Aweys will kill him with this own hands or somebody else will. This was last week so we will wait and see how this turns out.
Back to the evolution of Al Shabaab. As Somalia fell to pieces warlords became a menace to every Somali citizen. People were fed up with them.
By mid 1990s Somalia was awash with warlords. Mogadishu had become a dangerous playground for everybody. The Somali population got fed up with the warlords and were ready to get rid of them. Sheikh Sharif, the present president of Somalia, then an elementary school teacher emerged as an Islamic leader and helped to form the Islamic Courts as a people’s movement to get rid of the warlords.
This marks the first time religion became a factor and a mobilizing force in Somalia. People were revolting against the warlords in the name of Islam. They saw the warlords as corrupt people and criminals doing ungodly things. The introduction of religion in the wars of Somalia would later turn out to be a very dangerous turn.
The Islamic Courts with arms in the hands of ordinary Somalis under the leadership of Sheikh Sharif swept out the warlords from Mogadishu and Sheikh Sharif became a very popular leader particularly in Mogadishu. Sheikh Sharif moved to Mogadishu and took over power of governance in the area he controlled with the Islamic Courts. Of course with the new found religious identity of the new leaders came religious extremism and attempts to introduce Sharia law as a means to save the Somali people from the excesses of the corrupt, rich warlords.
As Mogadishu fell, the TFG already recognized by the UN, the US, Ethiopia, Kenya and other countries was marooned in Baidoa 300 km south of Mogadishu. Under the leadership of Abdullahi Yusuf, the TFG expected to be invited by Sheikh Sharif to take power in Mogadishu.
First TFG President Mr. Abdullahi Yusuf
The expectation was that Sheikh Sharif would invite the TFG to form the government in Mogadishu. That didn’t happen. Instead Sheikh Sharif decided to take power himself and declared himself the president of Somalia. Before long Sheikh Sharif fearing the TFG could destabilize him moved in to throw out the TFG leadership from Baidoa. The TFG then asked Ethiopia for help. Ethiopians sent in the army and tanks and Sheikh Sharif and the Islamic Courts were smashed and thrown out of Mogadishu.
Abdullahi Yusuf the TFG leader then becomes the president of Somali as Sheikh Sharif and his forces fled to Kismayu being chased by the TFG and Ethiopian forces as well as American drones. Sheikh Sharif’s top aides and army personnel were all wiped out and only Sheikh Sharif survived.
For reasons only known to themselves, the Americans decided to save the Sheikh. He was airlifted from his hiding in the outskirts of Kismayu by helicopter and taken to the American Embassy in Nairobi. From there the Sheikh was allowed to move to a foreign country most likely Qatar or Yemen. Shortly after that Sheikh Sharif moved to Eritrea where he set base in Asmara. All the remnants of the Islamic Court soon joined Sheikh Sharif in Asmara including the master warlord Hassan Dahir Aweys.
It was during this period that inside Somalia a more militant Islamic group was emerging. They took the name Al Shabaab meaning youngsters or the youth. They considered Sheikh Sharif a sellout against Islamic interests in Somalia. By this time religion had become a major currency in Somali politics something that was never the case before the rise of the Islamic Courts. The militant group rejected any talk of peace involving foreign countries and denounced Sheikh Sharif.
Interestingly, the man who today is the defacto head of Al Shabaab, Hassan Dahir Aweys was in Asmara with Sheikh Sharif. Later it emerged that even though Aweys was working with Sheikh Sharif he was also working with Al Shabaab inside Somalia.
It was also during this period in the early 2000’s that a new peace initiative emerged with Djibouti as the leader. Soon the Americans, Kenya Ethiopia and UN joined in the effort. A peace conference was called in Djibouti and all key players invited. Sheikh Sharif led his team from Asmara to Djibouti but the other key group TFG under the leadership of Abdullahi Yusuf refused to attend. Sheikh Sharif now seen as a moderate compared to the Al Shabaabs was embraced by the Americans, the UN, Kenya and Djibouti.
Asked to join the peace talks, Sheik Sharif demanded that since the TFG already had 250 M.Ps he must be allowed to also pick 250 M.Ps of his own. He was granted his request despite protests from the TFG.
All of a sudden Somalia had 500 M.Ps and all of them were invited to Djibouti to elect the new president. Abdullahi Yusuf knew he did not have a chance since Sheikh Sharif now had 250 M.Ps of his own and also had some support of the M.Ps in the original 250 M.Ps. In Djibouti Sheikh Sharif was elected by a landslide as the new president of the newly constituted TFG.
Everything was set but Abdullahi Yusuf was furious in Mogadishu and promised never to allow the new group in the country. Abdullahi Yusuf then gets a call from the US Assistant Secretary of State Ms Jendayi Fraser who tells him he has two choices. One is to leave peacefully and go to a country of his choice and the other is to be captured and handed over to the ICC. Abdullahi Yusuf gets the message and goes to Yemen and the path is paved for Sheikh Sharif to come in and establish his new government with 500 M.Ps most of whom are under his control.
President Sheikh Sharif. Is the Chair too big?
In the midst of all the power fixing they forgot about Hassan Dahir Aweys who ended up with nothing and yet he was the real muscle behind Sheikh Sharif. Mr. Aweys then joins Al Shabaab full time and becomes its primary warlord and starts building Al Shabaab into a formidable military force and also becomes the guy looking for money from the Arab States to protect the interests of Islam in Somalia. He got tons of money from several sources and started building business empires and getting into serious organized crime as part and parcel of the Al Shabaab DNA.
In a short order between 2009 and 2011 Al shabaab takes control of the Southern towns. They also take control of Mogadishu fighting it out with AMISOM forces. Al Shabaab gets into piracy, drug trafficking, kidnapping and big money business and stretches its roots to Kenya where with the endemic corruption (everywhere including the police force) and toxic politics Al Shabaab easily settles in normal business ventures and also sets up terror shops and units. In the meantime the TFG remains impotent and holed up in Mogadishu.
All these time, the 500 member parliament is still working; only they do not do much other than shift leaders. Most M.Ps are literally paupers who depend on handouts and favours from the president and the Speaker of the parliament Mr. Sharif Hassan.
Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan
The M.Ps are provided with accommodation in hotels etc. The Speaker, himself a renowned master of corruption moves from country to country asking for money to keep the parliament working. He gets hundreds of millions which they squander among the big leaders.
The M.Ps, handpicked, mostly illiterate and poor today make decisions by votes. They elect the president and so far Sheikh Sharif is their man. The TFG picked the present Prime Minister from New York University where he was a lecturer but real power is with the president and the joke of a parliament they have.
After Kenya launched the invasion President Sheikh Sharif flew to Uganda to confer with Museveni. We don’t know what Museveni said but when the Sheikh came back he made a public statement to the effect that the invasion was unnecessary.
Meanwhile the now 70 year old Hassan Dahir Aweys remains the kingpin of Al Shabaab. He is their money man. He lives in his villa in Mogadishu not far from Sheikh Sharif’s villa. He is known to the AMISOM forces and yet somehow remains free and speaks publicly in support of Al Shabaab.
He is the guy who is now trying to mobilize clans and tribes to support Al Shabaab and kick out the Kenyans. Another close ally of Hassan Aweys is the Speaker of Parliament Mr. Sharif Hassan. Good money is that taking those two guys out (preferably to court for a trial) pretty much finishes off Al Shabaab. But who knows what webs are interwoven in all these.
In my crystal ball here, it seems a real restructuring in Somalia starts with dismantling Al Shabaab, dismantling the present phony parliament and putting an end to the near feudal system that has emerged in the TFG structures and these bogus M.Ps and then taking the TFG to the people of Somalia to elect their own M.Ps from the clans and tribes as well as the Diaspora. Then we can start talking about peace and security in Somalia
Part two will look into the other Somalia we hardly hear about. The hard working folks, the academics, professionals and formidable asset Somali has in the Diaspora, namely one of the most dynamic and hard working populations out here. Soon come.
Also, you are on your own as far as spelling goes. I don’t have much time. I will do that tomorrow and may be put some pictures here and there.