Center for Peace and Democracy (CPD)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Who Wants Ghedi Dead?

Twice the Somali Prime Minister Ghedi visited Mogadishu and twice he has been the target of two deadly bombing attacks in which more than couple dozen lives were lost. The scale of casualties in both attacks appears to be roughly in the same range. Is that a weird coincidence or some odd arithmetic?

In the first incident in the Stadium, Ghedi imperturbably dismissed it as a hapless accident. His inconspicuous account on the accident was to the contrary of his closest allies' allegations. In Nairobi, Aideed Jr. warned that the explosion in the stadium was an intentionally calculated terrorist act. Conceivably, Ghedi was not at the time in sync with his allies' interpretation of the blast. It is worth mentioning that at the time of the explosion, in close proximity to the podium where Ghedi's was giving speech; some big shots from Mogadishu's supposed archrival camp such as Indho-Cadde, Omar Hashi and Qaybdiid were present. They too were in peril and could have perished there.

The three Mogadishu warlord stooges, Ato, Sudi and Qanyare rebuffed Ghedi's Mogadishu stopover and refused to show up or even meet with him in both occasions. These faction leaders somehow managed to distance themselves from these attacks.

In the second bombing, Aideed Jr. was with Ghedi in the same convoy and both men coincidentally escaped the purported assassination plot unscathed. However, a press conference held later, In Villa Somalia, Both the unimposing Prime Minister and his middling Deputy Prime Minister called the detonation assault as a cowardly terrorist act. Here, both Ghedi and Aideed Jr. were on the same chorus and singing the same “blame-the terrorist” gospel. Nowadays, Muslim practicing religious bearded men have become the usual suspects thanks to the American war on “terror”.

No matter whether you call it a political assassination or a terrorist attack, the unsettled issue is who wants Ghedi dead? Who are the people or groups behind these attacks? And why it is that every time Ghedi visits Mogadishu, there is a deadly threat on his life?

Folks in the professed “Fadhi-Ku-Dirir” venues are putting forward some anecdotal and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. But they are divided and aligned with the two camps and that simply renders their speculations beside the point.

Those who oppose Ghedi have already, with some conviction, construed these attacks as staged publicity mock-up from the Jowhar camp. They argue that all of these bombings are orchestrated tactic to depict Mogadishu as dangerous violent city that is unsuitable to be the seat of the government. They compellingly point to Yusuf's publicly known desire to prove to the international community that the so-called “sharks” in Mogadishu are sadistic criminals and don't want any functioning government in Somalia. They also point out that Mogadishu has lately been a theatre of dirty war where different alien spies and clandestine operatives are lurking in the shadows to plot assassinations and hijackings all in the name of “terrorism” and “counter-terrorism”. These folks cite the death of Kate Peyton of the BBC. Mogadishu observers had linked the assassination of the BBC producer to an Ethiopian Junior officer who was in cahoots with the Ethiopian backed warlords in Jowhar. This was done, they say, to advance Jowhar’s claim that Mogadishu is a very dangerous city.

Definitely, these outrageous conspiracy theories and other far-fetched speculations are a bound. Why would Ghedi allow so many lives to be easily sacrificed for that implausible political end? Or is he another pitiless bloodthirsty warlord in disguise who doesn't give a hoot about the loss of human life as long as his selfish political objective comes into fruition? And what is his political goal anyways? Is it to change the capital from Mogadishu, the city of his birth? What has he to gain by portraying his Mogadishu rivals as terrorist nut-heads? Aren't they members of his cabinet and hail from his clan. What kind of prime minister employs terrorists as ministers? Well, we all know that, in Somalia, the only qualifications required to be part of the government is to be ruthless and to have some armed gangs.

You also have the proponents and spin-doctors in the Jowhar’s camp with their one-sided conjectures. They claim that an alliance of religious extremist elements in Mogadishu and the rival warlords were behind these accidents. The Jowhar supporters allege that some extreme Jihadists, from the defunct Al-Itihad group, are probably working with the warlords since both groups oppose Ethiopia’s involvement and backing of Ghedi and Yusuf. These pro-Jowhar pundits believe the numerous recent assassinations of high profile individuals, from the ex-Somali police force and of the civil society were carried by this fringe extreme Jihadist group. Their conspiratorial assertions also implicate some of the businessmen who own and run the numerous clan based ports in the outskirts of the city. Just think about how out of proportion this premise is. Most of those in Mogadishu, who are content with current status quo, mistrust Yusuf and see him as a threat to their political and economic interest is their reasoning. These businessmen are members of Ghedi’s immediate sub-clan and have made it known to all that their support is for Ghedi as long as he discards the ill-fated proposal of frontline states peacekeeping forces. This kind of appalling depiction from the part of Jowhar advocates should remind us that some people’s logical thinking is really founded on false pretense. Ghedi has a large influential backing in the Mogadishu business community.

One argument is forceful though. Most Mogadishu folks are dissatisfied about Ghedi's lame-duck status vis-à-vis to Yusuf's visible authority. They perceive Ghedi as an unripe “Yes-Man” just willingly kowtowing to the ceremonial president’s political whims.
Those who want genuine peace are also disenchanted with Ghedi's utter passivity to Yusuf and his Jowhar sidekick warlord, Mohammed Dhere. Warlord turned president Yusuf is regarded by many peace loving Mogadishu residents as a conflict ridden clannish figure whose divisive policies could only be contained by a strong prime minister. They say the president is an old man from the aging clannish league of bitter men who are still caught in the days of tribal enmity. The prime minister, young and educated, a celebrated new blood in the Somalia’ messy politics, was supposed to give a innovative better alternative and maybe rehabilitate these dying clannish old guard that Yusuf belongs to. However, many people are disappointed with Ghedi and see him as an ineffective novice incapable of changing the course of Somali politics.

It is true that Ghedi owes much to his startling advent into the Somali political realm to both warlord turned president Yusuf and Mohammed Dhere, the buffoon-like governor of Jowhar. Therefore, that could explain Ghedi's compliant meekness. Who wants to become ungrateful to his bosses?

What would have happened if Ghedi was killed in these violent assaults? Could his murder have led to more chaos and clan conflict in Mogadishu? Remember in Rwanda, the shooting down of the president's plane by extremists was what triggered the horrific genocide of the Tutsis. Something of that evil proportion may have not materialized but for sure the assassination of Ghedi would have created more violent reprisals and blood path between some Mogadishu clans. It is important to be clear about what is at stake if Ghedi would have been killed in these attacks. His death could have caused more dangerous effect than the perceived menace from the Jowhar camp. If Ghedi would have been killed, there is no doubt that there would have been serious unimaginable upheaval in Mogadishu. Some people are so thankful and so happy that the prime minister survived and escaped unharmed from both attempts.

Somalis say “Nin sigtay ma noolo” which could be interpreted as “one who narrowly escapes death is neither alive nor dead”. Ghedi is on familiar terms with bombings and assassination attempts by now and is fully aware that he has unforgiving enemies in Mogadishu who twice sought to murder him. I hope he avoids Mogadishu for good until a viable solution is found to unravel the current impasse between the two camps of this divided transitional warlords’ government.

Shaacir Mataan.

Minneapolis, MN
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"

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