Excerpts from the 1990's

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USC Spokesman on Mogadishu Battle, Future PlansLondon BBC World Service in English
December 31, 1990, 1709 GMT
[From the “Focus on Africa” program]

Well, as you heard, the group claiming responsibility for much of the military success against Somali Government troops is the United Somali Congress, the USC. However, it is not yet clear whether they intend to seize Mogadishu [words indistinct] their relationship is with the other rebel groups in the country who have been battling for power over the years, especially the biggest group, the Somali National Movement. Robin White spoke to the USC`s London spokesman(Mohamed Robleh) and asked him what his movement`s objectives were:

[Begin recording] [(Robleh)] It was evident from what was happening in Mogadishu in the last couple of months that Siyaad Barre`s hold on power in Mogadishu, which was the last place he had in power at all, is almost coming to an end. I do not think that this is a final assault, but it is definitely a probing assault in which we will see in the next few days or weeks that Siyaad Barre will be removed from Mogadishu.

[White] So, you do not think it is necessary all is going to be over today or tomorrow?

[(Robleh)] No, Siyaad Barre has been in power for a long time: and it will take really good fighting, which we are ready for.

[White] Now, according to our correspondent in Mogadishu, about 90 people of members of the movement were involved in yesterday`s assault. Would you think that figure was about right, or would you think that there were many more involved?

[(Robleh)] I believe that figure is a gross underestimate of our men in the area. Mogadishuis totally surrounded by our people, and the number of people that the USC can field at one time is considerably larger. And I would think, even if it is a probing assault, they would have put more men.

[White] How many men do you have under arms?

[(Robleh)] The men that are under arms with the USC are in thousands. Apart from the ex-army soldiers and officers, a large number of the nomadic population in the area of central and southern Somalia have been given training and are all armed now.

[White] So, you are saying that government troops have come over and joined you?

[(Robleh)] Yes, they have been doing that for quite a long time. The USC activity, apparently, has been underreported by the world media, but this has been going on for the last two years in which the USC has existed.

[White] You are claiming to have liberated the Mogadishu districts of Waxaracadde, Huriwaa, Yaaqshiid, Howl-Wadaag. Now, where are these?

[(Robleh)] These are in the northern part of Mogadishu, especially [name indistinct] almost near the center, which is where the Presidential Palace is situated. The latest fighting is around that area. Apparently the Siyaad Barre forces are using heavy weapons to clear that area, which is predominantly almost all inhabited by strong USC supporters.

[White] So, you are coming from the north?

[(Robleh)] Yes, we are coming from the north, from the road that leads from Mogadishu to the north.

[White] And these are all suburbs where your own people are, so to speak?

[(Robleh)] That is right. That is right. Mogadishu is the capital seat of Somalia. It is predominantly inhabited by the USC supporters who live in the surrounding areas as well.

[White] Which clan is this?

[(Robleh)] This is... [pauses] There are several clans. This is the Hawiye tribe. But the USC also is supported by other tribes in southern and central Somalia. So, it is not only confined to the Hawiye.

[White] Is it not clear that by attacking, as you are doing, you are going to cause massive civilian casualties?

[(Robleh)] We are very discriminating in our attacks. The indiscriminate attacks are coming from Siyaad Barre`s forces.

[White] You would say that, would you not? But you are the people doing the attacking, so you are the people who are going to be responsible for mass civilian deaths, surely?

[(Robleh)] You cannot say we are responsible for mass deaths. The main reason why we have to fight is to stop people being killed, which is happening regularly in Somalia and has been happening for 21 years.

[White] So, if by any chance you are successful and you overthrow Siyaad Barre and you occupy Mogadishu, what happens then, because there are also other rebel groups who are going to want a share in power?

[(Robleh)] Yes, the USC has done a thorough work in what it will do in the future, and the first thing we will do is to convene a meeting with all other opposition groups so that we could all sit down peacefully and work out a constitution, a democratic constitution which will provide for the rights of every Somali, regardless of his tribe or the region that he comes from.

[White] It sounds fine in theory; but in practice, do you not think that the rebel movement in the north, the SNM [Somali National Movement], is likely to seize its chance and themselves march on the capital and demand power, for they have been fighting [words indistinct]?

[(Robleh)] There is one thing that is sacrosanct and that is the unity of the Somali people. Everything else can be discussed.

[White] So, would your movement be prepared to hand over if it, by any chance, managed to seize Mogadishu would it be willing to hand over to the SNM?

[(Robleh)] I do not understand what you mean by handing power over to the SNM. We will share the power. [end recording]
USC Rebel, Government Spokesman InterviewedLondon BBC World Service in English
January 05, 1991, 0730 GMT
[From the “Saturdays Only” program; hosted by Robin White]

[White] I am joined in the studio by (Suara Mussa), press officer of the Somali Embassy in London, who was in Somalia until the beginning of this week; (Mohamed Robleh), spokesman for the United Somali Congress, the USC; Dr. (Mohameh Salah), a Somali academic; (Mohamed Ahmad Sheikh), a Ph.D. student, who has just returned to England from Somalia; and by (Florence Pax), who is in charge of our Somali Service. Now Robleh, if I can begin with you: Exactly what was the objective of your assault on Mogadishustarting on Sunday; what were you trying to do?

[(Robleh)] Well, the assault was not planned for a long time. It had to be – it was precipitated by the killings of the government of the local population that were being killed by the (?Red Barracks), the military police.

[White] So it was unplanned, this operation?

[(Robleh)] Yes.

[White] And you prepared the [word indistinct]?

[(Robleh)] It was-the situation was so bad, we were forced to start.

[White] Now, how much of Mogadishu do you now claim to control?

[(Robleh)] Most of it.

[White] What do you mean most of it – which districts?

[(Robleh)] Most of the district is – according to the latest information that we have, the USC forces are just at the port, on one side; at the (Unishef) Hospital of the (Anziloti) Road; and at Kilometer Four. They were earlier nearer to the airport and the bunker of Siyaad Barre, but he had been using artillery and heavy tanks and even sometimes missiles, which were falling in parts that were very far from where the USC forces – the frontline of the USC forces.

[White] It sounds like you are admitting you are being driven back a bit?

[(Robleh)] Well, of course, in a situation like this, the front is always fluid.

[White] (Suara Mussa) from the Somali Embassy here in London, I think you would dispute the claim that they control most of the capital.

[(Mussa)] Yes, I have to contradict here, because they do not control anything at all. And I tell you this from the fact that I was there and I know what is going on, and it is unfortunate that Mr. (Robleh) in London should tell you what is happening when I know it better.

[White] So how much do the rebels control?

[(Mussa)] They do not control anything. The only thing that happened was that there was a group of armed men who started shooting innocent people and have infiltrated in two districts of the capital. Then the security forces had to move in and stop them. I therefore reject totally everything that Mr. (Robleh) has to say here.

[White] But it`s not just him that says it, a lot of diplomats are saying that the rebels do control a portion of the capital – we`re not quite sure how much, but that`s what they`re saying.

[(Mussa)] I tell you that the diplomats are not better informed than I am. It is true that they may hear things here and there. It`s also true that they use their local contacts, but this is nearly always one-sided.

[White] Now, (Mohamed Ahmad Sheikh), you were in Mogadishu this week. How much of the capital do you think the USC controls?

[(Sheikh)] Well, the fighting has (?spread) in the central part of Mogadishu, and the USC forces have fought in Wardhigley and in Yaaqshiid and then they expanded into other areas of the town, other parts of the town. But it seems now that the government has called reinforcements from outside and are gaining the upper hand by pinning down these USC forces in (?certain) neighborhoods.

[White] How many USC people, according to you, were actually involved in the fighting on Sunday?

[(Sheikh)] Well, that`s very difficult to say because people say the actual military forces, the USC forces who have infiltrated into Mogadishu, were not many, but they have managed [word indistinct] in these districts where they have fought against the government.

[White] Do you think the rebels are going to lose this bout of fighting?

[(Sheikh)] Militarily they may be pinned down and get out of Mogadishu if they don`t get reinforcements very soon.

[White] Are they getting reinforcements, (Robleh)?

[(Robleh)] Yes, because most of our forces were not really near the city. A month ago they were about 30 miles from Mogadishu, but the military headquarters of the USC is farther back, and since this was not a preplanned offensive, you would expect that they would rush forces fairly quickly, and we have information that they have already started.

[White] Florence [Pax], you`ve been watching the events this week and hearing all these conflicting claims. Who would you guess has overall control at the moment in Mogadishu?

[(Pax)] Well I think yesterday, today, and tomorrow are fairly decisive for who will have control, because if reinforcements don`t arrive, I imagine that the government forces, who are armed with heavy artillery and with tanks, are bound to be able to suppress an uprising in certain districts which are armed lightly and, as far as we can tell, have no military leader of any standing with them. However, if [word indistinct] the guerrillas, the urban guerrillas can keep on fighting for a few more days-say, another five or six days, which makes more than a week-then I would have thought it was possible, if the army is really being called back to Mogadishu and I have heard stories that the (Gowem) for instance has had its garrison recalled.

[White] What is the (Gowem)?

[(Pax)] That is a good distance inland from Mogadishu to the south.

[White] And those troops, you are saying, have been recalled?

[(Pax)] That is what I have been hearing. Now, if troops are either coming back in an organized way to defend Mogadishu, or are being told to find their own way back to defend Mogadishu, or perhaps deciding that it`s time they went home, if Mogadishu is home, then it is possible for reinforcements – and perhaps not USC, perhaps other rebel groups – to decided this is the time to join up in Mogadishu. But this takes a long time. For instance, if the SNM [Somali National Movement] were interested in Mogadishu, they`re a thousand miles away. How they would arrive in time to support a small band of fighters, I can`t imagine. I doubt they would.

[White] Can I just ask you, before we move on to talk about other movements in the country, about the level of support, if any, being given to the USC – popular support to the USC – by ordinary civilians in Mogadishu? Were they supporting this revolt in the capital, or not?

[(Sheikh)] Well the opposition again has... Siyaad Barre has been taking [word indistinct] and for the last two months he has taken a clanic [word indistinct] and he has tried to call the support of all the (?barons) against the Hawiye, who support...

[White, interrupting] The USC is basically – yes?

[(Sheikh)] ...who basically support the Hawiye. The USC is not short of manpower inMogadishu. But the decisive things – they are short of armaments, and as [words indistinct] and I think they haven`t (?looked for) armaments and ammunition in Mogadishuat the time when the fighting started. [passage omitted]
SSDF Rebel leader on Collaboration with USC

London BBC World Service in English
January 09, 1991, 1615 GMT[From the “Focus on Africa” program]

Somalia`s President Siyaad Barre has again issued a statement broadcast on Somali radio calling for peace in the civil war that has been raging in the capital, Mogadishu, for the past 10 days. Communications with Mogadishu are sporadic at the best and it is unclear whether rebel USC [United Somali Congress] or government forces are getting the upper hand, though the USC is claiming to be within an ace of taking control of the whole city. Well, another opposition movement, the SSDF [Somali Salvation Democratic Front], says itis now throwing its lot in with the USC. On the line to Nairobi, Robin White asked Hassan Ali Mireh, a leading member of the SSDF, exactly what they were doing to support the USC:

[Mireh] Well, we are telling our forces inside the country, especially in the capital, to fight on the side of the USC, and I am told by the last people who came from the last airlift that they have done so.

[White] How many people do you have with weapons in Mogadishu?

[Mireh] It is very hard to tell, really. Physically, I myself have not been there, but to be fair, you know, several hundred are already there and, they are expecting reinforcements any time.

[White] But these people, are they operating on their own or have they thrown their weight alongside the United Somali Congress?

[Mireh] Well, they have their own command, but they are really cooperating with the United Somali Congress because we see that we should cooperate and not only cooperate, fight side by side, but (?also) unite as soon as possible to save our country, really.

[White] Are you yourself in touch with the political leaders of the USC?

[Mireh] Yes, I am in touch with those in Rome as well as those in Nairobi itself.

[White] Now, some people might say that your movement, which has been going through pretty rough times of late, is just trying to cash in on somebody else`s successes.

[Mireh] Well, whatever people might say, before we had our own plans and we will continue to have, until the success. And it was a fundamental policy of SSDF to cooperate, to unite with any Somali movement. It is in the Constitution of the organization, so it is not a new policy [word indistinct].

[White] What do you think is going to happen in Mogadishu? Do you think the rebels are going to win there, or do you think it could end up in stalemate?

[Mireh] Well, I believe that if the opposition-not only SSDF and USC, but the other forces-come and unite, I think the victory will, you` know, be assured. But if we are scattered, you know, and there are few groups here, few there, I do not expect really a major success, at least immediately.

[White] From your latest information from Mogadishu, how much of the capital is still in the control of the government?

[Mireh] Well, I believe quite a lot, really. It is not all in the government`s hands, but they do have really very important parts of the capital in hand still.

[White] So, there is still a lot of fighting still to be done?

[Mireh] A lot of fighting to be done, very truly.

[White] Would you be prep? With the Mogadishu government?

[Mireh] You know, we do not consider the regime as a government to be negotiated with because there is no trust. I have several times told you: Nobody trusts Siyaad Barre and his regime to sit down and talk with them. But at the moment, our emphasis is on the opposition themselves to sit together and decide on something, real unity, because basically, you know, it is unacceptable that four or five different organizations with independent armies with no centralized leadership – it is even worse than Siyaad Barre and his group. It will be chaos for the country; I mean, our people and our country will be destroyed totally. [end recording]
Aydid has not been part of USC structureLondon BBC World Service in EnglishJanuary 28, 1991, 1830 GMT
[From the “Focus on Africa” program]

Well the USC [United Somali Congress] rebels say they are preparing to set up an interim government composed of representatives from the various rebel groups in Somalia. However, given that those rebel groups are largely based on clans which have been bitterly opposed to each other in the past, Robin White asked the USC`s London spokesman, (Mohamed Roble), whether he thought that there was a risk that fighting would break out between the different groups.

[(Roble)] I do not accept that proposition simply because after 21 years it is really futile to go on fighting, and after all, there is nothing to fight against. The end that we were all struggling for has come; Siyaad Barre is gone and we can begin a new page and everybody can take part. So why? I simply do not see any point in it.

[White] Presumably, some movements want a bigger slice of the pie than others – for instance the SNM [Somali National Movement] which has been fighting longest in the north battle. They might, perhaps, want the biggest slice of the pie.

[(Roble)] I do not think you can divide a pie based on who fought the most. That is not an equitable way of dividing something. We have to find a better way of dividing or sharing rather than dividing.

[White] Perhaps the USC has the most to give away to other parties in that it controls the capital, and will you be prepared to surrender power to other people?

[(Roble)] We will share the running of the country with other groups and other Somalis who are not part of groups in an equitable way. Nobody should expect more than their fair share and nobody should get less than their fair share.

[White] You claim that the rebel movements will not start fighting each other, but there are signs already that; your movement is split within itself between the people who have been fighting in Mogadishu and a group, led by General Aydid, that has come from outside Mogadishu and is claiming part of the [words indistinct] himself, I think. Now just what is the position?

[(Roble)] Gen. Aydid has not been part of the structure of the USC in the sense of the word. He never really attended the conferences of the USC which were held in Rome twice, the inauguration congress and the second congress, and he claims to be USC but I mean you have to be part of the structure of the USC in order to claim to be USC.

[White] So you say he has got nothing to do with your, organization at all?

[(Roble)] Theoretically, yes.

[White] But he seems to have arrived in Mogadishu claiming to have run the show.

[(Roble)] But he is a free man; he can come to Mogadishu. Mogadishu is a free place for all Somalis.

[White] Are you saying he does not have a following?

[(Roble)] I am sure he has got some following, but that does not concern the USC.

[White] That sounds like a bit of a headache for you.

[(Roble)] Not a headache. If other people make it headache, it is up to them.

[White] But you have one leader, can you name one leader of your organization?

[(Roble)] Yes, now (Hussein Bood) is the USC leader.

[White] Who is he? What is his background?

[(Roble)] (Hussein) is one of the most experienced Somali politicians. He was a director general in the government before Siyaad Barre took power and he had (?been) director general in the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. He was later director general at the Ministry of Planning.

[White] So he is a civilian?

[(Roble)] He is civilian, he is economist, and now he is a businessman for the last few years.

[White] But he has been in Mogadishu, underground, likely.

[(Roble)] That is right.

[White] And who is the military leader?

[(Roble)] The military leader that was chosen by the USC officers when the fighting started in Mogadsishu four weeks ago is General (Mohamoud Nur Galal), who is one of the most experienced Somali officers and who has been working with the USC for a long time, underground with us, under the nose of Siyaad Barre without him ever knowing it.

[White] What about Siyaad Barre? Do you think he finally has gone or do you think he might make a last stance somewhere?

[(Roble)] There is no question of him making a last stance. When something really eventually catches up with somebody, there is no way they can get out of it. I think we would have prepared to capture him so that he should have gone through the due process of law. It is really sad that he got away with 21 years of criminality.

[White] What about his supporters and people from his clan? Will you exact vengeance against them?

[(Roble)] Yesterday, when we heard that Siyaad Barre fled from Mogadishu, we issued straight away a press release in which we stated and asked all the Somali people not to take the law into their own hands.

[White] So you will not be hunting down his supporters?

[(Roble)] No, I am sure those who have committed crimes, if this can be proved beyond any reasonable doubt in front of a court of law, then of course we will have. [sentence as heard] That is part of the law and order.

[White] It is all very well to tell your supporters: Do not take vengeance, but there are feelings that [words indistinct].

[(Roble)] They will not because this is part of our political program.
Reaction to USC Presidential Appointment NotedSenior SNM Member CommentsLondon BBC World Service in English
January 30, 1991, 1709 GMT
[From the “Focus on Africa” program]

The new order in Somalia is apparently not to the liking of all the opposition rebel movements. Yesterday, Ali Mahdi Mohamed became interim president 3 days after USC [United Somali Congress] rebels took control of Mogadishu following four weeks of street fighting in the city. President Siyaad Barre is apparently on the run but Omar Arteh, who was made prime minister by Siyaad Barre last week, keeps his job. The new administration is telling government soldiers to surrender to the local rebel movements, the SNM [Somali National Movement] in the north; the USC in central Somalia; and the Patriotic Movement in the south. But the SNM seems to be disgruntled about events in Mogadishu with its nose rather put out of joint. Robin White asked senior SNM member Ahmed Silanyo what they were unhappy about:

[Silanyo] Well, after all, it is not a question of being unhappy. It is, first of all, a question of principle. Let me say right from the start, I know at least seven of those people and they are very admirable people and we have a great deal of respect for them. And we can understand the situation in which Mogadishu is, but the principle is that there has been an agreement between the organizations, the liberation movements themselves, long before Siyaad Barre was gone, that organizations will liberate certain areas in which they have much support and that any future government – temporary or otherwise – would come only through consultation between the various liberation movements and that has not happened.

[White] But Ali Mahdi Mohamed, the new president has said that he is willing to talk to you about anything you want to talk about now. Are you going to talk to him, negotiate with him, or what will you do?

[Silanyo] Well, a president is appointed by organizations or elected by the people of the country. So, SNM has not been consulted on that, how could they possibly accept it?

[White] So, are you refusing to recognize the new president, the prime minister?

[Silanyo] Well, it is quite clear, there is no question of recognition of that. SNM is controlling part of the country, and so are the other liberation movements. We are very much in support of USC, for instance, to establish [words indistinct] to make peace and order, law and order, and to establish security in the Mogadishu area, or areas under their control, and that is a very, very admirable thing. That is exactly what we want to do in the areas which are under our control, but we obviously cannot accept a government that has been established by either Siyaad Barre or established by a single organization or individuals who have elected themselves.

[White] Many people outside Somalia will find it pretty hard to believe that now you have got rid of Siyaad Barre and already you are quarreling amongst yourselves.

[Silanyo] No, no, no. This is not a quarrel. We will agree, I am quite sure. I am very optimistic that very soon, there is going to be an agreement. The only problem in the country was Siyaad Barre and his troops. But, there is no hurry to rush to appoint a president [words indistinct] when everything is still ...[changes thought] some of these forces are still there while the leaders of the organizations have not met. That, I think, is the (?only) thing. But, we are not fighting among ourselves, far from it.

[White] So, you are not going to rush into Mogadishu and start fighting the USC and say: Get out of the way. We control much of the country, we are the strongest.

[Silanyo] No, no, no. Out of the question. Out of the question. We will come together and definitely, we will choose an interim government or whatever, but simply something which we have all agreed upon. [end recording]
SSDF Official ReactsLondon BBC World Service in English
January 31, 1991, 1709 GMT[From the “Focus on Africa” program]

[Text] The appointment of a new interim president in Somalia, Ali Mahdi Mohamed, by USC [United Somali Congress] rebels who took control of Mogadishu four days ago, putting Siyaad Barre to flight can, hardly be said to have unified the country. There are reports of a continuing exodus of refugees towards and other rebel groups such as the SNM [Somali National Movement], and even elements of the USC are unhappy with the Mogadishu appointments because they were not consulted. On the line to Nairobi, Robin White asked veteran exiled opposition figure, Hassan Ali Mireh, of the SSDF [Somali Salvation Democratic Front] what he felt about these reservations.

[Begin recording]

[Mireh] We agree with them really and we have seen that this a national problem and there should be a national solution to it and not just the solution imposed by one party or by any one movement or by any one group, otherwise there can be no real, genuine peace in the country. At the same time, there is not really a government that covers the whole territory and we feel it leads really to more confusion, to more conflict and that is not what Somalia needs. We have suffered enough.

[White] So, what do you want to happen now?

[Mireh] Well, we would like to see a meeting, a conference of opposition movements, of elders, of the Manifesto Group, of the USC itself and to sort out, discuss the problems nationally, have a real dialogue and I think that we do not care who becomes the president. It is not be a problem for the country who is the president. The problem for the country is to have a government, a genuine democratic government, agreed upon by all Somalis.

[White] Where should this meeting take place?

[Mireh] Well, I think it should take place somewhere, let us say, in a friendly country. At this moment, Somalia itself is not safe. The capital of Somalia is not really a safe place to hold a meeting.

[White] Why not?

[Mireh] It is confused. It is still in the shock of the terror that happened between the departing dictatorship and the new victors in the field. So, it is not really safe. Refugees are pouring out of the country into Kenya. So, under such atmosphere, it is very difficult to hold a free national conference.

[White] How about you going back there yourself to join in the dialogue?

[Mireh] Well, the organization, as you know, will appoint someone; whether it is me or some other individual or what not. It is not a matter of an individual, it is a matter of the principle, you know, that there should be a meeting of the opposition forces in the interest of really arriving at a national solution rather than, you know, some form of solution imposed upon the country.

[White] Don`t you feel that this government now needs some support and people like yourself, elder statesmen like yourself should rush back home and give them some support?

[Mireh] That is a good question. They should have really realized that. And instead of forming a government, they should have called a meeting to show a really good faith to the country, so that they can win the trust of the people, the trust of the opposition movements. But now, everything, you know, is shrouded with distrust and suspicion. Why the rush to establish a presidency and prime ministry, is that the solution?

[White] You said that refugees were continuing to flee the country. What kind of numbers are they arriving in?

[Mireh] I really cannot tell you the numbers, but Kismaayo, which is the southern tip closer to the borders of Kenya, is really over-flooded with refugees. People are running away, and most of them are trying to come to Kenya.

[end recording]
USC`s Aydid Not to Recognize Interim Government
London BBC World Service
[From the “Focus on Africa” program]

[Aydiid] During last 10 months, I was leading the struggle of USC and I have succeeded, together with my people, mujahidiin, and other political other political members of my organization to catch nearly all central regions-that is MudugRegion, Galguduud Region,Hiiraan Region, and Middle Shabeelle Region. During this struggle, we have held a congress inside the country. The congress has chosen me as the chairman of USC. The participants of the congress were 191. Up till now, I am the chairman of USC.

[Wilson] How is it that they have been able to arrive in Mogadishu, although you yourself, as you say, liberated Mogadishu and all the other areas-how were these people then able to step in and form a government in front of you, without you opposing them or stopping them?

[Aydiid] During that fighting in Mogadishu, I made with them an agreement. After the liberation, immediately, on 27 January 1991 they [word indistinct] immediately in the morning, went to the Radio Mogadishu, and they announced that they are Executive Committee of USC and the next day they suddenly, without consulting with me, they formed this government, this – you know – is government with the President also, which I am not absolutely recognizing and everybody, also the people, the mujahidiin, the members of the USC were disappointed of this step they have done, this wrong step.

[Wilson] So, as you controlled all the armed forces of the USC, why did you not take action to prevent these people from going to the radio and making these announcements?

[Aydiid] Well, I avoided any clash with them because, you know, I preferred to solve the problem peacefully and politically. And, really, now I am in very good position to win this policy which preferred instead to assist them.

[Wilson] What do you think that Omar Arteh and his people are trying to achieve? What is the object behind them forming this government?

[Aydiid] Well, they wanted absolutely to hijack the power. This is their (?main) objective, and they wanted to continue the policy of Siyaad Barre. And, we have seen what they are doing recently after they formed this government.
PM Arteh Ghalib: I Am the SNM, I Created It in 1964
London BBC World Service in English
March 21, 1991, 1709 GMT
[From the “Focus on Africa” program]

[Ghalib] Well, it was a great pleasure for me to see King Fahd, His Majesty King Fahd, and after such a long absence, and I must say that it was not only asking for help, but also for consultations, and I am very happy to say that he was responsive both to the discussions we had on consultations regarding our crisis and the aid for which we have asked.

[White] What aid did you ask from him?

[Ghalib] Well, what we mostly need for our people is fuel and food and telecommunications. We are completely isolated. We have no telephone links, no telex links. All the telecommunications have been disrupted. So these are the three pressing needs: fuel, food, telecommunications, and then ordinary development projects that have been suspended.

[White] Has he offered you fuel for free?

[Ghalib] Well, I do not want to comment on that, but I must say that our discussions were very fruitful. He was very responsive to our needs, and I am absolutely satisfied.

[White] And what about help with telecommunications? What have the Saudis done there?

[Ghalib] Well, we are still holding the discussions now. The minister of telecommunications is with me on the delegation, and he is going to have discussions with his counterpart, and we are – I am optimistic that what we need and what we have asked for will be forthcoming.

[White] Presumably, you are asking for money. I mean, you are not going to put a lot of telephones in a suitcase and take them back with you to Somalia, are you?

[Ghalib] Well, not in that sense. These telecommunications are to resume connections with the outside world, but not... [changes thought] What we need is too big to be taken in our pockets.

[White] Does the Saudi Government recognize you as the legitimate government ofSomalia, because there is a lot of dispute in Somalia itself as to whether you are the legitimate government or not. Do they recognize you...

[Ghalib, interrupting] Mr. White, we are not wasting time to know whether a certain government recognizes us or not. That is absolutely a waste of time. What we are concentrating on is to help our people, our helpless people who have been evicted from their homes, whose homes have been destroyed, whose properties have been looted. This is what we are concerned with. We are not talking about recognition.

[White] I asked about this question of recognition because I understand that other Somali movements, like the Somali National Movement [SNM], which controls most of northern Somalia, they have also been going around asking for money and help with communications, that kind of thing. Does it worry you that other movements are doing that?

[Ghalib] It does not worry us because there is no one, none of them can claim that he is more SNM than I am. I am the SNM, I created it in 1964, it was my party, and it was revived in 1981, and I was sentenced to death, as you know, for supporting that movement. So why should I wage a campaign against myself? We welcome... [changes thought] Both the president and myself have declared that any help that comes to Somalia should go both ways, both to the north and to the south. But it is only natural that any help that comes from a friendly country should be channeled through the government.
Provisional` President Ali Mahdi Interviewed
London AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT in Arabic
April 03, 1991, p.3

[Khalifah] Mr. President, I wanted to begin by asking about what you want from the world now, but it is clear that your country needs everything from needles to aircraft. How and why did this come about?

[Ali Mahdi] In brief, I can say that Siyaad Barre`s insistence on ruling the Somalis through military and tribal domination left no option to the people, including us, except the option of military confrontations, to which most of the Somali people resorted. So if Siyaad Barre and his supporters now say that what happened against them was a tribal matter, then he and they must remember that for over 10 years all Somalis have joined political groups that have-as a result of Siyaad Barre`s oppression and thirst for blood-turned into political groups with military wings!

For years we thought that Siyaad Barre would understand the situation and save himself, his regime, and his country from what was about to happen, by holding a dialogue with the Somali political forces before they formed military wings. We discussed the system at a distance, but he persisted in pursuing us, until we pursued him in the capital Mogadishu, hence that total ruin which you have seen during your stay here in Mogadishu! [passage omitted]

[Khalifah] Mr. President Ali Mahdi, what are you, politically? Are you a socialist, a democrat, or what?

[Ali Mahdi] I am a democrat. I believe in party pluralism and the freedom of the press. I am a Somali, Muslim, Arab, and African. If I am destined to rule my people, it will be through elections and competition. Otherwise, I will offer my own efforts as a citizen. Frankly, I wish to return to my ordinary life after the national conference and the establishment of a transitional, coalition authority!

[Khalifah] What is the scale of Somalia`s foreign debts inherited from the former regime?

[Ali Mahdi] We do not know. Banks have been burned down and their documents have been stolen. That includes the Central Bank. We are waiting for the creditors and their documents!

[Khalifah] Did these banks have anything in them to be stolen or burned?

[Ali Mahdi] Yes. According to our information, Siyaad Barre and his supporters stole some 280 billion Somali shillings, gold deposits, and cash in Somali shillings!! [passage omitted]

[Khalifah] Do you have any foreign funds with which to steer the helm of government in your country?

[Ali Mahdi] You can quote me on this: Somalia has not a single dollar either at home or abroad!!

In fact we as a government don`t have a single shilling in the state coffers, which no longer exist, since they have been burned!!

[Khalifah] I see the shillings in the people`s hands in the streets.

[Ali Mahdi] That is worthless paper. People use it purely for local matters. Who would believe that for example, a kilogram of sugar costs people over 20,000 shillings!! [passage omitted]

[Khalifah] Why was the national conference not convened in time?

[Ali Mahdi] An agreement was not reached. We believe that conditions are better now. I expect the collective national conference to be held at the end of April.

[Khalifah] What stage has been reached in the consultations between you and the northern groups, or the Isaaq ?

[Ali Mahdi] Relations are very cordial. Fruitful contacts are continuing. Their participation in the national conference is now certain. The same applies to our dialogue with the South, and the deputy prime minister will travel to hold a national dialogue with tribal chiefs in the South.

[Khalifah] There is talk about differences within the United [Somali] Congress [USC]. What is the truth? And what is the nature of your dispute with Mr. `Aydid [as transliterated]?

[Ali Mahdi] In a democratic party it is natural to have differing views and concepts of some matters. As for `Aydid, who is now in Mogadishu, he has ambitions based on an unsound and undemocratic approach. Furthermore, it is a big mistake to talk about `Aydid`s leadership of the USC at a time when he is not even an ordinary member of, or registered in, that organization.

[Khalifah] Do you feel that you are leader of all the Somalis, or are you just a tribal leader?

[Ali Mahdi] I am now leader of all the Somalis. This is how I feel and believe. Leading this crucial stage with me, are Somalis from all Somalia`s geographical and tribal tendencies.

Tribalism is an old disease that was revived by the Siyaad Barre regime. He exploited it to ensure his remaining in power. [passage omitted]
General Aidid Interviewed on Mogadishu Plight London BBC World Service in English
January 07, 1992, 1705 GMT
[From the “Focus on Africa” program

[Begin recording]

[Aidid] I think a peaceful solution is near. Already, a plan of meeting has been fixed in the next edition.

[Biles] But the reality on the ground seems somewhat different because the fighting is going on, there is shelling and gunfire in the background even as we speak. You refused to have anything to do with your opponent, Mr. Ali Mahdi. Why do you rule out the idea of outside intervention, perhaps, the UN peacekeeping force coming in?

[Aidid] We do not see any solution to bring in these forces or foreign intervention forces inSomalia, in USC areas because we believe we are able to settle our problem by our own. We are working hard, and the results will be seen by everybody.

[Biles] How much longer do you think it is going to go on then?

[Aidid] Inside USC problems, I think it would be a few weeks.

[Biles] Have you been into any of the hospitals yourself? Have you seen the result of this conflict, this carnage?

[Aidid] Yes, I have seen and I hope these killings will be stopped by those who are committing this crime.

[Biles] If you do not accept the presence of the UN peacekeeping force, would you accept some kind of outside intervention to allow humanitarian aid to be distributed?

[Aidid] We are asking the humanitarian aid to be distributed to the needy people. We have made a lot of appeals and we hope the international community will answer.

[Biles] Mogadishu is short of food, it is short of medical supplies, it is short of fuel, almost everything is in short supply. But one thing, Somalia is never seen to run out of is ammunition.

[Aidid] We are not receiving any ammunition or any arms from outside. We are using only the ammunition and the armament we have taken previously from Siad Barre regime.

[end recording]
Interim President Ali Mahdi on UN Effort, Italian RoleRome L`UNITA in Italian
July 09, 1993 P10

[Interview with Interim President Ali Mahdi Mohamed by Mauro Montali in Mogadishu; date not given]

[Excerpt] Mogadishu-[passage omitted]

[Montali] President Mahdi, what picture do you paint of the current situation?

[Ali Mahdi] Let us say that Somalia is halfway between good and evil, in the sense that we are getting increasingly closer to pacification. People are no longer dying under fire or from hunger. There are supplies in the warehouses, and people are gradually returning to their jobs. In short, there is a climate of hope. But still there are those who are opposed to this. You know I am referring to Aidid and his comrades.

[Montali] You made an agreement with Mohamed Farah Aidid. Why was it broken?

[Ali Mahdi] Ask the man wholly responsible for breaking it: He failed to observe the Addis Ababa agreements; hence the killing of the Pakistanis and then the Italians.

[Montali] But who is supplying him with arms?

[Ali Mahdi] There are still many arsenals in Somalia. The Habrgidir [as published] leader, however, is also supplied by foreign countries.

[Montali] Who? Which ones?

[Ali Mahdi] We know full well, but I cannot name names. Arms are coming in by all routes, some even by air to two small airports. One of these airports is near Baidoa, the other in Marka.

[Montali] But does the fact that Aidid has moved toward Islamic fundamentalist positions help us understand who his foreign allies might be? Are we far from the truth if we say thatSudan and Iran are helping him?

[Ali Mahdi] No, I will not name any names. But do not make the mistake of overestimating his strength. He must have 300 to 400 fighters currently in Mogadishu, and they do not even have any heavy artillery; that has been taken to Gaalkacyo, in the central region. Look, the problem is only here, in the capital. How much territory does Aidid control? A mere 3 km, an insignificant strip. Are you aware that 98 percent of the population supports the multinational peace force? That means his strength is limited to the remaining, miserable 2 percent.

[Montali] Mr. Mahdi, to be honest, we did not feel that things were that way in Mogadishu. The entire southern part of the city, as we saw with our own eyes, is in the hands of Habrgidir bandits or militias. And anyway, it looked to us as though Aidid is a very popular leader...

[Ali Mahdi] I repeat: They are an insignificant presence. Besides, the Habrgidir are only one-third of the Abgal [as published]. Mogadishu is split into 14 districts, and we are in full control of 11 of them. All Aidid has left is a part of the other three: the so-called 4th kilometer, the roads around 21 October Avenue, the stadium, and the grandstand
[Tribuna]. But if you go around Somalia, from Kismaayo to Baidoa, you will see that there is no longer any tension. Morgan Jays and the other clan chiefs have laid down their arms. As for Aidid being loved by the people, my answer is: Why should he be? I know he claims to have freed Somalia from Siad Barre, but that is untrue. It is well known that he was in Addis Ababa and that he arrived when the show was over.

[Montali] In your view, since you know him well, is Aidid really a war criminal?

[Ali Mahdi] That is up to the courts to judge.

[Montali] This morning a leaflet said to have been published by your group, in which the population is stirred up against the Italians, was circulating in town. Do you know anything about it? Apparently it is not the first time this has happened.

[Ali Mahdi] I have never heard of any such thing.

[Montali] But are you in favor of Italians joining the UNOSOM [UN Operation in Somalia] command structure?

[Ali Mahdi] I am in favor of an Italian presence, but I do not like it when your ministers say that the ITALFOR [Italian UN contingent] must not take part in search actions or fire back when shot at.

[Montali] So, as we understand it, you are critical of the “negotiations” tabled with the Habrgidir over the pasta factory checkpoint issue.

[Ali Mahdi] What negotiations? Are you kidding me? The Italians should have recaptured their positions by force of arms, and that`s that. What is all this about compromising with the Habrgidir? That way the Italians arouse the hostility of the Somali people, who support the international force almost to a man. That way you confer dignity on an enemy to peace. That was a very serious error.

[Montali] Do you know [Italian contingent Commander] General Loi?

[Ali Mahdi] I have never had the good fortune to make his acquaintance. But he must be really good, otherwise he would never have made the rank of general.

[Montali] In your view, what mistakes have been made by the multinational peace force?

[Ali Mahdi] The first mistake was made last December. As well as aid being provided, everyone should have been disarmed: the clans and the populace. At that time, everyone would have handed over their rifles and machine guns...

[Montali] Including your men?

[Ali Mahdi] Of course. Look, my group handed over its “hardware” of its own free will.

[Montali] What about the second mistake?

[Ali Mahdi] It is a recent one; it goes back to 5 June, when UNOSOM started bombing Aidid`s positions after the massacre of the Pakistanis. Why did they stop? [Mahdi ends]

The interview is over. Ali Mahdi stood up to say goodbye and offer us a cup of coffee. But his aide Hussen Bod [name as published], head of the United Somali Congress` international section, came up to us and said:

“Either you Italians get into line with everyone else, or you had better go home.”

Ali Mahdi overheard and corrected his aide: “No, he did not mean that. It is just that we expected something more from the Italian troops.” But of course, Ali Mahdi is defending his own-questionable-power tooth and nail.
USC Rebel Group Claims Control over Gaalkacyo

London BBC World Service in English 1615 GMT 16 Nov 89

[From the “Focus on Africa” program]

With the rebel group which is active in central Somalia, around Gaalkacyo, where the defecting soldiers were stationed, is the United Somali Congress, USC. They say they know what has been happening in the region. On the line, Idriss Hasan asked the USC’s president, Ali Mohamed Ossoble (Ali Wardhiigley), what the situation was at Gaalkacyo:

[(Wardhiigley)] I am very happy to tell you that Gaalkacyo, the capital city of Mudug, has fallen also to the mutineers of the former Siyaad Barre soldiers to the United Somali Congress.

[Hasan] Are you saying that Gaalkacyo is now in the hands of the...

[(Wardhiigley)j, interrupting] Gaalkacyo now, as I received it just a few hours ago, is in the hands of the United Somali Congress. (? Several) persons who received it [words indistinct] as he told me.

[Hasan] When did the fight for Gaalkacyobegin?

[(Wardhiigley)] Well, this fighting has been going on for 20 days. It was from (Gelinsoor) to Beledweyne. Now, it went down to (Buuloburde) and it went up to the fighting for Gaalkacyo, the Division of Gaalkacyo. Two-thirds of the division joined the Somali Congress.

[Hasan] But is it not the case that the tribal groups around Gaalkacyo are fighting among themselves, and not the USC people against the government.

[(Wardhiigley)] There is no tribal conflict now, and the people are peacefully living there. Most of the fighters now are the rebels – the mutineers of the former soldiers.

[Hasan] As you know, the SNM [Somali National Movement] have claimed that they are the ones fighting in the area and not the USC, as you claim.

[(Wardhiigley)] Well, it is not true. We will want to cooperate with the SNM, put together our forces. But now, as the USC started the fighting in the southern region, the SNM and sister organizations fought in the northern region, and we are heading [words indistinct].

[end recording]
i wish siad barre didn't go full retard and his government still existed

or even better a united rebel group that slaughters all these maleeshiya beeled would have been great but alas!


Saalax Bidaar

Truthfulness so often goes with ruthlessness
Very interesting.
I can see a lot of mistakes made early specially the declaration of new government mere 4 days after fall of Mogadishu without consulting Gen Caydiid, The SNM.

You could see it coming from miles that MOGADISHU was headed down the wrong path and Mahdi and his group were arrogant pieces of shit.

One can see why SNM declared own state
London: AL-DUSTUR in Arabic 21 Aug 89 pp 8-9

[Interview with SNM Foreign MinisterAbdurahman Ahmed Ali [Tuur] byKamal Samari: “AL-DUSTURInterviews Somali Opposition Leader: ‘We Are Calling for a Weapons Embargo against Siyaad Barre’”]

[AL-DUSTUR] What are the most recent developments in Somalia? Is it true that calm has been restored to the capital,Mogadishu?

[Tuur] The uprising of our people last July 14 was the result of deteriorating conditions throughout the country. It was the people’s reaction to the horrible crimes committed by Siyaad Barre’s regime and the policy of total destruction which he practiced in the northern part of the country. Although the security forces and the armed forces of Siyaad Barre’s tribe, the Marehan [Clan], are deployed in the capital, Mogadishu, that fact did not prevent our people from fighting to resist this ruling clique. Leaflets were distributed in the streets, and posters were posted calling for the fall of the regime and expressing support for the SNM. Prayer leaders delivering their sermons in the mosques condemned the crimes which were committed by these troops against unarmed citizens and demanded that this tribal regime which devastated the country be overthrown.

Calls for the government’s resignation, recognition for opposition parties, and honest legislative elections were heard even during the conference which was held recently, from 17 June to 2 July, by the so-called Revolutionary Socialist Party, which is the only recognized party in Somalia. And yet, Siyaad Barre ordered conference proceedings stopped, and he took a series of repressive measures against citizens in north Somalia.

In addition to these factors, Siyaad Barre’s policy, with regard to human rights violations, on the one hand, or the deterioration of economic and social conditions, on the other, did, of course, have negative effects. Somali citizens’ opposition to Barre’s regime grew everywhere in the country, even in Mogadishu, which is considered the only stronghold for Siyaad Barre’s regime.

Faced with this explosive situation, Siyaad Barre and his clique killed a Christian bishop in Mogadishu, whose only crime was to condemn the massacres committed by the army and to demand an end to human rights violations. It seems that the regime was also accusing the bishop, who had been living in the Somali capital for 40 years, of leaking information to an Amnesty International delegation which had visited Somalia late last June. The regime tried to pin the assassination on Muslim clerics to justify, on the one hand, its repressive policies against the imams, and, to try, on the other hand, distracting international public opinion away from the stifling crisis in which Barre’s regime has been floundering.

The first confrontation between demonstrators and Siyaad Barre’s troops resulted in the death of 750 citizens and the kidnapping of approximately 1,000, who may have been killed but whose fate remains unknown. Approximately 1,500 citizens from north Sudan were also arrested, and incidents of rape, looting, and killing are still taking place. Neutral sources indicated that approximately 46 persons, including students, professors, and civil servants, were executed on the beach in Mogadishu in the presence of General Maslah, Siyaad Barre’s son, who participated personally in the execution of innocent civilians. Contrary to what is being promoted by official propaganda, order has not been established in Mogadishu. It is likely that tense conditions in that city will become even more tense, just as they did in Hargeisa and Burao on the eve of the June 1989 events.

[AL-DUSTUR] The ongoing conflict inSomalia has been described by some observers as an ethnic [clan?], not a political conflict. What would you say to this charge?

[Tuur] The people of Somalia are a cohesive people who speak the same language. The vast majority of Somalis are Sunni Muslims. Therefore, the reasons for the present crisis are not ethnic. As I mentioned earlier, this crisis has been caused by the people’s growing anger with the repressive policies pursued by Siyaad Barre’s regime and the massacres that were committed by his troops. The people are angry with a tribal system which allows the Marehan Tribe, Siyaad Barre’s tribe, to monopolize key positions in government. Barre appointed his son, Maslah, general, and recently he appointed him army commander. Ten years ago Barre appointed his brother,Abdurahman Jama Barre, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and recently, he appointedAhmed Suleyman Abdulle, his brother-in-law, who had served for years as head of the National Security Agency, minister of interior. These are a few examples of the favoritism practiced by this tribal regime.

[AL-DUSTUR] Official circles in Somalia accused clerics of provoking the disturbances which were seen in the capital, Mogadishu. Is there a religious movementbehind these disturbances?

[Tuur] Siyaad Barre’s regime is trying to promote these charges for the purpose of reducing the popularity of the opposition in Somalia. Barre’s regime is also trying to win the support of Western countries bysuggesting that those who oppose the government are religious fanatics. The fact is, there is no religious movement in Somalia. Fanaticism is alien to our people who are known for their tolerance. To prove the point, let me say that our movement, the SNM, is represented in Rome by a Christian. And yet, our Muslim people are extremely disturbed by the outcome of Siyaad Barre’s policies. These policies caused a decline in values and spread bribery and corruption in the administration and in government offices. The uprising of our Muslim people in Hargeisa in 1982 and 1984, which was opposed with bullets and repression, may provide the best evidence that our people oppose a regime which scorns values.

[AL-DUSTUR] To what extent do the factions of the Somali opposition coordinate their activities with each other? What is your relationship with the recently establishedUnited Somali Congress?

[Tuur] There is no doubt that the victories scored by the SNM indicate that, as far as its numbers and its condition are concerned, the SNM is the strongest opposition movement to Siyaad Barre’s regime and that it enjoys broad popular support everywhere in the country. The movement’s political and military organization is well contrived and effective. Our movement, which is the largest and strongest movement in the country, has a central committee that consists of citizens from north, central, and south Somalia. Consequently, it took upon itself the responsibility of coordinating activities with other factions of the Somali opposition and communicating with those factions, including the United Somali Congress. In this regard, reference must be made to the fact that our movement welcomed the position taken by the new movement. That position, which was announced at the new movement’s organizational conference, declared that the United Somali Congress was willing to work with the SNM.
[AL-DUSTUR] But why hasn’t Siyaad Barre’s regime been overthrown yet? Who is supporting him inside Somalia and abroad? What are the forces that have kept him in power for two decades?

[Tuur] Siyaad Barre has been using fire and brimstone to rule the country. He has been using repressive institutions which he planted everywhere: in the military, in intelligence agencies, and in the military courts.

In addition to these repressive institutions,Siyaad Barre established an army that is made up of the Marehan Tribe and a number of refugees from Ethiopia. This army committed brutal acts recently against Somali citizens in the north and in Mogadishu. Last year, however, the SNM proved that it can penetrate that stronghold which has been protecting Siyaad Barre and his regime throughout the past years. We gave the Somali people evidence that the invincibility of that army was now doubtful. As a result of the SNM’s victories, morale in this army declined; there was discontent and rebellion within its ranks; and a number of army officers joined the Somali opposition to continue the struggle against Siyaad Barre’s regime.

So much for the domestic front, as far as foreign support is concerned, the United States offered Siyaad Barre’s regime military and economic aid in return for the United States’ use of the Berbera Military Base, the Mogadishu Airport, and theKismayu Airport for military purposes. Washington’s financial help to Siyaad Barre came in the form of loans to Somalia from the IBRD [International Bank for Reconstruction and Development] and the IMF. In addition, the United States sent food to Somalia. And yet, the U.S. position and the position of Western countries underwent change during the past 3 months. The U.S. Congress asked President Bush to stop all aid to Siyaad Barre’s regime because of recent human rights violations which occurred in Somalia. Confirmation of the change in the U.S. position toward Siyaad Barre’s regime came in a statement made last July by Herman, assistant U.S. secretary of state for African affairs. In that statement Herman said that the situation in Somalia was critical, and he said that at the present time the country lacked a central administration that was capable of managing the country’s affairs. Washington and Western countries advised their citizens against traveling to Somalia unless it was absolutely necessary.

Some information indicates that a few European Community countries, including Italy, which used to offer assistance to Siyaad Barre’s regime, decided to suspend or reduce their assistance to Barre’s regime. Britain, however, assumed an unequivocal position toward conditions in Somalia. In this regard, reference must be made to the fact that Siyaad Barre’s regime is working very hard to acquire weapons from South Africa, Romania, Chile, and the black market. On this occasion, we are asking the international community to prohibit the sale of weapons to Siyaad Barre’s regime because selling weapons to that regime will prolong the tragedies of the Somali people.

[AL-DUSTUR] It seems that your movement adopted the military option to overthrow the regime. What about your political option?

[Tuur] The SNM supports national reconciliation among the citizens ofSomalia. Siyaad Barre’s regime, however, has to go. Barre’s regime is the regime which killed hundreds of innocent people and destroyed cities and villages in their entirety with their residents. We are convinced that the fall of this regime is imminent. We will not allow this regime, which carried out its coup on 21 October 1969, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of that coup.

[AL-DUSTUR] What is Ethiopia’s positiontoward the opposition movements and toward recent events?

[Tuur] Ethiopia is pursuing a policy that guarantees justice among ethnic groups as well as freedom of religion. Ethiopia’s positions in support of the Arab cause have been honorable. Furthermore, Ethiopia embraced more than half a million Somali refugees, all of whom had fled from Siyaad Barre’s purgatory. In the early eighties Somali liberation movements could be found in Ethiopia, that country which has been offering protection over the years to refugees fleeing from their country. In this regard, reference must be made to the fact that the first wave of Muslim refugees who fled from Mecca went to Ethiopia.

Ever since Somalia and Ethiopia concluded an agreement in February 1988, all the SNM’s forces have been in Somalia, and they have nothing to do with Ethiopia. Let me conclude by taking this opportunity to speak on behalf of our movement and express our thanks to Ethiopia, which is embracing more than half a million Somali refugees. We are certain that the presence of those refugees in Ethiopia will have a positive effect on relations between the two countries in the future. The presence of Somali refugees in Ethiopia will strengthen the cooperation between Somalis and Ethiopians and will help the two peoples establish good neighborly relations between them.

[AL-DUSTUR] What is the position of Arab countries toward Siyaad Barre’s regime?

[Tuur] The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia refused to receive Siyaad Barre’s envoy. Iraq and Egypt affirmed that they would not furnish Siyaad Barre’s regime with weapons to use against its own people. We asked Colonel al-Qadhafi, who had previously offered military assistance to Siyaad Barre’s regime, to change his policy. Regarding the Emirates, we sent His Highness al-Shaykh Zayid a letter asking him not to fulfill Siyaad Barre’s requests. At the present time Somali envoys are traveling in Arab and Western capitals for the purpose of getting assistance “to rebuild the northern cities which were destroyed by government troops.” We are asking our Arab brothers to help find radical solutions to the problems of the Muslim people of Somalia.
[SNM]: We are the Mujahidiin of the Horn of Africa

Somali Rebel Chief Silanyo on SNM Aims

Nairobi DAILY NATION in English 23Nov 1989 p 6

Michel Sailham’s article on SNM: “Tactically Strong, Somali Rebels Lack Clear Politics

[Text] Rebels fighting to bring down President Mohamed Said Barre's regime have made spectacular military gains, but seem short on practical ideas of what they would do if they won the battle.

“The Mogadishu Government is of a brutality that has no parallel in the rest of the world”, SNM [Somali National Movement] President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo told an AFP reporter at its headquarters south of the northern capital,Hargeisa.

“Barre has no parallel. We want an egalitarian system, a democratic form of government, free elections and a multiparty system,” Silanyo said, setting out the aims of the Somali National Movement, which was founded in London in 1981.

He accused troops loyal to Major-General Barre, who has held power for two decades, of killing and wounding more than 50,000 people in northern Somalia in the past 18 months, mainly in heavy bombing raids against civilians. Many victims are Issaqs, who consider themselves ignored by Mogadishu.

In May, the SNM launched a major offensive against main towns in the north. Though swiftly forced to pull out, it took control of vast tracts of territory east of the border with Djibouti and of several smaller towns, including ZeilaandLoya’adde.

Four SNM divisions surroundHargeisa, a correspondent traveling through the region was told as he looked down on the abandoned town from the highlands with the rebel Commander-in-Charge. But Colonel Mohamed Ali Omar, a deserter, would not say how exactly many rebels fighters he led.

The SNM pulled out of Hargeisa for “tactical reason” in August, but sends reconnaissance teams in at night. Government troops hold a nearby barracks and airport. The 80,000 inhabitants have fled.

The rebels want full control over roads from Hargeisa to Borama in the west and the northeastern Port of Berbera, but government troops have mined access to the roads and shot at the SNM patrol taking in this reporter and a photographer early one morning.

Well-equipped, heavily armed, most of the fighters questioned by AFP were unable to give a clear account of the rebel movement's goals, notwithstanding the policies sketched by Silanyo.

“People are fighting, but they don't know why,” one SNM intellectual said of the war that has pitted Sunni Muslims of the same faith and the same language against each other. “All these ideas of democracy are on paper; it is not put into practice.”

As moderate Muslims, SNM militants reject any form of fundamentalism and often forget their daily duties of prayer. “First we fight, then we'll see,” said one, Ibrahim Ahmed Musa.

Most often, the rebels compared themselves with the Muslim guerrillas fighting the Communist government in Afghanistan. “We are the Mujahidiin of the Horn of Africa,” as one put it. “Barre always regarded Issaqs as a threat,” said Silanyo. “The North has a lot of grievances, underdevelopment, and repression. We are at the receiving end.”

The intellectual, who asked not to be named, believes the political vacuum stems from the fact that “no leader has emerged so far from the fighting”.

“We believe we can win the war,” he added, “but there will still be a long way to go in terms of politics.”

Silanyo, who was a minister under major-General Barre until 1982, is not a fighter and his authority has been contested several times. The Movement's Central Committee of 47 only includes seven soldiers; all colonels who deserted form the regular army and no guerrilla leaders.

There are also only seven Issaqson the Central Committee, though most of the Movement's thousands of combatants are drawn from the Northern clan. Last year, the SNMreached an accord with the neighbouring Issa people, on the fight against Central Authority.

But most of the high-ranking officers who have defected to the rebels come, like much of the Somali army itself, from theOgaden clan. Internationally, the Movement could well find itself short of heavyweight allies.

The Soviet Union has in the past backed the regime in Mogadishu, which began as a revolutionary government but has over the years turned into what almost resembles a Barre family concern.

The Major-General switched to Washington at the beginning of theOgaden war against Moscow's Ethiopian allies in 1977.

The United States has recently closely tied its backing for the government to an improvement in its widely criticized human rights records, but it is clear that the political future of the SNM rebels will largely depend on its ability to extend its support among the patchwork of clans in Somalia
Italian Paper Interviews Somali President Rome: LA REPUBBLICA in Italian 19 April/88 p 10

[Interview with Somali President Mohamed Siyaad Barre by Stefano Malatesta in Mogadishu]

[Malatesta] But is this agreement not certain to damage the Eritrean guerrillas? Mengistu is now free to launch his troops from Ogaden toward Asmera.

[Barre] It will not be the agreement which damages the Eritrean guerrillas. The Ethiopians have many regiments and large numbers of troops. They have planes, tanks, weapons of all kinds; and hundreds of thousands of soldiers, and the ability to repel any attack by Eritrean guerrillas if they so wish.

[Malatesta] However, the Soviets seem more tepid in their support for the Mengistu regime.

[Barre] I have had talks with the Russian deputy foreign minister in the past few days. He told me that we cannot make progress like this, and that there must be peace in the Horn of Africa. It struck me as a fairly significant statement. I do not know how much hope the Eritrean guerrillas have, although they have made major gains.

[Malatesta] What about the situation of endemic civil war in northern Somalia? How do you intend to solve this problem?

[Barre] The situation will be resolved when other countries stop stirring up trouble. As you know, the British are fomenting trouble. They do not accept the fact that Italy has special ties with Somalia. [Barre ends]

He continued to talk for a while about political problems, about the north, and so forth. The president then removed his spectacles, stared at me and said: "We in Somalia do not allow people to speak ill of Italy and the Italians. Anybody who does so knows that he will come to a bad end. We are great friends of Italy. So, how can you allow people in Italy to talk ill of Somalia? How can you allow them to make slanderous accusations against its president?"

We had finally come to the point. We tried to point out that in Italy there is a distinction between the government and the free press.

[Malatesta] The accusations of corruption made against you, sir, did not come from the government, but from the newspapers. And the newspapers were reporting the evidence given by Ali Khalif Galaid, a former Somali minister, during a trial. The minister referred to a rumor about a bribe of 7 million dollars pocketed by the president's office for a deal on a fertilizer factory.... [Malatesta ends]

The president grew angry: “Ali is a scoundrel and a rascal. He deserves a thrashing. But at the time, Ali was industry minister and signed the deal. Then, after he lost his position, he fled with the help of the English, and is now moralizing, as you say.”

[Malatesta] Sir, the urea factory is still standing unused, and possibly abandoned.... This is Italian aid which has been misused.

[Barre] The factory was constructed with Somali money and the Italian aid arrived later. Nobody was to blame. It was to be run with Iraqi oil which has not arrived because of the war. There have been other problems with the electricity power station. Ours is a very poor country, we lack resources, and many things function badly.
[Malatesta] The rumors about corruption with regard to Italian aid in Somalia are fairly widespread: It is not just Ali Khalif Galaid who mentions them.

[Barre] They are rumors put about by scoundrels, and are spread in Italy, not here in Somalia.

[Malatesta] I can understand that. Your immediate entourage, sir, does not have a good reputation in Italy.

[Barre] Listen, we are very pleased with Italian cooperation. We are 99 percent satisfied. But these things you are talking about, bribes as you call them, and bundles of bank notes, have nothing to do with us. Nobody here takes bribes. We have always told the Italians: Thank you, thank you very much for your gifts. But we do not want to know about your problems and your quarrels, or about bribes. They are your problems, they are party quarrels. We want the keys in our hands, we say thank you, and that is enough.

[Malatesta] Recently, some Somali officers, who were on courses in Italy, appeared on Italian television: They did not speak well of you.

[Barre] They are just kids; they have been taken in by scoundrels and rascals. The responsibility rests with the military attaché in Rome who failed to keep control over them. Yes, the blame certainly rests with the military attaché.

[Malatesta] There are many Somalis living in exile in the United States who also attack your regime.

[Barre] They too are scoundrels. I do not say that because they are making criticisms but because they are damaging Somalia. There are also Ethiopian exiles in the United States who criticize the Mengistu regime. However, at the same time they say: Give food to the Ethiopians who are starving. However, the Somalis are saying: Stop aid to Somalia, because Siyaad Barre is a bad man. Do you understand the difference?

[Malatesta] Sir, the American Academy of Science Human Rights Committee published a report recently on the state of civil rights in Somalia: It talks of hundreds of people being illegally arrested and detained, and even of torture.

[Barre] Listen, last week some former ministers and prominent people were put on trial for plotting again the state. The trial was conducted properly. Two of them were sentenced to death. Then, in the end, they were a pardoned and they are now at home drinking tea. Do you call that a repressive regime?

[Malatesta] The report, based on eye-witness accounts gives an entirely different picture. The pardoned men cannot leave their homes, not even Mohamed Aden Sheikh, who was acquitted.

[Barre] Yes, it is better for them to stay at home, because they are intelligent and could do harm. The more intelligent a man is, the more harm he can do, if he so wishes. These are all people I made, like the others who fled. I dragged them up out of the dirt, and now they are attacking me. They are scoundrels; that is what they are.
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