Term Paper: Somalia Civil War Somalia- Causes

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[. . .] Each side had their own administrative, legal and education system. There were a lot of different economic factors such as taxes and different currencies. The UN set up a commission to help them sort out their differences. The people of the south believed that were better equipped to govern the region as they had a lot of experience. This sowed seeds of bitterness amongst the Northern Elite as they would have to play second fiddle to the south. Their resentment of the south would lead to a lot of problems later.

There were two major political parties in the northern region during Independence. One of them was the SNL, which was a representative of the Isaaq clan. The Isaaq clan also represented a majority in the north. Then there was the USP, which was supported by the Dir and the Daarood. After the unification of Somalia, the Isaaq were reduced to a minority while the Daarood's power increased after they joined ranks with the SYL. The Dir however stuck to the north as it had a lot of sympathies with the Isaaq clan. The southern opposition party, the GSL, was a pro-Arab and a pro-Somali party. They got the support of the SNL and USP.

The people in the north demonstrated their discord against the south in a 1961 referendum on the constitution. The southern half went all the way to support it while, it got less than 50% of the northern half's votes. Apparently the northern half did not like being tied to the south too much.

Bitterness over the distribution of power amongst clan families came to a peak in December 1961. The two regions nearly came to blows when southern trained higher-ranking officers were appointed to command the units of junior army officers in the north. The instigators of this clash demanded the separation of the north and south regions. Though northern officials arrested them, a lot of resentment was felt in the north.

More seeds of destruction were sown when the GSL leader Hussein, tried to form a union of parties, the Somali Democratic Union. He got a number of northern elite to join the party. These northern elites were not pleased with the representation of their SNL party in the government. This party failed to achieve any goals. However it started a chain of events, when Igaal and a SNL minister resigned from the cabinet. They took a lot of SNL supporters and formed a new party, the Somali National Congress. This party received widespread support in the North. It also got support from a Hawiye dominated SYL faction. Thus a new party had come on to the horizon. This was just the starting of the differences between the north and south.

The political map of the country was changed when on October 15, 1969 President Shermaarke was assassinated by his bodyguard. Prime Minister, Igaal. Was not in the country. He returned to begin selection proves for the new president. He wanted to choose a member of the Daarood clan as president. This was criticized by a number of people including high-ranking members of the army. They thought that this wouldn't help matters in the country. The army staged a coup on the 21st of October 1969, when it became clear that the assembly would vote for Igaal's candidate. The army arrested a lot of government and political figures. They also took over important strategic points in Mogadishu. A new governing body, the Supreme Revolutionary Council was set up. Mohammed Siad Barre was appointed the president of the country by the council. One of the new tasks after overthrowing the government was to suspend the constitution, ban political parties and dismiss the national assembly. The new regime's wanted an end to centuries old tribalism and wide spread corruption. Somalia was renamed the Somali democratic republic.

Simmons (1995) writes:

Meanwhile, shortly after taking power, Siad Barre introduced his own brand of pragmatism to Somalia: scientific socialism. In part this interjection of socialism must be viewed as a genuine, reactive response to the corruption that had plagued Somalia's free-market democracy, particularly as Siad Barre strove to ground his ideology (at least initially) in indigenous terms. (Anna Simons, 47)

Siad Barre went one to abolish the clan system. He appointed peacekeepers to replace the tribal elders and replaced the clans with committees. The clans lost all their rights to land and water. These steps were taken to weaken the power of the clans and religious leaders. He abolished a lot of Islamic laws, which he deemed unfair. Amongst one of these laws was Diya, blood for money. Siad Barre tried to remove the influence of religion from politics. The SRC was terminated in 1976. It was later brought back and renamed the Somali Socialist Party (SRSP). It was just a figurehead party and all the power remained with Siad Barre.

In order to consolidate his iron fisted rule he tried to reoccupy the Ogaden from Ethiopia. He launched a fill scale war against Ethiopia from 1977-78.this war drained the Somali economy. Somalia suffered defeat and the loss of over 8000 men. They also had to contend with the flow of over 650,000 refugees from the Ogaden region.

In order to gain economic favors from the west, Siad made a few attempts to bring back democracy. Somalia needed economic aid from the U.S. And couldn't get any help because of its anti- democracy measures. He made changes in the constitution in 1979. These changes allowed freedom of speech, free press, religion and assembly. Unfortunately these rights were subject to proper qualifications. He made himself head of the state and government. In fact the whole constitution was rigged to give him sweeping powers for everything in the country.

After the Ogaden war, there were a lot of protests by the opposition. In order to control them Siad Barre started taking drastic steps. He violated a lot of human rights violations when he had his opponents tortured or murdered. Siad barre launched an attack against the Majeerteen clan after several of its military members had launched an unsuccessful coup attempt against him in 1978.. Several of the Majeerteen military personnel escaped abroad where they formed the Somali salvation democratic front. Siad further revolted against the Isaaq in the northern region. The Isaaq weren't satisfied with their representation in his government. Some of the Isaaq dissidents formed a party (Somali national movement) in 1981 in London. Their mission was to get rid of Siad barre from power. They tried getting back at the government by launching a number of raids in Somali territory. Siad got back at them by bombing one of Somalia's northern cities, Hargeysa. His next target was the clan of Hawiye who lived around Mogadishu. The Hawiye also formed an opposition movement, the united Somali congress.

This way Siad barre alienated a lot of clans including the Ogaden. The Ogaden turned against him after he resumed diplomatic relations with Ethiopia. Due to his actions a lot of Ogaden military personnel left the armed forces to join the Somali Patriotic Movement.

All these opposition groups waged a war against the regime of Siad barre. They managed to make a lot of headway by capturing a lot of government land. More than 50,000 innocent civilians were killed during Siad Barre's actions against the various clans. Thousands of people died from the poisoning of water wells and senseless slaughtering of animals. For this reason, a large maority ran away to seek refuge in areas outside the conflict-ridden region.

Barre's forces opened fire on 450 people during a July 1989 demonstration. This enraged a lot of clan families. They signed petition calling for an end to violence and for Siad barre's resignation. The opposition finally defeated the Siad barre regime on January 27, 1991. Siad barre fled the country and sought refuge in Nigeria. The USC made plans for the formation of a government. However Mohammed Farrah Aidid, a former army commander, opposed it. He formed a splinter faction of the USC. Other political parties weren't given any place or consultation. So they decided to fight back. The SSDF and SPM allied against the USC. They kept on fighting for control of several towns. Other parties such as the SNM rejected offers to participate in the unity talks.

None of the parties would settle down and each of them claimed that they had the right to rule Somalia. They resorted to violence to fight for their claims. One clan supported each of these parties. This destroyed all sense of civil order. Fighting started in September 1991 and intensified by November 1991. By 1992 around 14,000 people were killed and 27,000 injured. Muhammad, a member of the Hawiye clan-family gained control of northern Mogadishu. Farrah Aidid, who led a USC faction of 10,000 guerrillas, was his main opponent. A lot of international parties made numerous unsuccessful attempts between 1991 and 1992 to stop the war in Mogadishu. Clarke writes:

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