WARARKA BARAAWEPOST Isniin 21 december 2009

 

 

              MAPPING SOMALIA WARRING FACTIONS

DECEMBER 17, 2009

MOHAMMED YUSSUF ABSHIR

MOHAMED Y. ABSHIR IS A FORMER DIRECTOR OF SOMALI BROADCASTING SYSTEM IN MOGADISHU (1965-70), MEMBER OF THE SOMALI UN DELEGATION.

ANALYZING SOMALI MAIN FIGHTING GROUPS AND RECENT DEVELOPMENT


MAP OF SOMALI MAIN REGIONS

Somalia suffered a lot from the oppressive, communistic military dictatorship of Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre form 1969 to 1991. Since then, and nearly over the last two decades, Somalia has been facing an ongoing civil war that has caused massive displacement of its people within the country and abroad.

The country has been without effective national government, which resulted in the breakup of the state, with the northwestern region of the country, Somaliland, declaring independence from Somalia.

Fourteen internationally sponsored national reconciliation attempts failed to bring sustainable peace and stability to Somalia.

This tragedy is a result of many problems, including the international community¡¯s lack of interest in Somalia, especially in comparison to Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

Internationally, Somalia¡¯s name has become reminiscent of terminal political illness.
Most foreign observers and analysts ignore or fail to understand the root causes of the Somali problem. Many have jsut succeded in portraying the country as a ¡°hopeless case¡±, ¡°failed state,¡± or ¡°clan-cursed¡± country.

Some paint a bleak picture of the future of Somalia, and, in addition, the solutions put forward by the United Nations and international donors are usually impractical.

Stable Zones in the NorthCurrently, there are two principal zones of different political and security statuses in Somalia: the northern part and the southern one.

In the North, there is the Puntland Regional State of Somalia. It remains part of the Somali Republic, though established its own regional autonomous administration.

Another state is Somaliland, which announced its independence from Somalia and formed its own government.

Both Puntland and Somaliland enjoy relative peace, stability, and functioning public institutions.

In the South, from south Galkayo in the Mudug region all the way to the Kenyan border and Bay and Bakol regions bordering Ethiopia to the west, civil war has been going on since 1991.

Wars are usually among warlords or between warlords and government appointed administrations. There has been no elected government in Somalia since 1969.

Currently, the war is between the appointed government, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), and other Islamic armed groups.

ANTAGONISTS IN THE SOUTH-CENTRAL PART

The Federal Transitional Government (TFG), Al-Shabab (AS), Hizbul-Islam (HI), and Ahlu Sunna Wal-Jamaa (ASJ) are directly involved in the present conflict in the south-central part of Somalia.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is heavily involved in the fighting on the side of the TFG.

Although Ethiopia withdrew its forces from Somalia in January 2009, it is still part of the problem through its political involvement and ongoing security influence.

Fighting among Somali groups takes place through complex and unprincipled alliances mainly based on the formula of ¡°your enemy is my friend¡±.

Both the TFG and ASJ are unofficial allies against common enemies, namely the AS and HI.

The ASJ was a traditional, non-political Sufi sect, that ran Qur¡¯anic schools before the ideologues of ¡°Wahhabism¡± came into the Somali scene in the late 1980s, challenging Sufis and destroying their revered graves and symbols.

Now the TFG and ASJ have officially united their forces against AS and HI.

In terms of effective territorial control, both Puntland and Somaliland administer their northern zones, while ASJ dominates the central region of Galgaduud.

Supporters of HI are present in a number of south-central regions of the country, but have been pushed out by AS, who control more than 80 percent of south-central Somalia.

The TFG only holds on a few pockets of Mogadishu, which is secured and defended by the AMISOM.

ORIGINS OF THE CONFLICT

The origins of Somalia¡¯s seemingly insoluble crises are partly attributed to the inherited colonial ¡°balkanization¡± of the Somali territory.

Somalia has not yet recovered from the 19th century partition of the country planned in the Berlin Conference in 1884.

Britain, France, Italy, and Ethiopia practically divided Somalia into five parts on the map, arbitrarily separating families and communities of a nation that had all unifying factors: one ethnicity, one language, and one religion (Islam).

This has resulted in long and costly conflicts with Somalia¡¯s neighbors, particularly Ethiopia and Kenya.

The ongoing conflicts have drained the state resources and weakened government institutions, playing a major part in the eventual collapse of the Somali government in 1991.

EXTREME ISLAMIC OPPOSITION

The 21-year-old odictatorial rule of Siad Barre has promoted and solidified tribalism in the country, while now AS is another principal cause of the lingering crisis.

The hypocritical democratization actions of of Siad Barre¡¯s regime regarding customs and religion led to the extreme radicalization of the practice of Islam in Somalia. The dictator interfered with Shari¡¯ah and tried to amend the Islamic Shari¡¯ah laws of inheritance and marriage.

Opposing this state interference with Shari¡¯ah, AS, once one of the few venues open to the public, has later developed into an underground movement. Its opposition went too far to the extent of forming the present extremist Islamist opposition group.

Three major political movements have formed official an armed opposition aganist the regime: The Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF), the Somali National Movement (SNM), and the United Somali Congress (USC). These three groups were first based in Ethiopia. The Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM) operated clandestinely in the southern regions.

The pressure of the combined political and religious opposition ¨C Still reeling from the defeat of the ¡°War of 77¡å with Ethiopia in 1977 ¨C speeded up the collapse of the regime and the disintegration of all major public institutions.

More than 400,000 security forces dissolved into their clans, taking their light and heavy arms with them.

THE WARLORDS AND UIC

From the generals, colonels, and majors of the dispersed forces, a dozen warlords emerged to fill the vacuum. They waged bloody wars among themselves and setup their fiefdoms in the country, leading the country to the tragic civil war which has so far resutled in more than 500,000 deaths, a million refugees abroad, and more than two million internally displaced people.

As the civil strife was centered in Mogadishu, the national capital, the community leaders and warlords decided to set up 16 clan-based Shari¡¯ah courts in Mogadishu dealing with criminal cases, because there were no other judicial system. All 16 courts were run by one of the four major Somali clans.

In the meantime, Al-Itthad Al-Islami (AIAI) had developed into a major radical Islamic movement with presence in almost all the regions of the country. They made threatening declarations not only against the warlords but also against the TFG, Ethiopians, Americans and the Christian World.

In April-May 2006, about a dozen warlords in Mogadishu decided, with the encouragement and funding of the Americans and the Ethiopians, to get rid of AIAI, which was the dominant Islamic movement.

In June 2006, the warlords were defeated and kicked out of Mogadishu. Immediately afterwards the AIAI and the 16 Sharia courts merged to form the Union of the Islamic Courts (UIC) and took control of most of south-central Somalia except Bay region, as the TFG was based in its capital, Baidoa, at the time.

This led to the entry of the Ethiopian forces inside Somalia on the request of the TFG. An estimated 20,000 combined Ethiopian and TFG forces defeated the UIC and captured Mogadishu and all the major regional towns in south-central Somalia. It is assumed that the Americans funded the operation.

In the final analysis, Somalia remains the battlefield of rival militant factions and the river of blood does not seem to end any time soon.

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