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Somalia

 
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Somalia

Harrying of the Hawiye

The Hawiye occupy the south central portions of Somalia (see Samaal , ch. 2). The capital of Mogadishu is located in the country of the Abgaal, a Hawiye subclan. In numbers the Hawiye in Somalia are roughly comparable to the Isaaq, occupying a distant second place to the Daarood clans. Southern Somalia's first prime minister during the UN trusteeship period, Abdullaahi Iise, was a Hawiye; so was the trust territory's first president, Aadan Abdullah Usmaan. The first commander of the Somali army, General Daauud, was also a Hawiye. Although the Hawiye had not held any major office since independence, they had occupied important administrative positions in the bureaucracy and in the top army command.

In the late 1980s, disaffection with the regime set in among the Hawiye who felt increasingly marginalized in the Siad Barre regime. From the town of Beledweyne in the central valley of the Shabeelle River to Buulobarde, to Giohar, and in Mogadishu, the clan was subjected to ruthless assault. Government atrocities inflicted on the Hawiye were considered comparable in scale to those against the Majeerteen and Isaaq. By undertaking this assault on the Hawiye, Siad Barre committed a fatal error. By the end of 1990, he still controlled the capital and adjacent regions but by alienating the Hawiye, Siad Barre turned his last stronghold into enemy territory.

Faced with saboteurs by day and sniper fire by night, Siad Barre ordered remaining units of the badly demoralized Red Berets to massacre civilians. By 1989 torture and murder became the order of the day in Mogadishu. On July 9, 1989, Somalia's Italian-born Roman Catholic bishop, Salvatore Colombo, was gunned down in his church in Mogadishu by an unknown assassin. The order to murder the bishop, an outspoken critic of the regime, was widely believed to have had come from the presidential palace.

On the heels of the bishop's murder came the infamous July 14 massacre, when the Red Berets slaughtered 450 Muslims demonstrating against the arrest of their spiritual leaders. More than 2,000 were seriously injured. On July 15, forty-seven people, mainly from the Isaaq clan, were taken to Jasiira Beach west of the city and summarily executed. The July massacres prompted a shift in United States policy as the United States began to distance itself from Siad Barre.

With the loss of United States support, the regime grew more desperate. An anti-Siad Barre demonstration on July 6, 1990, at a soccer match in the main stadium deteriorated into a riot, causing Siad Barre's bodyguard to panic and open fire on the demonstrators. At least sixty-five people were killed. A week later, while the city reeled from the impact of what came to be called the Stadia Corna Affair, Siad Barre sentenced to death 46 prominent members of the Manifesto Group, a body of 114 notables who had signed a petition in May calling for elections and improved human rights. During the contrived trial that resulted in the death sentences, demonstrators surrounded the court and activity in the city came to a virtual halt. On July 13, a shaken Siad Barre dropped the charges against the accused. As the city celebrated victory, Siad Barre, conceding defeat for the first time in twenty years, retreated into his bunker at the military barracks near the airport to save himself from the people's wrath.

* * *

Little literature exists on the history of Somalia. In his monumental three-volume work, Somalia: Scritti Vari Editi ed Inediti, Enrico Cerulli provided the research on which most subsequent writers have relied. I.M. Lewis, the prolific dean of English-speaking Somalists, offers a valuable survey in A Modern History of Somalia, revised and updated in 1988 to cover the 1970s and early 1980s. With The Shaping of Somali Society, Lee Cassanelli has produced the first book-length study of precolonial Somali history.

An excellent reference work is Margaret Castagno's Historical Dictionary of Somalia. Robert Hess's Italian Colonialism in Somalia offers a detailed review of the Italian colonial period in the south.

Douglas Jardine's Mad Mullah of Somali Land remains the classic biography of Sayyid Mahammad Abdille Hasan, the mystic, poet, and warrior leader of the Somali dervish anticolonial movement. Said S. Samatar's Oral Poetry and Somali Nationalism analyzes Mahammad Abdille's poetry and assesses his nationalist and literary contributions to the Somali heritage. I.M. Lewis's A Pastoral Democracy and David Laitin's Politics, Language, and Thought: The Somali Experience stand as invaluable contributions to an understanding of the social and cultural aspects of Somali history. The origins and growth of Somali nationalist sentiment and political struggles are treated in Saadia Touval's Somali Nationalism.

Somali irredentism is treated in historical context by John Drysdale's The Somali Dispute. Tom Farer's War Clouds on the Horn of Africa deals with the same subject from a vantage point less sympathetic to Somali revolutionaries. I.M. Lewis draws on his great knowledge of Somali society and politics to analyze the background and initial consequences of the military coup in the "The Politics of the 1969 Somali Coup," whereas David Laitin considers the ongoing development of the coup in "Somalia's Military Government and Scientific Socialism." Both pieces appear in Socialism in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Laitin and Samatar's Somalia: Nation in Search of a State provides a detailed analysis of the degeneration of the Somali revolution into a brutal dictatorship. Samatar's Somalia: A Nation in Turmoil, published as the Minority Rights Group Report by the London-based organization in August 1991, treats Siad Barre's reign of terror, his precipitous fall from power, and the collapse of the Somali state into separate regions ruled by clan-affiliated political groups. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Somalia - TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Introduction
  • History & Historical Setting

  • Go Up - Top of Page

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