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Somalia

Yearbook 1997

Somalia. Battles between the many clan movements continued throughout the year. At the beginning of January, leaders for a large number of factions agreed to form a "national rescue council", which is later to be transformed into a unifying government. However, the most important clan leader, Hussein Aidid, did not attend the meeting and the fighting resumed soon. Also in May, peace agreements were reported that were created through international mediation but which were quickly broken. An agreement in December on power sharing, transitional government and a national reconciliation conference had broader support among clan leaders and met with somewhat greater optimism.

According to Countryaah, civilian Somali society was reported to have slowly begun to resurface. Some production and trade had started, the few magazines were not as tied to the armed movements as before and in parts of the country, local authorities functioned without connection to the warlords. However, life was still very difficult for the civilian population. In March, severe drought prevailed in southwestern Somalia and hundreds of people are believed to have died of starvation. In the fall, southern Somalia was hit by floods after several months of rain. The harvests were destroyed, a thousand people perished and about 230,000 became homeless.

1997 Somalia

Just as Afghanistan's citizens had welcomed the Taliban 15 years earlier - not because of its fundamentalism but because it brought peace amidst the chaos of war - Somalia's residents welcomed the Islamic courts because they created order in the chaos of violence that had engulfed Somalia in 15 years.

The United States feared that the Islamic courts would give al-Qaeda a bridgehead on the Horn of Africa, and on December 24 allowed Ethiopia to invade Somalia. After a few weeks, the Ethiopian troops had defeated the Islamic courts in Mogadishu, but fighting continued in the rest of the country. In a matter of months, the United States Deputy War in Somalia had driven 300,000 Somalis on the run. The US itself intervened openly when the superpower in January 2007 attacked the positions of Islamic courts in Ras Kamboni with AC-130 fighter jets.

In 2006, the Islamic court stopped the piracy off the coast of Somalia. Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia allowed the pirates to resume their work. On June 1, 2007, the Danish ship Danica White was taken by pirates. Only when the shipping company paid a larger unknown ransom after a few months did the crew come free.

The defeat of the Islamic courts to the Ethiopian occupation forces immediately led to the courts being divided into several factions. The most radical of these was al Shabaab, who organized the fight against the occupying forces and, through 2007 and 08, slowly drove them back. In late 2008, only al Shabaab occupied Baidoa and in January 2009, the Ethiopian forces had to leave the country.

Prime Minister Ghedi resigned from the post in October 2007. President Yusuf appointed Nur Hassan Hussein instead. However, this meant that half of the ministers withdrew from their posts because they or their clans had not been consulted. In January 2008, Hussein presented a slim cabinet.

President Yusuf announced in December 2008 that he withdrew in recognition that he had been unable to unite the country.

In January 2009, Sharif Ahmed was elected President at a meeting in Djibouti. Ahmed already had a long career as a prominent member of the Islamic Courts, and he was one of those who had most strongly fought the US-backed Ethiopian occupation of Somalia in 2006. 14 days later he appointed Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke as prime minister. The election was welcomed from many sides, as Sharmarke was considered a politician who would be able to gather widely among the Somali clans and among the politicians of the federal Somali transitional government. However, the backing did not apply to all Shabaab who stated that "an illegal camel cannot give birth to legal children".

The new federal transitional government was strengthened after it revoked the Islamic courts, and along with troops from the African Union launched an offensive against al Shabaab in the southern part of the country. At the same time, the government announced that it would introduce Sharia law. Yet al-Shabaab continued its military progress and in May occupied most of Mogadishu with the other major Islamist opposition group, Hizbul Islam. The Islamic opposition was weakened in October as fighting broke out between al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam. After a few months, significant parts of Hizbul Islam deserted to al Shabaab, and its fight against the federal transitional government began again. Mogadishu continues to be divided between Islamists and federal and control of individual districts varies according to who is on the offensive.

 

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