Rewinding Revolution. Rhetoric in Reliving the Past; The Kacaan Era.
by: Mohammed Abdullah Artan
The beginning of this story can be found in the way it ended. In assessing the end of things can one learn its fruits and the tree that sprung it. Just like a healthy old oak, the Kacaan government henceforth identified as Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) or Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party (SRSP) had its fruits. One can’t deny that simple fact, except for a biased partisan. The fever of those included Pan-Somalism, Somali Nationalism, the literacy fever, the Do-it-Yourself mentality, Self-Help scheme, the NO-To-Foreign-Influence, the booming building economy, the import and export business, the health programmes, the farming and agriculture industries, and many more.
However this piece is not about beating the drum to Kacaan favouritism nor do I intend to vilify them, I rather leave the conclusion to you; the reader. In this piece I maintain a pace of reproduction of facts with the least of commentaries, which will showcase how the Kacaan government set the initial stage in preparing to fail. It foresaw (for whatever reason) the fall of Somalia’s governing system. The Kacaan leadership then planned to fill that vacuum. I will then reproduce crucial dates that showcase lack of comprehensive and genuine foresight, effectively becoming the Revolution that Failed to Prepare.
This piece is chronological and I have chosen to be very selective in the dates represented, which are at times series of dates related to one subject dispersed across time. This builds a mental picture of repetitive failures or successes if you will. I have also chosen to drop all type labels or derogatory terms, be they of organisations and or individuals. I have also chosen not to reproduce any type or form of clan name, be they loyal to certain movements or not, except wherein the copied text relied on it and the context would be otherwise lost. The centrality of this piece was paramount to reproducing the facts with the least of emotions expressed. Titles of individuals vary from time to time, and as such the title for the mentioned period is chosen, when this was known, otherwise the popular title and or rank was kept for he sake of conformity.
I have also chosen to contextualise much of what took place in the Kacaan era, therefore reproducing facts and dates that relate to certain major incidents, although they might seem unrelated to the subject at hand. I have relied on various resources but I found the most accurate and comprehensive among them the ones I have reproduced at the bottom of this piece. On occasions I have chosen to reproduce entire paragraph of said works and sometimes just paraphrased it. Most of the dates have a reference attached to them and where there isn’t any, I mixed from various sources, still sticking those referred below. Any errors is entirely man and thus absolved from any other party, except for reproduced sources.
01: Contextualising Pre-Kacaan:
As most of us are aware, late 18th century to early 19th century, Somalia was in a bitter struggle to fight the colonial rule in North-Somalilands (the British), in South-Somalilands (The Italians) as well as the African colonials in the West-Somalilands (the Ethiopians). It was a scene of armed struggle, intellectual struggle, and fervent love for Pan-Somali. The mindset that was stagnant in much of colonised Africa –that Europeans were superior–did not find root in the Somali psyche. Many Somalis that fought in the battles of World War II have come back with new set of skills and different perspective about their colonisers. The educated elite also went inlands and educated the masses, there were newspapers, radio broadcastings and overfilled cafe-houses, for all sort of social activities.
Many of the World War II veterans became part of the Somali Police force after the Italians were defeated. Some of the soldiers were also veterans of many battles fought against the Ethiopians on behest of the Italian colonisers. On 14 March 1941 Italy abandoned the entire territories it controlled to the British. The British established the Somali Gendarmerie on the 1st of August 1941. It consisted of Somali units with their colonial officers of which were mainly two units; The Police Wing, charged with enforcing peace in the cities only and the Field Force Wing, charged with enforcing peace in nomadic and rural areas. (Bulhan, 2008)
The Pre-Kacaan scene:
Somalia constantly claimed back its Western-Somaliland (which was signed away by the British in an Anglo-Ethiopian agreement of 1942 and 1944, to Ethiopia) and Ethiopia boldly claimed more land further inland into Somali territory. To resolve the issue the UN appointed its former Secretary-General, Mr Trygvie Lie, to lead an arbitration tribunal. Ethiopia and Somalia (under the UN Trusteeship spearheaded by the Italians) agreed that until a final settlement could be reached, the British provisional line should remain in force. This temporary agreement was warranted. While this matter was pending and unresolved the young Somali state was born, an independent Somalia consisting of North-Somaliland and South-Somaliland, absent of the French Somaliland, West-Somaliland and the North-West Somaliland (NFD).
The new and young Somali state was sporting more and more enemies by the day, than it could afford. On this date Somalia has put a case forward against Ethiopia while participating a conference held in Lagos, Nigeria, in front of special appointed committee by African states purposely set up to deal with conflict between African States. This was a case of Somali-Ethiopia border change. The matter was deferred for investigation. (Salwe, 1996)
25th March 1963:
The Organisation of African Unity was established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa, with 32 signatory governments. It was disbanded on 9 July 2002 by its last chairperson, South African President Thabo Mbeki, and replaced by the African Union. However in May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Haile Selassie hosted the Organisation of African Unity’s Summit wherein he managed to alienate Somalia while playing deft diplomatic games against Somalia on the issue of no border change. The purpose of the Summit was to discuss colonial inherited borders, which made allot of African states nervous. They mostly opted not to engage the topic and Somalia walked out of that Summit.
Kenya became independent state in December 1963 and with that came the denial of Somalia’s territory, namely the NFD. So as to destabilise and win back those lands, Somali Government began a long guerrilla war against the new Kenyan government. The Somalis called them freedom fighters and the Kenyans called them shiftas, a term applied to bandits and cattle rustlers. The Somali government officially denied Kenya’s charges that the guerrillas were trained in Somalia, equipped with arms and directed from Mogadishu but it did not, or could not deny that these Shiftas were influenced by the new radio station, the Voice of Somalia, beaming in all the way to Kenya.
24th of June 1965:
Brigadier General Daud Abdulle, who was the Commander of the National Army dies in Italy after he was flown there for medical purposes. As consequence, by Presidential Decree of June 24, 1965, no. 138, following the death of Brigadier General Daud Abdulla, Lieutenant General Mohamed Siad Barre, second to Daud became Commander of the National Army. By 1966 Siad Barre attained the rank of Major General, which was never bestowed upon by a Somali officer before.
Early in 1967 there were alleged rumours for a coup by the military, planned just before the elections for June 1967. Although there were no indication as to who might be behind the coup, nonetheless there was a detailed report from the new Commander of the Army, General Mohammed Siad Barre. The detailed report directed to the Prime Minister Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke mentioned three senior military officers as the possible ringleaders for such act, namely;
– Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Farah Aidid; in charge of the Operation Services,
– Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Nuur; in charge of the Artillery
– Major Ali Matan; in charge of Air Force.
The irony of it all was that a week before Siad Barre report reached Adan Abdulle, Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal shared an intelligence report with President Adan Abdulle indicating that Siad Barre himself with his colleagues, might be drawing up plans for a military coup, “in the event the President they like is not elected in the 1967 presidential election.” (Trunji, 2015) This two part coup rumours alleged that, within the army there was two camps of Darood vs Hawiye-Issaq alliance. The idea of clan politics in the army trying to pre-empt one and another was quickly dismissed by the head of the Army, General Siad Barre.
10th of June 1967:
President Adan Abdulle Osman’s six year term of office expired as he lost to Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, making him the first African president to be democratically elected and willingly relinquish power. Irony of it all was that the new president, Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke was earlier dismissed in September 1964 as a Prime Minister because Adan Abdulle felt he wasn’t proactive enough, and replaced him with Abdirisaq Haji Hussain who had pro-Western agendas. Nonetheless the diplomatic tensions between Somalia and its border rivalries; Kenya, Ethiopia and France (and by extension their allies) was not eased. Prime Minister Abdirizaq however produced various bold initiatives and policies notably anti-corruption campaign known as ‘busta rosso ‘(the red envelope). (Salwe, 1996)
20th July 1967:
The new president of Somalia, Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke appointed Mohammed Haji Egal as the new PM of Somalia. Prime Miniser Egal was bold and chose to engage his neighbours, normalise relationship. In October 1967, at the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit held in Arusha, Tanzania he proactively met with Kenyan and Ethiopian leaders and agreed with them a normalisation of relations via the office of Kenneth Kaunda, the president of Zambia. PM Egal also re-established relations with Britain and France. He also made it clear to the Djibouti’s that their independence can only come from negotiating with their colonisers. These bold tactics earned him increasing unpopularity at home and he was labelled as a ‘sell out’. Close to parliamentary elections his government was also on the fringes of the Somali society. (Salwe, 1996)
As part of the cut down of Army expenditure as well as the dismantling of the Shifta guerrilla activities in neighbouring countries (Kenya and Ethiopia), the new Prime Miniser Mohamed Haji Egal has denied a draft budget submission (by General Siad Barre) which was an increase of 7% in funds, totalling to $10.5 million. PM Egal instead told the Army to resubmit a revised budget of not more than $7.5 million, expect even further cuts and plan on the basis that it would remain a force of not more than 9,000 men. He also had 3,000 or so men disbanded which were recruited to support the Djibouti referendum.
By early 1967 the army expenditure was representing 20% of the total ordinary budget of $246,000,000. PM Egal intended from the beginning to progressively reduce Armed Forces expenditure and use the army for ‘civic action’ and economic development projects. Understandably, the Somali national army, one of the strongest in Africa, saw the new overture as a factor diminishing its importance and as threat to its expansion. A confidential British diplomatic report from Washington also indicates how the State Department was worried about possible reaction from the Somali national army to this treatment, although they seemed to be fairly confident that Egal had the authority and prestige “to ram his new policy down the throat of the military leaders.” (Trunji 2015)
In a state of democratic decay and party abuse did March 1969 elections take place. There were 88 parties competing with over 1000 candidates for just 123 parliamentary seats. The anarchy was all too evident as the renowned poet Hirsi Ali Qonof lamented the following lines:
Habbis baa ku dhacay dowladdii lagu han weynaaye, How-howlayaal soo geliyo heeraan baa dilaye, Dastuur lagu hagaagiyo la waa hilin la qaadaaye, Kolna haddaan dujaalada hurriyo hoosta dhuganayne, Ama aan hilaal noo dhashiyo haadi imanaynin Kala maqan hawada Leegadiyo himiladoodiye, Inqilaab hurdada uu ku jiro la hubsandoonee.
The much aspired state has faltered, Charlatans and imposters have ravaged the essence of parliament, Lost are the guiding constitutions and sense of direction, Since the leading demons are devoid of care, Nor will there be a new moon or a saviour, Incoherent are the objectives and inspirations of the Lego, The continued lying in wait of a coup d’etat will be seen.
Ironically enough, as he forecasted, a coup d’etat followed just few months after he composed those lines.
15th of October 1969:
The president of Somalia, Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke was touring over the country when he made a stop at Las Anod. He was then shot by a member of his police force guarding him. The official reasoning became source of disagreement, facilitating all sort of conspiracy theories. The assassins name was Abdulkadir Abdi Mohamed, regimental roll (matricola) 4745, later identified as Said Yusuf Ismail. For further details see entry for date 8th of October 1970.
The dead body of the President was brought to Mogadishu and placed in the Presidents house. The following morning Siad Barre appointed Mohammed Farah Aidid in charge of the ceremonial Funeral Guard of the dead Presiden. On the 20th of October 1969 the President was laid to rest. (Ruhela 1994)
A sense of lack of State authority was felt in the first hours following the death of the President, particularly when rumours started circulating that it had proven impossible to even send news of the tragic event to the Prime Minister, who was on State visit in the USA. After the official visit, Egal appears to have taken some days off at Las Vegas, as a guest of American film star William Holden. (Trunji, 2015) He quickly returned to Somalia to nominate a new successor. (Shire, 2011).
The Prime Minister Egal chose to support an influential as well as seasoned politician, an MP by the name of Musa Boqor, the son of the late Sultan (a businessman who was leading the vote buying by 55.000 Somali Shillings (an equivalent of £4.000 then) per person, who was also a sub-clan of the slain president, PM Egal striking a deal of “If I make you president now, then as a president you must make me Prime Minister again” (Ruhela 1994). Musa Boqor was so influential that he as dubbed as the ‘King-Maker’ on account of his securing the lae president Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke presidency. He was later on killed in the ensuing chaos of the civil war of 1991, in a mysterious circumstances, as he was in the middle of mediating between the exiting President Siad Barre and the United Somali Congress (USC) leadership structure.
The Birth of the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC):
21 October 1969:
In the early hours of 21 October 1969, 3am to be precise, when the members of parliament finally decided to present the presidency to Haji Muse Boqor, military troops aided by armoured cars moved in to the major cities of Somalia to occupy key positions. Short while after all MP’s, some key politicians, as well other tribal influential chieftains were put under (house)arrest (at the presidential Villa situated at Afgooye, some 30 km south-west of the capital, and imposed a curfew on the capital) as the military took control of the entire state mechanism. (Shire, 2012)
22 October 1969:
The coup was masterminded by 25 military and police officers who had an ethos of brotherhood and equality amongst themselves, they called themselves the Supreme Revolutionary Council short for SRC. Although engineered by President Mohammed Siad Bare short after the coup, the officers got together and chose to elect a president. Siad Bare managed to secure two-third of the votes in the first round and in the second round he secured majority vote which made him effectively the Head of state, head of the government, and Commander in Chief of the armed forces. They released the first article of the Charter which dissolved the National Assembly, deposed the reactionary administration, and abolished the Higher Judicial Council.
The SRC also suspended provisions of the constitution and in effect the functions and powers of the president, the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers, the Constitutional Court, and the High Court of Justice were all allocated to the newly formed SRC. Existing international treaties were to be honoured, national liberation movements and Somali unification were to be supported. The country’s name was immediately changed into “Somali Democratic Republic”.
The deposed Prime Minister, along with some of his ministers was brought before a special court whose three judging panellists were members of the military Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC). Never before had a Somali politician been put on trial: the climate of impunity and the myth of unaccountability for ministers was thus brought to an end. (Trunji, 2015)
The SRC enacted a new law, some sort of martial law, wherein it declared that anyone who was found guilty compromising he unity, peace or the sovereignty of the nation would be punished either by imprisonment or death sentence. (Bulhan 2008)
8 October 1970:
The trial of Said Yusuf Isma’il, who earlier the year before assassinated President Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke was at the Regional Court of Burco which was later moved to the National Security Court in Mogadishu, for security reasons. There were also many others who were on trial as collaborators, based on confessions obtained from the defendant, among them were:
– Mohamud Yusuf Ismail, a radio telegrapher, based at Eyl,
– Shaykh Nureddin Ali Olow, councillor of the Supreme Court;
– Ainab Farah Miraf, a businessman resident at Las Anod;
– Beddel Hersi Farah, commander of the Las Anod police station at the time of the incident;
– Abdi Rabi Raage, an officer of the ‘Darawishta Boliska’ Unit, based at Burco.
The case was led by the prosecutor General at the time, Abdi Farah ‘Basciane’, which was presented to the Court as that of a politically motivated crime committed through a conspiracy of the co-defendants. The main defendant pleaded guilty of murder, but denied acting on grounds of personal grudges towards the former President, stating that he had acted in the general interest of the country and the people. In his sworn testimony before the Court, the main defendant said that he was troubled by the former President’s “lack of loyalty to the people, for doing nothing to advance the progress of the country, and for not showing interest to the territories under foreign domination”, and that in the Burco region “as a result of the rigged political elections, people are killing each other, as is the case also in other areas of the country. […] The discovery of uranium deposits announced by the former Premier Egal was dismissed by the BBC — so I became convinced that Abdirashid and Egal were fooling the people. […] In the face of this reality, I decided to save the country from catastrophe because, as a citizen and soldier, I took the oath to be faithful and defend my country from internal as well as external enemies.” (Trunji, 2015)
Defence attorneys for the defendant, Abdulasis Nuur Hersi and Mohamed Jama Habib argued that the defendant deserved leniency, as his act had accelerated and ignited the first spark of the revolution of 21 October;
“The defendant’s act, though deplorable from a moral and religious perspective, is justified by its aim. Said’s name will be inseparable from the revolution of October 21, 1969 which has salvaged the country from chaos and corruption,” further argued the defense counsel. Reference was made to the Egyptian revolution of 1952 and that of Russia of 1917 which, due to external factors, took place slightly ahead of their scheduled date. The accused was found guilty of murder under article 434 of the Somali Penal Code (SPC) and sentenced to death on October 8, 1970, just less than one year since the tragic event at Las Anod. His five co-defendants were acquitted. (Trunji, 2015)
The SRC government appointed a linguistic commission of 21 members who were senior educationists as well poets and language experts. They consisted of; Yasin Osman Kenadid, Hirsi Magan Isse, Hussein Sheikh Ahmed Kadare, Ibrahim Hashi Mohamud, Musa Galal, Shire Jama Ahmed and many others. The committee had a directive of;
– To write textbooks for elementary schools,
– To write the Somali grammar,
– To work out the compilation of a 10,000 word Somali language dictionary.
However the initial mission was not to chose a script for the young nation. Within the first couple of months, the committee produced four language books using the Somali language, six books in mathematics and science, two books in geography and history and one basic Somali dictionary with 10,000 words recorded and defined. Several sub-committees were setup to deal with additional queries related to the language, mathematics and science, geography and history, dictionary and terminology. They held regular sessions with individuals and groups outside of the commission to gather information on neologism and on foreign words lacking a good Somali translation. (Shire 2011).
4th of May 1971:
After some time of internal strife in the SRC committee several officers were arrested for plotting another coup, this time within the SRC. Vice-President General Mohammed Ainanshe, Brigadier General Salad Gabayre and Major Abdulqadir Dheel Abdulle were arrested for plotting to overthrow the SRC government. (Bulhan 2008)
30th May 1971:
Somali society is heavily influenced by an identity and reliance of clannism (tribalism). As such the SRC has announced a campaign against clannism in this day. The first step of the campaign was stripping all powers from all type of clan figures and it leaders. This was replaced by new figure acting as an intermediary with the SRC government who was to be named a “Nabadoon”. This Nabadoon was employed by the government and their main task was to bring down any type of meetings and or get together for the purpose of the clan. This resulted some sort of hushed voices in identifying ones clan and people retorted to different type of clan identity by identifying themselves with an “X” before their clan name. There were frequent radio broadcasts as well as newspapers mentioning the harms and the backwardness of clan based societies. Frequent lingo were “Socialism unites the people, clannism divides.” The SRC restricted the diya (blood money) compensation to the victim and the aggressor. This put an effective stop to large clan based diya paying which promoted further injuries. The SRC renamed districts and regions that had clan-based names and the traditional greeting of ‘ina Adeer’ (cousin) was outlawed and replaced with Jaalle ‘friend’. For rural areas however the clan system was well and alive. As such the SRC set up urban centres (degmo) which were socialist orientation centres which served to educate the rural nomads on the socialist programme as well as the anti-clan campaign while it also served as marriage centres. (Shire p45)
16th of July 1971:
The SRC declared war on corruption and ineptness in a vicious campaign they dubbed as ‘accounting without Shame’ (Xisaab Xil ma leh). The SRC government set up review boards for evaluating both performances and salaries of the civil servants. The result was that many bureaucrats earned more than their station and as such their salaries were reduced to reflect their posts. In a speech he delivered in 16th of July 1971 President Siad Barre announced that bureaucracy was not going to milk the population and as such he claimed that his salary was 1800 Somali Shillings (equivalent to £150) per month. As a consequence between 1971 and 1973 the Court of National Security sentenced; – 50 government officials for embezzlements, – 15 for coercion, – 23 for grafts and corruption, – 4 for malversation, – 3 for misuse of office, – 1 for misappropriation, – 9 for falsification of official documents, – 1 for nepotism, – 1 for abuse of powers, – 291 for failure to observe dispositions. (Shire 2011)
23rd of July 1972:
Following the arrest made in 4th of May 1971 of Generals Ainanshe, Gabayre and Major Dheel, a yearlong of prolonged trials followed wherein they were found guilty of high treason and were executed by firing squad on 23rd of July 1972, publically. This was one of the SRC’s main hurdles. Later there was also another plot for coup and General Jama Ali Qorsheel as well as other officers were accused of treason backed by CIA. (Lewis, Bulhan & Shire)
21 October 1972:
President Siad Barre, after consulting with his language experts, announced the historic decision that a modified version had been adopted for writing the Somali language. Three months after the adoption of the Somali script, written Somali officially replaced English and Italian, which until then had been the administrative languages of the country.
21st of January 1973:
It has been announced from the SRC government that all Somali civil servants were to take an examination in written Somali. Those who failed were given another opportunity six months later. In total they would have three tries and if they failed, it showed lack of commitment on their part and they were forced to retire their post.
27th March 1974:
The literacy campaign for the rural areas was launched on the 27th of March 1974 in all the districts of the country, involving 732 main centres and 7105 branches. To get the required labour force, the country’s intermediate and secondary schools were closed for one year, making 15,225 students and 1,155 teachers available for the task. 485 medical doctors and technicians, 509 veterinary specialists, 698 community workers, 1,443 support staff from the army and paramilitary forces and 211 transport staff accompanied them. When the campaign started, 1,257,779 students attended classes across the country. 912,297 took the final test and the vast majority, 795,099 passed. Thus, the rate of dropouts was about 27 percent. Almost 86 percent of those who took part in the final test passed it. In addition to basic literacy, the campaign provided other basic services to the nomadic communities and their livestock, mainly in regards to health and hygiene. Overall, 3,033,039 persons and 13,361,846 heads of livestock were either treated or vaccinated from various diseases and illness. (Shire 2011)
1st August 1974:
1,741 students have departed from Fagaaraha Teereebuunka, Mogadishu going inlands towards the rural areas. Afer seven months of extensive campaigning the programme came to an end in 25th February 1975.
One of the most successful campaigns and lifesaving initiative the Kacaan regime undertook was the relief efforts for the longest drought Africa (specially Somalia) would see, aptly named as Daba Dheer Drought, Long Tailed Drought which swept through Saharan Africa, reached East Africa in 1972-l975. The regime response to the drought was historic and momentous. It moved thousands of drought stricken nomads to farming and fishing communities not only to save them but also to transform their way of life. (Bulhan 2008).
The Somali government reacted to the emergency by setting up 20 relief camps. More than 268,000 pastoralists had flocked to these camps by May 1975. The rains returned in 1976 and many of the nomads returned to the rangelands to build up their herds once more. However, fearing another drought might come, and deciding to turn a disaster into an opportunity, the Somali government organised a nomad resettlement effort. Planners estimated that the rangelands in their denuded state would be able to absorb only 128,000 nomads. Some 105,000 nomads would have to be resettled in agricultural and fishing communities as others spontaneously found their ways into cities and towns. The Somali government set up three agricultural communities in Kurtun Waarey, Sablaale and Dujuma, and three fishing communities in Brava, Adalle and Eyl. The agricultural settlements were designed for commercial agriculture to plant sesame seeds, rice, bananas, corn and a variety of cash crops. They ranged in size from 23,000 people in Kunun Waarey to more than 40,000 in Dujuma. (Shire 2011)
October 15, 1974:
The former Prime Minister Egal was given the maximum prison sentence of 30 years charged with embezzlement of public funds under article 241 of Somali Penal Code on October 15, 1974. The Court ruled also the confiscation of his private mansion, “Villa Baydhabo” in Mogadishu. They further investigated cases involving bribery, abuse of power, political corruption and election fraud by other top officials. As such other ministers received minor sentences however non of them served their full prison terms, all of them benefitting from amnesty. They were soon rehabilitated and rewarded with highly remunerative public positions, despite the provisions in the Penal Code barring any person convicted of serious crime from holding public office. For example former PM Egal was appointed as an ambassador in New Delhi, India.
11th January 1975:
A commission was appointed to prepare a draft code. The draft produced by the commission was enacted in 1975, with significant modifications made by Minister of Culture and information Mohammed Sheikh Aden and Secretary of State for Justice and Religious Affairs Abdisalam Sheikh Hussein. The code aimed to abolish customary laws and abrogated previous British and Italian-era legislation relating to the Family Law. Article 1 of the Family Code 1975 stated that the leading doctrines of the Shafi’i school of thought (madhab) and general principles of Islamic Law and social justice are to serve as residuary sources of law. Some of the finer points the law stipulated was:
– The Family Code states that marriage is based on equal rights and duties,
– Both parties are obliged to share the expenses of the matrimonial home in proportion to their incomes if they are able to do so.
– The mother is entitled to custody of male children until the age of 10 and female children until the age of 15, with the court empowered to extend custody until age 18 for the male or female ward if s/he is not able to look after him/herself. If the mother remarries and the husband is within the prohibited degrees to the ward(s), or in case she is widowed and remarries, she may retain custody.
– Article 158 states that ‘in conformity with the principles of the 1st and Second Charter of the Revolution, females and males shall have equal rights of inheritance’. Heirs are identified as spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, full siblings, paternal and maternal aunts and uncles. (Shire 2011)
15th of January 1975:
The Family Law announced 4 days earlier which had a clause of Male and Female equality in inheritance was contrary to Islamic law and therefore it created a backlash of protests that the SRC did not expect nor tolerated, per its 1970 law to charge ‘public dissenters’ to the fullest extent of the law, ie death sentence. As such on the 15th of January 1975 eleven religious figures or Shaykhs were executed for inciting ‘public unrest’ and ‘destabilising the nation’. (Bulhan 2008).
Saudi Arabia, on behest of the US tried to woo Somalia into switching from the Soviet sphere of influence. The offer included that Saudi Arabia would take over economic aid projects which was then financed by the Soviets and also broker an arms deal from the Americans that would replace that of the Soviets. However the then US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger rejected this proposal from the Saudi’s. He had other projects in mind in need of funding which needed a congress backing. His would have made the Soviets abandon Somalia but instead drove the SRC government further to the Russians. (Salwe)
21st of October 1975:
Mohammed Farah Aidid was from prison freed in the early hours of 21 October 1975 after having been imprisoned for almost 6years. He was accused of planning and staging a counter coup early on at the SRC’s power formation. After his release he was was offered the post General Manager of the State Agency of ASPIMA which he accepted. He was at that post for one and half year. (Ruhela 1994)
Fidel Castro visited Somalia and Ethiopia in the hope of realising a ‘Pax-Sovietica’ federation based on Marxist-Leninist ideology among Somalia, Ethiopia and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen. The environment was ripe for this as Ethiopia has experienced a change of regime; a military government (Derge, the Ethiopian Revolutionary Government) took over power from Emperor Haile Selassie, effectively denouncing the Americans. But the Fidel Castro plan failed as Somalia insisted that the Western Somaliland issue be solved before any confederation was created. (Salwe 1996)
The Soviets pressed President Siad for the formation of a civilian ‘vanguard’ party to which their intergovernmental co-operation and aid could more easily relate. Although the SRC had disbanded the Somali Youth League and abolished political parties after the military coup, Siad Barre announced in 1971 that a national political party would be formed. (Shire 2011).
The month after the formation of SRSP, the top decision-making body, the SRC, officially surrendered power to the new party and disbanded. The advent of this party, opened additional doors to further aid from the Soviet Union. The Soviets were quick to welcome the formation of the SRSP.
As Ethiopia struggled with another coup, this time within the military regime which was lead by General Aman Andom the chairman of Derge who was killed along with some 60 high ranking officials and replaced with General Tafari Banti, who was also later toppled by Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. While Ethiopia faced such travesty the Somali government decided to use the opportunity in committing is army to the liberation of Western Somaliland. Initially it provided army personnel as well as weapons in the form of militia so as to disguise its full aggression. This was successful campaign and they quickly overran the little forces the Ethiopians had and managed to liberate almost all of the Somali territories including; Jigjiga, Goday, Dhagahbuur, Dire Dawa.
8th of September 1977:
Ethiopia was accusing Somalia of a full scale war, disguised as WSLF militia and to calm the situation the Organisation of African Unity hosted another mediatory meeting in August 1977. This quickly failed as Ethiopia denied to permit Western Somali Liberation Front representation to the meeting. A month later, President Siad Barre travelled to Moscow for further dialogue on the issue but Breznev, the Party Chairman shunned Siad Barre. As a consequence Siad Barre travelled for various visits to Arab States and managed to secure initial promise of £230 million for armaments on the understanding that Somalia broke its ties with the Soviets. Quickly thereafter, on the 8th of September 1977 a joint Ethiopian and Kenyan statement was issued condemning Somalia ‘Brazen and naked aggression’. Kenya was bound by a defence pact with Ethiopia aimed at containing Somali territories and as such it allowed Ethiopia to import arms through Mombasa and denied Somalia over-flying rights to import weapons. At the same time the Soviets flew in Addis Ababa M.I.G.s, tanks and other heavy weaponry. (Lewis 2002)
13th November 1977:
Somalia-Soviet was at a straining level and it finally broke when Somalia announced the severance of diplomatic relations with one of the two most powerful nations on the planet. Somalia gave the Soviets a short window to vacate the country on the 13th of November 1977. All Air, naval and ground military facilities (including communications and submarine missile handling station at Berbera) were vacated and also 6,000 military and civilian personnel and their families were given a small window of a week to leave the country. Somali-Soviet treaty of friendship came to end, according to Somali government because the Soviet violated it when they have supplied arms to Ethiopia.
Somali government officially announces a full scale mobilisation and committing itself to the war. Externally Somalia has laboured to receive support from the Arab states and failed miserably, even asked Iran-who were ‘willing’ to break off diplomatic relations with Kenya because it supported Ethiopia-but failed, Western powers were nervous about border issues and the African Nations did not want to ignite that colonial border passion again. Internally however Somalia was suffering from the Ogaden war. There were no other thing people talked about or wanted to know about except how he war progressed. Radio’s and batteries were some of the highest commodities of the day as the nation was stricken with sense of nationalism never seen before.
The Russian, Cuban, Yemeni and Ethiopian forces threw themselves at the battle to capture Jigjiga. There was a heavy aerial bombardment in Jigjiga and Harar wherein about 8,000 Somali forces were held up. The entire 10th Ethiopian division supported by Cuban armoured brigade of sixty to seventy tanks bypassed the Marda Pass, Cuban crewed tanks were air-lifted behind the Somali lines while in the air the Cubans piloted M.I.G.s supported with Soviet newly made sophisticated heavy weapons and attacked Jigjiga. The Somali government earlier evacuated the entire populace from Jigjiga to Mogadishu and although they could back the opposing forces, they did manage to save the lives of the inhabitants as they withdrew from Jigjiga.
9th of Mach 1978:
After several requests and promises made by the Americans to the Somali government and the rate of the war taking a turn for the worse, President Siad Barre announced Somali forces were being withdrawn from the Ogaden and as such Russian and Cuban forces should follow suit effectively conceding victory to Ethiopia. However Somali-Ethiopia relations did not improve, worse yet, Somalia announced its full commitment in supporting the fighting factions in Ethiopia such as WSLF. (Lewis 2002). President Siad, acknowledging that he failed to return the lost Somali regions, vowed that that he would resign from his post as the President of Somalia. However, the SRSP committee rejected his proposal which made him reconsider his resignation. (Shire 2011)
General Mohammed Ali Samatar gave the following figures for the Somali casualties of the war as 5,500 while he estimated the Ethiopian numbers were between 15,000 and 17,000. (Bulhan 2008) The following numbers have been recorded as most accurate:
PERSONEL ETHIOPIA SOMALIA
KILLED 6,133 6,453
WOUNDED 10,563 2,409
CAPTURED/MISSING 3,867 275
TOTAL CASUALTIES 20,563 9,137
22th of October 1978:
On the 9th anniversary of the military coup of 1969, the SRC released 2,831 prisoners, including political detainees. On 24 March 1979, Siad Barre government declared an amnesty allowing exiles to return.
The Somali Salvation Front was found in 1979 by uniting its earlier predecessor Somali Democratic Front (SODAF). Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed was elected as its president and chair. It would later become Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF) (Shire 2011)
21st October 1980:
Reinstitution of SRC and announcement of state of emergency. (Shire 2011)
6th of April 1981:
Somali National Movement (SNM) was launched in a meeting held in London in 6th of April 1981. Three type of groups contributed towards the formation of this opposition movement, namely those expats in Saudi Arabia, those in Somalia and the students in London. (Bulhan 2008)
Sometime in October the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF) further merged with two smaller parties namely, the Somali Democratic Liberation Front and the Somali Workers’ Party, to form the Democratic Front for the Salvation of Somalia (DFSS). Both the SDLF and the SWP had been based in South Yemen; the former was led by Abdurrahman Aidid Ahmed, whilst the latter was led by Jama Hussein. All of these opposition movements were based in Ethiopia, funded by Libya.
SSDF armed forces lead by Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, then financially backed by Muamar al-Qaddafi, in collaboration with the Ethiopian armed forces attacked and seized the Somali towns of Balambale and Geldagob. (Bulhan 2008)
2nd of January 1983:
The Somali National Movement (SNM) in a daring attempt went in to Mandheera Prison and broke free its prisoners, estimated to be 700 inmates. (Bulhan 2008)
17 March 1983:
The SRC government announced ban on Khat. The ban seemed too sudden on the economy and livelihoods of many. As such Saudi government donated a figure of $60 million to tackle the problem this has brought. However despite the many benefits the ban brought its negativity outweigh it and the ban was considered unsuccessful.
10th November 1983:
Somali National Movement (SNM) held a central committee meeting in Jigjiga, Ethiopia wherein the committees military factions took over the management effectively relegating its civilian members. A year later, in the 1984 meeting the structure got changed again to civilian leadership. (Shire 2011)
Abdirahman Aydid Ahmed, one of the founders of the smaller anti SRC movement, namely; Somali Democratic Liberation Front (SDLF) was publicly assassinated in Dire Dawa. (Shire p185)
On a rainy day, with poor visibility President Mohammed Siad Barre was seated next to the then Mayor of Mogadishu, Hasan Abshir Farah’s car when he lost control of the car and was hit by a bus followed by a rear collision of the close following car full of bodyguards. Siad Barre got in a coma as he was flown to Saudi for recovery. Sown minor power struggle followed (which was mainly hidden from sight) as Siad Barre son, Brig. General Maslah and the Vice-President Mohammed Ali Samatar formed two support system contesting on a possible coup d’etat. Howeve after some months Siad Barre recovered completely but was never the same again. Upon his return the SRC held its third congress and re-elected President Mohammed Siad Barre for second 7-year term as a President.
4th April 1988:
The Ethiopian government sent its foreign minister, Behanu Bayeh to Mogadishu on the 3rd of April and was received by the then second Vice President Ahmed Mohamud Farah. On 4th of April they signed a historic preliminary peace agreement between the two countries. Points agreed upon was that to restore diplomatic relations, exchange prisoners of war, start mutual withdrawal of both troops from the border area and end supporting of opposition movements and propaganda against one and another.
27th of May 1988:
The Somali National Movement (SNM), from Raqmaale attacked the northern town of Burco effectively over running and defeating the army and police garrison there. The president Siad Barre was in Addis Ababa attending 24th session of African Union (AU). Part of his delegates were his son in law, General Mohammed Said Hirsi, widely known as Morgan. Also the defence minister, Aden Mohammed Gabyow was touring UK and Italy. (Shire 2011).
30th of May 1988:
Another unit of SNM fighters raced towards Hargeisa under the shade of darkness in order to deploy the second and ultimate phase of their strategy, which was the capture of the northern provincial city. Hargeisa, which used to be buzzing with activity, seemed semi-deserted. (Shire 2011)
31st May 1988:
Several reconnaissance planes were flying outside the skirts of the city to detect the advancing SNM convoy. This prompted the Somali military to order M.I.G. sorties against the proceeding SNM. On 31 May 1988, several M.I.G.s were launched from Hargeisa airport to pound the advancing SNM convoy. (Shire 2011) One of the M.I.G. pilots flew his plane to Djibouti in protest to his orders. (Bulhan 2008)
In mid-June, the military commander of the 26th sector army in Hargeisa, General Mohammed Said Hirsi ‘Morgan’, was sent back Mogadishu whilst in his place, General Ahmed Warsame Mohammed and Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess were assigned to expel the SNM fighters, under the supervision of General Mohammed Ali Samatar, from Hargeisa.
General Mohammed Farah Aidid solely tried to create an umbrella group wherein Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF), Somali National Movement (SNM) and Somali Patriot Movement (SPM) would come together in ousting and toppling President Siad Barre regime. This new group was to be called New United Somali Democratic Organisation (NUSDO) and SNM decided to examine or at least review the plan but while this was in progress the USC was formed under the Manifesto Group. This initiative later on was embraced by Aidid wherein SNM had different clan structure as opposed to USC. In all this time Aidid was the Somali ambassador to India. On the 6th of June 1989 he resigned from his post as he was invited to Ethiopia to form opposition party, which he accepted and as consequence landed in Addis Ababa 19th December 1989. (Ruhela 1994)
After the failure of NUSDO, another movement, called the United Somali Congress (USC), mainly dominated by and serving the interest of another Somali clan, was founded in 1989 at a contested congress held partly in Ethiopia, headed by General Mohammed Farrah Aidid and Jimale. A third faction of the USC, headed by Ali Mahdi, was created in Mogadishu, often referred to as the Manifesto Group. The Manifesto Group composed of clan leaders and former government officials, signed a Manifesto calling for the resignation of Siad Barre presidency. He responded with apprehended them, but later released them. However, the majority of them were later on incorporated into the new government headed by Prime Minister Mohammed Hawadle Madar. General Farah Aidid, the military wing of the USC, became infuriated and violently accused the Manifesto Group of aligning itself with Siad Barre. (Shire 2011)
31st March 1990:
The 6th Conference of Somali National Movement (SNM) was held at Balli-Gubadle wherein General Mohammed Farah Aidid was invited. The chairman of SPM, Colonel Ahmed Omar Jees, and Colonel Abshir Hasan Awale (Qaybdiid) who was leading the USC forces joined for that conference. After a week of talks there were superficial agreements but nothing concrete. (Ruhela 1994).
At the end of 1990, the United Somali Congress (USC) wih backing of Ethiopia and Italy swept across the countryside. They started from Hobyo in the east through the central plains westward to Galkayo and Dhusa Mareb at the border of Ethiopia.
Security in Mogadishu was now practically non-existent as the USC stepped up its campaign to destabilise the government. USC fighters had entered Mogadishu clandestinely at the end of December 1990. The presence of the USC prompted the intervention of the Red Berets (Duub-Cas), an elite military unit whose members acted as bodyguards for President Siad. The fighting immediately escalated, as both sides battled in the streets of the capital for over four weeks wherein eventually the Red Berets were defeated by the USC. (Shire 2011)
27th January 1991:
President Siad Barre was forced to flee the capital in a convoy of more than 40 vehicles and tanks accompanied by 15 ministers and several thousand troops. He headed for Kismayo.
1st of February 1991:
The USC Manifesto leader Mohamed Ali Mahdi declared himself to be interim president. He did so without consulting the USC’s coalition partners or military counterpart, General Mohammed Farah Aidid. Aidid immediately rejected this move, but was pre-occupied targeting the Siad’s fleeing supporters in southern Somalia. In the north, the SNM registered its rejection of the Ali Mahdi regime by declaring independence.
Within weeks, Ali Mahdi’s supporters and Aidid’s supporters came to blows in Mogadishu, after numerous attempts by Djibouti and Kenya governments to broker some sort of peace deal. The battle known as the ‘Four Month Battle’ claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Somalis. As the country spiralled into chaos of clan and sub-clan wars.
Andisalam M. Issa-Salwe, The Collapse of the Somali State, Haan Publishing, 1996.
Hussain A. Bulhan, Politics of Cain, Tayoson International Publishing , 2008.
I.M. Lewis, A Modern History of Somalia, Revised, updated and Expanded
Mohamed Trunji, Somali: The Untold History 1941-1969, Looh Press, 2015, Ohio University Press, 2002.
Mohammed Ibrahim Shire, Somali President Mohammed Siad Barre, Cirfe Publications, 2011. Satya Pal Ruhela, Mohammed Farah Aidid and His Vision for Somalia, Vikas Publishing House, 1994.