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Is Mogadishu Africa's Unfolding Baghdad?
So George Bush and Tony Blair invaded Baghdad to install a puppet government designed after their idea of a perfect democracy. We condemned them in the strongest terms possible. Yes, Saddam Hussein was the devil incarnate. Lucifer’s very own personal representative on earth that normal Christian faithful, the soldiers of the God of Israel could not allow to murder and pillage the rich oil fields of Baghdad at will.
The devil had to be toppled by any means necessary. And indeed, true to the prophecy according Pat Robertson of TBN, Saddam was removed from power and finally hanged to death in the full glare of international television cameras.
That was then. Yes, Saddam had carried out a systematic annihilation of his enemies; perceived and real. The Kurds bore the brunt of his brutality. Even his own son in law was not spared when it was prudent for Saddam to do so.
Sensible logic would inform us that the main driving force behind the American led Allied Forces invasion of Iraq twice in 10 years was precisely to stop Saddam from further murder of innocent lives. In their mind, removing Saddam from power was equivalent to restoring peace, democracy and good governance in Iraq. The killings would be a thing of the past.
What the Americans and their friends did not realize was that there are some societies on this earth that may not subscribe to a generic form of government. Western democracy may do well in America, France and Britain among many more. It may even do well in Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and South Africa. However, applied in Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Gaza or Lebanon, chances are it will falter.
Some societies may yearn for American type of democracy. However, when applied; they may find it an uphill task getting that democracy to work. There are a number of reasons for this. One such reason is the social environment that conditions our behavior as humans. When a society is oppressed for so long, it may not be able to fit well in a sudden burst of freedom and democracy.
The African chicken analogy here may suffice.
If you tie the legs of a chicken on your way to the market and the chicken remains tied for the better part of the day, on releasing it once you arrive home, the chicken may not take off immediately. It will still linger around on the same spot thinking that its legs are tied. It never dawns on it immediately that it has been given its freedom to fly.
Like Afghanistan’s Talibans before them, Iraq was invaded to get rid of dictator Saddam and his clique of fellow murderers. Today, almost four years after the Allied Forces invasion of both countries, the carnage continues. The Talibans have regrouped to wage prolonged guerilla warfare against the Allied Forces and their accomplices in Afghanistan. The prime suspect in this anti- terrorist onslaught- Osama bin Laden is still at large.
For Iraq, Americans are sadly realizing that it is easier to remove a dictator from power than to restore order or kill the spirit of nationalism that he finally symbolized to his handful of faithful followers.
Many years since Saddam was extracted from his rat hole, Baghdad has become the modern day killing fields of the Middle East. Even though more Iraqis have died under the watch of American Marines, the casualties have not spared the American either. More body-bags have flown back across the Atlantic than the Americans had envisaged.
Right now the number may soon equal the death toll that terrorists visited on American soil on 9/11. Today, Iraqis are waging a bloody war against the Americans and their allies not because they hated Saddam less, but rather, because they loathe the American occupation forces most.
Back closer to home in Somalia, we have another Baghdad in the making; thanks to the foolhardiness of the African leadership; a leadership that is so inept that it is incapable of learning from history that is as recent as the American invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Ethiopia , a neighboring country that has no record of democratic practice in the last 59 years, invaded Somalia to install regime that was opposed to the Islamic Courts, a civilian Movement that had restored relative sanity in most parts of Somalia without as much as spilling anybody’s blood. Why did Meles Zenawi order his troops to march on Mogadishu? He told the world that he feared Islamic fundamentalism next door. He had to get rid of the regime for the sake of the civilized world and on behalf of his friend, President Abdillahi Yusuf.
Many months later, elements of the Islamic Courts have regrouped to cause havoc not only to the residents of Mogadishu but to also present Ethiopian troops with the challenge of a special kind. They are challenging the very authority, legitimacy and resilience of Ethiopians as an occupation force.
Looked at another way, there is a common thread that runs through the Talibans in the Afghanistan mountains, the suicide bombers in the deserts of Iraq and Islamists in the rugged terrains of Somalia. The common denominator among them is the Islamic fundamentalism that sets their soldiers above ordinary fighters. When Muslims rise up against any authority or occupation force, they make it a religious affair. They turn the conflict into a jihad- a holy war. The moment the jihad factor is introduced, the rules of the game can change drastically and it most cases at the expense of the opponent. Where American soldiers would not dare walk into enemy lines with explosives strapped to their loins, suicide bombers have no qualms blowing themselves up into smithereens if it can contribute to their cause.
For this reason, the very tactics that Saddam’s army used when American war planes started raining bombs on helpless Baghdad were used by Islamic Courts Union when mighty Ethiopia started bombing them out of their shelters in Mogadishu. Like Iraqi soldiers did before them, the Islamic Courts fighters never offered any resistance to the invading army. They simply melted away into the crown.
And for awhile Ethiopians celebrated quick victory and speedily installed Abdillahi Yusuf into the seat of power in Mogadishu. What they didn’t know was that the retreat was purely a military tactic to mislead the victors into believing that the enemy had been vanquished. Today, like in Baghdad, the story is the same in Mogadishu. The scene of the first act in this theatre of the absurd has just begun. Enemy and innocent blood have started flowing freely. There is no end in sight for this uncalled for bloodbath.
Flashback to 2004 when the Somali Peace Accord was signed in Nairobi. At that I was a frequent visitor in Somaliland on a democratization and political governance project.
When I heard that Somali warlords had finally converged in Nairobi and agreed to share power miles away from Mogadishu, I predicted doom from day one. The number of articles I published in leading publications in the region earned a number of hate mails save for readers in Somaliland and the Somali Diaspora.
At that time, I was not convinced that Abdillahi Yusuf, a former warlord with blood of innocent Somalis on his hands was the right choice for the interim president of troubled Somalia. I did not believe that he had the guts to steer Somalia to relative peace knowing so well he had a phobia about Mogadishu. Deep down in his soul of souls, he would have loved to rule Mogadishu from his enclave in Puntland.
More importantly, Abdillahi Yusuf was not the charismatic leader that would talk peace and rally all warring factions behind him. He still had enemies even within his government in exile that he didn’t trust or didn’t trust him. More importantly, there were so many characters in that parliament, hand-picked in Nairobi that didn’t have any respect for him. These were the fears that informed his continued stay in Nairobi even after President Mwai Kibaki had bade him farewell. When he finally left Nairobi with his cabinet, instead of heading for Mogadishu, he flew over to Yemen to yet another hideout before making up his mind whether to return to Mogadishu or not. When he finally gathered courage to go back home, he headed for his village in Baidoa rather than the internationally recognized capital city of Mogadishu!
Let me repeat for the umpteenth time that a leader like President Abdillahi Yusuf is not worth sacrificing innocent lives in the streets of Mogadishu. Least of all, only an insane foreign government can dare send its troops there to salvage an inept leadership that has failed beyond repair. Two hundred thousand American and British troops have never cowed a handful of Iraqi bandits. How can a poor third world country like Ethiopia or Uganda even imagine that it can fight a charged fundamentalist guerilla group like the Islamic Courts insurgents and win?
Mark my words; Yoweri Museveni and Meles Zenawi had better get their troops out of the streets of Mogadishu before they turn that city into another Baghdad or Gaza in our neighborhood.
souce: Sunday Times