Lady-state Somalia, rebirth of a nation.

26 03 2013

She is located at the very apex of the Horn of Africa. She loosely resembles a slovenly written number 7. This allows her to play neighbour to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya on the inner part of the 7, while the entire outer part is to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. She scatters herself over a mighty 637,700 square kilometres and plays home to some nine million people (2006 estimate).

somali flag somalia

Somalia gained independence from the Italian colonizers in 1960. The first president, Aden Abdullah Osman Daar was elected the same year. He was however defeated in another election in 1967 by the former premier Abdi Rashid Ali Shermarke. On October 15, 1969, Shermarke was assassinated and days later a military group, led by Major General Mohamed Siad Barre, seized power. In 1970 Barre declared Somalia a socialist state, and in the following years most of the modern economy of the country was nationalized.
Barre ruled Somalia with an iron fist; as she increasingly crumbled under clan divisions. Opposition to Barre’s rule began to gain impetus in 1981 after Barre chose members of his own Marehan clan for government positions while excluding members of the Mijertyn and Isaq clans. Insurgent groups from those clans initiated clashes with government troops beginning in 1982. The dictator was to be deposed later in 1991, whereupon he fled to Nigeria to seek asylum. He stayed there until his death in 1995, after suffering a heart attack.
The ouster of Siad Barre saw the beginning of a Somalia that was deeply divided along clan affiliations, ruled by numerous warlords fighting to control the government, ravaged by hunger, filled with an illiterate populace due to the collapse of the education system and vacated by hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing to save their lives.
This was perfectly fertile ground for the formation of militant rebel groups like Al-shabaab, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaal (ASWJ), Allied Somali Forces, Hizbul Islam, Islamic Courts Union, Ras Kiamboni Brigade, among others.

somalia militia

All of these were formed and maintained as clan outfits, whose leaders’ main aim was to overcome the rest and grab the seat of power. However, whenever they faced attacks from forces of foreign countries, they would merge to fight off the “common enemy”, only to return to fighting among themselves soon after.

Militants of al Shabaab train with weapons on a street in the outskirts of Mogadishu

When the African Union (AU) deployed a force, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), to return peace and normalcy in the lawless country in 2007, this is the exact predicament that befell them. Most of the militia groups merged forces to repel the “common enemy”. One of the most infamous militia groups, Al-shabaab, led by Sheikh Mukhtar Ali Abu-zubeyr, known better by his subjects as Sheikh Ahmed Godane, quickly rose to prominence as it continually mounted armed lethal resistance to the peacekeepers. AMISOM forces battled the militia groups for months on end, eventually managing to wrestle the capital, Mogadishu, from them and gain absolute control of it in August 2011. The entry of AMISOM seemed to tilt the scales against the militia groups, who were forced to abandon their key resource areas around Mogadishu and nearby towns and flee towards the Jubba region which borders Kenya. It is from this area that they began making forays into Kenya, leaving behind a trail of kidnappings, murders and looting in the Kenyan border towns.
In October 2011, fed up with the continuous heinous activity on her soil by the foreign rag-tag formations, the Government of Kenya decided to deploy her mighty military to crush the militia, who had by now metamorphosed and coalesced with Al Shabaab to form a formidable opposition. The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) merged with Somali government troops (Somalia National Army-SNA) and a pro-government militia group, the Ras Kiamboni Brigade (RKB), to quickly gain ground against the Shabaab, pushing them out of major towns in the region including Dhobley, Tabda, Beles Qooqani and Afmadhow by May 2012. The Shabaab hastily retreated, running scared as the KDF fiercely inflicted massive casualties on them.


For example, in April 2012, over 800 Al Shabaab fighters attacked a KDF base in Hoosingo in the lower Jubba region manned by slighty over 150 KDF troops, seeking to annihilate them and display their corpses on the internet for the world to see and force Kenya to withdraw her troops from Somalia. But the exact opposite happened. The much superior firepower, expertise and courage of the KDF troops left over 200 of the invaders dead, as the remainder, on realizing that there was absolutely no chance of victory, hastily retreated with near-death injuries. It is estimated that at least 50 more died later from these injuries.
The strategy of the KDF, who later rehatted to become part of the AMISOM forces, was to get hold of the main sources of finance to the Al shabaab, thereby denying them the opportunity to source for arms, ammunition replenishment and wages for their increasingly demoralised fighters. The port city of Kismayu, lying on the Indian Ocean coastline in the Lower Jubba region, was the main entrance and exit point for goods and people entering or leaving Somalia by sea. For a long time, Al shabaab controlled the sea port, charging exorbitant taxes to the businessmen using the port. They also levied illegal taxes upon the residents of the town, so as to obtain funds for the aforementioned purposes. Owing to this, KDF naturally targeted to evict the militia from the town and possibly force them to their knees.
The advance from Afmadhow to liberate Kismayu began in earnest on 31st August 2012; KDF deployed a Battlegroup, alongside SNA and RKB soldiers, for the enormous task. They made their first major contact the same day at Miido, barely 35km South of Afmadhow. Over 100 Al shabaab fighters were killed when around 600 insurgents attempted to ambush the advancing force. In the days that followed, the peacekeepers made rapid gains as they rolled down the harsh terrain to finally take control of Kismayu on 2nd October 2012, leaving in their wake over 480 shabaab dead and destroying/capturing most of their weapons and equipment. As had been foreseen, the remaining shabaab retreated into the bush, scared to death.
What followed was a collective effort by the AMISOM troops, the government forces and allied forces, together with the local administration and residents of the town to stabilize the region and bring back government control over the AMISOM conquered territories. While this noble undertaking was ongoing, the shabaab were regrouping in the unliberated areas like Jilib, Bulo Xaaji and Jamaame, seeking to recruit more fighters to retake control of areas taken away from them. AMISOM continues to train more Somali security forces so as to ensure they can deal with the insurgency menace on their own once the international troops leave the country.
Unfortunately, the clan factor is attempting to rear its ugly head, threatening to scuttle the ongoing peace efforts by scattering even the security men and women along their clan affiliations. There have been reports of infighting within the government forces along ethnic (read clan) lines. If this persists, it will pose another big challenge to the AMISOM team. Insurgent groups are likely to take advantage of this situation to infiltrate the security apparatus and reverse the gains made in procuring peace for Somalia. Based on these developments, you are invited to share your views on what you think will be the situation when the regional peacekeeping force finally leaves Somalia. What can be done to permanently pacify Somalia? Have your say.




2 responses

2 04 2013
Ethiopian development news briefs 02 April 2013 | Allana Potash Blog

[…] Lady-state Somalia, rebirth of a nation. ( […]

27 03 2013
Lady-state Somalia, rebirth of a nation. | daimamunene

[…] Lady-state Somalia, rebirth of a nation.. […]

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