Warlord rule means personal and total appropriation of public power and assets, and the use of private militias to control the population. This system has turned the population into hostages since 1992 and, as a consequence, the quality of life has declined drastically. For instance, fewer than eight percent of school aged children receive some kind of instruction compared to nearly 40 percent in the mid-1980s. Moreover, life expectancy has declined by as much as 9 years since the early 1990s due to the destruction of the public health infrastructure, hunger and violence. Essentially, the merchants of violence have turned the southern region of the country and particularly the old capital city into a huge concentration camp.
The international community, led by the USA, attempted to restore peace and public authority in the early 1990s but that effort ended in disarray. Three factors led to this failure. First, the operation’s mandate was unspecified. Second, the militias in Mogadishu, which was the operational center of the intervention, were not disarmed and that gave the faction leaders enough opportunity to do mischief. Finally, the international community accepted the notion that this was a tribal civil war rather than a struggle among factions over power and resources. The combination of these factors led to the withdrawal of international troops from Somalia and initiated a new phase of the civil war. There were only two warlords in Mogadishu at the time of the UN departure, but their numbers have proliferated since, and consequently the city and the region have been Balkanized into warlord Bantustans.
II. The IGAD Process: “Empowered the Warlords and Enfeebled the Civics.”
The world turned away from Somalia and the population was left at the mercy of the warlords. Numerous attempts were made to strike a compromise among the warlords in order to form a national government but they failed to terminate the chaos. Each and every reconciliation conference was subverted by several unhappy warlords who could not achieve everything they lusted for and who were instructed to do so by their Ethiopian overlord. The government of Djibouti, pained by the abominable predicament of the population endeavored to take a stab at Somali reconciliation and invited delegates from various communities to take part in the Arta conference.
Most Somalis were relieved that, at long last, a consensus has emerged and hoped for the appointed leadership to deepen reconciliation and fully discharge the responsibilities enunciated in the charter. Their wish, as in so many other instance came to naught. Five factors perverted the promise of revival.
As the TNG floundered, the Ethiopian regime intensified its subversive efforts and finally convinced the IGAD states and donors of the need to “complete” the Arta process. Consequently, another reconciliation conference was held in Kenya in which the so-called International Partners sanctioned a process completely dominated by warlords. A few individuals within the donor camp were horrified by the prospects of a world engaged in a global war on terrorism midwifing and chaperoning a government of warlords.
III. Warlords are Terrorists
A bit over two month ago the warlords in and around Mogadishu formed what they called the Alliance against terrorism and restoration of peace. Their declared objectives were to root out a foreign terrorist cell which they claim to be in the city and the Islamic Courts in Mogadishu that supposedly harbor them. They also allege that they have been encouraged and financed by a major power and members of the international community engaged in the war on terror. It appears that there is a rock of truth in the pronouncement as substantial amount of foreign exchange has found its way into their hands. It is the cash deliveries that have opportunistically united the same individuals who have recently fought against each other and that have supported different factions of the TFG.
The people of Mogadishu are scurrying for refuge as another nasty conflagration has begun. Several hundred innocent people (including many children) have been killed and thousands of indigents are displaced. This atrocity will fortify the cage the population has been in for over a decade while the international community seems least moved by the unfolding disaster and the internment of an entire people.
IV. What is Next? No More Terrorism!
In spite of the stereotype that Somalis are violent people, the vast majority of the population has not been involved in the endless civil war except in self-defense. In fact, their reluctance to proactively challenge the merchants of violence is partly why the warlords’ tyranny has endured this long. The public has been willing, for the sake of “peace,” to forgive their tormentor and accept whatever they demanded, including a claim to the mantle of national leadership. But it has become apparent that the warlords are not interested in turning the page and embrace the rule of law. This is the etiology of terror in Somalia.
The interplay between several factors prolongs Somalia’s agony. First, the apparent disorganization of civic minded Somalis and their not daring to challenge the warlords is a major obstacle to change. Second, the Ethiopian government which is opposed to Somali unity and independence (see the long record since the 1940s) has attempted to impose its agenda on the Somali people through it Trojan warlord horses. Having failed to do so, it stokes the forces of violence and social fragmentation. Third, the international community’s lackadaisical attitude has not been robust enough to help Somalis help themselves by establishing a national government that will serve them as well as honor its international obligations. These conditions have created a milieu that serves neither Somalis nor the international community and which therefore is not tenable. What then must be done?
Several things must occur in a graduated sequence in order to transform circumstances that reward terror and restore civilized norms to Somalia. First, international actors who support some of the warlords as allies against terrorism must accept responsibility for the massacre of hundreds of innocent people and the thousands displaced, and urgently redirect their involvement in support of the civics and the ailing TFG. To paraphrase the words of Somalia’s most immanent democrat, those who support the warlords must recognize that they are involved in a “devil’s pact.” Second, concerned Somalis can no longer be spectators waiting for someone else to salvage their domain. Instead, they must come to the fore and form a broad based civic organization whose purpose is to help form a national government dedicated to democracy and accountability.
Darajada Ilaahay ninkii doonaya hele / Those who toil for Allah’s blessings are rewarded
Nin ka duday distoorkiyo waxyiga diinti ka carrowye / Those who stray from the constitution and the divine revelations are outcasts
Dugsi male qabyaaled waxay dumiso mooyaane / Clanist politics provide no solace, it only destroys
Hadaydaan xumaanta iyo dilkiyo daynin kala qaadka / If we do not terminate this savagery and mend our ways
Dibaddan ka joogna sharciga daacada Illaahe / We are beyond Allah’s grace
Danbarkeygu waa jahanama iyo dobobki naareede / Its reward is jahanama, the cruelest purgatory of all
Abdillahi Sultan Timacadde, 1968
Timacadde’s prophetic words enunciated the close affinity between the divine and constitutional accountability. Those in the Islamic courts need to understand that without constitutional accountability Somalis risk losing their cherished faith. Thus, if they are keen for Islam flourishing in this land, then they must distinguish themselves by laboring for such a salvation. Abdi Ismail Samatar is Professor, geography and global studies at the University of Minnesota and can be reached at: E-maill: firstname.lastname@example.org
 This “distraction” might give other Ethiopian backed warlords the opportunity to step up into the vacuum after the fighting exhausts both sides!
www.bbcnews.co.UK. May2, 2006.
 Such generosity is significantly due to the realization that the international community is unwilling to come to the rescue of the innocent hostages, particularly after the warlords’ terrorist tactics traumatized UN forces in 1993.