Somalia is found in the Horn of Africa with Mogadishu as capital city. Ever since Mohamed Siad Barre, the late dictator, fled the city in January 1991 the country has not had an effective central government. In May 1991 Gen. Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s army had overwhelmed the Barre forces taking the capital and forcing him into exile in Nigeria. Barre died on January 2, 1995 in Lagos from a heart attack! Siad Barre had executed a palace coup in 1969 as a Major-General coming to power and fostering the growth of a personality cult. He had initially described his regime as one of “scientific socialism” which later metamorphosed into a brutal dictatorship that tortored opponents, abused human rights and executed alleged coup plotters.
After the inglorious fall of the Barre regime (that lasted for 21 years) anarchy set in as rival armed groups battled for control of territories and resources. Enter the terrorists called the Al Shabab! Al-Shabab means “the youth” in Arabic. They had taken control of Mogadishu in 2006 before being forced out by Ethiopian forces. They are allied to al-Qaeda and organized terror campaigns in Somalia and neighbouring countries especially Kenya. Kenya and Somalia have had an rnduring ‘special’ relationship. When the late Barre was overthrown he first ran to Nairobi for safety but was forced to relocate to Nigeria by human rights groups in Kenya who accused him of gross human rights violations while in power. Again, the largest refugee camp in Africa is located in Kenya where Somalians fleeing the war back home trooped to and can still be found today.
A recent report by the Transparency International had ranked Somalia as the most corrupt country in the world. The socio-economic and political instability in Somalia for decades running has cost the country dearly and opened it up for evil forces to triumph, albeit temporarily. Outcasts and other lawless elements are operating freely without hindrance, some even smiling to the banks — killing, raping and committing arson with impunity.
Like Nigeria Kenya has paid a huge price in the trans-national battles against terror. To re-establish a semblance of stability in Somalia Kenya has suffered terrorist attacks in Nairobi and other towns bordering Somalia. Because of her bold move to bring back Somalia from her chaotic trajectory to hell it has been hit on more than one occasion receiving body-bags of slain soldiers or students. The most recent one happened inside Somalia where gallant soldiers working under the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) command were brutally attacked and massacred in a successful dawn raid that took the lives of hundreds of them!
President Muhammadu Buhari during a state visit to Kenya earlier this year had participated in a military burial ceremony organized to honour the fallen soldiers in Nairobi. The Nigerian President had dutifully called for a concerted efforts to rout the terrorists by smoking them out of their hiding enclaves and annihilating them. Uhuru Kenyatta, the Kenyan President, had made it clear in an address during the sombre occasion that his country cannot abandon Somalia nor bow to the nebulous demands of Al-Shabab for her to withdraw her forces in Somalia as a pre-condition for cessation of hostilities.
Al-Shabab is indeed a potent force that spreads death and destruction leaving tears and blood in every of their murderous passage. Like Boko Haram they are waging a guerrilla war that is very difficult to defeat through conventional military means. Their non-conventional hit-and-run strategy makes their bloody mission dreadful. They have no respect or regard for religion or region, tribe or ethnic affinity. They claim hollow adherence to a phony ‘Allah’ and see those opposed to their misguided doctrine of Sharia and hate as ‘infidels’ worth wiping out of the face of the earth! But they are bound to fail since we are not ready to embrace their doctored satanic verses.
Before the AMISOM and Kenyan involvement in the Somalian festering crisis Ethiopia had tried to impose order but failed. In 2006 they succeeded in taking over Mogadishu but was forced to withdraw their troops after signing a peace deal. The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had faced a serious military challenge as a notable Somali Islamist leader had ordered for a “jihad” to drive out the invading Ethiopian forces. The military conflicts between the two countries dated back centuries ago with Ethiopia maintaining the lead with political stability at the homefront. But they have had casualties as they sought to dominate militarily the Somali landscape.
The United States had gotten involved militarily in the Somali confused situation when in 1993 the then President George W. Bush had approved the deployment of the “Task Force Ranger” forces to restore order in a battle of Mogadishu. But the Bush administration had miscalculated by understimating the fire-power of militia-men and civilian fighters fiercely loyal to the self-proclaimed President Farrah Aidid. Dozens of American soldiers were killed scores wounded while helicopters were shot down as the battle raged! America had to withdraw their forces when it became clear that warlord Aidid and his forces were mounting a stiff resistance.
Somalia post-Siad Barre has become the graveyard of ambitions of imperialists and other African nations seeking to play the ‘big brother’ role. But no matter the present or past circumstances or situations we cannot afford, out of frustration, lack of will or means or outright aloofness, to abandon Somalia and her war-weary nationals to the atrocious whims and caprices of the ‘Shababian’ barbarians. Somalia, much like Nigeria, must be made to become the graveyard of ambitions of both ‘Shababian’ and ‘Boko-Haramic’ vampires and vultures sucking the blood of and feasting on the carcasses of Nigerians and Somalians.
History and posterity will be kind to this generation and remember same if we can, despite the damage already done, find a lasting solution to the Somali raging conundrum. And there is no feasible alternative to the present unified military engagement.
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