Saturday, May 16, 2009



By Rashid Yahya
Thursday, May 14, 2009

The horrors of another unnecessary war are once again visited upon the people of Somalia as Al-Shabab militias unleash deadly fire power in heavily populated areas, ferociously assaulting the capital city, Mogadishu to unseat the feeble Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

The bodies of innocent civilians and fighters litter the streets. Fear grips the City, forcing mass exodus in numbers not seen during the days of Ethiopia’s occupation.

This should not be happening in a Moslem country. It is not in the character of Moslems to harm defenseless non-combatants. Moslems do not hurt without a reason. True believers, with strong moral virtues anchored in the teachings of Islam, disdain cruelty and leave others live their lives unmolested. This is what distinguishes a true Moslem from non-Moslems.

Nonetheless; it is hard to rationalize this war; except that it is driven solely by the arrogance of some men who are determined to use of violence in order to take more than their fair share. Men who are not restrained by right or wrong to become masters of other men’s’ lives, properties and destiny and thru deceit deceptively disguise evil in the likeness of good for their own pleasure and gain.

The tragedy about this war, notwithstanding the loss of lives and the destruction it causes, is that it hurls back the country into a state of anarchy and chaos, when finally it came so close to achieving peace, after almost 20 years of incessant blood letting.

After all the misery and violence; sensible people, specially our religious leaders, should agree that peace is good and vital for the preservation of mankind; and therefore a divine command it is on all to seek the path and means in their quest for peace, because war can never preserve life and peace does not destroy it.

Therefore; it is incumbent upon all men, more so on Moslems, to endeavor and strive for harmony as far as humanly possible; for the alternative is a wretched condition of perpetual war where society is condemned to a hobbetian doctrine of continual fear, danger and violence and where there is no security for any man and life becomes solitary, poor, brutish and short.

This war needed not happen. Yes! There are grounds for valid and legitimate political disagreements; but one ought to always maintain civil discourse and keep the wellbeing of the nation ahead of self centered gratifications. There will among men always be diversity in opinion, but even the most indignant and deepest anger one may rightfully feel, it pales when compared to the misery and other horrible calamites that a civil war will bring onto the people.

Therefore; pious men and true believers should look not at the gravity of perceived injustice done onto them but at the greatness of the common good to follow in the acts of their forgiveness and must always dutifully make certain they take all the care in the world to ensure their actions bring not more harm to society than good.

A Legacy of Reckless Belligerency and the Politics of Deception:

Apparently; given the atrocities committed and the aggressiveness of the provocative actions taken; it needs not be said that the leadership of Al-Shabab hardly exhausted; or even attempted to carefully weigh the consequence of their actions, let alone sincerely seeking peace. They have willfully and consciously stayed on the path of destabilization and to warfare by manufacturing baseless accusations against the D’jibouti peace initiatives and the person of the presidency.

On the other hand; duty bound, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in spite of its dismal performance in providing the least measures of public service; has actively pursued peace with the opposition.

No one can deny that the President and the Prime Minister have shown courageous and an unusual openness and goodwill in reaching out with extended arms of brotherhood to the opposition for dialogue and reconciliation. The President’s deep commitment to bring lasting and enduring peace to Somalia through peaceful negotiations has not been reciprocated even by one faction on the side of the opposition alliance.

To the contrary; Al-Shabab resorted to rapprochement and blatant distortion of facts, going so far over the norms and values of benevolence to the absurdity of questioning the faith of the President, whether he is a Moslem and also his loyalty to the people and his patriotism?

Yet all the while, Al-Shabab has sought to lay claim to all the good and take credit for the withdrawal of the Ethiopian occupation forces without least acknowledging the role played by the current President and his team in the exhaustive negotiations of D’jibouti.

Truth be told, yes! The armed struggle has made significant and undeniable contribution to Ethiopia’s willingness to go, but there is no way on earth that the insurgency, armed with Kalashnikovs and shoulder fired propelled grenades, could have driven out an army of over 10 to 50 thousand strong, well equipped and trained if Ethiopia intended to remain in Somalia. The credit belongs to those who have bravely and honorably fought the occupation, but equally so to those who tirelessly negotiated the terms of withdrawal in D’jibouti.

Rest assured, Al-Shabab’s rejection of all peace negotiations with the current TFG is not in vain, but a calculated strategy to seize power. It is a manifest of a pattern- impulsive and callous disregard to life and the restoration of Somalia into a stable and peaceful nation. Though some would have you believe that this war is waged for the attainment of religious purity and to establish the Law of Allah on the ground, its hellish savagery and the brutality of the tactics employed expose the classic pursuit of power by all means necessary.

Everything that this war could possibly achieve may equally have been achieved through peaceful means, without a single loss of life. The only difference it could bring about is a difference in name for the man who will wear the crown on his head.

Al-Shabab wants to finalize its conquest of the country for the ultimate consolidation of power. If Mogadishu falls, the rest of the remaining regions are a cake walk. The capital city is the last hurdle of the final price; the seat of government.

The Facts About AMISOM Mandate:

Moreover; For the sake of fairness; when did forces from Burundi and Uganda came to be occupation forces? Under no circumstance does the presence of AMISOM compromise the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence or the unity of Somalia.

To the contrary; its mission, as mandated by the UN Security Council, is “to support dialogue and reconciliation in Somalia; assist the TFG, protect the Transitional Federal Institutions and to create the necessary security conditions for the provision of humanitarian assistance,” to the desperate millions driven from their homes.

Yes! Ethiopia’s incursions into Somalia were unauthorized and illegal, but how can one lump together the mission purposes of AMISOM with that of Ethiopia?

The facts indicate otherwise; Bujumbura is 1,850 Kilometers (Km) away from Mogadishu and the land mass area of Burundi is almost 23 times smaller than that of Somalia. Why and how can a nation that far and small could even contemplate occupying Somalia?

Then again; Kampala is also 1,450 Km from Mogadishu and even Uganda, a landlocked country just like Burundi, is 1/3 the size of Somalia and is mired in its own armed conflict among hostile ethnic groups.

There exists no single and plausible strategic interest for Uganda, nor has either country the military and economic capacity to sustain forceful occupation in Somalia. The AMISOM forces are here to help Somalia stand on its feet. We owe them gratitude not pointing guns at them.

Missed Opportunities and the Prospect of a Grim Future:

For all practical predictions through objective analysis; the best outcome Al-Shabab could have gained was accepting the President’s peaceful proposals. They already are (were) in control of

almost half of the country and could have tactfully bargained for a better deal in the Administration by leveraging on their military mussel and the size of the areas under their control; but as usual, another blunder and a massive miscalculation of the power of might.

Al-Shabab; though it may triumph militarily on the field of battle; can not succeed politically and will eventually fail. There are too many hurdles on its way; not the least of which is the post 9/11 geopolitical realities of today’s world; but its rigid and radical ideology is its biggest obstacle.

Extremism does not only set Somalia against the world, but it is an anathema to the fiber of the Somali society. No one can re-Islamize Somalia through brute force.

History has proven, over and over again, tyranny can not last for long. Al-Shabab may conquer the land and take the helm of power, but it has yet to show credibly the capacity and vision and the wherewithal to lead a nation; except through brute and oppressive measures.

I tremble for the fate of my country and what awaits my people were Al-Shabab to seize power.

Look not too far but in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, where one is not even safe in the house of Allah and Masjids are bombed in the middle of Friday prayers, acid is thrown on the faces of young school girls, teams of hit squads spread terror and mayhem in the streets.

Somalia is starting to experience now the horrors of arbitrary detentions, intolerance to dissent, elimination of opposition through targeted killings, hand amputations, stoning to death without due course and in complete disregard to legal recourse as the Koran dictates. An absolute tyranny which knows no bounds except ruling through sheer terror.

How does one reason with men who anoint themselves to be the soldiers of Allah and treat every one else who disagrees, no matter how legitimate, as the enemy of Allah?

Irrespective of the outcome in the current blood path; even if Al-Shabab were to triumph and still manage to bring about internal stability through its harsh and oppressive techniques, its relationship with the outside world will undoubtedly invite tension and unending wars.

The International Community, if not with direct military intervention, will in all likelihood as a result of Al-Shabab’s disposition to rash political adventurism impose economic sanctions which will cripple an already starving nation. Somalia will be definitely be mired in unending conflicts with neighboring states. The young and the unborn will know no life other than strife, violence and hunger. Somalia will embrace hell on earth under Al-Shabab’s rule.

Rashid Yahya
Baltimore, Maryland