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  • [SW Country] {WIC - Al-Hayat ) Somalia Between the Fire of the United States, The Allegations of Bin Laden and the Obscurity Of “El Itihad El Islami” (Islamic Union)   Part IV :Posted on [25 Dec 2001]

 Somalia Between the Fire of the United States, The Allegations of Bin Laden and the Obscurity Of “El Itihad El Islami” (Islamic Union)   Part IV

WIC December 24, 2001

Source Al-Hayat News paper
Decemb er 14, 2001  

 Part 1     Part 2     Part 3

Hussein Aidid : The Americans Offered to Help Us To Hit “El Itihad El Islami” Prior to their Landing in Mogadishu in 1992...... And We Revealed to them the Activity of El Qaeda

In the fourth episode December 13 I surveyed the start of the United Nation’s second operation in Somalia (UNOSOM-2) which received its equipment in May 1993 from the operation “Restoration Hope” which was under an American command. The total number of these several forces amounted to more than 28 thousand soldiers  by the Security Council the right to use force based on Article Seven of the United Nations constitution, thus adding to their humanitarian task a political mandate of disarming the militias,  monitoring  the cease fire between them and assisting the Somalis in establishing peace through a reconciliation conference in preparation for the establishment of a government and to put an end to the war. However, such new political mandate for the forces of “UNOSOM-2" resulted in clashes with the militias, most significant of which was the one in which 23 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a confrontation with the militias affiliated to General/Mohamed Fareh Aidid on June 5, 1993.

The support gained by the international forces prior to this incident shifted to sympathy for Aidid who was chased by the international forces. During this period the Islamic Union (El Itihad El Islami) movement exploited the wave of discontent with the forces of “UNOSOM-2" and sneaked into the capital from their camps in south and north of the country. About this period Osama Bin Laden says “The only non-Somalian group that fought the Americans in Mogadishu was the Arab Mojahedin brothers who were in Afghanistan. The American administration knew pretty well that we were fighting them and declared that there were non-Somalian extremist forces that were fighting. They meant us”.

During this same period the famous battle of Oct. 3, 1993 took place, during which the militias shot down two American “Black Hawk” helicopters and killed 12 American servicemen. At that time President Bill Clinton took the decision to withdraw his troops which left Somalia in March of the following year.

In today’s episode we proceed with the development of the Islamic Union movement in Somalia, its activity across the borders inside Ethiopia and its relation with the current transitional government. For the first time, the American cooperation with General/Aidid to pursue the forces of the Islamic Union prior to the landing of the marines in Mogadishu is revealed. Here is what was disclosed by Eng/Hussein, the son of General/Aidid to Al Hayat about this period :

The Ethiopian Troops Did not Cross the Borders into Somalia Except After the Death of  General Aidid and the End of the Task of “UNOSOM-2" Eng/Hussein, the son of the leader of the Somali National Alliance the late General/Mohamed Fareh Aidid whom I met lately in Addis Ababa in his interview with Al Hayat says “After the success of the United Somali Conference which was led by my father in overthrowing the regime of Mohamed Siad Berry in which he was assisted by another power, he proceeded in 1991 on top of his forces from Mogadishu and controlled all areas on the road from the capital to Marca city reaching Kesmayo in the south. During this march he forced out the militias of the Islamic Union which were present in some of these areas.

In April 1992 he controlled Brava city along the sea in the southern region of Shbilly. He occupied Jilib town in the middle region of Goba prior to marching to Bay region to control Bedawah city. He continued his march to Ghadw region (neighboring the borders with Ethiopia) where he entered the strongholds of the Islamic Union movement in Louk, Baldhawa  and Bardiry”.

At this point Hussein Aidid confirms that Meles Zenawi who headed the transitional government in Ethiopia at that time after overthrowing the regime of Colonel/Mangisto Haille Mariam was aware of the gravity of the activities by the Islamic Union in areas close to the Ethiopian borders and wanted to force them out of these areas.

He adds “My father rejected any attempt from the Ethiopian government to send forces across the borders, and he confirmed to the Ethiopians that what was carried out by the Islamic Union inside Somalia is a Somali problem that we were treating in our capacity as the new power in the country. He emphasized that he will not accept the entry of Ethiopian troops into the country as long as he was alive. The Ethiopians understood the situation and left to my  father the responsibility of handling this problem which worried them, especially in their border areas. The truth of the matter was that Addis Ababa respected the position of my father and its troops did not cross the borders except after his death.”

Hussein adds “After the United Somali Congress took control of the southern areas, it committed itself to form the Somalian National Alliance which contained about 14 factions controlling more than ten regions of the 18 regions of the country. Then General/Aidid returned to Mogadishu on Nov. 2, 1992, one month prior to the arrival of the American troops (UNITAF/UNOSOM-1) under the command of General/Robert Johnston which landed in the Somali capital on Dec. 9, 1992.

But prior to this, the Americans knew pretty well that the   Islamic Union movement was present and the probability of its confrontation with their troops. So they discussed the matter with the Somali National Alliance which formed a committee that met several times with the American National Security Council Committee between March 1992 and December of the same year. We revealed to them the gravity of activities of the movements of the Islamic Union and the participation of El Qaeda organization in Somalia. Even after the departure of the American forces in March 1994, other meetings were held among which was the meeting which was held in Nairobi in 1998 between members from the committee affiliated to the American National Security Council and the official in charge of foreign affairs at the Somali National Alliance during which Abdel Lateef Ivdoov had warned them once again about the Union and El Qaeda.

We told them that the Union constitutes a threat to us and to our neighbors and to all peace plans in the African Horn”.

Hussein Aidid holds the United Nation’s second operation (UNOSOM-2) responsible for the growth of the activity of the Islamic Union after his father had reduced its presence, and says “In May 1993 the forces of UNOSOM-2 withdrew from Baldwinii and Kesmayo, and from other cities and towns which were freed by the Somali National Alliance from the forces of the Islamic Union.

They confiscated all our weapons in Kesmayo and allowed all forces of the factions opposed to the Somali National Alliance to enter Baldwinii and Kesmayo. Among these forces were the elements of the Islamic Union which returned very strongly to such areas.”

Perhaps this was the period during which the forces of the Islamic Union returned to the capital Mogadishu, where they started conducting military operations against the international forces without any quarter declaring its responsibility. Among such operations was the shooting down of two American Black Hawk helicopters and the killing of 12 American servicemen on Oct. 3, 1993. About this period Bin Laden says in his interview with El Kodss El Arabi (Arab Jerusalem) newspaper “.....We used to hunt them (American soldiers) down inside Mogadishu. Aidid used to declare that he was not responsible for such acts. He was true, because the war in which we are currently engaged with the Americans is not the first one.”

After the departure of the American troops in March 1994, several attempts were carried out inside and out side Somalia to reconcile the factions that were struggling to hold power. After such attempts failed, the international community declared that it has lost hope in the possibility of finding a solution to the civil war. The United Nations withdrew its forces finally from Somalia on March 25, 1995; then it declared on Sept. 16, 1995 to transfer it mandate to the political section in “UNOSOM-2", and the Somalis were left alone to continue the war among themselves or to reach peace which was never finally attained to date.

Let us go back to Hussein Aidid recollection. He said “When the mandate granted to the political section in “UNOSOM-2" expired on Sept. 15, 1995, General/Aidid was in Bour town close to Shbilly southern region which is 90 km away from Bedawah. On the following day at six o’clock in the morning he entered Bedawah with the aim of organizing the defense forces of El Rahnawein Army for resistance. So he took 440 fighters from El Rahnawein forces to train them and attack the forces of the Islamic Union in Louk, Dolo, Baldhawa, Bour and Koweibo towns. These forces were getting more active in these areas close to Ethiopia. My father was keen on not allowing the Ethiopians to take these activities as a justification to enter the Somalian soil and chase the elements of the Islamic Union.

Then my father left his forces in the south and went back to supervise the Reconciliation Conference which started at the beginning of November 1995 and ended on June 15, 1996 by forming a national unity government under his presidency. But a new war erupted in the wake of the foregoing with factions that rejected the new government. General/Aidid was killed in one of the battles by the militias that were led by (his former assistant and financier) Othman Hassan Aly, nicknamed Atto on Aug. 2, 1996. The Ethiopian troops crossed the borders to Somalia on the sixth of the same month and occupied several cities in Ghadw region (south western Somalia) among which were Louk, Baldhawa, El Waq, Bourhekba and Dolo, and they remained there till February 2000. This happened in spite the fact that the Ethiopians were told that we were going to take care of the Islamic Union, especially that our forces were in Bacoul region.”

After the attack which was executed by the Ethiopian troops in August on the positions of the Islamic Union group in the south west of Somalia, a group of tribes held a national conference in which they decided to face the Ethiopian army. The spokesman of the “Conference on Defending the Areas Neighboring Ethiopia” Hussein Aly Elmy said in a statement “The conference was held on Sept. 15 and 16, 1996 in Louk city which is one of the cities which were attacked by the Ethiopian enemy. Representatives of the tribes which live in Ghadw, Bay and Bacoul areas participated in this conference. Among such tribes were Marihan, Rahnawein, Ghatawy, Noghsar, Derr, Ogadin and Herby. The conferees decided to establish a strong army from these tribes to strengthen the Islamic forces present in the border areas with Ethiopia to defend Somalia and repel any aggression from the Ethiopian Army (....). Among the most prominent leaders who participated in this conference were Sheikh/Taher Aly Ein, Hussein Farwally, Farheen and Solb.”

Prior to sending its troops to south western Somalia, Ethiopia suffered the extension of the military operations which were executed by elements of the Islamic Union inside its territories and which reached Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian investigations which were conducted following the arrest of  three terrorists after an attempt on the President/Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa on June 26, 1995 revealed that there was somehow a relation that linked these elements with the Islamic Union. These elements came from Sudan where Osama Bin Laden lived for a while. They said that local elements assisted them in logistic facilities.

The Egyptian Islamic Union claimed responsibility for the operation after ten days its execution. After 12 days from the attempt to assassinate Mubarak, the Ethiopian Minister of Transportation Abdel Meguid Hussein also faced an assassination attempt in Addis Ababa on the eighth of July from which he escaped after being hit by five bullets. The Islamic Union claimed its responsibility for the operation on the following day. The Ethiopian Government accused the Union of executing a series of explosions in hotels in the middle of the capital and planting mines on the railroad linking the Ethiopian capital to Djibouti.

On Dec. 24, 1996 the spokesman of the Islamic Union movement in Mogadishu Ahmed Baily Hassan declared that Ethiopian troops have crossed the borders to south western Somalia and occupied three border towns in Ghadw region that were under the control of the fighters of the Islamic Union. These towns were Louk which is about 100 kilometers from the Ethiopian borders, Dolo which is near Louk (500 kilometers north west of Mogadishu) and Baldhawa which is located on the road to Louk. The fighters of the Union declared that they have executed a tactical retreat on the same day after inflicting heavy casualties on the Ethiopian troops.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Defense announced on the same day that its troops have killed 19 terrorists and wounded 81 others belonging to a multinational extrimst fundamentalist groups that tried to launch an attack on Dolo town. It declared that the dead who were left on the ground of the battle, the prisoners and the wounded which it detained were members of a multinational fundamentalist groups, most of whom are from arab origins that belong to several Arab countries.

These were the first statements broadcasted by the Ethiopian side about the fight against members of the Islamic Union, but it did not include any reference to any fight inside Somalia.

Dolo town which was referred to by the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense as being located inside the Ethiopian territories with another town bearing the same name also existing inside Somalia.

Hussein Aidid considers the forces of the Islamic Union to have grown rapidly during the years from 1996 till 1999 when the Islamic Courts were reestablished (they started in 1991 and were weak) with their own militias and used to pass their rulings based on the Islamic Law.

These Courts carried out several executions and amputation of the arms. They strengthened their control on the majority of Somali regions through assistance from Somali businessmen and merchants. In the year 2000 they declared their support to the Somali Reconciliation Conference which was held in Arta Resort of Djibouti, where the Conference elected Dr/Abdy Kassem Salad Hussein as a transitional president for Somalia.

          The Somalian Islamic Republic

On the fourth of January 1997 the member of the executive committee in the Somali Islamic Union movement and the head of operations contingent Sheikh/Hassan Dhaher Eweiss declared that the “Movement” has abandoned military actions and was seeking to assume power, and that it supports any Islamic leader who undertakes to declare the Somali Islamic Republic.

In a press conference which he held in Mogadishu he said “From now on the Islamic Union movement has been transformed into a political organization that seeks to hold power in Somalia, but our target is not only power, but to work towards the attainment of a Muslim president to run the country based on the Islamic law (Shari’a). We will announce our allegiance to any leader selected by the people who undertakes to establish the Somali Islamic Republic.”

After about two years and eight months from that declaration by Sheikh/Eweiss, Dr/Abdy Kassem Salad Hussein assumed the top authority in the Democratic Republic of Somalia (the official name of the country) pursuant to the National Reconciliation Conference which was held in Arta Resort in neighboring Djibouti in August/September 2000. In this conference he was elected by some tribal leaders as a transitional president for Somalia, so he was appointed as a transitional prime minister, but now he only controls part of the capital Mogadishu and some areas outside it.

Somalia comprises 18 regions, five of which are in the north west declaring their independence since May 1991 under the name “the Republic of the Land of Somalia”. They have a president called Mohamed Ibrahim Okal, a government, a parliament, a judicial system and an army. This Republic is a bordered in the north west by an entity that enjoys an independent autonomy which was established on Aug. 1st, 1998 under the name of Bont Land Somalian State. It comprises four regions (the Land of Somalia says that two of them are affiliated thereto). This State, also like that of Somalia land, has a president, namely Colonel/Abdallah Youssef, institutions and a constitution. It struggles for power over the other regions, including Banader region among which Mogadishu is located.

The Islamic Union movement controls several of these regions, and endorsed such power for the transitional presidency. So Abdy Kassem Salad Hassan became part of the general power in the country, and on regions outside the capital through the Union.

After the return of President Salad Hassan from Djibouti following the end of the Arta Conference in September 2000, the militias affiliated to the Islamic Courts declared to dissolve themselves and placing all their forces under the disposal of the new government to be the nucleus for a new national army. They also announced placing all their experiences and capabilities under the service of the government.

During my two visits to Mogadishu last December I witnessed the closure of a big number of Islamic Courts most of which were established by the Islamic Union. I also witnessed gatherings of the forces of these Courts which moved to barracks and positions inside the capital in order to be rehabilitated and their elements assigned to the organs of the new government and its establishments, especially the police and the army.

During the same visit I asked President Salad Hassan about the Islamic Courts which used to pass sentences and execute them in during the war. He answered “they comprise five tribal courts south of Mogadishu which joined us in Arta Conference. The Judiciary will be united within the framework of the official judiciary establishment which will take its position and role, and so the role of the Islamic Courts will end”.

But did the role of the Islamic Courts actually end? Is Salad Hassan the president which was referred to by member of the Executive Committee in the Islamic Union movement Sheikh/Hassan Dhaher Eweiss when he said “our target in not only power, but to work towards the attainment of a Muslim president to run the country based on the Islamic law (Shari’a). We will announce our allegiance to any leader selected by the people who undertakes to establish the Somalian Islamic Republic.”

Salad Hussein did not declare the Somalian Islamic Republic but he did not also declare otherwise. According to Arta Conference he is the transitional president; i.e. he governs a Republic without an identity which is not recognized by all local parties, for a transitional period during which the country is transformed from the status of war and no-state to a state with a constitution, laws and establishments.

Perhaps it was not possible for Salad Hussein during the period of 15 months which he spent till now on top of the Republic to transform this republic into a specific form of rule. Will he be able to contain the Islamists and declare a multi-state or will he be contained by the Islamists who will declare their Republic?

 

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3


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