AFRICAN SPRING MAR 17 2021 Farmajo Rehabilitates Warlord Ali Mahdi By Shukri SAID Warlord Mohamed Ali Mahdi died of Covid19 in Nairobi last March 10, who for all the nineties, with rival gen. Mohamed Farah Hussein, known as Aidid (the victorious), put Mogadishu to fire and sword causing the killing of tens of thousands of Somalis in a genocide never seen in the history of the country, stealing and destroying assets, causing a diaspora of biblical proportions and selling the territory to ecomafias. Yet, the current outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo (Cheese), has reserved for him a state funeral with three days of national mourning and flags at half mast.b
Somali President Farmajo (center) at Ali Mahdi’s
funeral wearing a bulletproof vest
To the grievances raised by a part of the population, Villa Somalia replies that those honors were bestowed as a sign of pacification, forgetting that, in order to talk about reconciliation, the wrongs must
be behind us and the victims of the genocide honoured, meanwhile in Mogadishu there are many problems left by the civil war that are still unresolved, first of all the same civil war is still smoldering
under the ashes and it can rekindle at any time when the country is confronted by a crucial choice.
The world became aware of the existence of Mohamed Ali Mahdi on January 28, 1991. Siad Barre had spontaneously left the power that radiated from Villa Somalia just five days earlier, after an armed
revolt which had been preceded, in May, by the publication of the “Manifesto” in which 144 personalities of the country, representing all the clans, asked for the convening of a reconciliation conference.
Siad Barre had in fact managed to quell clan differences by naming exponents of all clans to command posts and by spreading education to uniformly and widely raise the youngest, so as to offer them
equal opportunities and to emerge regardless of the tribe they belong to, but the clan die hard and in 1990 a series of cultural and clanic conflicts had come to a head which, in a pure dictatorial
perspective, should have been repressed even more rigorously than in the past to avoid a general revolution. But Siad Barre refused to shed Somali blood and abandoned Villa Somalia, leaving
Mogadishu and the entire bureaucratic structure of the State intact.
In those days of total government vacuum, a part of the United Somali Congress (USC) group mostly made up of members of the Hawiye clan, appointed Mohamed Ali Mahdi, of the Abgal tribe,
president of the Republic, and the first thing he decided was the dissolution of the army, ordering the soldiers to surrender to the clan militias.
The late warlord Mohamed Ali Mahdi
The top military and bureaucratic leaders understood the danger and hurriedly sent
their family members abroad starting an exodus that continues to the present day, while the stragglers and freed prisoners engaged in barbaric killings, rape, theft and occupations of public property and
private now uninhabited and squatted.
News of the looting in Mogadishu attracted masses of dispossessed from the countryside attracted by the hope of booty. New occasions of devastation and robbery quickly reduced it to nothing , while
the military wing of the same USC group, under the command of General Muhammad Farah Aidid, of the same Hawiye clan as Ali Mahdi, but of the Habr Ghedir tribe, rejected Ali Mahdi’s appointment
as President, and from November 17, 1991, the civil war that ensued produced tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of refugees. The largest refugee camp in the world is still that of
Dadaab which is considered the fourth most populous city of Kenya, the state in which it was created was to give refuge to the Somali populations that fled the civil war and the consequent famine.
The international community tried to calm the unrest with repeated peace interventions. In April 1992 it was established the ONUSOM mission to allow the arrival of humanitarian aid. In December 1992,
the “Restore Hope” mission was launched, and in mid1993 the second ONUSOM mission started. In 1995, the failure of the “Restore Hope” also took away all other peacekeeping missions and thus
Somalia was abandoned to its fate.
Warlords Ali Mahdi and Aidid appeared completely ungovernable. Hundreds of armed bands operated on the territory beyond any control.
The ruins of the Cathedral of Mogadishu
after the civil war
Aidid even attacked the troops of the peace contingent on 5 June 1993, causing 25 deaths, 10 missing and 54 wounded. Hence, the resurgence of attacks. An American helicopter killed more than 50
Somalis in a private house in Mogadishu on July 12, 1993, favoring the sympathies of the population for the Warlords . On October 3, 1993 Aidid’s militias shot down an American helicopter and 18
Rangers died while 75 were wounded. The story was told in the film “Black Hawk down”.
Any attempt at reconciliation between the quarreling two failed while the other factions scattered throughout the territory were divided between the two leaders of Mogadishu clashing with local rivals.
In December 1997, after gen. Aidid had died the previous year in battle, leaving room for his son Hussein, the Somali factions met in Cairo where Ali Mahdi was confirmed President of Somalia and
remained in office until 2000, when Abdiqasim Salad Hassan was appointed in his place.
Such a long period of power, in a starving country, would find no explanation without the funding that Ali Mahdi obtained through the sale of permits to the ecomafias to dump toxic and radioactive waste
from Europe into the sea and the inland.
The scandal came to light following the tsunami of late December 2004 that had thrown the bottom of the Indian Ocean on the Somali coast, sending dozens of roughly sealed containers, many of which
broke, spreading their deadly pollution in the area.
Toxic waste beached in Somalia – Photo by Paul Moreira
On February 22, 2005, UNEP published a report on the effects of the tsunami, devoting an entire chapter to Somalia. From those pages emerged dispersions of uranium, cadmium, mercury, hospital and
European pharmaceutical industry’s waste. Particularly polluted were the areas of Obbia and Warsheikh, two minor ports to the North of Mogadishu. Fetal malformations, rare ailments, acute breathing
difficulties and severe dermatological problems were reported.
The European Greens came into possession of contracts signed by Ali Mahdi in which there was talk of allowing the discharge of 10 million tons of toxic waste against 80 million dollars. The cost of only
8 dollars a ton, when the ecomafias sold the same service to their customers for 1000 dollars, produced disproportionate profits that the traffickers wanted to safeguard at any cost: even at the cost of
the life of those who wanted to investigate, like the journalist Ilaria Alpi and the cameraman Miran Hrovatin. No one has ever been able to establish which and how much waste was dumped into the sea
or buried in the land.
Toxic waste beached in Somalia – Photo by Paul Moreira
The gain of 80 million dollars did not benefit the Somali population, but allowed Ali Mahdi to access the arms market to continue his battle against the enemy tribe. With part of that wealth, Ali Mahdi
built an 11storey hotel in the center of Mogadishu (the Ali Mahdi Tower), the tallest building in the capital, but he never regretted the crimes committed, always considering himself in office as a warlord
and, as such, ready as he said in a very recent interview to take up the rifle again that he claimed to keep loaded on the bed if the outgoing President Farmajo had not immediately left Villa Somalia
after the expiry of its mandate.
It must be said that Mogadishu has never left the orbit of the warlords who still command by having the economic power that is also expressed through legal activities to support minor businesses as
well as important arsenals in the city, armed militias to protect their assets and their safety as well as being used as a deterrent against possible rival attacks. A capital divided among the mafias. Even
today Mogadishu is split in two as during the civil war. The “green line” that physically divided the capital between the north of Ali Mahdi and the south of Aidid is no longer visible but its effect persists
through the occupation, by their respective supporters, of the properties that had been left by the escaped inhabitants escaping the horrors of the armed clashes.
Mayor of Mogadishu Abdirahman Osman
Yerisow killed in attack in 2019_Twitter photo
With the persistence of these abuses, which arouse continuous conflicts on the part of the dispossessed, the power of the centre has not been able to oppose it to restore legality. Indeed, the Mayor of
Mogadishu Abdirahman Omar Osman, known as Ing. Yerisow (the little one), promoted several attempts to return the houses to their rightful owners, but was killed in the kamikaze attack of 24 July
2019 and in his place Farmajo appointed Omar Mohamud Mohamed, known as Filish (distortion of the English “finish”).
It is true that Filish was minister of religious affairs in a transitional government between 2004 and 2009, but it is equally true that, before that, he was a well-known warlord and, as has been pointedly
observed, with the appointment as mayor he obtained politically what he had failed to achieve with military skill. Filish had in fact led a group of militias for nearly a decade between the late 1990s and
early 2000s, losing two battles for control of the capital. The first siding with Ali Mahdi against Aidid and the second fighting against the Union of Islamic Courts which took power in 2006.
The choice of a former warlord as mayor of Mogadishu, after the socialist experience of Eng. Yerisow – whose death still awaits justice – was another lack of vision of Farmajo who proved himself a
restorer of the potentates of the worst period of the civil war and one who rehabilitates the warlords , dead or living, by appearing as their pro host tempore to Villa Somalia rather than a pacifier.