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Mohamad Siyad Barre's Ghost in Somalia By I.M. Lewis

London School of Economics, April 23, 2002

May I first say what a pleasure it is to be in Rome with my Italian
colleagues and friends: my only regret is that Ambassador Gasbari is unable
to be with us today. He is one of the last and most distinguished of those
imaginative and dedicated public servants who directed the Italian
Trusteeship Administration of Somali (A FIS. 1950- 1960). I had the good
fortune to study at first hand that remarkable political experiment in the
course of my anthropological field research in 1955-1957, when my travels
round Somalia coincided with the first moves in the transfer of power
between Italian and Somali personnel. This was a uniquely formative
experience for me. In this short contribution to our reflections here, I
seek to highlight the realities of current Somali politics and to expose
the myths which have been created, and promoted, by different interest-
groups to obscure and miss-represent what is really happening in the Somali
vortex today. The motives of the various myth- making agencies are an
interesting issue but in the present context of secondary interest. I. The
Myth of the 'Transitional National Government Somalia's so-called
transitional national government in Mogadishu is certainly 'transitional'
(in the sense of transient). Demographically, the wider 'national assembly'
resembles an airport lounge, with a floating and continually changing
population: recent counts estimated that only about a quarter of the
original members, appointed in Djibouti, were still present in Mogadishu.
These ad hoc changes have not made it any more representatives. This UN-
sponsored body remains as it was at its conception. It is neither national,
nor a 'government' in the normal understanding of the term, as a political
enterprise which governs through exercising effective, and legitimate
sovereignty. It is rather a loose assemblage of mainly ex-Siyad era
politicians and hangers on, whose hired militia forces fitfully exert
influence in those parts of southern Somalia which were invaded by hordes
of Habar Ghidir tribesmen pouring south in the process of, and following,
the overthrow of the wily dictator Mohamed Siyad Barre in Mogadishu a
decade ago( Siyad belongs to the Marrehan clan of the Darod clan- family,
while the Habar Ghidir to which the'interim President' Abdiqasim belongs
are Hawiye1). The Habar Ghidir colonisers who have implanted themselves in
parts of this region do not constitute a single force. They are split into
mutually hostile segments of the clan associated with the various warlords
who hold sway in Mogadishu (Husseyn Aideed, Ali Atto ['Thin Ali'], and
other less internationally familiar figures). Split internally, the Habar
Ghidir also confront warlords of other Hawiye clans (such as Muse Sudi
Yalahow) who control different sectors of the ruins that are Mogadishu.
Within the town, militia employed by the TNG erratically try to control
three or four streets in the south of the capital. Further a field, the TNG
exerts a fitful influence at Merka, and Kismayu and in parts of the Juba
valley hrough their powerful but far from dependable current allies amongst
the Marehan (Siyad's clansmen). Their influence in this southern corner of
Somalia is routinely challenged by the notorious Majerteyn warlord
'Morgan'(Mohamed Said Hersi Morgan and his militia), and currently menaced
by the' Rahanweyn Resistance Army' led by the colorful Hassan Mohamed Nur
('Shatigudud', lit. 'Red Shirt'-evoking the romantic image of Garibaldi).
Thus the vast inter-riverine area is a no-go area for the TNG. The most
powerful of these figures (and various others) have banded together against
the TNG as the 'Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council'. This is a
loose political aggregate based, in typical Somali fashion, on alliance
against a common foe. To the north-east, leadership of the embryonic state
of Puntland, based primarily on the Majerteyn clan(another branch of the
Darod)and the militia with which it fought Siyad, is currently the subject
of vicious fighting between those who support the redoubtable liberation
leader, Abdullai Yusuf, and his opponents. Although all the Puntland
contestants appear to be generally united in the assertion of their desire
for local autonomy, so far this has not led them to seek to detach
themselves completely from Somalia. There are good reasons for this. There
are many Majerteyn clansmen in the port of Kismayu which they regard as
their property. Kismayu (over which Morgan and his forces hover menacingly)
is thus a kind of Achilles Heel for the Puntlanders. While the people of
this north-eastern region were until a few months ago making impressive
progress in restoring civil society, recently they have descended into
explosive acrimony. It is difficult not to see this as partly a reflection
of the determination of Abdullai Yusuf to hold onto power, in defiance of
constitutional procedures he had himself helped to establish. It also
appears in some degree to reflect the machinations of the TNG (whose
present prime minister, Hassan Abshir Farah, is of course also Majerteyn)
both through clan channels, and through fundamentalist religious
connexions. Abdullai, who successfully defeated an earlier fundamentalist
incursion in Puntland, has played an important role in the formation of the
anti- TNG Restoration Council (SRRC), and like that alliance receives
support from Ethiopia. To the north-west, we have of course the Somaliland
Republic which, paradoxically, while lacking official international
recognition, is actually the only functional state in Somalia today. It has
also the nearest thing to genuinely representative government, and although
there is still ample room for further improvement, is vigorously engaged in
the reconstruction of the normal organs of civil society-social services,
police and military .In contrast to the unsuccessful attempts made in
southern Somalia to rebuild the state from the top, in Somaliland state-
formation is being achieved by building from the bottom, through
traditional processes of local negotiation, starting at the district
level(see A. Y. Farah, below, pp.) The myth, assiduously promoted by the
TNG, the UN and some EC countries, that Somaliland does not exist denies
existing political realities in the Horn of Africa--as the Ethiopians have
long recognised. II. Representative Legitimacy A major theme in the
mythology of the 'Transitional National Government' (in fact its creation
myth), promoted by its adherents and apologists, is that the six-months-
long Arta conference in Djibouti which hatched the TNG, brought together
actual representatives of all the component clans sub-clans of Somalia.
Arta was supposed to be a meeting of the accredited traditional leaders
(the 'Elders', odayaal), and to exclude warlords with evil reputations. In
reality it included a number of such unsavoury figures as well as former
generals in Siyad's forces, some of whom are regarded by Somalis as war
criminals. There were naturally some respectable and genuinely
representative personages, but the majority lacked this status. Most of the
most active figures, really only represented themselves, as with the aid of
financial inducements provided by Arab and fundamentalist sources, they
fought for leading positions. The choice of Abdulqasim (supported by
business cronies including the Djibuti President and fundamentalist
merchants) may have been inspired by the idea that, as an ex- Siyad
minister who was also Habar Ghidir, he might be able to handle the
turbulent and now Habar Ghidir--dominated politics of Mogadishu. Following
the traditional rubric of clan distribution2, in setting up the TNG, he in
turn appointed as his ministers a number of his business associates and
colleagues from the ancient regime. Former US Ambassador Oakley's remarks,
when he visited the Arta conference, about the brooding presence of Siyad's
ghost there, could not have been more apposite! This comment also applies
to most of the major warlords and contemporary political leaders with the
exception of Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal in Hargeisa. Although the TNG does
contain individuals from most of the Somali clans, the crucial fact is
that, generally, these are not regarded by their clansmen as their own
representatives. Hence, the 'Arta faction' as it is now designated, lacks
representative legitimacy. This obviously hampers any efforts it might make
to extend its appeal. Even in Mogadishu, where Abdulqasim is amongst his
own clansmen, his support now appears less widely based than it was at the
establishment of his 'government' over a year ago. In fact, far from
widening its power base, the very establishment of such an unrepresentative
body has encouraged the Digil Mirifleh (Rahanweyn) to pursue their
autonomist aims and generated the wider anti-Arta alliance of the SRRC.
This continuing lack of popular legitimacy has obviously weakened recent
attempts in Nairobi and elsewhere to attract warlords from the SRRC to
change side.

III. The TNG at bay Lacking a persuasively representative core of political
heavyweights with popular reputations, the efforts of the TNG to expand its
ranks have also been handicapped by the adoption, from its inception, of an
inflexible centralist state model directly replicating that of Siyad's ill-
fated regime. (It would obviously have been more intelligent if the UN and
other parties involved in Arta had emphasized the political expediency of a
loose federal structure.) At the same time it is clear that the TNG has
expended more effort on seeking to expand external rather than internal
recognition. This policy has been coupled with pursuing arms procurement,
contrary to the official UN arms embargo and TNG propaganda proclaiming its
'peaceful mission' .The UN has turned a blind-eye to these violations. With
these weapons, such militia units as the TNG has been able to recruit, have
been sent to maintain the Habar Ghidir hegemony of farms, seized from
Rahanweyn owners along the lower Shebelle, and to assist clan allies in
Merca and Kismayu. It is not surprising that the TNG is now known generally
simply as the' Arta faction' and has lost further legitimacy in the south
as well as in the north. It is now literally fighting for its survival.
Meanwhile, misinterpreting the TNG's real lack of power, external players
in the Somali drama (Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan), have tried to encourage
significant negotiations between it and the southern warlords. (There seems
to be an increasing recognition that Somaliland, and to some extent
Puntland, are separate issues: and indeed their leaders have shown little
interest in joining these southern conferences). Such negotiations are
hampered by the TNG's insistence (supported by its UN and Arab patrons)
that it is the 'government', in contrast to the warlord 'factions.,
sometimes inaccurately described as 'rebels'. It seems unlikely that any
meaningful dialogue will take place unless this pretension (which is
essentially mythical) is abandoned, and Abdulqasim resigns and throws his
hat into the ring. I do not say that this would necessarily lead to a
successful and harmonious outcome. But it would surely help by bringing the
world of political rhetoric in closer touch with reality. (Of course, in
order to protect their interests, the Habar Ghidir is likely to do their
utmost to maintain one of their leaders in this key position.) From the
perspective of political realities, it is clear that, by its adherence to
this false pretension (that it actually governs Somalia and is a government
in deed as well as word), the TNG has paradoxically become a major obstacle
to political reconciliation in southern Somalia. Although the UN presumably
hoped that the TNG would be the engine of reconciliation and state
rehabilitation in Somalia, this is manifestly not the case. Given the
character of Somali political uncertainties, it is particularly
unfortunate' that the UN rushed with such indecent haste to bestow official
recognition on the TNG immediately its formation was announced. It would
have been wiser to hold recognition in reserve as a carrot, to be awarded,
when a viable nation-wide government was actually achieved. To throwaway
such an important card in exerting pressure on Somali political maneuovers
was a serious mistake on the part of the UN which has further complicated,
and delayed efforts to solve southern Somalia's political paralysis.
Misleading and disingenuous UN propaganda, as well as superficial and often
inaccurate media reporting not least, I regret to say, by the BBC (which in
its innocence has been subject to Somali nepotism) has further obscured the
real situation in Somalia3. The Arta leadership has actually shown little
evidence of serious efforts to reach out to its adversaries in Somalia. It
is equally clear that the southern Somali warlords (who are far from being
national heroes) have given little indication of having any strong interest
in achieving a viable government that could serve the public interest. Over
ten years of fruitless so-called 'peace conferences' should be enough to
discourage even the most hopeful envoys of peace. Here we encounter another
common misconception, unreflectingly  promoted by the UN and various NGOs
with their own interests and agendas. Basic problem is not one of peace-
making. The various parties in southern Somalia are not in a continuous
state of armed conflict: fighting is intermittent in the usual Somali style
to which Somalis are long accustomed, with their impressive tolerance of
insecurity and precariousness. It is not 'peace' which is missing. What is
missing are the conditions for sustained agreement on access to resources,
and the means of survival and social improvement in southern Somalia. This
urgently requires public agreement on how to share the economic resources
of the south in a way that is initially acceptable to the major local
leaders and which, ideally, can eventually be directed towards a more just
distribution to the general population. No doubt this will have to involve
some acceptance of claims based on theft and pillage. To understand what is
at stake here and what the major forces favouring the status quo really
are, we need to know more about the political economy of war-lordism in
southern Somalia. Such basic information, which I hope subsequent
contributions may provide, is essential in fonnulating realistic
assessments of how a more stable order might be established in southern
Somalia. IV.What Can Outsiders do to help? The first principle is not to
respond unthinkingly to calls from Somali politicians, warlords and self-
declared 'intellectuals', to rush to assist their 'peace' negotiations.
These are usually simply partisan strategies to engage foreigners in
providing one form of largesse or another and are very seldom made with
sincerely positive objectives. Somalis are perfectly capable of negotiating
agreements if and when they really want to. Foreigners should in general
stay outside Somali negotiations. Consider the pathetic record of UN
involvement: it is a sad warning to the ignorant and innocent. The most
obvious way in which foreign intervention may help, if executed
intelligently and cleverly, is in rewarding internal Somali self-help
initiatives, demonstrating approval of positive efforts and disapproval of
their opposite. Here, in the present context, the most sensible political
step the EU could take now, I believe, would be to accord the Somaliland
Republic international recognition. It is the leading success story in
Somalia's failed politics, and in terms of political realities it is
frankly absurd to treat southern Somalia's TNG as the government of a
state, when neither exists functionally. As a Somali specialist with a
pedigree of nationalist involvement going back almost fifty years, I feel
very strongly that in the present Somali political context, the old English
proverb 'Half a loaf is better than none' should be our guiding motto. I
believe that this obvious, but nevertheless dramatic step would administer
a serious jolt to what passes for political thinking in southern Somalia.
Such an initiative would make it clear that the international community is
tired of being strung along by endless Somali talk which gets no where. It
would show that the EU is sometimes serious when it talks about' civil
society', 'good governance', and even 'democracy'. There is the potential
here for an important 'demonstration effect' which would inject an element
of serious reality into southern Somali political calculations. It would, I
think, be particularly effective as a spur to Somali action and positive
thinking if Italy played a leading role here. That would be a remarkable
Italian coup de theatre: At the same time, Italy which has already a number
of development projects in Somaliland, might consider establishing a course
in the Italian language at Hargeisa University, and, perhaps even, an
Italian cultural centre. Pragmatically, this timely recognition of the
positive progress that Somaliland has made would also encourage the Somali-
Landers to redouble their efforts to strengthen and further develop their
fragile democracy. This international action would naturally solve one
sector of the Somalia problem, and encourage local and international
interests to concentrate on the intractable heart of the matter in southern
Somalia. Somaliland's recognition might be a little awkward for the UN and
the OAU, with its rather dated mantras. But, as well as the Somalis who in
the heyday of their national fervour vociferously campaigned for a single
national state, these organizations are partly to blame for the currently
protracted Somali debacle. If democracy means anything, surely, the wishes
of the northern Somali people, as expressed overwhelmingly in their
independence referendum, last year should count for more than empty and, I
fear, somewhat hypocritical OAU platitudes about the 'sanctity of African
unity' applied to countries whose history4 is disappointingly poorly
understood. Somaliland was the first Somali territory to become independent
on 26 June 1960, joining ex-Italian Somalia in a shot-gun marriage when the
UN trusteeship ended on 1 July of the same year. Over the ensuing three
decades, there were many political crises in what proved to be a turbulent
relationship which finally ended in the general uprising sweeping Siyad
from power in 1990 when Somaliland finally re-asserted its independence.
Somaliland has now been effectively independent for over ten years and
there is no immediate prospect of it re-entering a marriage that has died
through neglect and ill treatment. I believe that even, in Italy ten years'
separation is generally regarded as a definitive sign of marriage
breakdown! For those who are unfamiliar with the Somali political economy,
it should be stressed that this political separation in no way endangers
the common interests of these two divisions of what is ethnically as single
nation: Recognition could usefully be accompanied by establishing an
international agency to provide coastal protection against illegal fishing
and toxic waste dumping along the entire Somali coast. The institution of
common communications (e.g. postal services) might also be envisaged as
well as collaboration in educational and medical services. In addition to
rewarding positive developments, is there anything that can be done by
members of the international community about negative initiatives? The
present international terrorist crisis with exaggerated5, but not totally
unjustified, US suspicions about Islamist influence in Somalia would seem
to offer a new opportunity to seriously try applying the so far theoretical
arms embargo. Although it unfortunately also affects poor, innocent
families, US action against the Islamic al-Barakat bank seems likely to
have the positive effect of reducing funds available for local arms
purchase in southern Somalia. Are there other ways in which pressure could
be brought to bear on the southern leaders (warlord and TNG alike)? A large
number of rich politicians have families (which they regularly visit)
safely lodged as 'refugees' in western countries, with state housing and
financial benefits. For example, I believe that at the time of writing at
least two TNG ministers are enjoying their local council accommodation in
London boroughs' near where I live. I think the same applies to various
warlords, and other dubious characters that regularly fly back and forth to
Europe and North America when things get hot in Somalia. Is there an
opportunity for some discreet pressure here? Cannot also something be done
internationally about the printing of money, which is used cynically by
merchants (not all Islamist) and the TNG to manipulate prices and make a
killing at the expense of the poor people of Mogadishu? Surely other
economic pressures might be developed to make life less easy for the
masters of death in southern Somalia. Apart from this, I think southern
Somalia might benefit from being left to its own devices, cordoned off to
reduce its ability to disrupt positive trends elsewhere in the country .So
isolated, it would I hope, eventually be stimulated to follow the example
of Somaliland (and until recently Puntland) in moving towards more
internationally acceptable forms of social and political organization. Of
course, if this path is followed it runs the risk of exposing the general
population in southern Somalia to further fundamentalist propaganda since
this flourishes where government and social services are absent. But this
is happening already. If the West wishes to counter this and, at the same
time contribute to the betterment of the appalling conditions in southern
Somalia, it should do its utmost to encourage secular developments through
local Somali NGOs with convincing programs in health and education. At the
same time, it would be sensible to support the extension of secular
education by distance learning with wide use of radio. The problem of
Islamic fundamentalist propaganda obviously transcends the Somali scene. It
is, actually, an issue which can never be resolved unless the West is
prepared to confront its primary source in Saudi Arabia. Western oil
interests in the Gulf make such action a particularly delicate matter: but
the problem clearly needs to be addressed. 1 The Somali nation as a whole
is divided into six clan-families: the Dir, Isaq, Hawiye, Darod, and Digil
and Rahanweyn. The Digil-Rahanweyn ('Digil Mirifle') speak their own
distinct language, ' Af- Maymay', many being bilingual and also speaking
the related Somali language. In addition to special occupational groups of
leatherworkers, metal-workers, hunters, etc(the Midgans, Tuma1, and Yibir)
there are Bantu and Arab communities in various degrees of' Somalization'(
see I.M. Lewis,A Pastoral Democracy, London, 1961, 1982, and 2000; ital.
trans. Una Democrazia Pastorale, Milan, 1983; also A Modern History of
Somalia. Boulder, 1988. 2 The shifting politics of Somali clan allegiances
require more than casual familiarity with the names of Somali clans. The
pioneering analysis of Somali clan dynamics is Massimo Colucci's Principi
di diritto consuetudinario della Somalia italiana meridionale, 1922. The
first professional social anthropological study is my Pastoral Democracy.
This is followed by he outstanding work of A. y .Farah; see below. Recently
Virginia Luling has published her indispensable analysis of clan dynamics
in the Benadir, A Somali Sultanate, London, 2002. 3 The BBC Somali service,
whose broadcasts used to be carefully monitored by independent language
specialists no longer are, and consequently rely entirely on Somali
broadcasters whose neutrality is widely questioned by the listening Somali
public around the world. There has been a stream of complaints, and the
service seems to have lost the authority it used, to enjoy for impartial
Somali reporting. This is not surprising, since the service is headed by a
Somali closely related to the Habar Ghiddir 'interim President' of Somalia.
Since the ON information service(IRIN) in Mogadishu is also headed by
another close Habar Ghiddir relative, the TNG hardly needs its own
information service! 4 See Lewis, A Modern History of Somalia, Boulder.
r988; Blood and Bone: the Call of Kinship in Somali society ,London. 1994.
For an admirable exposition of the present. dual political organisation of
Somaliland. combining 'modem' and traditional principles of representation.
see J. Drysdale. Stoics Without Pillows: A Way Forwardfor the
Somalilands,London,2000. 5 See Post, below, pp.

I.M. Lewis's Retired Ideas and Somalia Professor Abdi Ismail Samatar
Department of Geography University of Minnesota Dr. I. M. Lewis's recent
(January 18, 2001) diatribe against the United Nations (UN), David Stephen,
its special representative to Somalia, and Djibouti is another unfortunate
signal of a retired anthropologist who is unable to comprehend that the
Somali world is beyond his grasp. His praise for the European Union (EU) is
self-congratulatory note: he concocted an EU funded conference that failed
to attract Somali attention and support. As the Somali saying goes " Nin is
amaaney wa ri is nuugtay." He criticizes the United Nations for not heeding
what most Somalis are saying and want. This statement is identical to one
made over a year ago by a former colonial officer regarding the Djibouti
initiative. Lewis pronounces that "All those who have the interest of the
Somali people at heart. should endeavor to understand how much progress in
Somaliland and Puntland has been achieved." He adds "As every Somali knows
Mr. Abdulqasim's government is indeed so unwelcome in Mogadishu ." [The
fact is that tens of thousand of Mogadishu resident came out to receive
Abdulqasim when he arrived at Mogadishu airport, contrary to Lewis's
illusions]. Further "Whatever the Italian foreign office may image, in the
wider Somali view." Careful reading of these statements indicates that
Lewis either represents Somalis or knows all of us well or is in such an
intimate touch with the Somali public that he can make such unsubstantiated
declarations. Only an arrogant and unreconstructed old fashioned
anthropologist would be blind enough to assume that he could speak for the
native in 2001. This brief note engages Lewis's three main declarations and
not many of the other more trivial statements in his texts. First, he
claims that "social service provision and of representative government,
though by no means perfect, far exceed what was achieved under the
repressive dictatorship of General Mohamed Siyad Barre (in which the
leaders of the Arta faction served) and are to some extend superior even to
that of earlier civilian regimes (which I knew very well)." Lewis should
realize that many of those who run the so-called "Balayo-lands" served
Siyaads' regime. If people are guilty by association, then Lewis must be
culpable of the crimes committed by colonial foot soldiers. This is not in
defense of anyone in Transitional National Government (TNG) who has
committed crimes before and after 1991, but to show the flaw in Lewis's
logic. I can speak directly to the quality of services former civilian
governments provided. I was a schoolboy in Somalia under the civilian
governments maligned by the British colonial anthropologist. The
educational services those governments delivered with meager resources
were, almost, second to none. I wish the sectarian entrepreneurs in
Hargeisa and Garowe could match health, education, post, public works,
etc., of yesteryears. I still have in my possession post delivered letters
to my school dormitories in Gabileh Intermediate and Amoud Secondary
schools. No such services exist today in the north and northeast. The
trouble with Lewis and his acolytes is that they are so ungrounded in the
reality of these two regions. Ironically, Egal is doing a better job today
in Hargeisa than he did in Mogadishu as Somalia's Prime Minister, if one is
to believe Lewis's claims! To think of the leaders of Hargeisa and Garowe
as representative democrats shows how far removed the retired professor is
from Somali plight. Second, Lewis accuses the UN of imposing the Djibouti
conference and its outcome on the Somali people ". Whatever may have been
acceptable in the colonial period, it is not the business, of any UN
official, to make Judgements which, in effect, dictate to Somalis how they
should identify or govern themselves." Unless Lewis is a Somali citizen, I
wonder what we should make of his agenda for us? He certainly has the right
to criticizes the government of Djibouti for feeling our pain and
organizing the peace conference but it is illegitimate and smacks of
colonial smugness to be told that the UN did Arta for us. Lewis's
democratic heroes in Hargeisa and Garowe had every opportunity to attend
the conference and partake in the democratic debate, but declined to
participate because they were not given the power to craft the conference
agenda and veto its outcome. I wonder what Lewis makes of the large number
of people from the northeast and west that participated in the conference?
The professor of anthropology apparently knows better! Third, the old
anthropologist attempts to discredit the Arta conference by claiming that
"the Arta process in Djibouti embraced a wide range of participants
including a number of notorious warlords and even 'street boys' recruited
from Djibouti town to swell the numbers. Many genuine leaders and
representatives, including those in Somaliland and Puntland as well as the
principal despotic warlords in Mogadishu chose to boycott. " Lewis fails to
grasp that the process was open to all key organs of Somali civil society
and their leaders. It was not the Djibouti government that selected the
participants, but the communities they represented. The government's meager
resources were stretched to their limits to accommodate the vast number of
people who came to participate in the onference. Consequently, the Djibouti
government had no need to invent phantom ghosts to pad the register. The
purpose of letting all key (willing and able) actors participate in the
deliberations in Arta was to make the project as inclusive as possible and
bring communities and contestants together. Lewis is apparently uninitiated
in the area of conflict resolution. He needs to update his scholarship on
this front if he expects to be taken seriously. It will serve him well to
read works that deal with the South African negotiations, but I am afraid
this might be a tall order for an anthropologist marooned to the days of
"British Somaliland." Finally, Lewis failed the Somali people for forty
plus years when he was an active academic. Although Somalia provided him
scholarly raw material and earned him a good living, his legacy for our
country and people is sterile and retired ideas. We wish him well in his
retirement and urge him to find something else to occupy his remaining
years. Somalia does not need more exhausted ideas and advice as it has
enough of its own.

Professor Abdi Ismail Samatar Prof I. M. Lewis failed to mention "Ethiopia"
was behind the warlords

Mohamud Gure guremm@hotmail.com

Many Somalis like myself poured into the Indian YMCA Hall in Central London
on Friday 25th October. We all came to listen what the professor has to say
about the Mogadishu based warlords, which he gave the title "The Scarp
Merchants of Mogadishu". The topic was very interesting and I couldn't
resist going to witness the professor's account. Like many others, I was
disappointed by the lack of focus on the subject and professor's bias and
what seemed to be intentional omission of the truth in number of occasions
in order to hurt some individuals, groups and regions.

What you will read is what I believe that the professor was wrong or
overlooked the facts and I couldn't agree with him. Professor Lewis called
the former Somali foreign Minister HE Abdirahman Jama Barre as "ignorant".
That kind of personal attack was not necessary whatever happened between
the two years ago. Mind you that professor Lewis was a staunch advocator of
Siyad Barre's regime and used to call the SNM and SSDF terrorist gorilla
groups driven by greed of power.

Secondly, the professor stated that "the Djibouti government by-passed the
warlords" during the Arta reconciliation conference. I think this was a
deliberate distortion of the facts as HE president Ghelle tirelessly tired
to bring all warlords to the conference by shuttling his special envoy to
Mogadishu, Kismayo, Baidoa, Bosasso and many other major towns. It is also
a fact that some warlords wanted assurances of getting the presidential or
prime ministerial post if they had to attend. Professor Lewis also failed
to mention that Ethiopia was coaching some important warlords and
encouraged them to stay away.

Thirdly, the professor stated that there was relative peace and
tranquillity in Puntland and Somaliland. I couldn't agree more and I must
say as a Somali that we are all proud of what these peoples achieved and
deserves to be followed. However, professor Lewis shamelessly said that "
the people of the south are full of envy and they wish to destroy what was
achieved by the peoples of these regions". That account is unfound and
untrue and the professor's intention can only be described as inciting
hatred and suspicion between the peoples of the south and north.

However, the most despicable statement of the night was his suggestion and
approval of dividing Somalia proper into two or more independent countries.
The passion he showed when he was stating this shameful statement has made
many listeners numb. This is a man who was an adviser to a number of Somali
leaders. A man who defended Siyad Barre's tyrant regime and once called the
SNM and SSDF clan-based greed driven gorilla groups. I wonder what kind of
an advice anthropologists give to political leaders. Of course, professor
Lewis is an anthropologist not a politician and therefore, we assume that
his advices to Siyad Barre would have been only how to use a kin against a
brother and a clan against another. If that is so, then, we can obviously
conclude that Siyad Barre was a good pupil of professor Lewis. In
congruent, we can say that professor Lewis had one way or another given ill
advices such as the scorched-earth policy adopted by Siyad Barre and the
destruction of the Somali state. His ill advices may have included the
bombardment of Hargeisa and Burao and destruction of villages and water
wells in the Mudug.

Can such a person who greatly contributed to the destruction of the Somali
state still be consulted as genuine analyst or adviser? Will Somalis fall
for his wicked flattering on one part and ignore his evil intents and hurt
he has stored for Somalia?

by: M M Gure guremm@hotmail.com


In response to I. M. Lewis speech: The Scrap Merchants of Mogadishu,

By Dahabo Hagi Isse (Dahabo Dowlo). dahaboisse@hotmail.com

It was really disgusting to hear the speech of professor I. M. Lewis at the
meeting organised by The Angola Somali Society held in London on 25 October
2002. I think his abashing culture of southern tribes and the degree of
prejudice that Lewis expressed against USC and Hawiye people in general
cannot go un-protested.

The shocking news of sister Sterlin's assassination in Nairobi kept me away
attending from that meeting. The skimming notes from Lewis's speech seems
that he is prejudice against the USC, in particular the people of Mogadishu
and surrounding regions, which is getting out of control. We all know that
Lewis has long ago fallen into the trap of clannism, and worth to
acknowledge that since the overthrown of the tyrant regime of Siyad Barre,
he consistently insulted the USC and people of the South, but Somali
intellectuals were ashamed to respond to him with similar phrases, which he
used to get away with it. To view Mr. Lewis's speeches, articles and books
are all biased and habitually based on baseless information; he never shown
impartiality and intended to create hatred and incitement between Somali
groups or clans. His imperialistic ideas and his never fading passion of
dividing Somalia and its people or wanting to see Somali disintegrate have
never been concealed.

We would respect the professor if he only accused those individuals who
made mistakes, but he accustomed to humiliate certain factions while at the
same time blind folding their heroic triumph and overthrowing of the
dictatorship, which he once advised. No sane person or intellectual would
defend warlords but Professor Lewis's speech didn't stop at blaming some
warlord from one clan, and also instead insulted all USC and southern
people without an exception and no apparent reason.

Mr Lewis also mentioned that he does not recognise the Transitional
National Government in Mogadishu. That is his personal decision and fine
with me, however, it is apparent that the only reason that he disapproves
the TNG is because its president is from USC. He also discredited the Arta
Peace Conference which was genuine and had participants from all Somalis in
all walks of life. Mind you that Arta Peace Conference was the best of all
conferences held for Somalia. It was indigenous, well-participated, well-
represented, genuine Somalis gathering to solve problems and was endorsed
by the world community. Then why Mr Lewis is so busy of discrediting such a
legitimate interim administration unless he hates its USC president or
wishes to see Somalia remain in a state of anarchy and its people stateless
and suffer for another decade to come. Professor Lewis also expressed
dismay on those who assisted or recognized the TNG such as the United
Nations, which referred as "Nave", the Arab League, the AOU (AU) and
governmental and non-governmental organizations. He didn't utter one
sentence of explaining why he is against the TNG. He also accused the head
of BBC Somali section, this because he is from USC and because of that he
hates any person from that people to become seniour figure.

His flattering of Somaliland and Puntland shouldn't come on the expense of
insulting and degrading their brethrens in the south. Somalis are very
proud to see some parts of their land develop and enjoy peaceful
atmosphere, which is enjoyed by all Somalis who live there without
prejudice. It is a wicked tactic to insult USC and flatter my brothers at
those regions and you shouldn't get away with it such undermining Somali
people diving them again.

What really shocked me most is Mr Lewis's defamation of the USC when he
called them "uncivilized" though he knows very well that Mogadishu and its
surrounding towns are the cradle of Somalia's civilization. He made such
silly remarks while knowing that even today when there is chaos in the
streets of Mogadishu that Somalia's economy is shaped by the events of the
Mogadishu's markets. There are numerous lights and heavy industries built
in Mogadishu in the past seven years. Modern telecommunication systems,
Internet service and other modern and free trade services needed by the
citizens are all available in Mogadishu and many areas controlled by USC.
It is also important that he understands the meaning of "Croce Del Sud" the
braveries of the South, which was named to a building in Mogadishu city.

Unfortunately, the retired professor with retired ideas, as Professor
Samatar HE puts it, seems that he has yet to learn lessons about Somalia,
even after the publication of books like The Invention of Somalia, The
Shaping of Somali Society. Professors such as M. Haji Mukhtar, Abdi Kusow
and Professor Cathrine Bestman's Unravelling Somalia: Race, Class, and the
Legacy of Slavery have unveiled Lewis's ignorance about the Somalis in the
south, comprising of more than 80 percent of the population.

Lewis is retired Professor with prejudice filled and retired ideas
regarding the people of the South and the Transitional National Government.
I am seriously concerned whether Somalis should give him a floor to speak
at present, in the future or invite such a person with retired mind to
insult their country and divide people. We politely ask the Professor why
he hates certain clans, particularly the USC, and always supports some
regions on the expenses of others? He used to accuse the people of
Somaliland and Puntland as power hungry gorilla groups during his advisory
term with the late dictator Siyad Barre, and I really surprise those trust
his support now; I believe that Mr Lewis has a hidden agenda behind the

I would also like to finally ask him to retreat from his prejudicial
statements and apologise to USC community as it is wrong to generalise and
insult such a large society.

Dahabo Hagi Isse (Dahabo Dowlo)
html "Ayaamaha"

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