A republic in extreme eastern Africa; Also called: Somali Republic.
Country in NE Africa (the Horn of Africa), on the Indian Ocean, bounded NW by Djibouti, W by Ethiopia, and SW by Kenya.
Since the overthrow of the Barre regime 1991, the country has been in a state of near-anarchy. In March 1993 a transitional national council was established but much of the country's administration was conducted by the United Nations.
For early history, see Africa. Somalia developed around Arab trading posts that grew into sultanates.
A British protectorate of Somaliland was established 1884–87, and Somalia, an Italian protectorate, 1889. The latter was a colony from 1927 and incorporated into Italian East Africa 1936; it came under British military rule 1941–50, when as a United Nations trusteeship it was again administered by Italy.
Somalia became a fully independent republic 1960 through a merger of the two former colonial territories. From that date, Somalia was involved in disputes with its neighbors because of its insistence on the right of all Somalis to self-determination, wherever they have settled.
This was frequently applied to those living in the Ogaden district of Ethiopia and in NE Kenya. A dispute over the border with Kenya resulted in a break in diplomatic relations with Britain 1963–68. The dispute with Ethiopia led to an eight-month war 1978, in which Somalia was defeated by Ethiopian troops assisted by Soviet and Cuban weapons and advisers. Some 1.5 million refugees entered Somalia, and guerrilla fighting continued in Ogaden until its secession 1991. There was a rapprochement with Kenya 1984 and, in 1986, the first meeting for ten years between the Somali and Ethiopian leaders.
The first president of Somalia was Aden Abdullah Osman, who was succeeded 1967 by Dr Abdirashid Ali Shermarke of the Somali Youth League, which had become the dominant political party. In Oct 1969, President Shermarke was assassinated, and the army seized power under Maj Gen Mohamed Siad Barre. He suspended the 1960 constitution, dissolved the national assembly, banned all political parties, and formed a military government. In 1970 he declared Somalia a socialist state.
In 1976, the junta transferred power to the newly created Somalia Revolutionary Socialist Party, and three years later the constitution for a one-party state was adopted. Over the next few years Barre consolidated his position by increasing the influence of his own clan and reducing that of his northern rival, despite often violent opposition.
opposition and repression
In 1982 the antigovernment Somali National Movement (SNM) was formed. Oppressive countermeasures by the government led to an estimated 50,000–60,000 civilian deaths by 1990 and 400,000 refugees fleeing to Ethiopia. All post was censored in the north, identity cards were necessary for travel within the country, and contact with foreigners was discouraged.
Barre was reelected Jan 1987, although the SNM had taken control of large parts of the north and east of the country. In riots June 1989 an estimated 400 people were killed by government troops; the government claimed only 24 people died.
Government soldiers, pursuing refugees believed to be SNM rebels, crossed into Kenya Sept 1989 and killed four Kenyan policemen. Kenya threatened reprisals even as Prime Minister Samantar announced the release of all political prisoners. He ruled out talks with the SNM.
In Jan 1991 President Barre survived an attempted coup but fled the capital as rebels captured it. After discussions with different political and social groups, Ali Mahdi Mohammed was named president. The secession of NE Somalia, as the Somaliland Republic, was announced May 1991. A cease-fire signed June 1991 between four rival Somali factions (United Somali Congress (USC), Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF), Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), and Somali Democratic Movement (SDM)), failed to hold. In Sept 1991 the outbreak of severe fighting with many casualties was reported in Mogadishu, the capital. The fighting continued in the succeeding months and 20,000 people were reported to have been killed or injured by the year's end. By April 1992 Mohamed Siad Barre had given up his attempt to return to power and had taken his family and the remnants of his army into exile in Kenya.
measures to arrest famine
The widespread famine of 1992, caused in most part by the civil war, was estimated by the International Red Cross to have affected more than a quarter of Somalia’s 6 million people. In order to alleviate the disaster, the US organized its largest relief operation to Africa in Aug, “Operation Restore Hope”. Other Western nations also contributed to the airlift and the UN sent troops to guard the food shipments. Even so, relief efforts were hampered by the political instability, and on 9 Dec a contingent of 1,800 US Marines landed in Mogadishu and seized control of the harbor and airport. They were the first of a planned US military presence of 30,000; France and Italy also committed themselves to sending troops. Two days later the two dominant warlords in the area, Ali Mahdi Mohammed and General Mohammed Farah Aidid, both of the USC, agreed a truce. However, factional fighting continued in more remote areas. The following spring
agreement on federal government
A federal system of government, based on 18 autonomous regions, was agreed by leaders of Somalia's various armed factions March 1993.
peacekeeping troops embroiled in conflict
In June 1993 US-led UN forces destroyed the headquarters of warlord General Mohammed Farah Aidid and attacked other strongholds in retaliation for the killing of 24 Pakistani peacekeeping troops. A formal warrant was then issued for Aidid's arrest and an all-out search for the warlord launched. Incidents between UN and Somali forces increased as a result. In Oct 1993, after a battle in Mogadishu which left 12 US soldiers dead and as many as 70 wounded, US president Bill Clinton announced March 1994 as a withdrawal date for US troops. The search for Aidid was called off Nov 1993. In Feb 1994 self-proclaimed president Ali Mahdi Mohammed and Aidid signed a peace agreement, by which time most Western peacekeeping troops had been withdrawn. Clan-based fighting continued, but there were signs of some stability in the country's affairs. In March 1995, on withdrawal of the remaining UN peacekeepers, Aidid's forces seized control of Mogadishu's airport.