cubano

The Roots of Somali Crisis, An Insider’s Memoir by Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess

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An interesting book about Siad Barre regime.

 

In Part 1 of the book, Jess provides a summary of Somali’s historical background, from a personal account, from the struggle for Independence to the formation of the Somali republic, in what he describes as the process of “pan-Somalism.”

He joined the Somali National Army in 1969 and served as the commanding officer for various divisions until he was appointed the head of Military Directorate. Throughout the years, the prevailing situation of the capital city was entirely tense, which Jess attributes to the political environment.

The book traces the history of the birth of Somali state back to 1901 during the “Dervish Movement,” which resisted the British, the Italian, and the Ethiopian occupation. The movement was led by Sayid Mohamed Abdullah Hassan. The North of Somalia was a British Protectorate, while the South and the Western Somali were under Italian and Ethiopian rule respectively.  Due to the success of this movement, Abdullah Hassan is regarded as the pioneer of Somali nationalism.

The Somali Youth Club was later formed in 1943 and it evolved to the Somali Youth League. According to the author, SYL strived relentlessly for Independence and it was the main representative of the Somali interests at the United Nations. The key interests of Somalis at this time was the establishment of a United Somali, a plea that was highly disregarded by the international community. Somaliland and Somalia eventually unified after independence in 1960. Jess argues the events in the region during this time were rooted in the spirit of Somali nationalism, which unfortunately formed the ground for clan and sub-clan politics later.  As Jess contends, the country is a perfect expression of “nationalism that was not well-nurtured”.

Jess says after the birth new Somali Republic, there emerged disputes at the top echelons of leadership. Besides the scarcity of resources, other difficulties facing the young nation included the international order and the Ethiopia challenge. By 1963, there were armed movements referred to as “Nasullah” led by Garaad Mukhtar Dahir, and in the nationalism spirit, Somali went into war with Ethiopia and later with Kenya (Shifta War, 1963-67). President Sharmarke and the Prime Minister held conflicting perspectives regarding the conflicts, which led to the appointment of a new Prime Minister Abdi Razak.

In October 1969, there was a coup and the Armed forces resumed power. Jess notes the coup was supported by the North and the Southern populations, who were dissatisfied with President Sharmarke’s leadership.  The Supreme Revolutionary Council was formed, and a number of milestones were realised in the education, agriculture, and health sectors. Regardless of the unification, the North and the South operated as distinct entities and SRC (which later dissolved in 1976) played a critical role in uniting the two regions.

The book further explores the cause of failure during this time and highlights that President Siad Barre’s failures and faulty decisions formed the immediate triggers of the conflict. Jess cites confrontation with Quran teachings, expulsions of USS military experts, and decision to join the Arab League as some of the bad decisions.

In Part 2, Jess describes the immediate events that led to the collapse of the Somali state. He singles out the 1977 war between Somalia and Ethiopia as an important aspect of the country’s history. Jess notes that many sources that document the war oversimplify issues to fit into the values regarded as acceptable by the majority. He, however,  goes against the norms by narrating the actual events surrounding the war.

He says President Barre’s failures made a significant contribution towards Somalia’s defeat in the War. According to him, it was more prudent to focus on negotiated peace than pursuing an ambitious military victory. Another mistake by the president was the expulsion of USSR, which accelerated Ethiopia’s regional power. As Barre’s regime became increasingly repressive, he ordered the execution of the military officers who opposed his handling of the conflict with Ethiopia. This led to the 1978 attempted coup.

Jess explores how the 1988 civil war played a critical role in the collapse of the Somali state.

In his analysis of the causes of the civil war, Jess argues that the agreement betweenBarre and Ethiopia’s dictator Haile Mariam on how to handle Ogaden and Isaak sub-clans as well as the SNM (armed movement) instigated the conflict.

The opposition movements in Somalia continued to gain more power. The most popular among them was the SNM, which mainly comprised of the Isaak sub-clan. Barre’s regime continued to use oppressive means to respond to the opposition such as curfews, execution, and detention.

As the head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, Jess provides a precise account of the happenings, and he asserts the situation got out of hand when the President’s confidential report was leaked in 1988. Over the years, Jess grew to become a key player in the armed opposition against the ruling regime, which led to Barre’s eventual fall. The attacks by the opposition military forces played a key role in weakening Barre’s regime.

In Part 3, he addresses factional politics in Somalia, and why they left a divided country after the fall of Barre. Jess narrates in appreciable detail the general situation of the country immediately after Barre was defeated and forced to flee to Kenya in April 1992. All the armed groups united to form the Somali National Army, which controlled a large proportion of the country. He assesses various factors that weakened the possibility of cooperation between the clans. One key aspect he notes is the KaDhashay policy by President Barre, which required people to be in regions populated by their clans. He notes that the efforts to unite and regain stability in Somalia failed because various attempts occurred co-currently.

Part 4 of the book is about external interventions in the 1990s to restore order in Somalia, which failed disastrously.

Part 5 highlights the initiatives by foreign forces led by the UN between 1992 and 1996. Jess also includes into the narrative how war impacted on natural calamities, including the famine in 1991. He argues that the primary cause of the famine was the return of Barre to Baidoa in his attempt to regain power. He elaborates further on Barre’s return and the consequences. In the last part of the book, the writer provides a reflective view of the Somali crisis, noting that the worst damage to the republic occurred during Barre’s misrule. He also reflects on other aspects which may have greatly contributed to the collapse of Somali state.

The Roots of Somali Crisis is an informative source that sheds light on the genesis of the major challenges facing Somali today. The protracted civil war, cycles of famine, piracy, and attacks by extremists have destroyed the country’s economy, and forced millions to free and seek refuge in other countries.

Jess is , however, is optimistic about the future. “There is hope for Somali”, he says. In the search of potential paths, Jess’s book is of great value to policy makers, leaders, conflict resolution experts and peacemakers, security agents, and the international community whose support is essential in ensuring Somalia rises again.

 

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I read some excerpts and the writer seems to be fair minded. Its difficult to write something historical that you participated, with less bias and with some writers out right lies.

 

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The only thing that matter for his book is that he is optimistic for the future Somalia. He will ever remembered the man who stopped the flying civilian in Afgooye and again he was Kismaayo with another massacre 

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But I think the Omar Jess opinion is very interesting to understand 1977 war and Siad Barre-Mengistu agreement.

I hope someone could show me excerpts of the book.

I would like to know what he says about Ogaden War (1977.1978). I appreciate your help.

 

 

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5 hours ago, cubano said:

But I think the Omar Jess opinion is very interesting to understand 1977 war and Siad Barre-Mengistu agreement.

I hope someone could show me excerpts of the book.

I would like to know what he says about Ogaden War (1977.1978). I appreciate your help.

 

 

Mr Cubano, 

Since the Ogaden war the Somali people have gone through much much more and have moved on, so let us conclude this obsession of yours and move on. 

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Thank you very much for advice, but you should respect my interest about 1977 war.

I just want to know Omar Jess opinion on 1977. Is this desire so difficult to understand?

My desire is to understand Omar Jess opinion.

 

Could you do me a favour a show me his opinion about 1977 war?

 

 

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2 hours ago, cubano said:

Thank you very much for advice, but you should respect my interest about 1977 war.

I just want to know Omar Jess opinion on 1977. Is this desire so difficult to understand?

My desire is to understand Omar Jess opinion.

 

Could you do me a favour a show me his opinion about 1977 war?

 

 

Apologies. You have a right to pursue your interests without anyone standing in your way. If you are really that interested in finding out Omar Jess's opinion, it would be more useful if you obtained his contact address and wrote to him or even better- talked to him. 

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Aah, Axmed Cumar Jees, a name I hadn't heard for two decades - since from the late '90s. Inuu noolyahay maba moodeynin.

Mar mar waxaa isweydiiyaa, what did all those warlords from '90s and '00s achieve than the utter destruction of our country?

Mid ka mid ah oo meel gaaray ma leh, mid darajo ama lacag ku helay ma leh. Kan ugu dhaamay Cismaan Caato ahaa, asagoo fara magan ayaana la duugay. One can say C/llaahi Yuusuf ayaa meel gaaray, but without Xabashi tanks and mercenaries intii yareyd uu meel ku gaaray xataa ma gaareen. They failed miserably, all of them.

 

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If someone has read the book, he could share details of the book with us.

Answer questions about 1977 war and its outcome.

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