Opinions expressed in this column are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of SW.
No Solution is a Wrong Solution to Somalia’s Political Turmoil
Mohamed Haji Adow - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
24 November, 2002
The Roman orator and politician, Marcus Tullius Cicero once said, "An unjust peace is better than a just war." Viewed in the context of Somalia’s mostly unjust, causeless, senseless and endless wars, Cicero's famous dictum makes perfect sense. Indeed, after 12- year-long deadly mix of war and poverty that sunk Somalia into the abyss of violence and lawlessness and created a situation that rivals any other country in both complexity and suffering, one feels compelled to suggest that any solution to Somalia’s seemingly insoluble tragic civil war, no matter how wrong or unjust it might seem to some, will never be a wrong solution to Somalia’s political turmoil.
In the early months of 1991, when, the twenty-one-year-old dictatorship of a despotic oligarchy whose misrule helped sew the seeds of Somalia’s destruction was overthrown, many Somalis were euphoric and felt truly liberated and the omens were good! But their euphoria was short-lived: a blessing turned into a curse, and within few days following the regime collapse, the country was embroiled in causeless civil war that pitted Somali countrymen against one another. A primitive savagery and mass madness prevailed and clan hatred and intolerance bedeviled Somali society and turned it into cannibalistic beasts thriving on the flesh-and-blood of their own species. National brotherhood vanished in the population and in a true testimony to Somalia’s national disintegration, traditional Somali incendiary songs known as “guubaabo” originally recorded by the Heegan Band of the Somali Police Force to lift the morale of the Somali National Army (SNA) in its irredentist Ogaden war with neighboring Ethiopia were dubbed over video footages of civil war battles showing gruesome images of the barbaric slaughter of “clan enemies” and accompanied by wrath and hate-filled commentary. One of those highly misused songs contains the following words: “Geesiyaal tilmaaman baan taariikh u leenahay”, which translates as (Ours are historically distinguished heroes). Needless to say, this song and other songs originally intended to romanticize Somalia’s historical figures have been used defiantly for purposes entirely contrary to their original intention, to glorify clan heroes.
As Somalia witnessed a new era of violent conflict, exacerbated by the complete breakdown of the both rational and traditional authority, political and social chaos grew. Then, the inevitable happened. Like a fragmentation bomb, the country was torn into small pieces of warring fiefdoms. It was during this time that the country was deliberately and sadistically destroyed, in an unwinnable and costly war of attrition that has only bred more hatred and distrust among already fragmented society, leading consequently to more fragmentation, that saw former so-called clan bloodline brethren turn their arms against one another, in a strange twist to the civil war, as they fought for unachievable illusive clan supremacy and committed cruel and great atrocities against one another in the process. Absolute havoc and mayhem reigned throughout the country. A mass exodus in cars trucks and on foot began. Many were internally displaced within the borders of the country and became victims of man-made genocidal famine. Suffering, death and everyday hardships took their harsh toll on the country. Only after the international media finally carried shocking pictures of emaciated, starving Somali children did the United States and its allies begin to plan a relief and peacekeeping mission. In 1992, the UN and US intervened with a mandate to make Somalia safe for distribution of food and other aid. Though, the US and UN military intervention went disastrously wrong, nevertheless the number of famine victims started to slow down and worst of the famine soon abated.
The conditions that existed in Somalia forced a substantial number of the population to cross international borders and remain outside the country in refugee camps, primarily in Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen or on their own in Canada, United States of America, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Nordic/Scandinavian countries i.e. Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. As a result, today, a sizeable number of Somalis can be found in different parts of the world. The spreading of the Somali people from their country to other different countries is today broadly termed, the Somali Diaspora. As to be expected the Somali Diaspora reached into places as remote as the frozen arctic region of Greenland (via the acquisiom of Danish nationality by naturalisation Via residence).
Although there have been numerous attempts to find a lasting solution to Somalia’s political quagmire of lack of rational governmental authority, none of them ended up with success, owing much to the almost pathological personal and inter-clan mistrust among the so-called Somali leaders who have carved out entire political careers from the country’s tragic situation. Understandably so, after UN AND US intervention debacle, 13 failed peace talks and after the participants of the ongoing 14th Somali National Reconciliation Conference currently underway in Eldoret, Kenya, have already shown their inborn rigidity and intransigence, one may assert that pursuing options of solutions that are just a distant mirage on the political horizon and have no chance of being achieved is not in the best interest of this tortured nation that is helpless against the ravages of statelessness and unregulated anarchy. Indeed, the time is ripe to recognize one important fact: Somalia is not endowed with options of solutions. In other words, any solution will suffice. Why that’s so? The answer to this question may be achieved by the asking of a counter-question: whatever happened to Somalia?
The magnitude of the country’s loss in the civil war is an incalculable loss. 12 years of civil war have robbed the country of much of its educated, urbane human resources because of dislocation arising from the civil war conflict. Hence, many were forced to remain in a self-imposed exile because of the conditions of the country. Over the last 12 years the country’s limited and precious wooded areas and its habitat have been heavily encroached and deforested to produce charcoal destined for export to the Gulf market. Somalia’s seas and land have become a dumping ground for illegal chemical industrial waste causing everlasting ecological degradation. The country’s fishing stocks are dwindling as a result of illegal foreign fishing in its waters. Chronic poverty, lack of basic education and healthcare are robbing millions of a decent life. The country's basic infrastructure has been destroyed, even in the capital, Mogadishu, surfaced streets are eclipsed by sand dunes and became untravelable. Extortion and thuggery have been routinised and ironically named “legge”, an Italian word meaning “law”. Millions are trapped in unemployment and grinding poverty because of the complete absence public sector employment as a result of statelessness. Mass addiction to drugs and other harmful vices is destroying the heart and soul of the country’s young generation, inevitably destroying the social fabric of the country in the process. The importation of fake Somali currency into the country by unscrupulous and morally repugnant businesses has caused hyperinflation and further currency devaluation to already valueless currency that is not regulated under any banking regulations. Without any import checks the country remains awash with useless fake medicines that kill rather than cure. The list of the country's ills goes on and on and is beyond the scope of this piece of writing.
In conclusion, after so much destruction, after so much human misery and suffering, Somalia’s civilian population is desperate for any solution. But not necessarily an ideal or perfect solution. Any solution that offers a road toward state apparatus, capable of maintaining order and security should be acceptable to the overlooked silent majority of Somalia who have become captives of visionless leaders who are themselves prisoners of their own greed and dogmatic stubbornness. For, if the end is peace and an end to Somali’s political turmoil and if it serves the overall interest of the country, then, there can be nothing wrong with any solution however rightly or wrongly is viewed by some as wrong or unjust.
Mohamed Haji Adow , Compiler: The English-Somali Dictionary Politics (Not Yet Published) , Email: email@example.com