The Rise And Fall Of Siad Barre And The Somali Civil War

Somalia, the only country with the longest coastline which borders the Indian Ocean on the east and the Red sea on the northern part. Somalia has experienced for a long time a state of disfunction and anarchy dated back to around 70 decades ago. War loads immensely emerged as division among clans took center stage. The British in the 19th century controlled the Northern part of Somali land as the Italians reigned in the Southern parts. The emergence of the Al-Shabaab further worsened the situation as majority of Somali’s were killed and dozens of property destroyed. Today we will focus on military leader Siad Barre whose regime led to a breakout of civil war.

Siad Barre was born and bred in a family that practiced nomadic farming who were part of Marehan clan which is a sub- clan of the Darod Clan group which is the biggest ethnic group in Somalia. Siad joined the military and was later sent to Italy for further training and when he returned to Somalia, he had rose through the ranks and so he at that point and time he was serving as the major general in the Somali army. Somali got its independence from the British in 1969 and so the northern and southern part joined together and they became one country Somalia, as Abdirashid Alishermake became their President. The regime in power condoled a lot of corruption and which abnormally became the order of the day and so a state of unrest started building up among the citizens and in October 1969, a coup was orchestrated by the military led by Siad Barre and Abdirashid Alishermake who was then the President was assassinated.

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Now Siad Barre was at the helm of power in Somalia and according to political historians, citizens were happy with the change of regime for Siad’s Government encouraged nationalism and also the way he handled famine and drought that Somali experienced doubled the faith people had in him, but that was short- lived for the man whom they had trust in “Siad Barre” came with his own set of rules. Political parties were banned, parliament was dissolved, political figures who opposed Siad Barre’s way of rule were detained, the country’s constitution was literally done away with thus making Siad to be more powerful and in total control. Siad Barre established a repressive and authoritarian security state.

In power, Siad wanted to unify all the Somali populations from neighboring countries including Ogaden in Ethiopia. This move turned out to be a serious war between 1977-78 between Ethiopia and Somalia who were seeking control of Ogaden. Ethiopia was backed by the Soviet Union as Somali was seconded by the United States thus it painted a picture of cold war in the horn of Africa. Somali lost the fight and so Ethiopia remained in control of Ogaden. After this war, ammunitions and rifles were everywhere in Somalia and this made the Siad’s military regime lose control in some parts of Somali plus also, the clan affiliated military resistance seized their opportunity to showcase their power against Siad Barre, and this further worsened the situation in Somali land. It was at that point of time when a lobby group by the name Somali National Movement (SNM) was formed with an aim of addressing state marginalization of the Isaaq clan through arrest and detention. Barre countered such forces through a divide and rule tactics among clans which saw his reign continue for some time.

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Siad Barre’s regime lost total control of Somalia courtesy of the attacks that were orchestrated by clan chiefs against his government. In 1991, Siad was forced to flea Mogadishu as the attacks on his government was too strong for him to keep resisting. Siad camped in Kenya then flied to Nigeria from where he died from a heart attack in 1995. Now that there was no leader or fairly to say no process to find a new leader, Somalia broke into civil war as several factions including Somali National Movement and Somali Congress wanted to be at the helm of power. The entry of militia groups like the Al-Shaabab further worsened the situation as thousands of people were killed as the economy plunged into a crisis that up to date it is not stable on its own. Due to the humanitarian crisis that was being witnessed in Somalia, the United Nations (UN) came in to try and restore peace in Somali. Majority of the citizens fled to Ethiopia and Kenya as refugees. African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) was quickly formed to counter Al-shaabab militia, but up to date peace in Somali land still remains elusive.

Measures were strategically put in place to restore peace and calmness in Somalia whose fruits include, they were able to successfully conduct a Presidential election unlike before and also it has embarked in writing a new constitution and formation of federal states. Mohammed Farmajo is currently serving his last term as Somalia’s President even as they prepare for another election cycle. As of 2020, Somalia’s population was over 18 million people.

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