Somalia

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Posted by r2d2 02/27/2009 @ 10:01

Tags : somalia, africa, world

News headlines
Indonesia willing to lead Somalia force-UN official - Reuters
By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Indonesia has offered to spearhead UN peacekeeping in fellow Muslim country Somalia, but a mission is too risky for now as the Somali government battles Islamist rebels, a UN official said on Wednesday....
EU: Pirates coordinating attacks off Somalia - The Associated Press
The EU flotilla's primary task is escorting ships chartered by the World Food Program to carry food aid to Somalia. In the five months it has been deployed, the flotilla's warships have escorted 23 vessels that have delivered enough food to feed 1.5...
AU demands tougher UN monitoring of Somalia embargo - Africasia
The African Union expressed alarm Wednesday over Somali insurgents' access to upgraded weaponry and urged the United Nations to monitor its Somalia arms embargo more closely. "The insurgents have never been short of weapons," AU Peace and Security...
Insurgents in Somalia Attack Presidential Compound - Voice of America
By Peter Heinlein Somalia's government said it has repulsed a military attack by foreign-backed insurgents trying to overrun the presidential compound in Mogadishu and oust President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. News agencies report at least 110 people,...
US Coast Guard releases new rules to safeguard ships - Xinhua
According to the Coast Guard, the guidelines apply to US ships sailing transiting the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden off Somalia, to the Malacca Strait, and to waters off the Philippines. The newly-released measures urged captains of the...
AL calls for ceasefire, reconciliation in Somalia - Xinhua
CAIRO, May 13 (Xinhua) -- The Cairo-based Arab League (AL) called on Wednesday for ceasefire in Somalia and dialogue to resolve the differences and reach a comprehensive reconciliation in the war-torn country. The General Secretariat of AL asked all...
Somalia: Pregnant Woman Could Be Executed After 'Unfair' Trial - AllAfrica.com
The Puntland region declared its autonomy from Somalia in 1998, and has its own government. Although there is no effective or competent system of administration of justice in Somalia , Puntland has functioning courts, based on three legal systems: the...
Somalia 'worst drought in decade' - BBC News
Satellite surveys of rainfall and ground research show the drought's severity, said UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden. He said many cattle were dying from the lack of water, and that this was contributing to nearly half the...
Eight killed in fresh clashes southern Somalia - AFP
MOGADISHU (AFP) — At least eight people were killed overnight in clashes between pro-government forces and insurgents in central Somalia, residents and officials said Wednesday. The pro-government forces attacked the radical Shebab militants based in...
Somalia: Calm Returns to Central Town After Fighting That Killed ... - AllAfrica.com
Beledweyn — Calm has returned to Mahas on Wednesday, a town in central Somalia after fighting between al-Shabab and local militias that killed at least seven people in the town late on Tuesday, Shabelle's Omar Kiyow reported on Wednesday from Beledweyn...

History of Somalia

Map of Somalia according to the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea

Somalia (Somali: Soomaaliya; Arabic: الصومال‎ transliteration: aṣ-Ṣūmāl), officially the Republic of Somalia (Somali: Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliya, Arabic: جمهورية الصومال‎ transliteration: Jumhūriyyat aṣ-Ṣūmāl) and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Djibouti to the northwest, Kenya on its southwest, the Gulf of Aden with Yemen on its north, the Indian Ocean at its east, and Ethiopia to the west.

This article describes its overall history. See Somalia for details of the country as it is today.

Greek merchants and explorers in the Erythraean (Red) Sea referred to Somalia as two regions, the Berber Coast (the Red Sea Coast of Somalia) and Azania, which actually included the coasts of modern Kenya and Tanzania as well as the Somali East Coast. Traders made the journey to Somalia in order to purchase Myrrh and Frankincense, both highly valuable commodities as they were required for many religious ceremonies and in perfumes, in great demand throughout the Roman Empire, Asia, India and China.

It is a town endless in its size. Its people have many camels, of which they slaughter hundreds every day, and they have many sheep. Its people are powerful merchants. In it are manufactured the clothes named after the city, which have no rival, and which are transported as far as Egypt and elsewhere.

On his fourth (1413-15) and fifth voyage (1416-19), Zheng He visited several city states on the Somali coast including Mogadishu.

Muslim Somalia enjoyed friendly relations with neighboring Christian Ethiopia for centuries. Despite jihad raging everywhere else in the Muslim world, Muhammad had issued a hadith proscribing Muslims from attacking Ethiopia (so long as Ethiopia was not the aggressor) , as it had sheltered some of Islam's first converts from persecution in modern-day Saudi Arabia. Parts of northwestern Somalia came under the rule of the Solomonic Ethiopian Kingdom in medieval times, especially during the reign of Amda Seyon I (r. 1314-1344). In 1403 or 1415 (under Emperor Dawit I or Emperor Yeshaq I, respectively) measures were taken against the Muslim Sultanate of Adal (located in present-day northwestern Somalia, southern Djibouti, and the Somali, Oromia, and Afar regions of Ethiopia, centered around first Zeila then Harar, and populated by both Somalis and Afars), a tributary kingdom that revolted and whose raids were disrupting rule in adjacent areas. His campaign was eventually successful, but took much longer than other campaigns at the time due to the tendency of Adal warriors to disappear into the countryside after fighting. In 1403 (or 1415), the Emperor eventually captured King Sa'ad ad-Din II in Zeila and had him executed, with the Walashma ruling family exiled to Yemen. The Walashma Chronicle, however, records the date as 1415, which would make the Ethiopian victor Emperor Yeshaq I. After the war, the reigning king had his minstrels compose a song praising his victory, which contains the first written record of the word "Somali".

The area remained under Ethiopian control for another century or so. However, starting around 1527 under the charismatic leadership of Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi (Gurey in Somali, Gragn in Amharic, both meaning "left-handed), Adal revolted and invaded Ethiopia. Regrouped Muslim armies with Ottoman support and arms marched into Ethiopia employing scorched earth tactics and slaughtered any Ethiopian who refused to convert from Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity to Islam .

Moreover, hundreds of churches were destroyed during the invasion, and an estimated 80% of the manuscripts in the country were destroyed in the process. Adal's use of firearms, still only rarely used in Ethiopia, allowed the conquest of well over half of Ethiopia, reaching as far north as Tigray. The complete conquest of Ethiopia was averted by the timely arrival of a Portuguese expedition led by Cristovão da Gama, son of the famed navigator Vasco da Gama. The Portuguese had been in the area earlier in early 16th centuries (in search of the legendary priest-king Prester John), and although a diplomatic mission from Portugal, led by Rodrigo de Lima, had failed to improve relations between the countries, they responded to the Ethiopian pleas for help and sent a military expedition to their fellow Christians. A Portuguese fleet under the command of Estêvão da Gama was sent from India and arrived at Massawa in February 1541. Here he received an ambassador from the Emperor beseeching him to send help against the Muslims, and in July following a force of 400 musketeers, under the command of Christovão da Gama, younger brother of the admiral, marched into the interior, and being joined by Ethiopian troops they were at first successful against the Muslims but they were subsequently defeated at the Battle of Wofla (28 August 1542), and their commander captured and executed. On February 21, 1543, however, a joint Portuguese-Ethiopian force defeated the Muslim army at the Battle of Wayna Daga, in which Ahmed Gurey was killed and the war won.

Ahmed Gurey's widow married his nephew Nur ibn Mujahid, who belonged to the Marehan clan, in return for his promise to avenge Ahmed's death, who succeeded Ahmed Gurey, and continued hostilities against his northern adversaries until he killed the Ethiopian Emperor in his second invasion of Ethiopia, Emir Nur died in 1567; the Ethiopians sacked Zeila in 1660. The Portuguese, meanwhile, tried to conquer Mogadishu but according to Duarta Barbosa never succeeded in taking it. The sultanate of Adal disintegrated into small independent states, many of which were ruled by Somali chiefs. Zeila became a dependency of Yemen, and was then incorporated into the Ottoman Empire.

On the other side of East Africa in the 14th century, the Ajuuran dynasty formed a centralized state in the lower Shabeelle valley, ruling over a territory that stretched as far inland as modern Qalafo and towards the coast almost to Mogadishu. Said S. Samatar, writing with David Laitin, notes that the Ajuuran sultanate "represents one of the rare occasions in Somali history when a pastoral state achieved large-scale centralization", and notes that it grew larger and more powerful than coastal city-states of Mogadishu, Merka and Baraawe combined.

Hobyo, the ancient port of Somalia was the commercial centre of the Ajuuraan Sultanate, all the commercial goods grown or harvested along the Shabelle river were brought to Hobyo to trade, as Hobyo remained the active mercantile pitstop of ancient times. The Ajuuraan rulers collected their tribute from the town in the form of sorghum (durra), making the port of Hobyo incredibly profitable for the Ajuuraan sultans.

Trade between Hobyo and the Banaadir coast flourished for some time. So vital was Hobyo to the prosperity of the Ajuuraan Sultanate, that when local sheikhs successfully revolted against the Ajuuraan Sultan and established an independent Imamate of the Hiraab, the power of the Ajuuraan sultans crumbled within a century.

In the 17th century, Somalia fell under the sway of the rapidly expanding Ottoman Empire, who exercised control through hand picked local Somali governors. In 1728 the Ottomans evicted the last Portuguese occupation and claimed sovereignty over the whole Horn of Africa. However, their actual exercise of control was fairly modest, as they demanded only a token annual tribute and appointed an Ottoman judge to act as a kind of Supreme Court for interpretations of Islamic law. By the 1850s Ottoman power was in decline.

Farther east on the Bari coast, two kingdoms emerged that would play a significant political role on the Somali Peninsula prior to colonization. These were the Majeerteen Sultanate of Boqor(king) Osman Mahamuud, and that of his kinsman Sultan Yuusuf Ali Keenadiid of Hobyo (Obbia). The Majeerteen Sultanate originated in the mid eighteenth century, but only came into its own in the nineteenth century with the reign of the resourceful Boqor Osman. Boqor Osman Mahamuud's kingdom benefited from British subsidies (for protecting the British naval crews that were shipwrecked periodically on the Somali coast) and from a liberal trade policy that facilitated a flourishing commerce in livestock, ostrich feathers, and gum arabic. While acknowledging a vague vassalage to the British, the Sultan kept his kingdom free until well after the 1900s.

Boqor Ismaan Mahamuud's sultanate was nearly destroyed in the middle of the nineteenth century by a power struggle between him and his young, ambitious cousin, Keenadiid. Nearly five years of destructive civil war passed before Boqor Ismaan Mahamuud managed to stave off the challenge of the young upstart, who was finally driven into exile in Arabia. A decade later, in the 1870s, Keenadiid returned from Arabia with a score of Hadhrami musketeers and a band of devoted lieutenants. With their help, he carved out the small kingdom of Hobyo after conquering the local clans.

The Boqors descendants live on in the Washington DC metropolitan area. They have altered their surnames to "Samantar" instead of "Samatar".

The Warsangeli Sultanate was an imperial power centered around the borders of the North East of British Somaliland and some parts of South East of Italian Somaliland. It was one of the largest Sultanates of all times in Somalia, and, at the height of its power, it included the Sanaag region, parts of North East of Bari region. It was established by a members of the Warsangeli clan in northern Somalia and ruled by descendants of the Gerad Dhidhin.

The Sultan (also known as the "Gerad" in some parts of Somalia) was the sole regent and government of the Sultanate, at least officially. The dynasty is most often called the Gerad or the House of North East Somaliland Sultan. The sultan enjoyed many titles such as Sovereign of the House of North East of Somaliland Sultanate, Sultan of Sultans of Somaliland. Note that the first rulers never called themselves sultans. The sultan title was established by Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire in 1897.

Starting in 1875 the age of imperialism in Europe transformed Somalia. Britain, France, and Italy all made territorial claims on the peninsula. Britain already controlled the port city of Aden in Yemen, just across the Red Sea, and wanted to control its counterpart, Berbera, on the Somali side. The Red Sea was a crucial shipping lane to British colonies in India, and they wanted to secure these "gatekeeper" ports at all costs.

The French were interested in coal deposits further inland and wanted to disrupt British ambitions to construct a north-south transcontinental railroad along Africa's east coast, by blocking an important section.

Italy had just recently been reunited and was an inexperienced colonialist. They were happy to grab up any African land they didn't have to fight other Europeans for. They took control of the southern part of Somalia, which would become the largest European claim in the country, but the least strategically significant.

In 1884 Egypt, which had declared independence from the waning Ottoman Empire, had ambitions of restoring its ancient power, and set its sights on East Africa. However, the Sudanese resisted Egypt's advance and the Mahdist revolution of 1885 ejected the Egyptians from Sudan and shattered Egypt's hope of a neo-Egyptian empire. The few advance troops that had made it to Somalia had to be rescued by the British and escorted back to their own side of the fence.

Thereafter, the biggest threat to European colonial ambitions in Somalia came from Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II who had successfully avoided having his own country occupied, and was planning to invade Somalia again. By 1900 he had seized the Ogaden region in western Somalia, which was reconquered by the so-called "Mad Mullah" during the Dervish colonial resistance war and then ceded to Ethiopia by Britain in 1945. Even today, long after all the Europeans had given up on their relatively valuable colonial possessions, Ogaden, the most barren of Somali provinces, is still frequently fought over by the two bordering nations.

Somali resistance to foreign powers began in 1899 under the leadership of religious scholar Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, Ogaden sub-lineage of the Darod clan and his mother was Dulbahante sub-lineage of the Darod clan. Their primary targets were their traditional enemies the Ethiopians, and the British who controlled the most lucrative ports and were squeezing tax money from farmers who had to use the ports to ship their livestock to customers in the Middle East and India. Hasan was a brilliant orator and poet with a very strong following of Islamic fundamentalist Dervishes all of whom came from the Dulbahante clan, these relentless and well-organized warriors were Hasan's maternal relatives. They waged a bloody guerrilla war. This war lasted over two decades until the British Royal Air Force, having honed their skills in World War I, led a devastating bombing campaign against dervish strongholds in 1920, which caused Hasan to flee (he died of pneumonia soon after). The Dervish struggle was one of the longest and bloodiest anti-imperial resistance wars in Africa, and cost the lives of nearly a third of northern Somalia's population: the Dulbahante lost half of their population during this era and there were heavy casualties on the Ethiopian and British sides as well. This was mainly due to the Dulbahante's refusal to sign the Protectorate Treaty and submit to British colonial rule. The Isaaq, the Issa, the Warsangali and the Gadabuursi signed the treaty with the British without any loss of life. The Dulbahante viewed themselves as the sole protector of greater Somalia, and resented the signatory clan. After the long Anglo-Dervish wars, the British colonial leaders did not trust the Somalis; therefore, immediately after the Isaaq, the Issa, the Warsangali, and the Gadabuursi signed the treaty, they invoked article 7 of the treaty, sub-section 3(a)(j)(k)of which allowed the British Colonial Authority to enforce segregation rule and a head tax. It also subjected the children of the clans that signed the treaty to CCTP (Children under Colonial Power under sub-section 3k). CCTP dictated separating a percentage of the children from their mothers for special education, although the actual intent was to instill fear into the treaty members to enforce law and order. This caused some of the aforementioned tribal leaders to regret signing the treaty and wish they had resisted as the Dulbahante had done.. As a matter of fact, Protection treaties served only major clans. Dhulbahante were not considered as a significant clan. Clans that did not sign treaty were also Ayoup and Arap, two clans of Somaliland. Protection treaties also differed in their Provisions. British Treaty with Warsangeli was totally different than the other. In it, Warsangeli was granted full control of their territory besides the recognition of their sultanate, which had been in existence for the last six hundred years.

While the British were bogged down by Mohammed Abdullah Hassan (known to the British as 'The Mad Mullah'), the French made little use of their Somali holdings, content that as long as the British were stymied, their job was done. This attitude may have contributed to why they were more or less really left alone by the Dervishes. The Italians, though, were intent on larger projects and established an actual colony to which a significant number of Italian civilians migrated and invested in major agricultural development. By this time Benito Mussolini was in power in Italy. He wanted to improve the world's respect for Italy by expert economic management of Italy's new colonies, upstaging the British and their various embarrassing problems with the Somalis.

Due to the constant fighting the British were afraid to invest in any expensive infrastructure projects that might easily be destroyed by guerillas. As a result, when the country was eventually reunited in the 1960s, the north, which had been under British control, lagged far behind the south in terms of economic development, and came to be dominated by the South. The bitterness from this state of affairs would be one of the sparks for the future civil war.

The dawn of fascism in the early 1920s heralded a change of strategy for Italy as the north-eastern sultanates were soon to be forced within the boundaries of La Grande Somalia according to the plan of fascist Italy. With the arrival of Governor Cesare Maria De Vecchi on 15 December 1923 things began to change for that part of Somaliland. Italy had access to these parts under the successive protection treaties, but not direct rule. The fascist government had direct rule only over the Benaadir territory.

Given the defeat of the Dervish movement in the early 1920s and the rise of fascism in Europe, on 10 July 1925 Mussolini gave the green light to De Vecchi to start the takeover of the north-eastern sultanates. Everything was to be changed and the treaties abrogated.

The real principles of colonialism meant possession and domination of the people, and the protection of the country from other greedy powers. Italy's interpretation of the treaties of protection with the north-eastern sultanates was comparable to her view of the Treaty of Wuchale with Ethiopia, and meant absolute control of the whole territory. Never mind that the subsequent tension between Ethiopia and Italy had culminated in 1896 in the battle of Adwa in which the Italians were overwhelmed and defeated.

Governor De Vecchi's first plan was to disarm the sultanates. But before the plan could be carried out there should be sufficient Italian troops in both sultanates. To make the enforcement of his plan more viable, he began to reconstitute the old Somali police corps, the Corpo Zaptié, as a colonial force.

In preparation for the plan of invasion of the sultanates, the Alula Commissioner, E. Coronaro received orders in April 1924 to carry out a reconnaissance on the territories targeted for invasion. In spite of the forty year Italian relationship with the sultanates, Italy did not have adequate knowledge of the geography. During this time, the Stefanini-Puccioni geological survey was scheduled to take place, so it was a good opportunity for the expedition of Coronaro to join with this.

Coron­aro's survey concluded that the Majeerteen Sultanate depended on sea traffic, therefore, if this were blocked any resistance which could be mounted came after the invasion of the sultanate would be minimal. As the first stage of the invasion plan Governor De Vecchi ordered the two Sultanates to disarm. The reaction of both sultanates was to object, as they felt the policy was in breach of the protectorate agreements. The pressure engendered by the new developme­nt forced the two rival sultanates to settle their differences over Nugaal possession, and form a united front against their common enemy.

The Sultanate of Hobyo was different from that of Majeerteen in terms of its geography and the pattern of the territory. It was founded by Yusuf Ali in the middle of the nineteenth century in central Somaliland. The jurisdiction of Hobyo stretched from El-Dheere through to Dusa-Mareeb in the south-west, from Galladi to Galkayo in the west, from Jerriiban to Garaad in the north-east, and the Indian Ocean in the east.

By 1 October, De Vecchi's plan was to go into action. The operation to invade Hobyo started in October 1925. Columns of the new Zaptié began to move towards the sultanate. H­obyo, El-Buur, Galkayo, and the territory between were completely overrun within a month. Hobyo was transformed from a sultanate into an administrat­ive region. Sultan Yusuf Ali surrendered. Nevertheless, soon suspicions were aroused as Trivulzio, the Hobyo commissioner, reported movement of armed men towards the borders of the sultanate before the takeover and after. Before the Italians could concentrate on the Majeerteen, they were diverted by new setbacks. On 9 November, the Italian fear was realized when a mutiny, led by one of the military chiefs of Sultan Ali Yusuf, Omar Samatar, recaptured El-Buur. Soon the rebellion expanded to the local population. The region went into revolt as El-Dheere also came under the control of Omar Samatar. The Italian forces tried to recapture El-Buur but they were repulsed. On 15 November the Italians retreated to Bud Bud and on the way they were ambushed and suffered heavy casualties.

While a third attempt was in the last stages of preparation, the operation commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Splendorelli, was ambushed between Bud Bud and Buula Barde. He and some of his staff were killed. As a consequence of the death of the commander of the operations and the effect of two failed operations intended to overcome the El-Buur mutiny, the spirit of Italian troops began to wane. The Governor took the situation seriously, and to prevent any more failure he requested two battalions from Eritrea to reinforce his troops, and assumed lead of the operations. Meanwhile, the rebellion was gaining sympathy across the country, and as far afield as Western Somaliland.

The fascist government was surprised by the setback in Hobyo. The whole policy of conquest was collapsing under its nose. The El-Buur episode drastically changed the strategy of Italy as it revived memories of the Adwa fiasco when Italy had been defeated by Abyssinia. Furthermore, in the Colonial Ministry in Rome, senior officials distrusted the Governor's ability to deal with the matter. Rome instructed De Vecchi that he was to receive the reinforcement from Eritrea, but that the commander of the two battalions was to temporarily assume the military command of the operations and De Vecchi was to stay in Mogadishu and confine himself to other colonial matters. In the case of any military development, the military commander was to report directly to the Chief of Staff in Rome.

While the situation remained perplexed, De Vecchi moved the deposed sultan to Muqdisho. Fascist Italy was poised to re-conquer the sultanate by whatever means. To manoeuvre the situation within Hobyo, they even contemplated the idea of reinstating Ali Yusuf. However, the idea was dropped after they became pessimistic about the results.

To undermine the resistance, however, and before the Eritrean reinforcement could arrive, De Vecchi began to instill distrust among the local people by buying the loyalty of some of them. In fact, these tactics had better results than had the military campaign, and the resistance began gradually to wear down. Given the anarchy which would follow, the new policy was a success.

On the military front, on 26 December 1925 Italian troops finally overran El-Buur, and the forces of Omar Samatar were compelled to retreat to Western Somaliland.

By neutralising Hobyo, the fascists could concentrate on the Majeerteen. In early October 1924, E. Coronaro, the new Alula commissioner, presented Boqor (king) Osman with an ultimatum to disarm and surrender. Meanwhile, Italian troops began to pour into the sultanate in anticipation of this operation. While landing at Haafuun and Alula, the sultanate's troops opened fire on them. Fierce fighting ensued and to avoid escalating the conflict and to press the fascist government to revoke their policy, Boqor Osman tried to open a dialogue. However, he failed, and again fighting broke out between the two parties. Following this disturbance, on 7 October the Governor instructed Coronaro to order the Sultan to surrender; to intimidate the people he ordered the seizure of all merchant boats in the Alula area. At Haafuun, Arimondi bombarded and destroyed all the boats in the area.

On 13 October Coronaro was to meet Boqor Osman at Baargaal to press for his surrender. Under siege already, Boqor Osman was playing for time. However, on 23 October Boqor Osman sent an angry response to the Governor defying his order. Following this a full scale attack was ordered in November. Baargaal was bombarded and razed to the ground. This region was ethnically compact, and was out of range of direct action by the fascist government of Muqdisho. The attempt of the colonizers to suppress the region erupted into explosive confrontation. The Italians were meeting fierce resistance on many fronts. In December 1925, led by the charismatic leader Hersi Boqor, son of Boqor Osman, the sultanate forces drove the Italians out of Hurdia and Haafuun, two strategic coastal towns on the Indian Ocean. Another contingent attacked and destroyed an Italian communications centre at Cape Guardafui, on the tip of the Horn. In retaliation Bernica and other warships were called on to bombard all main coastal towns of the Majeerteen. After a violent confrontation Italian forces captured Ayl (Eil), which until then had remained in the hands of Hersi Boqor. In response to the unyielding situation, Italy called for reinforcements from their other colonies, notably Eritrea. With their arrival at the closing of 1926, the Italians began to move into the interior where they had not been able to venture since their first seizure of the coastal towns. Their attempt to capture Dharoor Valley was resisted, and ended in failure.

De Vecchi had to reassess his plans as he was being humiliated on many fronts. After one year of exerting full force he could not yet manage to gain a result over the sultanate. In spite of the fact that the Italian navy sealed the sultanate's main coastal entrance, they could not succeed in stopping them from receiving arms and ammunition through it. It was only early 1927 when they finally succeeded in shutting the northern coast of the sultanate, thus cutting arms and ammunition supplies for the Majeerteen. By this time, the balance had tilted to the Italians' side, and in January 1927 they began to attack with a massive force, capturing Iskushuban, at the heart of the Majeerteen. Hersi Boqor unsuccessfully attacked and challenged the Italians at Iskushuban. To demoralise the resistance, ships were ordered to raze and bombard the sultanate's coastal towns and villages. In the interior the Italian troops confiscated livestock. By the end of the 1927 the Italians had nearly taken control of the sultanate. Defeated and Hersi Boqor and his top staff were forced to retreat to Ethiopia in order to rebuild the forces. However, they had an epidemic of cholera which frustrated all attempts to recover his force.

With the elimination of the north-eastern sultanates and the breaking of the Benaadir resistance, from this period henceforth, Italian Somaliland was to become a reality.

By 1935, the British were ready to cut their losses in British Somaliland. The dervishes refused to accept any negotiations. Even after they had been soundly defeated in 1920, sporadic violence continued for the entire duration of British occupation. To make matters worse, Italy invaded and conquered Ethiopia in 1936, whom the British had been using to help their effort to put down the Somali uprisings. Now with Ethiopia unavailable, the British were faced with the option of doing the dirty work themselves, or packing up and looking for friendlier territory.

By this time many thousand Italian immigrants were living in Romanesque villas on extensive plantations in the south. Conditions for natives were very prosperous under fascist Italian rule, and the southern Somalis never violently resisted. It had become obvious then that Italy had won the horn of Africa, and Britain left upon Mussolini's insistence, with little protest.

Meanwhile the French colony had faded to obsolescence with Britain's dwindling control, and it too was neglected. The Italians then enjoyed sole dominance of the entire East African region including recently occupied Ethiopia.

On May 9 1936, Mussolini proclaimed the creation of the Italian Empire, calling it the "Africa Orientale Italiana" (A.O.I.) and formed by Ethiopia, Eritrea and Italian Somalia. Many investments in infrastructure were made by the Italians in their Empire, like the Strada Imperiale ("imperial road") between Addis Abeba and Mogadishu.

Italian hegemony of Somalia was short-lived, because of World War II. At the start of the war, Mussolini realized he would have to concentrate his resources primarily on the home front to survive the Allied onslaught.

The Italians conquered the British Somaliland in August 1940, but the British were able to totally reconquer Somalia by 1941. Italian officers organized an italian guerrilla with Italian colonial troops, that lasted in Somalia from the end of 1941 to spring 1943.

During the war years, Somalia was directly ruled by a British military administration and martial law was in place, especially in the north where bitter memories of past bloodshed still lingered.

Unfortunately these policies were as ill-advised as they were previously. The irregular bandits and militias of the Somali outback received a windfall in weaponry, thanks to the world wide 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. Despite a fresh Somali thorn in their side, the British protectorate lasted until 1949, and actually made some progress in economic development. The British established their capital in the northern city of Hargeisa, and wisely allowed local Muslim judges to try most cases, rather than impose alien British military justice on the populace.

The British allowed almost all the Italians to stay, except for a few too risky for their security, and regularly employed them as civil servants and in the educated professions. The fact that 9 out of 10 of the Italians were loyal to Mussolini, and probably actively spying on the Italian Army's behalf during World War II, was tolerated due to Somalia's relative strategic irrelevance to the larger war effort. Indeed, considering that they were technically citizens of an enemy power, the British lent considerable leeway to the Italian residents, even allowing them to form their own political parties in direct competition with British authority.

After the war, the British gradually relaxed military control of Somalia, and attempted to introduce democracy, and numerous native Somalian political parties sprang into existence, the first being the Somali Youth League (SYL) in 1945. The Potsdam conference was unsure of what to do with Somalia, whether to allow Britain to continue its occupation, to return control to the Italians, who actually had a significant number of people living there, or grant full independence. This question was hotly debated in the Somalian political scene for the next several years. Many wanted outright independence, especially the rural citizens in the west and north. Southerners enjoyed the economic prosperity brought by the Italians, and preferred their leadership. A smaller faction appreciated Britain's honest attempt to maintain order the second time around, and gave their respect.

In 1948 a commission led by representatives of the victorious Allied nations wanted to decide the Somali question once and for all. They made one particular decision, granting Ogaden to Ethiopia, which would spark war decades later. After months of vaciliations and eventually turning the debate over to the United Nations, in 1949 it was decided that in recognition of its genuine economic improvements to the country, Italy would retain a nominal trusteeship of Somalia for the next 10 years, after which it would gain full independence. The SYL, Somalia's first and most powerful party, strongly opposed this decision, preferring immediate independence, and would become a source of unrest in the coming years.

Despite the SYL's misgivings the 1950s were something of a golden age for Somalia. With UN aid money pouring in, and experienced Italian administrators who had come to see Somalia as their home, infrastructural and educational development bloomed. This decade passed relatively without incident and was marked by positive growth in virtually all parts of Somali life. As scheduled, in 1959, Somalia was granted independence, and power transferred smoothly from the Italian administrators to the by then well developed Somali political culture.

The freshly independent Somalis loved politics, every nomad had a radio to listen to political speeches, and remarkable for an African Muslim country, women were also active participants, with only mild mumblings from the more conservative sectors of society. Despite this promising start, there were significant underlying problems, most notably the north/south economic divide and the Ogaden issue. Also, long held distrust of Ethiopia and the deeply ingrained belief that Ogaden was rightfully part of Somalia, should have been properly addressed prior to independence. The north and south spoke different languages (English vs Italian respectively) had different currencies, and different cultural priorities.

Starting in the early 1960s, troubling trends began to emerge when the north started to reject referendums that had won a majority of votes, based on an overwhelming southern favoritism. This came to a head in 1961 when northern paramilitary organizations revolted when placed under southerners' command. The north's second largest political party began openly advocating secession. Attempts to mend these divides with the formation of a Pan-Somalian party were ineffectual; one opportunistic party attempted to unite the bickering regions by rallying them against their common enemy Ethiopia and the cause of reconquering Ogaden. Other nationalistic party platforms included the independence of the northern Kenyan holdings of the Italian colony, from Kenya proper. These regions were largely inhabited by ethnic Somalis who had become accustomed to Italian rule, and were distressed by the different regime they faced in Kenya.

Somali people in the Horn of Africa are divided among different territories that were artificially and some might say arbitrarily partitioned by the former colonial powers. Besides Somalia proper, other historically and almost exclusively Somali-inhabited areas of the Horn of Africa now find themselves administered by neighboring countries, such as the Somali Region in Ethiopia and the North Eastern Province (NFD) in Kenya. Pan Somalism was and is an ideology that advocates the unification of all ethnic Somalis under one flag and one nation. This led to a series of cross border raids by Somali insurgents and violent crackdowns by Ethiopian troops from 1960 to 1964, when open conflict erupted between Ethiopia and Somalia. This lasted a few months until a cease fire was signed in the same year. In the aftermath, Ethiopia and Kenya signed a mutual defense pact to protect their newly acquired territories from the Somali separatists.

Although Somalis were, to some extent, politically influenced in the post-war period by the British and the Italians, the socialist parties rejected the European's advice whole cloth, and preferred association with the like-minded Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. By the middle of the 1960s, the Somalis had initiated a formal military relationship with the Soviet Union whereby the Soviets provided extensive material and training to the Somali armed forces in exchange for use of the Somali naval bases. They also had an exchange program in which several hundred soldiers from one country went to the others to train or be trained. As a result of their contact with the Soviet military, many Somali officers gained a distinctly Marxist worldview. China supplied a lot of non-military industrial funding for various projects. Italy, for its part, continued to support its expatriate citizens in the Horn of Africa. The relationship between the rapidly communizing Somali government and the Italian government also remained cordial. The Somalis, however, were increasingly becoming jaded with the United States, which had been sending substantial military aid to their hostile neighbor, Ethiopia, and thanks to incessant anti-Western indoctrination at the hands of their new Russian friends.

By the late 1960s, the Somali democracy that had gotten off to such an enthusiastic start just ten years prior, was beginning to crumble. In the 1967 election, due to a complicated web of clan loyalties, the winner was not properly recognized and instead a new secret vote was taken by already elected National Assemblymen (senators). The central election issue was whether or not to use military force to bring about the long dreamed of pan-Somalism, which would mean war with Ethiopia and Kenya and possibly Djibouti. In 1968 there seemed to be a brief respite from ominous developments when a telecommunications and trade treaty was worked out with Ethiopia, which was very profitable for both countries, and especially for residents on the border who had been living in a de facto state of emergency since the 1964 cease fire.

1969 was a tumultuous year for Somali politics with even more party defections, collusions, betrayals and collaborations than normal. In a major upset, the SYL and its various closely allied supporting parties, which had previously enjoyed a near monopoly of 120 out of 123 seats in the Assembly, saw their power slashed to only 46 seats. This resulted in angry accusations of election fraud from the displaced SYLers, and their remaining members still had the clout to do something about it. Particularly unsettling was that the military was a strong supporter of the SYL, since that party had always been supportive about invading Ethiopia and Kenya, thus giving the military a reason to exist.

The stage was set for a coup d'état, but the event that precipitated the coup was unplanned. On 15 October, 1969, a bodyguard killed president Shermarke while prime minister Igaal was out of the country. (The assassin, a member of a lineage said to have been badly treated by the president, was subsequently tried and executed by the revolutionary government.) Igaal returned to Mogadishu to arrange for the selection of a new president by the National Assembly. His choice was, like Shermarke, a member of the Daarood clan-family (Igaal was an Isaaq). Government critics, particularly a group of army officers, saw no hope for improving the country's situation by this means. Critics also saw the process as extremely corrupt with votes for the presidency being actively bid on, the highest offer being 55,000 Somali Shillings (approximately $8,000) per vote by Hagi Musa Bogor. On 21 October 1969, when it became apparent that the assembly would support Igaal's choice, army units, with the cooperation of the police, took over strategic points in Mogadishu and rounded up government officials and other prominent political figures.

Although not regarded as the author of the military takeover, army commander Major General Salad Gabeire Kediye and Mahammad Siad Barre assumed leadership of the officers who deposed the civilian government. The new governing body, the Supreme Revolutionary Council leader Salad Gabeire, installed Siad Barre as its president. The SRC arrested and detained at the presidential palace leading members of the democratic regime, including Igaal. The SRC banned political parties, abolished the National Assembly, and suspended the constitution. The new regime's goals included an end to "tribalism, nepotism, corruption, and misrule". Existing treaties were to be honored, but national liberation movements and Somali unification were to be supported. The country was renamed the Somali Democratic Republic.

The SRC also gave priority to rapid economic and social development through "crash programs", efficient and responsive government, and creation of a standard written form of Somali as the country's single official language. The régime pledged continuance of regional détente in its foreign relations without relinquishing Somali claims to disputed territories.

The SRC's domestic program, known as the First Charter of the Revolution, appeared in 1969. Along with Law Number 1, an enabling instrument promulgated on the day of the military takeover, the First Charter provided the institutional and ideological framework of the new regime. Law Number 1 assigned to the SRC all functions previously performed by the president, the National Assembly, and the Council of Ministers, as well as many duties of the courts. The role of the twenty-five-member military junta was that of an executive committee that made decisions and had responsibility to formulate and execute policy. Actions were based on majority vote, but deliberations rarely were published. SRC members met in specialized committees to oversee government operations in given areas. A subordinate fourteen-man secretariat--the Council of the Secretaries of State (CSS)-- functioned as a cabinet and was responsible for day-to-day government operation, although it lacked political power. The CSS consisted largely of civilians, but until 1974 several key ministries were headed by military officers who were concurrently members of the SRC. Existing legislation from the previous democratic government remained in force unless specifically abrogated by the SRC, usually on the grounds that it was "incompatible... with the spirit of the Revolution." In February 1970, the democratic constitution of 1960, suspended at the time of the coup, was repealed by the SRC under powers conferred by Law Number 1.

Although the SRC monopolized executive and legislative authority, Siad Barre filled a number of executive posts: titular head of state, chairman of the CSS (and thereby head of government), commander in chief of the armed forces, and president of the SRC. His titles were of less importance, however, than was his personal authority, to which most SRC members deferred, and his ability to manipulate the clans.

Military and police officers, including some SRC members, headed government agencies and public institutions to supervise economic development, financial management, trade, communications, and public utilities. Military officers replaced civilian district and regional officials. Meanwhile, civil servants attended reorientation courses that combined professional training with political indoctrination, and those found to be incompetent or politically unreliable were fired. A mass dismissal of civil servants in 1974, however, was dictated in part by economic pressures.

The legal system functioned after the coup, subject to modification. In 1970 special tribunals, the National Security Courts (NSC), were set up as the judicial arm of the SRC. Using a military attorney as prosecutor, the courts operated outside the ordinary legal system as watchdogs against activities considered to be counterrevolutionary. The first cases that the courts dealt with involved Shermaarke's assassination and charges of corruption leveled by the SRC against members of the democratic regime. The NSC subsequently heard cases with and without political content. A uniform civil code introduced in 1973 replaced predecessor laws inherited from the Italians and British and also imposed restrictions on the activities of sharia courts. The new regime subsequently extended the death penalty and prison sentences to individual offenders, formally eliminating collective responsibility through the payment of diya or blood money.

The SRC also overhauled local government, breaking up the old regions into smaller units as part of a long-range decentralization program intended to destroy the influence of the traditional clan assemblies and, in the government's words, to bring government "closer to the people." Local councils, composed of military administrators and representatives appointed by the SRC, were established under the Ministry of Interior at the regional, district, and village levels to advise the government on local conditions and to expedite its directives. Other institutional innovations included the organization (under Soviet direction) of the National Security Service (NSS), directed initially at halting the flow of professionals and dissidents out of the country and at counteracting attempts to settle disputes among the clans by traditional means. The newly formed Ministry of Information and National Guidance set up local political education bureaus to carry the government's message to the people and used Somalia's print and broadcast media for the "success of the socialist, revolutionary road." A censorship board, appointed by the ministry, tailored information to SRC guidelines.

The SRC took its toughest political stance in the campaign to break down the solidarity of the lineage groups. Tribalism was condemned as the most serious impediment to national unity. Siad Barre denounced tribalism in a wider context as a "disease" obstructing development not only in Somalia, but also throughout the Third World. The government meted out prison terms and fines for a broad category of proscribed activities classified as tribalism. Traditional headmen, whom the democratic government had paid a stipend, were replaced by reliable local dignitaries known as "peacekeepers" (nabod doan), appointed by Mogadishu to represent government interests. Community identification rather than lineage affiliation was forcefully advocated at orientation centers set up in every district as the foci of local political and social activity. For example, the SRC decreed that all marriage ceremonies should occur at an orientation center. Siad Barre presided over these ceremonies from time to time and contrasted the benefits of socialism to the evils he associated with tribalism.

To increase production and control over the nomads, the government resettled 140,000 nomadic pastoralists in farming communities and in coastal towns, where the erstwhile herders were encouraged to engage in agriculture and fishing. By dispersing the nomads and severing their ties with the land to which specific clans made collective claim, the government may also have undercut clan solidarity. In many instances, real improvement in the living conditions of resettled nomads was evident, but despite government efforts to eliminate it, clan consciousness as well as a desire to return to the nomadic life persisted. Concurrent SRC attempts to improve the status of Somali women were unpopular in a traditional Muslim society, despite Siad Barre's argument that such reforms were consistent with Islamic principles.

Somalia's adherence to socialism became official on the first anniversary of the military coup when Siad Barre proclaimed that Somalia was a socialist state, despite the fact that the country had no history of class conflict in the Marxist sense. For purposes of Marxist analysis, therefore, tribalism was equated with class in a society struggling to liberate itself from distinctions imposed by lineage group affiliation. At the time, Siad Barre explained that the official ideology consisted of three elements: his own conception of community development based on the principle of self-reliance, a form of socialism based on Marxist principles, and Islam. These were subsumed under "scientific socialism," although such a definition was at variance with the Soviet and Chinese models to which reference was frequently made.

The theoretical underpinning of the state ideology combined aspects of the Qur'an with the influences of Marx, Lenin, and Mao, but Siad Barre was pragmatic in its application. "Socialism is not a religion," he explained; "It is a political principle" to organize government and manage production. Somalia's alignment with communist states, coupled with its proclaimed adherence to scientific socialism, led to frequent accusations that the country had become a Soviet satellite. For all the rhetoric extolling scientific socialism, however, genuine Marxist sympathies were not deep-rooted in Somalia. But the ideology was acknowledged--partly in view of the country's economic and military dependence on the Soviet Union--as the most convenient peg on which to hang a revolution introduced through a military coup that had supplanted a Western-oriented parliamentary democracy.

More important than Marxist ideology to the popular acceptance of the revolutionary regime in the early 1970s were the personal power of Siad Barre and the image he projected. Styled the "Victorious Leader" (Guulwaadde), Siad Barre fostered the growth of a personality cult. Portraits of him in the company of Marx and Lenin festooned the streets on public occasions. The epigrams, exhortations, and advice of the paternalistic leader who had synthesized Marx with Islam and had found a uniquely Somali path to socialist revolution were widely distributed in Siad Barre's little blue-and-white book. Despite the revolutionary regime's intention to stamp out the clan politics, the government was commonly referred to by the code name MOD. This acronym stood for Marehan (Siad Barre's clan), Ogaden (the clan of Siad Barre's mother), and Dulbahante (the clan of Siad Barre son-in-law Colonel Ahmad Sulaymaan Abdullah, who headed the NSS). These were the three clans whose members formed the government's inner circle. In 1975, for example, ten of the twenty members of the SRC were from the Daarood clan-family, of which these three clans were a part, while the Digil and Rahanweyn, sedentary interriverine clan-families, were totally unrepresented.

Borama script.

Osmanya script.

One of the principal objectives of the revolutionary regime was the adoption of a standard orthography of the Somali language. Such a system would enable the government to make Somali the country's official language. Since independence Italian and English had served as the languages of administration and instruction in Somalia's schools. All government documents had been published in the two European languages. Indeed, it had been considered necessary that certain civil service posts of national importance be held by two officials, one proficient in English and the other in Italian. During the Husseen and Igaal governments, when a number of English-speaking northerners were put in prominent positions, English had dominated Italian in official circles and had even begun to replace it as a medium of instruction in southern schools. Arabic—or a heavily arabized Somali—also had been widely used in cultural and commercial areas and in Islamic schools and courts. Religious traditionalists and supporters of Somalia's integration into the Arab world had advocated that Arabic be adopted as the official language, with Somali as a vernacular. A few months after independence, the Somali Language Committee was appointed to investigate the best means of writing Somali. The committee considered nine scripts, including Arabic, Latin, and various indigenous scripts. Its report, issued in 1962, favored the Latin script, which the committee regarded as the best suited to represent the phonemic structure of Somali and flexible enough to be adjusted for the dialects. Facility with a Latin system, moreover, offered obvious advantages to those who sought higher education outside the country. Modern printing equipment would also be more easily and reasonably available for Latin type. Existing Somali grammars prepared by foreign scholars, although outdated for modern teaching methods, would give some initial advantage in the preparation of teaching materials. Disagreement had been so intense among opposing factions, however, that no action was taken to adopt a standard script, although successive governments continued to reiterate their intention to resolve the issue.

On coming to power, the SRC made clear that it viewed the official use of foreign languages, of which only a relatively small fraction of the population had an adequate working knowledge, as a threat to national unity, contributing to the stratification of society on the basis of language. In 1971 the SRC revived the Somali Language Committee and instructed it to prepare textbooks for schools and adult education programs, a national grammar, and a new Somali dictionary. However, no decision was made at the time concerning the use of a particular script, and each member of the committee worked in the one with which he was familiar. The understanding was that, upon adoption of a standard script, all materials would be immediately transcribed.

On the third anniversary of the 1969 coup, the SRC announced that a Latin script had been adopted as the standard script to be used throughout Somalia beginning January 1, 1973. As a prerequisite for continued government service, all officials were given three months (later extended to six months) to learn the new script and to become proficient in it. During 1973 educational material written in the standard orthography was introduced in elementary schools and by 1975 was also being used in secondary and higher education.

Somalia's literacy rate was estimated at only 5 percent in 1972. After adopting the new script, the SRC launched a "cultural revolution" aimed at making the entire population literate in two years. The first part of the massive literacy campaign was carried out in a series of three-month sessions in urban and rural sedentary areas and reportedly resulted in several hundred thousand people learning to read and write. As many as 8,000 teachers were recruited, mostly among government employees and members of the armed forces, to conduct the program.

The campaign in settled areas was followed by preparations for a major effort among the nomads that got underway in August 1974. The program in the countryside was carried out by more than 20,000 teachers, half of whom were secondary school students whose classes were suspended for the duration of the school year. The rural program also compelled a privileged class of urban youth to share the hardships of the nomadic pastoralists. Although affected by the onset of a severe drought, the program appeared to have achieved substantial results in the field in a short period of time. Nevertheless, the UN estimate of Somalia's literacy rate in 1990 was only 24 percent.

One of the SRC's first acts was to prohibit the existence of any political association. Under Soviet pressure to create a communist party structure to replace Somalia's military regime, Siad Barre had announced as early as 1971 the SRC's intention to establish a one-party state. The SRC already had begun organizing what was described as a "vanguard of the revolution" composed of members of a socialist elite drawn from the military and the civilian sectors. The National Public Relations Office (retitled the National Political Office in 1973) was formed to propagate scientific socialism with the support of the Ministry of Information and National Guidance through orientation centers that had been built around the country, generally as local selfhelp projects.

The SRC convened a congress of the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party (SRSP) in June 1976 and voted to establish the Supreme Council as the new party's central committee. The council included the nineteen officers who composed the SRC, in addition to civilian advisers, heads of ministries, and other public figures. Civilians accounted for a majority of the Supreme Council's seventy-three members. On July 1, 1976, the SRC dissolved itself, formally vesting power over the government in the SRSP under the direction of the Supreme Council.

In theory the SRSP's creation marked the end of military rule, but in practice real power over the party and the government remained with the small group of military officers who had been most influential in the SRC. Decision-making power resided with the new party's politburo, a select committee of the Supreme Council that was composed of five former SRC members, including Siad Barre and his son-in-law, NSS chief Abdullah. Siad Barre was also secretary general of the SRSP, as well as chairman of the Council of Ministers, which had replaced the CSS in 1981. Military influence in the new government increased with the assignment of former SRC members to additional ministerial posts. The MOD circle also had wide representation on the Supreme Council and in other party organs. Upon the establishment of the SRSP, the National Political Office was abolished; local party leadership assumed its functions.

In 1977 the Somali president, Siad Barre, was able to muster 35,000 regulars and 15,000 fighters of the Western Somali Liberation Front. His forces began infiltrating into the Ogaden in May-June 1977, and overt warfare began in July. By September 1977 Mogadishu controlled all of the Ogaden and had followed retreating Ethiopian forces into non-Somali regions of Harerge, Bale, and Sidamo.

By March 1978, Ethiopia and its allies regained control over the Ogaden. Siad Barre proved unable to return the Ogaden to Somali rule, and the people grew restive; in northern Somalia, rebels destroyed administrative centres and took over major towns. Both Ethiopia and Somalia had followed ruinous socialist policies of economic development, and they were unable to surmount droughts and famines that afflicted the Horn during the 1980s. In 1988 Siad and Mengistu agreed to withdraw their armies from further confrontation in the Ogaden.

Faced with shrinking popularity and an armed and organized domestic resistance, Siad Barre unleashed a reign of terror against the Majeerteen, the Hawiye, and the Isaaq, carried out by the Red Berets (Duub Cas), a special unit recruited from the president's Marehan clansmen. Thus, by the beginning of 1986, Siad Barre's grip on power seemed secure, despite the host of problems facing the regime. The president received a severe blow from an unexpected quarter, however. On the evening of May 23, he was severely injured in an automobile accident. Astonishingly, although at the time he was in his early seventies and suffered from chronic diabetes, Siad Barre recovered sufficiently to resume the reins of government following a month's recuperation. But the accident unleashed a power struggle among senior army commandants, elements of the president's Marehan clan, and related factions, whose infighting practically brought the country to a standstill. Broadly, two groups contended for power: a constitutional faction and a clan faction. The constitutional faction was led by the senior vice president, Brigadier General Mahammad Ali Samantar; the second vice president, Major General Husseen Kulmiye; and generals Ahmad Sulaymaan Abdullah and Ahmad Mahamuud Faarah. The four, together with president Siad Barre, constituted the politburo of the SRSP.

Opposed to the constitutional group were elements from the president's Marehan clan, especially members of his immediate family, including his brother, Abdirahmaan Jaama Barre; the president's son, Colonel Masleh Siad, and the formidable Mama Khadiija, Siad Barre's senior wife. By some accounts, Mama Khadiija ran her own intelligence network, had well-placed political contacts, and oversaw a large group who had prospered under her patronage.

In November 1986, the dreaded Red Berets unleashed a campaign of terror and intimidation on a frightened citizenry. Meanwhile, the ministries atrophied and the army's officer corps was purged of competent career officers on suspicion of insufficient loyalty to the president. In addition, ministers and bureaucrats plundered what was left of the national treasury after it had been repeatedly skimmed by the top family.

The same month, the SRSP held its third congress. The Central Committee was reshuffled and the president was nominated as the only candidate for another seven-year term. Thus, with a weak opposition divided along clan lines, which he skillfully exploited, Siad Barre seemed invulnerable well into 1988. The regime might have lingered indefinitely but for the wholesale disaffection engendered by the genocidal policies carried out against important lineages of Somali kinship groupings. These actions were waged first against the Majeerteen clan (of the Darod clan-family), then against the Isaaq clans of the north, and finally against the Hawiye, who occupied the strategic central area of the country, which included the capital. The disaffection of the Hawiye and their subsequent organized armed resistance eventually caused the regime's downfall.

In May 1991, the northernwestern Somaliland region of Somalia declared its independence. This Isaaq-dominated governing zone is not recognized by any major international organization or country, although it has remained more stable and certainly more peaceful than the rest of Somalia, neighboring Puntland notwithstanding.

UN Security Council Resolution 794 was unanimously passed on December 3, 1992, which approved a coalition of United Nations peacekeepers led by the United States to form UNITAF, tasked with ensuring humanitarian aid being distributed and peace being established in Somalia. The UN humanitarian troops landed in 1993 and started a two-year effort (primarily in the south) to alleviate famine conditions.

Many Somalis opposed the foreign presence. In October, several gun battles in Mogadishu between local gunmen and peacekeepers resulted in the death of 24 Pakistanis and 19 US soldiers (total US deaths were 31). Most of the Americans were killed in the Battle of Mogadishu. The incident later became the basis for the book and movie Black Hawk Down. The UN withdrew on March 3, 1995, having suffered more significant casualties. Order in Somalia still has not been restored.

Yet again another secession from Somalia took place in the northeastern region. The self-proclaimed state took the name Puntland after declaring "temporary" independence in 1998, with the intention that it would participate in any Somali reconciliation to form a new central government.

A third secession occurred in 1998 with the declaration of the state of Jubaland. The territory of Jubaland is now encompassed by the state of Southwestern Somalia and its status is unclear.

A fourth self-proclaimed entity led by the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) was set up in 1999, along the lines of the Puntland. That "temporary" secession was reasserted in 2002. This led to the autonomy of Southwestern Somalia. The RRA had originally set up an autonomous administration over the Bay and Bakool regions of south and central Somalia in 1999.

The various Somali militias have developed into security agencies for hire. Due to that development security has much improved and an economic rebound occurred. It can be said that Somalia is now partly in a state of anarcho-capitalism where all services are provided by private ventures. According to CIA factbook Somalia telecommunication firms provide wireless services in most major cities and offer the lowest international call rates on the continent.

In 2000, Abdiqasim Salad Hassan was selected to lead the Transitional National Government (TNG).

Transitional Federal Charter of the Somali Republic was approved in February, 2004 in Nairobi, Kenya.

On October 10, 2004 Somali parliament members elected Abdullahi Yusuf, president of Puntland, to be the next president, leading the successor to the TNG, named the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Because of the chaotic situation in Mogadishu, a decision was made to hold the election in the relatively atypical venue of a sports centre in Nairobi, Kenya. The other institutions adopted at this time were the Transitional Federal Charter and the selection of a 275-member Transitional Federal Parliament.

On December 26 2004, one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern history, the Indian Ocean earthquake, struck off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The earthquake and subsequent tsunamis reportedly killed over 220,000 people around the rim of the Indian Ocean. Somalia's east coast was affected. 298 people were reportedly killed and many more injured but relief workers dispute this figure as overstated.

Piracy off the Somali coast has been a threat to international shipping since the beginning of Somalia's civil war in the early 1990s. Since 2005, many international organizations, including the International Maritime Organization and the World Food Programme, have expressed concern over the rise in acts of piracy.

Clashes have been reported between Somalia's Islamist fighters, who are opposed to the Transitional Federal Government, and the pirates. In August 2008, Combined Task Force 150, a multinational coalition task force, took on the role of fighting Somali piracy by establishing a Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) within the Gulf of Aden. The increasing threat posed by piracy also caused significant concerns in India since most of its shipping trade routes pass through the Gulf of Aden. The Indian Navy responded to these concerns by deploying a warship in the region on October 23, 2008. In September 2008, Russia announced that it too will soon join international efforts to combat piracy.

In November 2008, Somali pirates began hijacking ships well outside the Gulf of Aden, perhaps targeting ships headed for the port of Mombasa, Kenya.

Starting in May 2006 with the Second Battle of Mogadishu, civil war wracked Somalia as the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) fought with warlords, including the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT), pirates, other separatists of Jubaland and Puntland, the internationally-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ethiopian troops. On June 5, 2006 forces associated with the Islamic Court Union claimed to have taken control of Mogadishu.

The transitional government in Baidoa tried to secure the help of African Union peacekeeping troops to help pacify Somalia so that a government can survive and hold power with some stability (see IGASOM). This proposal has been controversial, because of bringing foreign troops in the country since 1995 when the United Nations troops left Somalia (see UNOSOM II).

Some of the countries contributing troops are also not popular locally, Ethiopia especially. The warlords in Mogadishu united to fight any foreign troops, joined by the speaker of the parliament, causing a fault line in the government. Some of the warlords are aligned with Islamic miltant groups, and the US government accuses the involvement of al-Qaeda amongst the ICU leaders. Instability, warlord control, piracy and economic chaos remain significant issues in many parts of the country.

On December 20, 2006, active fighting broke out between the ICU and Ethiopia in the Battle of Baidoa. The ICU considered the conflict a jihad. Ethiopia was allied with the TFG and Puntland in its counterattacks against the ICU. The ICU troops and technicals proved no match to Ethiopia's tanks and aircraft and on 26 December, the ICU was forced to retreat to Mogadishu. They abandoned Mogadishu on 28 December 2006 and retreated to Jilib, where they were again defeated in the Battle of Jilib on the night of 31 December 2006. A mutiny within the ICU caused their forces to disintegrate, and abandon both Jilib and Kismayo. They fled towards the Kenyan border, where they were trapped between the advancing Ethiopian and TFG armies, Kenyan border patrols, and a US naval blockade. They were then engaged in the Battle of Ras Kamboni.

By the end of December 2007, the ICU forces had taken control of about half of the port city of Kismayo, around half the districts of Mogadishu, and totalling around 80% of their former territories, leaving the Ethopiean-backed regime in the same precarious situation as it was in Baidoa at the start of 2007.

On March 3, 2008, the United States launched an air strike on Dhoble, a Somali town. US officials claimed the town was held by Islamic extremists, but gave few details to the press. It was reported that Hassan Turki was in the area. The same area was targeted by US bombers one year earlier. A successful air strike occurred on May 1 in Dhusamareb. It killed the leader of Al-Shabab Aden Hashi Eyrow along with another senior commander and several civilians. However the attack did nothing to slow down the insurgency.

After long talks in Djibouti over a ceasefire between the TFG and the moderate islamists of the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia, agreement was reached that the parliament would be doubled in size to include 200 representatives of the opposition alliance and 75 representatives of the civil society. A new president and prime minister would be elected by the new parliament, and a commission to look into crimes of war would be established. A new constitution was also agreed to be drafted shortly. In early December 2008, Ethiopia announced it would withdraw its troops from Somalia shortly, and later announced that it would first help secure the withdrawal of the AMISOM peacekeepers from Burundi and Uganda before withdrawing. The quick withdrawal of the AMISOM peacekeepers was seen as putting additional pressure on the United Nations to provide peacekeeping.

On December 29, 2008, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed announced before a united parliament in Baidoa his resignation as President of Somalia. In his speech, which was broadcast on national radio, Yusuf expressed regret at failing to end the country's 17 year conflict as his government had mandated to do. Adan Mohamed Nuur Madobe, the speaker of the parliament, became the acting President.

On January 25, 2009 Ethiopian troops completely pulled out of Somalia.

On January 25, 2009 Ethiopian troops completely pulled out of Somalia.

Al-Shabab captured Baidoa, where the TFG parliament was based, on January 26, 2009. Following the collapse of the TFG, pro-TFG moderate Islamist group Ahlu Sunnah continued to fight al-Shabaab and captured a few towns.

An indirect presidential election was held in Somalia on 30 January 2009. Due to the security situation in Baidoa, it was held in Djibouti. Sharif Ahmed was elected president.

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Trust Territory of Somalia

Flag

The Trust Territory of Somalia was a United Nations Trust Territory in East Africa administered by Italy from 1947 to 1960.

In 1941, Italian Somalia was occupied by British and South African troops as part of the East African Campaign of World war II. The British continued to administer the area until November 1949, when Italian Somalia was made a Trust Territory by the United Nations under Italian administration.

On July 1, 1960, Somalia was granted independence. The former Italian colony immediately united with the neighbouring State of Somaliland, which had become independent on 26 June, to form the Republic of Somalia.

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Somalia

Flag of Somalia

Somalia (Somali: Soomaaliya; Arabic: الصومال‎ transliteration: aṣ-Ṣūmāl), officially the Federal Republic of Somalia (Somali: Jamhuuriyadda Federaalka Soomaaliya, Arabic: جمهورية الصومال‎ transliteration: Jumhūriyyat aṣ-Ṣūmāl) and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Djibouti to the northwest, Kenya to the southwest, the Gulf of Aden with Yemen to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Ethiopia to the west.

Italian Somaliland gained its independence from Italy on 1 July 1960. On the same day, it united with British Somaliland, which gained independence on 26 June 1960, to form the Somali republic. The Somali state currently exists largely in a de jure capacity; Somalia has a weak but largely recognised central government authority, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), but this is only the latest in a string of ineffectual, externally recognized governing authorities.

De facto control of the north of the country resides in the regional authorities. Of these, Puntland, Northland State, Maakhir, Galmudug, acknowledge the authority of the TFG and maintain their declaration of autonomy within a federated Somalia, while Central, Southern Somalia, and Kismayo the third largest city in Somalia, are in the control of the Islamic Courts Union and Al-Shabab. Baidoa is currently the seat of the TFG, and Somalia's commercial centre. On the other hand, the Somaliland region in the north, with its capital in Hargeisa, has declared independence and does not recognise the TFG as governing authority. Its self-declared independence is unrecognized internationally due in part to opposition from the TFG and other countries, such as neighboring Ethiopia, which fear ensuing secessionist movements.

The area has been continuously inhabited for the last 2,500 years by numerous and varied ethnic groups, some Afar or other Cushitic-speaking populations, and the majority Somalis. From the 1st century numerous ports including Hafun and Mosylon-Bandar Gori were trading with Roman and Greek sailors.

The northwest was part of the Aksumite Empire from about the 3rd century to the 7th but between 700 CE and 1200 CE, Islam became firmly established, especially with the founding of Mogadishu in 900. The period following, 1200 CE to 1500 CE, saw the rise of numerous Somali city-states and kingdoms. In northwestern Somalia, the Sultanate of Adal (a multi-ethnic state populated by Somalis, Afars, and Hararis) with Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi as their leader in 1520, successfully conquered three-quarters of Ethiopia before being defeated by a joint Ethiopian-Portuguese force at the Battle of Wayna Daga on 21 February 1543.

The Ajuuraan Sultanate flourished from the 14th to the 17th centuries. Following the collapse of Adal and Ajuuraan in the 17th century, the region saw the emergence of new city states such as the Sultanates of eastern Sanaag, of Bari, of Geledi-Afgoye, of Gasar Gudde-Lugh Ganane, of Mogadishu and the Benadir coast, and of Hobyo.

Competition between the Somali clans that lived in these states persisted through the colonial period, when various parts of the region were colonised by Britain and Italy. This era began in the year 1884, the end of a long period of comparative peace. At the Berlin Conference of 1884, the scramble for Africa started the long and bloody process of the imperial partition of Somali lands. The French, British, and Italians came to Somalia in the late 19th century.

The British signed treaties with the clans in what was known after as British Somaliland which was a protectorate in 1886 after the withdrawal of Egypt. Egypt sought to prevent European colonial expansion in Northeast Africa. The southern area, colonised by Italy in 1889, became known as Italian Somaliland. In 1940, there were 22,000 Italians in Somalia, of whom 10,000 in the capital Mogadishu.

Mohammed Abdullah Hassan (Maxamed Cabdulle Xasan, Sayyid), born in the north of the Somali peninsula, was a religious, nationalist and controversial leader. Known to the British as the "Mad Mullah", he spent 20 years leading armed resistance against the British, Italian, and Ethiopian forces in Somalia. Born into the Ogaden sub-clan of the Darod, Hassan grew up in among the Dhulbahante pastoralists who were good herdsmen and warriors and who used camels as well as horses. Young Hassan's hero was his maternal grandfather Sade Mogan who was a great warrior chief.

Between 1900 and 1907, the Italian leaders tried several times to negotiate a land deal with the Geledi Sultan based in Afgoye and his Biyo-maal and Digil warriors. In 1905 more than 1,000 Biyo-maal and Tunni warriors, along with a large number of Italians, were killed when the Italian army attacked in an attempt to gain their objectives. Though many Somali warriors were killed during the war, they still defeated the enemy and succeeded in protecting the Benadir coast. After a long and bloody battle, the Italian leaders allied with other Somali clans and their combined strength finally destroyed the Sultan's forces.

Sheikh Uways al-Barawi of the Tunni sub-clan of the Rahanweyn (Digil and Mirifle) in Barawa, lived at the same time as Hassan and led the Qadiriyyah sect. He resisted the Italian occupation in a non-violent method. He was murdered in Biyoley, in today's Bakool region, by the Dervish in 1920 as Hassan was seeking to recruit forces from Italian Somaliland. This was after the British used aircraft to destroy Hassan's base in Taleex. Sheikh Aweys rejected violence and Hassan's ways were based on violent resistance.

As a result of Hassan and his followers being chased by the followers of Sheikh al-Barawi, Hassan had to escape through the thick forest along the Jubba River until he reached Imi, Ethiopia, where he died of influenza, and, reportedly, wounds inflicted on him during his escape.

To this day the annual pilgrimage to Sheikh al-Barawi's grave in Biyoley is held where people of the Qadiriyyah sect and admirers of al-Barawi attend.

Sheikh Hassan Barsane of the Gaal Jecel, a sub-clan of the Hawiye,was another Somali religious leader who resisted the Italian rule in a non-violent manner. He, like al-Barawi, rejected Hassan's approaches.

Fascist Italy, under Benito Mussolini, attacked Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) in 1935, with an aim to colonize it. The invasion was condemned by the League of Nations, but little was done to stop it or to liberate occupied Ethiopia.

On August 3, 1940, Italian troops, including Somali colonial units, crossed from Ethiopia to invade British Somalia and by August 14 succeeded in taking Berbera from the British.

A British force, including Somali troops, launched a campaign in January 1941 from Kenya to liberate British Somaliland and Italian-occupied Ethiopia and conquer Italian Somaliland. By February, most of Italian Somaliland was captured and in March, British Somaliland was retaken from the sea. The British Empire forces operating in Somaliland comprised three divisions of South African, West and East African troops. They were assisted by Somali forces led by Abdulahi Hassan with Somalis of the Isaaq, Dhulbahante, and Warsangali clans.

Following World War II, although Somalis aided the Allied powers in their struggle against the Axis powers, Britain retained control of both British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland as protectorates. In November 1949, the United Nations granted Italy trusteeship of Italian Somaliland, but only under close supervision and on the condition—first proposed by the Somali Youth League (SYL) and other nascent Somali political organizations, such as Hizbia Digil Mirifle Somali (HDMS) (which later became Hizbia Dastur Mustaqbal Somali HDMS) and the Somali National League (SNL), that were then agitating for independence—that Somalia achieve independence within ten years. British Somaliland remained a protectorate of Britain until 1960.

Meanwhile, in 1948, under pressure from their World War II allies and to the dismay of the Somalis, the British "returned" the Hawd (an important Somali grazing area that was presumably 'protected' by British treaties with the Somalis in 1884 and 1886) and the Ogaden to Ethiopia, based on a treaty they signed in 1897 in which the British ceded Somali territory to the Ethiopian Emperor Menelik in exchange for his help against plundering by Somali clans. Britain included the proviso that the Somali nomads would retain their autonomy, but Ethiopia immediately claimed sovereignty over them. This prompted an unsuccessful bid by Britain in 1956 to buy back the Somali lands it had turned over.

A referendum was held in neighbouring Djibouti (then known as French Somaliland) in 1958, on the eve of Somalia's independence in 1960, to decide whether or not to join the Somali Republic or to remain with France. The referendum turned out in favor of a continued association with France, largely due to a combined yes vote by the sizable Afar ethnic group and resident Europeans. However, the majority of those who voted no were Somalis who were strongly in favor of joining a united Somalia as had been proposed by Mahmoud Harbi, Vice President of the Government Council. Harbi was killed in a plane crash two years later. Djibouti finally gained its independence from France in 1977 and Hassan Gouled Aptidon, a French-groomed Somali who campaigned for a yes vote in the referendum of 1958, eventually wound up as Djibouti's first president (1977–1991).

British Somaliland became independent on June 26, 1960, and the former Italian Somaliland followed suit five days later. On July 1, 1960, the two territories united to form the Somali Republic, albeit within boundaries drawn up by Italy and Britain. A government was formed by Abdullahi Issa with Aden Abdullah Osman Daar as President, and Abdirashid Ali Shermarke as Prime Minister, later to become President (from 1967–1969). On July 20, 1961 and through a popular referendum, the Somali people ratified a new constitution, which was first drafted in 1960.

However, inter-clan rivalry persisted with many clans claiming to have been forced into the state of Somalia. In 1967, Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal became Prime Minister, appointed by Shermarke (Egal was later to become President of the breakaway independent Somaliland).

In late 1969 following the assassination of President Shermarke, a military government assumed power in a coup d'état led by General Siad Barre and Chief of Police Jama Korshel. Barre became President and Korshel vice-president. The revolutionary army established large-scale public works programmes and successfully implemented an urban and rural literacy campaign, which helped dramatically increase the literacy rate from 5% to 55% by the mid-1980s.

However, struggles continued during Barre's rule. At one point he assassinated a major figure in his cabinet, Major General Gabiere, and two other officials.

It was in July 1976 when the real dictatorship of the Somali military commenced with the founding of the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party (Xisbiga Hantiwadaagga Kacaanka Soomaaliyeed, XHKS). It was the single party that ruled Somalia until the fall of the military government in December 1990–January 1991. It was violently overthrown by the combined armed revolt of the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (Jabhadda Diimuqraadiga Badbaadinta Soomaaliyeed, SSDF), United Somali Congress (USC), Somali National Movement (SNM), and the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM) together with the non-violent political oppositions of the Somali Democratic Movement (SDM), the Somali Democratic Alliance (SDA) and the Somali Manifesto Group (SMG).

In 1977 and 1978, Somalia fought with its neighbour Ethiopia in the Ogaden War, in which Somalia aimed to liberate and unite the Somali lands that had been partitioned by the former colonial powers, and to win the right of self-determination for ethnic Somalis in those territories. Somalia first engaged Kenya and Ethiopia diplomatically, but this failed. Somalia, already preparing for war, created the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF, then called the Western Somali Liberation Front, WSLF) and eventually sought to capture Ogaden. Somalia acted unilaterally without consulting the international community, which was generally opposed to redrawing colonial boundaries, while the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries refused to help Somalia, and instead, backed Communist Ethiopia. For most of the war, Somalia appeared to be winning in most of Ogaden, but with Somali forces at the gates of Addis Ababa, Soviet and Cuban forces and weapons came to the aid of Ethiopia. The Somali Army was decimated and Somalia sought the help of the United States. Although the Carter Administration originally expressed interest in helping Somalia he later declined, as did American allies in the Middle East and Asia. The Americans perhaps did not want to engage the Soviets in this period of détente.

By 1978, the moral authority of the Somali government had collapsed. Many Somalis had become disillusioned with life under military dictatorship and the regime was weakened further in the 1980s as the Cold War drew to a close and Somalia's strategic importance was diminished. The government became increasingly totalitarian, and resistance movements, encouraged by Ethiopia, sprang up across the country, eventually leading to the Somali Civil War.

During 1990, in the capital city of Mogadishu, the residents were prohibited from gathering publicly in groups greater than three or four. Fuel shortages caused long lines of cars at petrol stations. Inflation had driven the price of pasta, (ordinary dry Italian noodles, a staple at that time), to five U.S. dollars per kilogram. The price of khat, imported daily from Kenya, was also five U.S. dollars per standard bunch. Paper currency notes were of such low value that several bundles were needed to pay for simple restaurant meals. Coins were scattered on the ground throughout the city being too low in value to be used. A thriving black market existed in the center of the city as banks experienced shortages of local currency for exchange. At night, the city of Mogadishu lay in darkness. The generators used to provide electricity to the city had been sold off by the government. Close monitoring of all visiting foreigners was in effect. Records of foreign currency brought into the country and exchanged while in Somalia were mandatory, with severe penalties, including imprisonment, for any discrepancy. The use or exchange of foreign currency was restricted to either official banks, or one of three government operated hotels. Although no travel restrictions were placed on foreigners, photographing many locations was banned. During the day in Mogadishu, the appearance of any government military force was extremely rare. Late-night operations by government authorities, however, included 'disappearances' of individuals from their homes.

1991 saw great changes in Somalia. President Barre was ousted by a combined northern and southern clan based forces all of whom were backed and armed by Ethiopia. And following a meeting of the Somali National Movement and northern clans' elders, the northern former British portion of the country declared its independence as Somaliland in May 1991; although de facto independent and relatively stable compared to the tumultuous south, it has not been recognised by any foreign government.

In January 1991, President Ali Mahdi Muhammad was selected by the manisfesto group as an interim president for the whole of Somalia until a conference between all stakeholders to be held in Djibouti in February of the same year to select a national leader. However, United Somali Congress military leader General Mohamed Farrah Aidid, the Somali National Movement leader Abdirahman Toor and the Somali Patriotic Movement leader Col Jess refused to recognize Mahdi as president. This caused a split between the SNM, USC and SPM and the armed groups Manifesto, Somali Democratic Movement (SDM) and Somali National Alliance (SNA) on the one hand and within the USC forces. This led efforts to remove Barre who still claimed to be the legitimate president of Somalia. He and his armed supporters remained in the south of the country until mid 1992, causing further escalation in violence, especially in the Gedo, Bay, Bakool, Lower Shabelle, Lower Juba, and Middle Juba regions. The armed conflict within the USC devastated the Mogadishu area.

The civil war disrupted agriculture and food distribution in southern Somalia. The basis of most of the conflicts was clan allegiances and competition for resources between the warring clans. James Bishop, the United States last ambassador to Somalia, explained that there is "competition for water, pasturage, and... cattle. It is a competition that used to be fought out with arrows and sabers... Now it is fought out with AK-47s." The resulting famine caused the United Nations Security Council in 1992 to authorize the limited peacekeeping operation United Nations Operation in Somalia I (UNOSOM I). UNOSOM's use of force was limited to self-defence and it was soon disregarded by the warring factions. In reaction to the continued violence and the humanitarian disaster, the United States organised a military coalition with the purpose of creating a secure environment in southern Somalia for the conduct of humanitarian operations. This coalition, (Unified Task Force or UNITAF) entered Somalia in December 1992 on Operation Restore Hope and was successful in restoring order and alleviating the famine. In May 1993, most of the United States troops withdrew and UNITAF was replaced by the United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II). However, Aidid saw UNOSOM II as a threat to his power and in June 1993 his militia attacked Pakistan Army troops, attached to UNOSOM II, (see Somalia (March 1992 to February 1996)) in Mogadishu inflicting over 80 casualties. Fighting escalated until 18 American troops and more than 1,000 Somalis were killed in a raid in Mogadishu during October 1993. The UN withdrew Operation United Shield in 3 March 1995, having suffered significant casualties, and with the rule of government still not restored. In June 1996, Mohamed Farrah Aidid was killed in Mogadishu.

Following the civil war the Harti and Tanade clans declared a self-governing state in the northeast, which took the name Puntland, but maintained that it would participate in any Somali reconciliation to form a new central government. Then in 2002, Southwestern Somalia, comprising Bay, Bakool, Jubbada Dhexe (Middle Juba), Gedo, Shabeellaha Hoose (Lower Shabele) and Jubbada Hoose (Lower Juba) regions of Somalia declared itself autonomous. Although initially the instigators of this, the Rahanweyn Resistance Army, which had been established in 1995, was only in full control of Bay, Bakool and parts of Gedo and Jubbada Dhexe, they quickly established the de facto autonomy of Southwestern Somalia. Although conflict between Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud and his two deputies weakened the Rahanweyn militarily from February 2006, the Southwest became central to the TFG based in the city of Baidoa. Shatigadud became Finance Minister, his first deputy Adan Mohamed Nuur Madobe became Parliamentary Speaker and his second deputy Mohamed Ibrahim Habsade became Minister of Transport. Shatigadud also held the Chairmanship of the Rahanwein Traditional Elders' Court.

In 2004, the TFG met in Nairobi, Kenya and published a charter for the government of the nation. The TFG capital is presently in Baidoa. Meanwhile Somalia was one of the many countries affected by the tsunami which struck the Indian Ocean coast following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, destroying entire villages and killing an estimated 300 people. In 2006, Somalia was deluged by torrential rains and flooding that struck the entire Horn of Africa affecting 350,000 people. The inter-clan rivalry continued in 2006 with the declaration of regional autonomy by the state of Jubaland, consisting of parts of Gedo, Jubbada Dhexe, and the whole of Jubbada Hoose. Barre Adan Shire Hiiraale, chairman of the Juba Valley Alliance, who comes from Galguduud in central Somalia is the most powerful leader there. Like Puntland this regional government did not want full statehood, but some sort of federal autonomy.

Several hundred people, mostly civilians caught in the crossfire, died during this conflict. Mogadishu residents described it as the worst fighting in more than a decade. The Islamic Courts Union accused the U.S. of funding the warlords through the Central Intelligence Agency and supplying them with arms in an effort to prevent the Islamic Courts Union from gaining power. The United States Department of State, while neither admitting nor denying this, said the U.S. had taken no action that violated the international arms embargo of Somalia. A few e-mails describing covert illegal operations by private military companies in breach of U.N. regulations have been reported by the UK Sunday newspaper The Observer. By early June 2006 the Islamic Militia had control of Mogadishu, following the Second Battle of Mogadishu, and the last A.R.P.C.T. stronghold in southern Somalia, the town of Jowhar, then fell with little resistance. The remaining A.R.P.C.T. forces fled to the east or across the border into Ethiopia and the alliance effectively collapsed.

The Ethiopian-supported Transitional Government then called for intervention by a regional East African peacekeeping force. The I.C.U. meanwhile were fiercely opposed to foreign troops — particularly Ethiopians — in Somalia. claiming that Ethiopia, with its long history as an imperial power including the occupation of Ogaden, seeks to occupy Somalia, or rule it by proxy. Meanwhile the I.C.U. and their militia took control of much of the southern half of Somalia, normally through negotiation with local clan chiefs rather than by the use of force. However, the Islamic militia stayed clear of areas close to the Ethiopian border, which had become a place of refuge for many Somalis including the Transitional Government itself, headquartered in the town of Baidoa. Ethiopia said it would protect Baidoa if threatened. On September 25, 2006, the I.C.U. moved into the southern port of Kismayo, the last remaining port held by the transitional government. Ethiopian troops entered Somalia and seized the town of Buur Hakaba on October 9, and later that day the I.C.U. issued a declaration of war against Ethiopia.

On November 1, 2006, peace talks between the Transitional Government and the ICU broke down. The international community feared an all-out civil war, with Ethiopian and rival Eritrean forces backing opposing sides in the power-struggle. Fighting erupted once again on December 21, 2006 when the leader of ICU, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys said: "Somalia is in a state of war, and all Somalis should take part in this struggle against Ethiopia", and heavy fighting broke out between the Islamic militia on one side and the Somali Transitional Government allied with Ethiopian forces on the other.

In late December 2006, Ethiopia launched airstrikes against Islamic troops and strong points across Somalia. Ethiopian Information Minister Berhan Hailu stated that targets included the town of Buurhakaba, near the Transitional Government base in Baidoa. An Ethiopian jet fighter strafed Mogadishu International Airport (now Aden Adde International Airport), without apparently causing serious damage but prompting the airport to be shut down. Other Ethiopian jet fighters attacked a military airport west of Mogadishu. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi then announced that his country was waging war against the ICU to protect his country's sovereignty. "Ethiopian defence forces were forced to enter into war to the protect the sovereignty of the nation and to blunt repeated attacks by Islamic courts terrorists and anti-Ethiopian elements they are supporting," he said.

Days of heavy fighting followed as Ethiopian and government troops backed by tanks and jets pushed against Islamic forces between Baidoa and Mogadishu. Both sides claimed to have inflicted hundreds of casualties, but the Islamic infantry and vehicle artillery were badly beaten and forced to retreat toward Mogadishu. On 28 December 2006, the allies entered Mogadishu after Islamic fighters fled the city. Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi declared that Mogadishu had been secured, after meeting with local clan leaders to discuss the peaceful hand-over of the city. Yet as of April 2008, the Transitional Federal Government and its Ethiopian allies still face frequent attacks from an Islamic insurgency.

The Islamists retreated south, towards their stronghold in Kismayo, fighting rearguard actions in several towns. They abandoned Kismayo, too, without a fight, claiming that their flight was a strategic withdrawal to avoid civilian casualties, and entrenched around the small town of Ras Kamboni, at the southernmost tip of Somalia and on the border with Kenya. In early January, the Ethiopians and the Somali government attacked, resulting in the Battle of Ras Kamboni, and capturing the Islamic positions and driving the surviving fighters into the hills and forests after several days of combat. On January 9, 2007, the United States openly intervened in Somalia by sending Lockheed AC-130 gunships to attack Islamic positions in Ras Kamboni. Dozens were killed and by then the ICU were largely defeated. During 2007 and 2008, new Islamic militant groups organized, and continued to fight against transitional government Somali and Ethiopian official troops. They recovered effective control of large portions of the country. Ethiopian forces retreated in 2009. The ICU no longer exists as an organized political group.

On December 29, 2008, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed announced before a united parliament in Baidoa his resignation as President of Somalia. In his speech, which was broadcast on national radio, Yusuf expressed regret at failing to end the country's seventeen year conflict as his government had mandated to do. He also blamed the international community for its failure to support the government, and said that the speaker of parliament, Aden "Madobe" Mohamed, would succeed him in office per the charter of the Transitional Federal Government.

Former Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein of the Transitional Federal Government and Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of the opposition group Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) signed a power sharing deal in Djibouti that was brokered by the United Nations. According to the deal, Ethiopian troops were to withdraw from Somalia, giving their bases to the transitional government, African Union (AU) peacekeepers and moderate Islamist groups led by the ARS. Following the Ethiopian withdrawal, the transitional government expanded its parliament to include the opposition and elected Sheikh Ahmed as its new president on January 31, 2009. Sheikh Ahmed then appointed Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, the son of slain former President Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, as the nation's new Prime Minister.

The internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government controls only parts of Southern Somalia from its base in the town of Baidoa. On October 14, 2004, the Somali Transitional Federal Parliament elected Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, previously president of Puntland, to be president of Somalia. Because of the situation in Mogadishu, the election was held in a sports centre in Nairobi, Kenya. Yusuf was elected with 189 of the 275 votes from members of parliament.

Many other small political organisations exist, some clan-based, others seeking a Somalia free from clan-based politics. Many of them have come into existence since the civil war. The political situation thus remains unstable; for example, on September 18, 2006, Abdullahi Yusuf barely survived a suicide attack on his convoy in Baidoa, although twelve other people were killed.

In the northwest is the secessionist region of Somaliland, with its capital in Hargeisa, that declared its independence in 1991. This Isaaq-dominated governing zone is not recognized by any major international organization or country, although it has remained more stable and certainly more peaceful than the rest of Somalia, neighboring Puntland notwithstanding.

Puntland in the northeast also remains autonomous but supports the Transitional Government and, unlike Somaliland, still considers itself a part of the Somali Republic.

In Sanaag Region and some parts of Bari region there is newly declared state called Maakhir, which is a self-proclaimed autonomous state within Somalia on an area disputed by Somaliland and Puntland. Declared in July 1, 2007, it remains unrecognized by the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia.

Maakhir is mainly inhabited by the Warsangali clan, a member of the Harti confederation of clans (along with the Dhulbahante and Majeerteen) and a clan of the Darod clan.

In the southwestern interior, and areas dominated by Marehan of Sade, a Darod subclan, areas such as Jubaland and Southwestern Somalia or Gedo have all recognised the TFG and local leaders are part of the government.

The southern half of the country, with the bulk of the population, as of November 2007, is unstable, following the 2006 Civil War between the Transitional Government and the Islamic Courts Union.

Westerners and those working for western organisations continue to be targets of the violence. Two aid workers, one British and the other Kenyan, were abducted in Puntland on 8 May 2007 and a western nurse and her escort were shot dead in Mogadishu on 17 September 2006.

The inhabitants of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn regions of Northern Somalia have announced the formation of a new political party – Northern Somali Unionist Movement (NSUM), a grass roots Somali organization whose members and supporters hail from Sool, Sanaag and Cayn regions in the Northern regions of Somalia (formerly British Somaliland) and whose clan in these regions do not identify with the Somaliland secession. NSUM stands for the promotion of peace and unity among all people of Somalia.

In late February, 2009, fighting between Islamists & AU peacekeepers resulted in 69 dead .

Mogadishu is the capital of Somalia. However, during the conflict in 2006, Mogadishu became part of the territory controlled by the Islamic Courts Union, while the Transitional Federal Government had its seat in Baidoa. The Government returned to Mogadishu in December 2006 with the help of Ethiopian troops.

Somalia is located in the Horn of Africa with the Gulf of Aden to the north and the Indian Ocean to the east. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the northwest, and Kenya to the southwest. Somalia has the longest coastline on the continent. Its terrain consists mainly of plateaus, plains, and highlands. In the far north, however, the rugged east-west ranges of the Karkaar Mountains lie at varying distances from the Gulf of Aden coast.

Major climatic factors are a year-round hot climate, seasonal monsoon winds, and irregular rainfall with recurring droughts. Mean daily maximum temperatures range from 30 °C to 40 °C (85–105 °F), except at higher elevations and along the east coast. Mean daily minimums usually vary from about 15 °C to 30 °C (60–85 °F). The southwest monsoon, a sea breeze, makes the period from about May to October the mildest season at Mogadishu. The December-February period of the northeast monsoon is also relatively mild, although prevailing climatic conditions in Mogadishu are rarely pleasant. The "tangambili" periods that intervene between the two monsoons (October–November and March–May) are hot and humid.

On a de facto basis, northern Somalia is now divided up among the quasi-independent states of Puntland, Somaliland, Galmudug and Maakhir. The south is at least nominally controlled by the Transitional Federal Government, although it is in fact controlled by Islamic groups outside Baidoa and Mogadishu. Under the de facto arrangements there are now 27 regions.

Somalia has one of the lowest HIV infection rates in all of Africa. This is attributed to the Muslim nature of Somali society and adherence of Somalis to Islamic morals.

The breadth of the AIDS pandemic has led to the idea in the West that the entire continent is ravaged by the disease. But Somalia — isolated for 14 years since the civil war began and populated by devout Muslims — has an infection rate of perhaps only 1.5 or 2 per cent of the adult population.

With the collapse of the central government in 1991, the education system is now private. Primary schools have risen from 600 before the civil war to 1,172 schools today, with an increase of 28% in primary school enrollment over the last 3 years. In 2006, Puntland, an autonomous state, was the second in Somalia (after Somaliland) to introduce free primary schools with teachers now receiving their salaries from the Puntland administration. In Mogadishu, the Benadir University, the Somalia National University, and the Mogadishu University, Kismayo University, University of Gedo are five of the eight functioning universities that teach Higher education in Southern Somalia. The Somali National University and all of its campuses in Lafole, SNU or Jaamacada Ummada, Medicine, and Gaheyr have been left unsafe for holding classes in any of its facilities since 1991. In Puntland, higher education is provided by the Puntland State University and East Africa University. In Somaliland, it is provided by Amoud University, University of Hargeisa, Somaliland University of Technology and Burao University. Three Somali universities are currently ranked in the top 100 of Africa. Qur'anic schools (also known as duqsis) remain the basic system of religious instruction in Somalia. They provide Islamic education for children, thereby filling a clear religious and social role in the country. Known as the most stable local and non-formal education providing basic religious and moral instruction, their strength rests on community support and in their use of locally made and widely available teaching materials.

The Qur'anic system, which teaches the greatest number of students relative to the other education sub-sectors, is the only system accessible to nomadic Somalis compared to the urban Somalis who have easier access to education. In 1993, a survey by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) was conducted in which it found, among other things, that about 40% of pupils in Qur'anic schools were girls.

Since the collapse of the state, Somalia has transformed from what Siad Barre referred to as "Scientific Socialism" to a free market economy.

Agriculture is the most important sector, with livestock accounting for about 40% of GDP and about 65% of export earnings. Nomads and semi-nomads, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, make up a large portion of the population.

After livestock, bananas are the principal export; sugar, sorghum, maize, and fish are products for the domestic market.

The small industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, accounts for 10% of GDP.

American and Chinese oil companies are also excited about the prospect of oil and other natural resources in Somalia. An oil group listed in Sydney, Range Resources, anticipates that the Puntland province in the north has the potential to produce 5 billion to 10 billion barrels of oil.

While millions of Somalis receive food aid, according to a study by the UNDP and the European Commission, it is estimated that as much as $1 billion USD is annually remitted to Somalia by Somalis in the diaspora via money transfer companies—far more than the amount of development funding flowing into the country.

Somalia's public telecommunications system has been almost completely destroyed or dismantled. However, private wireless companies thrive in most major cities and actually provide better services than in neighbouring countries. Wireless service and Internet cafés are available. Somalia was the last country in Africa to access the Internet in August 2000, with only 57 web sites known as of 2003. Internet usage in Somalia increased 44,900% from 2000 to 2007, registering the highest growth rate in Africa. Somalia has the cheapest cellular calling rates on the continent, with some companies charging less than a cent per minute. Competing phone companies have agreed on interconnection standards, which were brokered by the United Nations funded Somali Telecom Association.

Somalia is a semi-arid country with about 2% arable land. The civil war had a huge impact on the country’s tropical forests by facilitating the production of charcoal with ever present, recurring, but damaging droughts. Somali environmentalist and Goldman Environmental Prize winner, Fatima Jibrell, became the first Somali to step in and do a much-needed effort to save the rest of the environment through local initiatives that organised local communities to protect the rural and coastal habitat. Jibrell trained a team of young people to organise awareness campaigns about the irreversible damage of unrestricted charcoal production. Jibrell also joined the Buran rural institute that formed and organised the Camel Caravan program in which young people loaded tents and equipment on camels to walk for three weeks through a nomadic locale and educate the people about the careful use of fragile resources, health care, livestock management and peace.

Fatima Jibrell has consistently fought against the burning of charcoal, logging and other man-induced environmental degradation. Her efforts have born fruits to the local communities across Somalia and international recognition when she won the prestigious Environmental Goldman award from San Francisco. Jibrell is also the executive director of Horn Relief and Development Organisation.

Following the massive tsunami of December 2004, there have also emerged allegations that after the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in the late 1980s, Somalia's long, remote shoreline was used as a dump site for the disposal of toxic waste. The huge waves which battered northern Somalia after the tsunami are believed to have stirred up tonnes of nuclear and toxic waste that was illegally dumped in the country by several European firms. The European Green Party followed up these revelations by presenting before the press and the European Parliament in Strasbourg copies of contracts signed by two European companies -- the Italian Swiss firm, Achair Partners, and an Italian waste broker, Progresso -- and representatives of the then "President" of Somalia, the faction leader Ali Mahdi Mohamed, to accept 10 million tonnes of toxic waste in exchange for $80 million (then about £60 million). According to reports by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the waste has resulted in far higher than normal cases of respiratory infections, mouth ulcers and bleeding, abdominal haemorrhages and unusual skin infections among many inhabitants of the areas around the northeastern towns of Hobbio and Benadir on the Indian Ocean coast -- diseases consistent with radiation sickness. UNEP continues that the current situation along the Somali coastline poses a very serious environmental hazard not only in Somalia but also in the eastern Africa sub-region.

Somalia has a population of around 10.7 million according to U.N. estimates in 2003, 85% of which constitute ethnic Somalis.

There is little reliable statistical information on urbanisation in Somalia. However, rough estimates have been made indicating an urbanization of 5% and 8% per annum with many towns rapidly growing into cities. Currently, 34% of the Somali population live in towns and cities with the percentage rapidly increasing.

Because of the civil war, the country has a large diaspora community, one of the largest of the whole continent. Millions of Somalis live abroad, and this excludes those who inhabit Yemen, northeastern Kenya, and Djibouti.

Somali is the national language of the Somali people and is used virtually everywhere by almost all ethnic Somalis as well as a few minority groups. Minority languages do exist, such as Af-Maay, which is spoken in areas in South-Central Somalia mainly by the Rahanweyn. Variants of Swahili (Barawe) are also spoken along the coast by Arabs and some Bantus (Jareer).

Many Somalis speak Arabic due to close ties with the Arab World, the far-reaching influence of the Arabic media, and religious education. English is also widely used and taught. Italian used to be a major language but now because of the civil war and lack of education, it is most frequently heard among older generations.

To a first approximation, the Somalis are entirely Sunni Muslims.

Christianity's influence was significantly reduced in the 1970s when church-run schools were closed and missionaries sent home. There has been no Archbishop of the Catholic cathedral in the country since 1989; the cathedral in Mogadishu was severely damaged in the civil war of January-February 1992.

The Somali constitution discourages the promotion and propagation of any religion other than Islam. This sets Somalis apart from their immediate African neighbours, many of whom are either Christians (particularly the Amhara and others of Ethiopia) or adherents of indigenous faiths.

The cuisine of Somalia varies from region to region and it encompasses different styles of cooking. One thing that unites the Somali food is its being Halal. Therefore, there are no pork dishes, alcohol is not served, nothing that died on its own is eaten and no blood is incorporated. Somali people serve dinner as late as 9 pm. During Ramadan, it is often eaten after Tarawih prayers – sometimes as late as 11 pm. Cambuulo is one of Somalia's most popular dishes and is enjoyed throughout the country as a dinner meal. The dish is made out of well-cooked azuki beans, mixed with butter and sugar. The beans, which by themselves are called digir, are often left on the stove for as many as five hours, on low heat, to achieve the most desired taste.

Somalia produced a large amount of literature through Islamic poetry and Hadith from Somali scholars of the last centuries. With the adoption of the Latin alphabet in 1973 numerous Somali authors have released books over the years which received widespread success, Nuruddin Farah being one of them. Novels like From a Crooked Rib and Links are considered important literary achievements which earned him the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

Somalia has the distinction of being one of only a handful of African countries that are composed almost entirely of one ethnic group, the Somalis. Traditional bands like Waaberi Horseed have gained a small following outside the country. Others, like Maryam Mursal, have fused Somali traditional music with rock, bossa nova, hip hop, and jazz influences. Most Somali music is love oriented.

Toronto, where a sizable Somali community exists, replaced Mogadishu (because of the instability) as the centre of the Somali music industry, which is also present in London, Minneapolis, and Columbus. One popular musician from the Somali diaspora is K'naan, a young rapper from Toronto, whose songs talk about the struggles of life in Somalia during the outbreak of the civil war.

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Source : Wikipedia