These are serious times with serious challenges that require
serious leadership capable of envisioning free and united Somalia based on
peace, justice and equality. Devoid of that, the current bloodshed will only
continue and the humanitarian crisis will worsen.
Despite the disillusionment with the process that produced
the current Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in October of 2004 in Kenya,
war-fatigued Somalis, those in the homeland and the Diaspora alike were willing
to give the benefit of the doubt to a government formed neither by its vision
nor capacity to deliver, but by the clan one belongs to or by the brutal
reputation or the deadly arsenal one possesses.
It did not take long for the TFG to demonstrate its
incompetence. It failed to articulate a new vision and grew more dependent on
Meles Zenawi's regime (Ethiopia). Furthermore, it adopted an ill-advised mantra
of threat and polarization and failed to set a foot in Mogadishu due to the
instability created by the same warlords that the TFG was made of.
It would take them over two years and for tens of thousands
of Ethiopian troops, tanks and fighter jets, and US AC-130 gunship to oust the
Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and shield TFG right into their barricades of apathy
The invasion that brought TFG into Mogadishu abruptly ended
six months of peace enjoyed by the people of Mogadishu under the ICU and it
ushered in an occupation force with relentless brutality and no exit plan.
ICU came to the forefront of the Somali politics as part of
a grass-roots movement spearheaded by the people of Mogadishu who were eager to
get rid of the warlords and have found in the courts interest to advance the
common good and willingness to stand up against the warlords. And get rid of
the warlords, they did. But, to the utter dismay of civilians sighing relief, a
number of these fleeing warlords were granted safe haven by the TFG and later
were appointed to critical positions. A case in point is the appointment of two
of the most brutal warlords, Mohamed Dheere and Abdi Qeybdiid, to the security
of Mogadishu upon TFG's arrival in Mogadishu.
Despite their lack of good public relations and a holistic
view of world politics, for the six months that they governed Mogadishu, the
ICU afforded Somalis, particularly those in Mogadishu, a sense of hope,
empowerment, and national pride that mobilized the locals to organize volunteer
services to clean the city's mountainous garbage and debris of the devastation.
More importantly, after a decade and half of lawlessness, they established a
safe route for the delivery of food aid and ensured equitable distribution, and
they established law and order to the point that Somali women of Mogadishu
could leave their homes without the fear of being raped or robbed.
Having done what they accomplished in such a short time and
in the spirit of giving peace a chance, one would assume that ICU would earn
the support of the international community. Unfortunately, the fear of
"terror" and "terrorism" by the West overshadowed Somalia's
chance to climb out of the hellhole dug and ignited by the warlords and their
The ICU method that defied all logic and proved wrong the
prediction of many analysts could've been the blueprint for the recovery of
Somalia- nationwide. The ordinary people's victory over the CIA-backed warlords
showed all the vital signs that could eventually save Somalia. Somalis, at
least while it lasted, were awakened from their deep slumber and were willing
to reclaim their national dignity and rights.
In 2006, drought and
flood were suffered in different regions and ordinary Somalis (in Somalia and
in the Diaspora) responded with commendable unity to aid those faced with a
natural catastrophe. I was particularly touched by the courage, unity, and the
love demonstrated by the people of Mogadishu, who, despite tremendous pressure
from the warlords, united to save their brethren.
Now the current situation: Somalia is under a ruthless
occupation that killed 7,000 civilians in its first year, created approximately
1 million IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), and pushed 1.5 million people to
the verge of utter starvation, thus creating what is officially recognized as
"the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa."
On February 14, the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that "there are up to 2 million
vulnerable people in need of assistance in the country. In the capital, Mogadishu,
the number of people escaping the city to the poorest areas of the Horn of
Africa nation has doubled to 700,000 in the last six months." The
following day, on February 15, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) was
urging the international community to step up their support as in the coming
months about 90,000 children in war-ravaged Somalia were facing the threat of
annihilation by malnutrition resulting from lack of food, supplementary
nutrition, and therapeutic feeding.
A few weeks ago the new Transitional prime minister, Nur
Hassan Hussein (Adde) has formed his government which clearly is a much leaner
cabinet of ministers than those formed by his predecessors. To his credit, his
cabinet is also free of warlords though many still dispute this as the most
powerful positions in the TFG, all so-called defense and security oriented
positions, are held by infamous warlords. Also to his credit, the prime
minister has changed the provocative rhetoric of his predecessor and, by and
large, has adopted a language of reconciliation.
Now that the prime minister has proven that he can
"talk the talk," the million dollar question is would he prove that
he can "walk the walk?" After all, good leadership is not appreciated
by empty words that one employs to lull the masses but by the positive
initiatives they take and actions they implement. And no initiative or action
is nobler than to say "No" to the Ethiopian occupation.
Ali Aden is a peace activist and a writer whose work has appeared in various