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Somalia: Is There Still Hope?

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Essay title: Somalia: Is There Still Hope?

Somalia: Is There Still Hope?

Professor: Dr. Agnes Leslie

Model African Union

April 23, 2007

Somalia: Is There Still Hope?

Throughout their history, the country of Somalia has suffered many ups and downs that have shaped it into the country that it has become today. As many African countries, Somalia has been through colonization, independence and has regressed into a whirlpool of political instability. The country of Somalia has been in a state of civil unrest since 1991 when their president, General Mohamed Siad Barre, was removed from power by warlords. The tensions have been high since the takeover of these warlords. The tensions came to a head in March 2006, when the coalition of warlords, Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter- Terrorism (ARPCT) and the militia that supported the Islamic Courts Union. Throughout the year the fighting evolved from the Islamic Courts Union taking over cities of Somalia, such as Mogadishu, to becoming a war with the Ethiopian government. There has been a history of hostility between Somalia and Ethiopia and this conflict gave the issue an outlet. Since December of 2006, when Ethiopia declared jihad against the Islamic Courts Union, the violence has been continuous, thus making Somalia an issue of great importance to Africa and the African union, not only as a political issue but also as a social and human rights issue as well. The African Union has sent in troops to Somalia to regulate the conflict. Recently, the African Union had called on Ethiopia to remove their troops from Somalia. These efforts are hopefully only the beginning of what should be a great involvement of the African Union.

The history of Somalia is a complex one that has many complications that begin with their colonization. The country was colonized not by one European power but by two, United Kingdom and Italy. They got their independence from both countries in 1960. In July, both parts reunited into an independent Somali republic. The first prime minister was Dr. Abd ar-Rashid Ali Shermarke who set the political pattern for the next decade. He created a government with Mohamed Ibrahim Egal. The Somali public started to think that the Prime Minister gave preferentiality to northerners being put into political and administrative posts. In October of 1969, Shermarke was assassinated and it was thought that the new president would be supported by Egal but this did not happen due to a military takeover in a bloody coup d’etat. The Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) was created and consisted of army and police officers who claimed to fight for democracy, eliminating corruption and “clanism.” They renamed the country the Somali Democratic Republic. In 1969, Mohamed Siad Barre, the president of the SRC, became head of state. In the 1970s, the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party (SRSP) was created and was fueled by the Soviet Union. At this time the Somali army was dependent on soviet equipment and they USSR acquired military facilities in northern Somalia-Berbera. In 1974, Somalia joined the Arab league and Siad Barre was chairman of the Organization of African Unity. In September of the same year, there was internal chaos that was caused by military socialism in Ethiopia. Siad Barre saw this as a weak moment for Ethiopia and used it as an opportunity to claim the Ogaden and Somali-speaking areas of Ethiopia. Two years later, he created the Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF) which facilitated his operations within Ethiopia. USSR tried to foster peace talks between Somalia and Ethiopia, which was chaired by Cuba’s own Fidel Castro. Siad Barre decided that he would ignore the Soviets and invaded Ogaden in July of 1977. The area was overrun by Somali troops within three months and the Soviets started to supply Ethiopia with weapons. In November Somalia abrogated the treaty of friendship with USSR and expelled six thousand soviet advisers and experts whom went to Ethiopia. Somalia gained assistance in Saudi Arabia but western support was not forthcoming. In March of 1978, a Soviet and Cuban-led counter-attach re-established Ethiopian control of Ogaden and the Somali government withdrew their forces. The break in relations with the USSR led to relations with the United States due to the cold-war paranoia of that time. In the 1980s, the United States gave substantial aid to Somalia. During this time period, there was an insurgence in opposition movements, notably the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF); a majerteen supported group and the Somali National Movement (SNM) which was supported by the Isaaq clan from the north. The SSDF took over two small central Somali towns in 1981 but it collapsed by the mid-1980s due to

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