I dont really like to think retrospectively; I would rather prefer to think prospectively. However, Dear reader, forgive me today, in advance, for looking back and reflection, but for the sake of better future and fulfillment of imperative academic honesty ; not for the purpose of reprisal or inciting trials and tribulation between people. I am not also going to denigrate any individual, group or clan for just being who they are. Notwithstanding, I am appeasing no one in my analysis lest I prevaricate far from the verity.
Prof. Abdi Ali Jama
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Siad Barre and his junta seized power illegally in Oct, 1969. Three big historic mistakes or rather blunders, but one of them can be forgotten provided
, but again all the three together are reprehensible or unforgiveable. Seizing power is a big crime which sometimes amounts to high treason but can be forgotten if it finishes with good end. However, the end of Siad Barre episode is known to all of us: mayhem, protracted bloodshed, exodus, penury and failing state.
In my judgment, the situation at the time was not intractable or serious enough to warrant a military coup despite the brutal assassination of the then president H.E Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke. Wide spread corruption was the main pretext or precursor for the revolution as they taught us in schools in those days. History proved by now that it was naïve to think like that, especially after Somali people have undergone a never ending bloody civil war ensuing the ouster of said Barre. For these two reasons( lame excuse for seizure of power and the bad ugly end ), history will never ever forgive or forget any individual or group of people especially military officers who abetted or aided Siad Barre arrogate all state powers to himself, except those who went against him or at least not collaborated with him.
The second mistake or blunder was retaining power and planning not to give it back to Somali people. In my judgment, Siad Barre was squarely responsible for that sinful intention and nobody shares him because there was no single person who could dare tell him to stop it including SRC members. However, though illegal, it is understandable if he wanted to keep power as far as possible, but he went beyond that.
The third mistake-- the most abominable-- was using national military forces and all state powers and resources to fight against the oppositions---armed and non armed--- to maintain power at any cost especially when political crises peaked. He knew that the problem was not a military one but political in nature. Again, history will never ever forgive or forget any individual, groupclan or non- clanthat stood with Siad Barre regime fight his own people.
When Siad Barre came to power in 1969, the country was peaceful, united, democratic and awesome internationally, not to mention some relative corruption and bad governance. In 1991, he forcibly fled the country devastated, looted, disjointed, with its citizens slaughtered and scattered all over the world. I hope you know how to read History. Final results determine whether the leader is hero or villain, not by some of his superficial achievements during his stay in power which really weigh nothing compared to the lingering or rather perennial devastation he did unfairly to his own nation and country.
In this regard, history is like Economics which teach us how to take decision using marginal analysis or even Islamic teachings that preach us that what all matters is your final deeds before your demise. One day as I was having a cup of tea at a bar in the downtown, I overheard a group of youngsters who had been discussing 1977 Somali-Ethiopian war as though Somali people won the war. I approached them by saying: Gentlemen, sorry to interrupt you, it is true that Somalis stormed Ethiopia like a lightning at first, however history says that Somalia was defeated and Ethiopia won the war. They asked me why, and I told them straight that History reads the end. To be honest with you, they got shocked and flabbergasted!!!!
Siad Barre should not had done the coup. However if it happened, he should not had retained power for that long time. However, if it happened, he should not had dragged the country into civil war, however if it happened, he should not had kept power until state collapses. For instance, when Jawhar,90 km from Mogadisho, fell in the hands of opposition forces, he could even had saved the state from collapse by simply declaring that he would step down and submit the power to interim government which would later hold elections.
Siad Barre had had all the above mentioned spectrum of choices for that long period of time. I had been wondering for so long, how his evil sprit convinced him that he had had no other alternative other than saying: over my dead body, until after 20 years, history helped me solve the conundrum or the puzzle when I was following Kaddafis scenario of over my dead body unfolding before me; But this time grown up and able to comprehend better.
Tyrants themselves are categorically distinct. Siad Barre like Kaddafi can be aptly described as lowest of the low. They both developed a strange personality behavior that would never allow them to consider the other better choices they could have had, so they would take sound decisions both for themselves and their respective countries. Siad Barre and Kadafi of Libya are indeed twins in history. The other amazing coincidence is that they both Seized power illegally through military coup in the same year, 1969, and in the same month, October. I dont know if it was on the same day!!!!
However, Had Siad Barre left the power when Hargeisa and Burao fell in the opposition hands, perhaps, he would have been associated with Bin Ali of Tunisia. Again, had he abandoned power when Jawhar fell, perhaps, he would have been twined with Mubarak of Egypt. Some dictators are even better than others!!!! I wonder.
I am not belittling the atrocities and blood shed that followed the ouster of Siad Barre. In my view, he and his partners are utterly and squarely responsible for every drop of blood or human suffering that afflicted Somali people ever since he fled the country up to this moment, because he could have saved us from the tragedy.
In conclusion, I am personally against any act of reprisal or revenge. Magnanimity is virtue. Therefore I would propose for all partners in Siad Barre transgressions--individuals, clans, non clans-- to give sincere abject apology of their own volition to Somali peopleMandela way. If they do so, a sense of moral responsibility would develop amongst the youngsters by drawing up lessons learned, so that any thing like that might not happen again, and by the way, this is what this small article is all about. I hope it is cogent not convoluted piece.
By: prof. Abdi Ali Jama