Brendan O�Neill, �Somalia: killed by �kindness�� by y3O64hPa


									Shattering Somalia: An Analysis of Western
       Exploitation of a Failed State
              Joanna Carson
                 IDP 4UI
           17 December 2009
                Mr. Cotey
       Imagine you woke up this morning to the hard sun piercing through the array of

bullet holes in the flimsy cardboard wall of your bedroom. Imagine you got up from your

sleeping place on the hard ground, dusted yourself off, and made your way to the market

to find something cheap enough for breakfast. On the way you drink from mud puddles,

letting the filth roll down your tongue to the empty depths of your stomach. You pass by

a jihadi gathering, the desperation in their furious chants echoing in your ears hours after,

“Death to America!” You pass by a rusty tin ship crowded with pirates, dollar signs

flashing in their eyes. They are not the type of pirates you know from your childhood

games; they carry guns instead of swords, and no ticking crocodile will ever distract them

from their quest for money. On your walk you duck casually every so often to avoid the

bullets that whiz past your ears, and remain curiously nonchalant to the fact that you are

permanently walking in No Man’s Land. These bullets aren’t the only thing you have to

watch out for—suicide bombs, white phosphorus bombs, beheadings, medieval-style

stonings, teenage troops high on the local drug called khat blasting away at each other

and anything in between1. You pass by the ruins that were once buildings acclaimed for

their magnificent architecture, buildings whose remains now lay broken and fragmented

from machine guns and U.S. cruise missiles. Worst of all, you know thesebuldings will

never be rebuilt. For countries that could help, because the complete anarchy has made it

unsafe for international intervention, will ignore these ruins that carried the bodies of

your brothers. You know once you get to the market there will be no food; the only thing

cheap enough for you to buy will be another gun. And you know you will buy it, this time

and every time after, because it is the only way you know how to survive.

1Jeffrey Gettleman, “The Most Dangerous Place in the World,” Foreign Policy (March/April 2009)

       For almost every Somali, this does not take much imagination; it is reality.

Somalia is a country that has been named “the most dangerous place in the world” by

Foreign Policy Magazine for three years running, with absolutely no sign of relinquishing

its title. The complete and utter anarchy and chaos in Somalia is unimaginable for

anyone, especially those who live in stable countries such as Canada and the United

States. Even their fairytales reflect the constant terror in Somalia. The most widespread

Somali legend, Dhegdheer2, describes the tale of an ailing widow and her son who are

constantly running from a monstrous creature whose only goal is to cause destruction to

everything that gets in her path. If you replace the character of Dhegdheer in this story

with the warlords, pirates, kidnappers, bomb makers, fanatical Islamist insurgents,

freelance gunmen, and idle, angry youth with no education and way too many bullets,

then you have a complete picture of the Somali lifestyle.

       The future of Somalia looks grim, even with the recent election of President Sheik

Sharif Sheik, a leader who has great support from the United States. The chaos and

instability is so intense that he cannot even govern his own country, for if he leaves his

property he will be shot in an instant. He remains holed up in his hilltop palace, with

millions of his people on the brink of starvation because of drought and grenades

exploding just outside the palace gates, as it is not yet safe for him to come out. Many of

his commanders still have ties to the Shabab, the Islamist insurgents working with Al

Qaeda to overthrow Sheik Sharif’s government, and several government officers

conceded that a large share of the American weapons quickly slipped into Shabab hands.

The hope for American aid also proved to be false. The millions of dollars in aid are

2Hassan, Marian. Dhegdheer. (Minneapolis: Minnesota Humanities Commision,

delayed indefinitely, as Americans are afraid their money will be going directly into the

hands of terrorists, pirates, and warlords.

       Somalia is seen as a kind of political paradox, unified on the surface, and

dangerously divided underneath. It is one of the world’s most homogeneous nation-states,

with nearly all of its estimated 9 to 10 million people sharing the same language

(Somali), the same religion (Sunni Islam), the same culture, and the same ethnicity. But

in Somalia, it is all about clans. Somalis divide themselves into a dizzying number of

clans, subclans, sub-subclans, and so on, with shifting allegiances and knotty backstories

that have bedeviled outsiders for years. When Somalia won its independence from Italy

in 1960, it had very little chance of developing into a strong African country due to its

strategic location on the Horn of Africa. The Soviets and Americans used this as a Cold

War pawn; they pumped millions of weapons and ammunition into Somalia, and did not

remove them because of the cost. This excess of weapons, once paired with the brewing

conflicts between Somali clans, resulted in the ousting of Major General Mohamed

SiadBarre, the capricious dictator who ruled from 1969 to 1991, by clan warlords; an

event that finally resulted in complete anarchy. Since the implosion of the central

government in 1991, Somalia has had fourteen failed attempts at a government. The only

government that ever had a chance was the Islamic Courts Union, who brought six

months of peace to the country in 2006. After the invasion of the Ethiopians (who

brought Somalia to its fourteenth failed government), Somalia was again engulfed in

absolute anarchy.

       The sad fact is Somalia never stood a chance. These violent clan disputes, this

plethora of weaponry and ammunitions, and the intense conflict with neighboring states

are all results of foreign policy blunders that have left Somalia to its state of chaos. The

current state of chaos in Somalia can be attributed to over-exploitation through European

colonialism, World War II, and the Cold War.

       The opinions on this matter are varying, depending on the individual’s influence

by the countries involved, such as the United States, Britain, Russia, and Italy. These

countries have a strong bias towards the fact that their nations did not have a significant

effect on Somalia’s instability, and that the true reason for Somalia’s chaos lies in the

disputes between Somali clans. According to Robert Draper, freelance writer and

contributor to the New York Times:

        What drove Somalia apart was its elaborate clan system. The five principal clan
       families, Darod, Dir, Issaq (sometimes considered a Dir subclan), Hawiye, and
       Rahanweyn, have long dominated particular expanses of territory. Within these
       clans are various subclans and sub-subclans-some cohabiting peacefully and even
       intermarrying, but most sporadically hostile.”3

       At the same time, Dr. Ali AbdullahiBarkhadle, Consultant with Amsas

Consulting, reaffirms the belief that clan disputes have resulted in the current anarchy in

Somalia, and puts all blame on the Somali government. He states, “The clan system was

used cleverly by the dictatorial regime of SiadBarre in pitting clan against clan that has

resulted in genocide in parts of Somalia and enmity and mistrust is rife in the clans.” It is

also his opinion that Somalia’s chaos is the product of a faulty government, claiming that:

       […] the root cause of Somalia’s woes is lack of skilled political leadership, most
       of the leaders that have been put in place were either propped up by a corrupt and
       untransparent patronage system, the average leader or warlord has never gone

3Robert Draper, “Shattered Somalia,” National Geographic (September

            beyond primary school. Brutality and the propensity to cause death and chaos is
            the most sought after trait.4
            This opinion is contrasted with that of Andre LeSage of the National Defense

University in Washington, D.C. He states:

            You’ve always had conflict-prone nomadic society in Somalia, going back to pre-
            colonial times. There was tribal raiding of livestock, but it happened between
            organized young groups under the authority of a clan elder. They’d say, ‘Now is
            the time this can be done,’ and some were killed in pitch battles. But women and
            children’s lives were generally spared, and villages weren’t razed. Female genital
            mutilation was prevalent, and obviously society lacked the benefits of modern
            health care. But it wasn’t anarchy at all. It was highly regulated.5

            He insists that clan division was forced to the extreme because of colonial rule,

claiming that, “In 1960 the colonial powers departed, and a dreamy nationalism seized

the Somali people. With visions of a unified country, Somaliland and Somalia

confederated. But nationalism was soon thwarted by clan divisions that had been

aggravated during colonial rule. The knotty hostilities left a power void.”6

            In Jeffrey Gettleman’s article, The Most Dangerous Place in the World, he

supports Andre LeSage’s argument while using the United States as an example. He


            Past interventions have been so cursed that no one wants to get burned again. The
            United States has been among the worst of the meddlers: U.S. forces fought
            predacious warlords at the wrong time, backed some of the same predacious

4 Ali Abdullahi Barkadle, “Somalia: Salvaging a Failed State”, Global Policy (August
5 Robert Draper, “Shattered Somalia,” National Geographic (September

6   Ibid.

       warlords at the wrong time, and consistently failed to appreciate the twin pulls of
       clan and religion. As a result, Somalia has become a graveyard of foreign-policy
       blunders that have radicalized the population, deepened insecurity, and pushed
       millions to the brink of starvation.”7

       Firstly, European colonialism resulted in the heightening of clan disputes and

division of the country, fueling the chaos that is currently flooding the streets of Somalia.

The first bought of instability within Somalia arrived with Britain’s occupation of the

country in 1887. Britain became concerned with keeping the route to India open through

the Suez Canal, which was opened in 1869, and as a result Britain proclaimed Somalia as

a British protectorate and named it British Somaliland.By the end of the century, the

Somali people were living under the rule of four foreign powers: the British (in north

central Somalia and in northeast Kenya), the Italians (in southern Somalia), the French

(in the northwest, in what is now Djibouti), and the Ethiopians (in the Ogaden region).

These countries were set on using Somalia for their political means, and the results were

disastrous. A Somali poet, FarrahNuur, wrote the following about the hardships of living

in colonized Somalia:

       The British, the Ethiopians, and the Italians are squabbling,
       the country is snatched and divided by whosoever is stronger.
       The country is sold piece by piece without our knowledge.
       And for me, all this is the Teeth of the Last Days!8

Little did he know his poem was a true prophecy of the future of his country.

7 Jeffrey Gettleman, “The Most Dangerous Place in the World,” Foreign Policy (March/April 2009)
8 “Somalis”, Cultural Orientation

(February 2004)

            As their interests in Somalia were mainly strategic instead of economic, all four

colonial powers were able to exploit the land without giving the Somalis means to

produce enough resources to sustain themselves as well as these powers.9 Only the

Italians attempted a program for economic development, creating sugar cane and banana

plantations in the South. However, these actions were only to help them win in the

resource race, as Somalia was one of the only countries Italy was able to colonize. Thus,

under Italian rule, Somalia became a “banana republic,” soon losing the worth of their

resources because of over-exploitation of the land. The effects of this, like in most other

“banana republic” countries, can still be seen to this day in the hollow eyes of the hungry.

In addition, the Somali people were also involved only at the lowest levels of the

government, giving them absolutely no say in the future of the country their ancestors

helped flourish. This spawned disharmony and distrust of government by the population,

which can be argued to still be present to this day.

            The result of these grievances, fueled by the colonial powers’ over-exploitation of

the country, led to a rebellion much like the very one that ousted Maj. Gen. Mohamed

SiadBarre in 1991. Except for this time, there was an authority figure to prevent the

country from spiraling into chaos prematurely. In 1899, Mohammed ibn Abdullah

Hassan, called the "Mad Mullah" by the British and known as "the Sayyid" by Somalis,

launched a 20-year insurrection against colonial occupation. His movement controlled a

large part of inland British Somaliland and initially enjoyed strong support among

Somalis in the Ogaden and Italian Somalia.Hassan issued a religious ordinance

stipulating that any Somali national who did not accept the goal of unity of Somalia and

9   Ibid.

would not fight under his leadership would be considered as kafir, or a non-believer. He

soon acquired weapons from Turkey, Sudan, and other Islamic and/or Arabian countries,

and appointed ministers and advisers to administer different areas or sectors of Somalia.

All Dervish territory collapsed under intense bombardment from the British.10 His actions

were unsuccessful, and only managed to further divide the clans. However, he was only

exacerbating what the British and Italians had already started.

       In his article for National Geographic, Robert Draper examines the effects of both

British and Italian rule on Somalia, and how the difference between both colony rulings

created a divide between Somalis that will never be healed. He states:

       The clan-based checks and balances began to crumble with the arrival of the
       Europeans. The British in Somaliland ruled with a lighter hand than did the
       Italians in the south. Though Mogadishu, under Italian rule, became a city of
       cosmopolitan amenities, the Italians politicized Somali clan hierarchy by
       rewarding loyal elders, punishing the less loyal, and controlling commerce. Local
       mechanisms for conflict resolution were badly damaged.”11

       In contrast to the achievements of the Italian colony, British Somaliland stayed a

neglected backwater. Daunted by the diversion of substantial development funds to the

suppression of the dervish insurrection and by the "wild" character of the anarchic Somali

pastoralists, Britain used its colony as little more than a supplier of meat products to

Aden. This policy had a tragic effect on the future unity and stability of independent

Somalia. When the two former colonies merged to form the Somali Republic in 1960, the

10 Said Samatar. In the Shadow of Conquest: Islam in Colonial Northeast Africa.
(Trenton: The Red Sea Press, 1992) 46.
11 Robert Draper, “Shattered Somalia,” National Geographic (September

north lagged far behind the south in economic infrastructure and skilled labor. As a result,

southerners gradually came to dominate the new state's economic and political life--a

hegemony that bred a sense of betrayal and bitterness among Northerners.12In addition to

this, to the extent that Italy held the territory by UN mandate, the trusteeship provisions

gave the Somalis the opportunity to gain experience in political education and self-

government. These were advantages that British Somaliland, which was to be

incorporated into the new Somali state, did not have. Although in the 1950s British

colonial officials attempted, through various development efforts, to make up for past

neglect, the protectorate stagnated. The disparity between the two territories in economic

development and political experience would cause serious difficulties when it came time

to integrate the two parts.

       A common misconception is that colonizing Somalia was necessary for the

Italians to maintain their power; therefore they are not at fault for creating the issues in

Somalia that continueto this day. JoakimGundel states in his book, Somalia Diaspora and

State Reconstruction of the Horn of Africa, that:

       Italy is not at fault for the faulty colonization of Somalia. Imperialism in Africa
       was so competitive that if Italy had not taken what they could get, even if that
       meant splitting a country with France and Britain, they would have been at a great
       disadvantage in the Rush for Africa and the resource wars of the early nineteenth

12Helen Chapin Metz, ed. “Somalia: A Country Study”, (Washington: GPO for the
Library of Congress, 1992)
13Joakim Gundel. Somalia Diaspora and State Reconstitution in the Horn of Africa. (New
York: Adonis & Abbey Ltd, 2007) 132.

       However, the fact of the matter is that Somalia was a greater hindrance on Italy

than a necessity. Britain was able to take Somalia from the British in the 1941 because

Mussolini was unable to maintain both Somalia and Italy during the war.14 At the same

time, the amount of resources that Italy took were so immense that, paired with the

destruction of Somaliland, has resulted in present day Somalia lacking in natural


       Thus, the effects of colonialism fueled Somalia’s current state of chaos, creating

the initial division between clans, depleting the country’s resources for selfish gain, and

creating political strife within Somalis that carries on to this day. The “Race for Africa”

may have destroyed many countries, however only Somalia was divided between four

different colonial powers, all because they wished to exploit its land and resources.

Colonialism exemplified the fact that in the early nineteenth century, the white European

man took precedence over any other human being, and he had the power to do whatever

he wished with the land of those “beneath him,” at any cost. However, two centuries

later, Somalia is still suffering from the negative impact of colonialism, and it is now the

responsibility of these former colonial powers to mend it back together.

       Secondly, Mussolini’s over-exploitation of Somalia in his pursuit of Ethiopia

during World War II brought the country into chaos and instilled further distrust in the

Italian rule. The onslaught of the Second World War resulted in the two remaining

colonial powers of Somalia to be on opposite sides; Britain was part of the Triple

Alliance, consisting of Britain, Russia and America, while Italy was part of the Axis,

14 Robert Rinehart, “Countries of the World: Somalia”, (1999)
15 Ibid.

which consisted of Germany, Italy and Japan. In 1941, Britain was able to reconquer

Somalia, however the plethora of Italian settlers led to further disruption of the Somali

people. During the war, Somalia was directly ruled by British military administration and

martial law was in place, policies that encouraged the Italians to fight the battles of the

World War in Somalia, using the Somali people as their soldiers. The irregular bandits

and militias of the Somali outback received a windfall in weaponry, thanks to the

worldwide surge in arms production from the war. The Italian settlers and other anti-

British elements made sure the rebels got as many guns as they needed to cause

trouble.16It was said that 90% of Italians residing in Somalia were only there to spy on

the British for Mussolini, and to arm the Somalis and manipulate them into rebellion.

        In addition, the build up to World War II had Mussolini going to great lengths to

enforce greater rule over the Somalis in order to have an upper hand over the British,

suppressing the Somali people in the process. During the 1930s the fascists adopted racial

legislation intended toensure, in theory as well as in fact, the superior status of the

Italiancolonists and the subject status of the Somalis, who sometimes were made

toendure brutal treatment at the hands of officials17. The distrust in Italian rule resulting

from this harsh treatment would carry on until the Italians took over Somalia once again

from the British, and the Somalis banded together to expel the colonial rule. This was the

first preview of an unstable Somali government.

     It was Mussolini’s wish to conquer Ethiopia during the Second World War, and he

exploited Somalia in order to achieve this. On May 9, 1936, Italian dictator Benito

16“History of Somalia”,
_World_War_II/id/5132614 (2008)
17Robert Rinehart, “Countries of the World: Somalia”, (1999)

Mussolini proclaimed his "Italian East African Empire". This was formed from the newly

occupied Ethiopia and the Italian colonies of Eritrea and Italian Somalia. On August 3,

1940, approximately 25,000 Italian troops invaded British Somaliland, commanded by

General GuglielmoNasi. The Italians were opposed by a British contingent, commanded

by Brigadier Arthur Reginald Chater, of about four-thousand men. Chater used his Camel

Corps to skirmish with and screen against the advancing Italians as the other British and

Commonwealth forces pulled back towards Tug Argan, to form defensive positions in the

rugged Assa Hills overlooking the main road to the capital, Berbera.18 It was there that

the British were defeated.

     Nearly 40,000 Somalis hadbeen mobilized for service in the war with Ethiopia in

combat, support, andlabor units-6,000 of them in the CorpoZaptie.British forces

capturednearly 200,000 Italian prisoners, including Somali troops, during the

campaign, in addition to large quantities of war materiel19. These Somalis were taken

against their will to fight for a cause they did not believe in, and in process were

murdered and maimed.

        In Robert Rinehart’s report on Somalia, he attempts to convince the reader of the

fact that Italy’s war on Ethiopia did not have a large impact on Somalia, and that Italy did

not suppress the Somalis but help them flourish. He states:

        Despite these difficulties, agricultural production in the colony
        increased at a good rate. In some measure this was due to the initiative of a
        member of the Italian royal family, Prince Luigi Amedeo of Savoy, duke of
        Abruzzi, who in 1940 found the Italo-Somali Agricultural Society (Societa
        Agricola Italo-Somala-SAIS) to develop about 200,000 hectares of concessionary

18 "Story of a Siege", Time Magazine,9171,790256,00.html (October
19 Ibid.

       land in the Shabeelle valley for mechanized commercial agriculture. Export
       crops intended for the Italian market included bananas, sugarcane, and cotton.
       The colony's only other significant products were livestock, hides, skins,
       and salt from an Italian plant begun at Ras Hafun in 1940.20

       This may be true, but the fact of the matter is that the Italians only promoted

agricultural production of Somalia in order to sustain their own economic needs, and this

over-exploitation of Somalia’s resources during the war resulted in a split between British

controlled Somalia and Italian controlled Somalia that caused a great divide when

Somalia gained its independence, as previously stated.

       Thus, Mussolini’s over-exploitation of Somalia during and building up to the

Second World War led to the political grievances and deeper clan separation that carries

on to this day. It also fueled the future uprisings against any political leader who dares to

mistreat the Somalis. Mussolini planted that seed of distrust into the minds of the

Somalis; he showed them that if they do not stand up for themselves their land will be

used as battlefields, and their bodies as shields. However, due to the fact that British and

Italian rule split the people up so severely, every clan has a different conception of what

is right for the Somalis and what is wrong. This disagreement has led to Somali once

more becoming a battlefield, but this time they are aiming the guns at each other.

       Thirdly, American and Soviet over-exploitation of Somalia during the Cold War

resulted in the support of different coups and regime changes, and the overwhelming

amount of weaponry that is still used there today. Somalia’s strategic position on the

Horn of Africa and along oil routes leading out of the Persian Gulf made it a much

desired land by both the United States and the Soviet Union. Although Major General

20Robert Rinehart, “Countries of the World: Somalia”, (1999)

Mohamed SiadBarre began his reign by cozying up to the Soviets in order to shake the

Western world’s hold on his country, he ended up going to the Americans as the Soviets

were uncomfortable supporting a country that was fighting one of its allies (Ethiopia at

the time).21This was another open door for the Americans.

             Following the humiliation of defeat in Vietnam in the mid-1970s, America, under

President Jimmy Carter, launched what came to be known as the ‘Second Cold War’ –

where rather than committing troops to bolster its authority in the Third World it sought

instead to weaken Soviet influence by sponsoring and arming various different regimes.

This was the exact case with Somalia. Journalist Brendan O’Neill outlines the events that

resulted in Somalia becoming another proxy war in his article, Somalia: Killed by

‘Kindness.’ He states:

             In order to win Barre over, the Carter administration cut off all its aid to Ethiopia
             and encouraged Barre to invade the Ogaden region – that land of a million
             Somalis that had been handed by the British to the Ethiopians. When Barre’s
             forces duly stormed Ogaden, the Soviet Union denounced him, switched its
             support from Somalia to Ethiopia, and backed Ethiopian efforts – which were also
             assisted by Soviet-friendly Cuban forces – to expel the Somalis from Ogaden.22

Somalia was defeated and withdrew the last of its military forces from the Ogaden Desert

in March of 1978. Estimates are that the war cost Somalia one-third of its army, three-

eighths of its armored units and half of its air force.23 In addition, an article published by

the Economist at the time of this conflict states that, “the Somalis lost, and 800,000

21Brendan O’Neill, “Somalia: killed by ‘kindness’” Spiked (Friday 23 June 2006)

22   Ibid.
23Rick Rozoff, “Cold War Origins of the Somalia Crisis and Control of the Indian Ocean”
Global Policy Forum
indian-ocean-.html (May 3, 2009)

impoverished Ogaden refugees stayed in Somalia, adding to the country's economic

burdens.”24 However, to the United States this seemed like a necessary sacrifice in order

for them to achieve their objectives: Military bases and forces astride many of the world's

most strategic shipping lanes and chokepoints in an area encompassing the Suez Canal

and the Red Sea into the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. In the

mind of Jimmy Carter, exploiting Somalia’s land and people was a small price to pay for

American dominance of the land. However, the United States did not stop there.

        After Jimmy Carter, both Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. unwittingly set the

scene for the chaos and destruction that would take place in 1991 by backing and

supporting Maj. Gen. Mohamed SiadBarre’s dictatorship and fueling his corruption. By

the early 1980s the U.S. had replaced the Soviet Union as Somalia’s military patron. U.S.

military aid to Somalia during the 1980s totaled more than $200 million, with hundreds

of millions more in economic aid.25 The U.S. sought to maintain its influence in this

volatile area, and to counter the Soviet presence in Ethiopia. However, the majority of

this money never even reached the Somali people, but fell into the corrupt and greedy

government. Barre used this American money to buy allies and American weapons to

punish enemies.26He was able to divert much of the international and American

assistance away from clans in areas of Somalia that were not supportive of his

24 “Not a Nice Way to Come Home”, The Economist
africa/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13761890 (July 9th 1988)
25 Emira Woods, “Somalia,” Foreign Policy in Focus,, (29 October 2009)

26Clarke, Walter, and Jeffrey Herbst. "Somalia and the future of humanitarian intervention." Foreign
Affairs 75.2 (1996): 70. Print.

administration.27In order to further exploit Somalia, the United States turned a blind eye

to the misuse of their aid, as Barre was rewarding them. In August of 1980, Barre signed

a defense pact with the Carter administration, giving U.S. troops access to the air and

naval facilities at the Soviet-built port of Berbera. The port became a key base for

America’s ‘Rapid Deployment Force’, the massive military forces set up by Carter in

1979 and posted around the world to protect America’s interests, especially in Korea, the

Persian Gulf and the Middle East.28

             The United States also supported ethnic fragmentation in order to keep Barre in

power. The following is a map of Somalia’s ethnic groups in 199229:

             The Marehan sub-clan was one of the most powerful clans in Somalia- bordering

on Kenya and Ethiopia and creating alliances with most other clans. However, Soviet

support changed this by straining their relations with other clans. During the 21 years of

27Stanley B. Andrews, “Reconstructing a Shattered Somalia”, Washington Report on Middle Eastern
Affairs (August/September 1991), Page 47

 Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection “Somalia Ethnic Groups”, University of Texas at

Austin (1992)

his regime, Barre consolidated power by appointment of his minorityMarehan clan

members from the South to key government posts and by using the National Security

Service (a KGB type service implemented by the U.S.S.R.) to further fragment traditional

clan alliances. The United States promoted clan fragmentation in a more violent manner.

In 1981, Issak clan leaders and soldiers organized the Somali National Movement

(SNM), whose guerrillas attacked the northern Somali towns of Hargeisa, Burao,

Erigabo, and Berbera. Government troops moved to retake territory and Barre requested

U.S. military aid. The United States airlifter military supplies to government troops, who

not only attempted to retake the territory, but bombarded civilian areas of their

enemies.An estimated 50,000 persons—many of whom were women and children—were

killed, and 450,000 refugees fled to Ethiopia. During the hostilities which followed,

government troops gradually lost control of the countryside. In 1989, clashes intensified

as the military fired upon civilians leaving a mosque in Mogadishu, resulting in 450

persons dead. Hostilities accelerated as other clans in the south and the Hawiye clan in

the Mogadishu area joined the growing opposition.30 They did not recognize that Barre

was exploiting clan rivalries in order to maintain his power.31 Again, the United States

turned a blind eye in order to maintain support for Barre. They so desperately needed a

Somali leader that would succumb to their demands like Barre that they would do

anything to keep him in power, even disturb clan alliances and promote the murders of

the innocent. These clan rivalries, promoted by the United States in order to exploit the

land, continue to invoke violence to this day.

30 Stanley B. Andrews, “Reconstructing a Shattered Somalia”, Washington Report on Middle
Eastern Affairs (August/September 1991),
Page 47
31 “Somalis”, Cultural Orientation (February


             In addition to all of this, the weapons that the United States and the Soviets

pumped into Somalia are the main reason that chaos erupted and continues in the state.

Jeffrey Gettleman states in his Foreign Policy Article, The Most Dangerous Place in the

World, “First it was the Soviets who pumped in weapons, then the United States. A poor,

mostly illiterate, mainly nomadic country became a towering ammunition dump primed

to explode.”32As the Cold War came to a close, it proved too costly and uneconomic for

all the built up weapons and ammo to be shipped home, so both nations left their

warehouses stocked with military supplies there. As Jeffrey Gettleman explains further in

the article, the results of this decision were, and still remain to be, the fuel for Somalia’s

fire. He states:

             When clan warlords finally ousted [SiadBarre] in 1991, it wasn’t much of a
             surprise what happened next. The warlords unleashed all that military-grade
             weaponry on each other, and every port, airstrip, fishing pier, telephone pole—
             anything that could turn a profit—was fought over. People were killed for a few
             pennies. Women were raped with impunity. The chaos gave rise to a new class of
             parasitic war profiteers—gunrunners, drug smugglers, importers of expired (and
             often sickening) baby formula—people with a vested interest in the chaos
             continuing. Somalia became the modern world’s closest approximation of
             Hobbes’s state of nature, where life was indeed nasty, brutish, and short.33

             Therefore, both the United States and the Soviet Union over-exploited Somalia

during the Cold War in order to pursue their political objectives, and ended up creating a

monster. The United States promoted the leadership of Maj. Gen. Mohamed SiadBarre in

order to gain more power in Somalia than the Soviet Union, however in this action they

also supported every single one of his corrupted decisions that broke Somalia down piece

by piece. In the span of twelve years, both superpowers managed to carry out the murders

32Jeffrey Gettleman, “The Most Dangerous Place in the World,” Foreign Policy (March/April 2009)
33   Ibid.

of hundreds of thousands of innocent Somalis, rip the clan alliances apart, and fill the

country to its brim with weapons that would remain there out of pure laziness, and be

used as tools of self-destruction.

       To conclude, the Western powers’ over-exploitation of Somalia through

colonialism, the Second World War, and the Cold War, resulted in the clan

fragmentation, excess of weapons, and government distrust that plagues the chaotic

country today. Through multi-power colonialism, Somalia was split between the Italians,

British, French, and Ethiopians, and became a land whose main purpose was to fulfill the

needs of foreigners. The British and Italians were so preoccupied with maintaining their

position as hegemonic powers through taking part in the “Race for Africa,” they were

unable to see that by disturbing clan boundaries and depleting Somalia of its natural

resources, they would be responsible for over one million deaths in the long run. Their

over-exploitation of the land took away any hope for Somalia’s economic stability, as the

repercussions of the famine and war they promoted are still highly visible today.

       During the Second World War, the conflict between the Italians and the British

came to play not only in the Western theatre, but also on the already bloody Somali soil.

Mussolini was able to use Somali soldiers in his plan to conquer British Somaliland and

Ethiopia, and pit clan against clan in order to win the war. Nearly 4000 Somali people

were taken from their homes, taken from everything they knew, in order to fight a foreign

war between two countries who both wished to exploit the land. This all proved to be for

naught, as Britain reconquered Somalia in 1941. The conflict between these two countries

during the war resulted in a severe division between their colonies, as Italian Somalia was

far more economically stable than British Somaliland. This over-exploitation of the

Somali people resulted in a distrustful sentiment of the government, which has

contributed to the lack of support for any kind of government structure in today’s


       During the Cold War, the Soviets and Americans claimed Somali as another

proxy war, and exacerbated colonial clan divisions by supporting regimes in which their

influence would be most heavily weighted. The United States supported the corrupt

dictator Maj. Gen. SiadBarre in order to gain power and takeover Soviet military

structures and organizations. They were fully aware that Barre was manipulating clan

alliances in order to maintain his power and that he was ensuing violence against his

enemies, however they continued to support him because he gave them what they

wanted. In addition to this, both Americans and Soviets continuously pumped weapons

into Somalia, and left them there because the cost of removal was too high. This over-

exploitation of the already weakened state gave the Somali people a reason to initiate

violent clan disputes, and gave them the guns with which to do it.

       After examining the endless exploitation of Somalia throughout these time

periods, we are left with a shocking revelation: despite numerous breakthroughs in the

issue of racism in Western countries, they still carry the idea of “The White Man’s

Burden,” and see these developing African countries as disposable land in which they can

dominate and utilize for the political objectives of their own governments. This idea is

not only contributing to the extreme chaos in Somalia, but to the destruction in many

other African countries due to Western influence. Neither Italy nor Britain nor America

even attempted to understand the incredibly complex clan system in Somalia before

trying to change it, and this only resulted in the heightening of clan disputes. A clear

example of how this is still going on in Somalia is with America’s ousting of the only

government that was able to be maintained in the country in 2006, just because it was

radically Muslim. Despite the Islamic Courts Union bringing hope of peace and stability

to Somalia, the United States decided that an Islamic government would not positively

affect their own country. Somalia is a microcosm of the possible future of developing

African countries as a whole if global powers continue to exploit them; the entire

continent will be a landmass of violence and destruction.

        Nicholas Haan once stated, “While Somalia is normally one of the poorest and

most food insecure countries in the world, current conditions are dire and way beyond the

typically resilient Somali peoples’ capacity to cope. The window of opportunity to avert

disaster is quickly closing.”34It is so difficult to understand how countries responsible for

the current state of chaos in Somalia can just sit idly by and watch innocent men, women,

and children die each day because of what they have done. It is time they take action and

realize that it is not too late to repair the problems they have created; it is time they stitch

back up the rips and tears they maneuvered into the country for their own political gain. It

is time for them to use their power and influence for the good of humanity, so that the

next time a Somali boy goes to the market, he will see rows and rows of the food that has

haunted his dreams for his entire life, and absolutely no guns in sight.

34Nicholas Haan, “While Somalia is normally…”, QuoteSea,

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