I. KONOVALOV, First Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Smysl magazine
Since 1991, after the fall of Mohammed Siad Barre's regime, the Somali State as a whole has been virtually non-existent. Two years ago, a significant part of the country came under the temporary control of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). Washington saw this as a direct danger of the emergence of a Taliban-style regime in Africa. Therefore, the United States supported the invasion of Ethiopian troops, who, after the defeat of the Islamist detachments, remained in Somalia to support the Transitional Federal Government of the country. However, the ICU fighters did not lay down their weapons. The guerrilla war continues.
The analogy between the Union of Islamic Courts and the Taliban movement, which is obvious at first glance, should still be considered superficial. Traditional Somali society is based on a clan system that is extremely complex and complex. Somalis are divided into five clan families or unions, also often referred to as tribes-Dir, Hawiya, Isaac, Darod and Rahanwein1. The latter is considered low-born, since it traces its ancestry to agricultural communities, and the first four come from "noble" nomads2.
Clan unions consist of clans that are divided into sub-clans and then down to individual families. Hostility, which dates back to ancient times, during the fierce struggle for water sources and pastures, is one of the main characteristics of inter-clan relations in Somalia. Moreover, hostility is common both between clans and within clans. A local proverb says: "Me and Somalia against the world, me and my clan against Somalia, me and my family against the clan, me and my brother against the family, me against my brother." And in the current endless Somali war, the Islamist factor, although it plays a significant role, is still far from decisive.
Dictator Siad Barre (Marehan clan), although he fought against tribalism, still relied on the clans that were part of his darod clan union. After his overthrow, all political movements and groups fought for power mainly in the interests of a particular clan.
The current Somali Government has essentially no control over anything, although it relies on the support of Ethiopian troops. The country is a mosaic of self-governing tribal enclaves. The northern clans simply separated, creating de facto two states-Somaliland (provinces of Sanag, Wokui Galbed, Togdheer) and Puntland (Bari, Nugal and northern Mudug provinces) 3.
Despite the abundance of various religious groups in Somalia, Al-Itihad Al-Islamiyah (AIAI) is rightly recognized as the most prominent fundamentalist movement in the history of the civil war. It was formed between 1982 and 1984, during the reign of Siad Barre, after the merger of two religious organizations, Al-Jama al-Islamiyah and Al-Itihad.4
Here is how one of its members once described the main tasks of the AIAI: "Al-Itihad offered an alternative to democracy, communism and human-made constitutions. He offered the Qur'an and Sunnah as the basis of all political, social and other aspects of life"5. The movement's fundamentalism did not find much support among Somalis at the time. Moreover, in the late 1980s, the AIAI came into conflict with other religious societies and groups in Somalia.
Until the end of 1990, AIAI remained primarily an educational organization. However, after the fall of Siad Barre's regime, the situation changed. Its leaders included several Afghan war veterans who had returned from Afghanistan. The organization began calling for armed jihad and the creation of an Islamic state in Somalia.
The civil war that began in the summer of 1989, initially as an uprising against the regime of Siad Barre, quickly turned into a general inter-clan strife. At the head of a group that temporarily won in the early 1990s., -
The United Somali Congress (USC) was a Hawiya clan alliance. His fighters launched a crackdown in Mogadishu against the Darod clans, which formerly formed Siad Barre's" inner circle".
Since the majority of AIAI were also Darod clans, they also had to leave Mogadishu and move to southern Somalia. In April 1991, a battle took place 60 km from the port of Kisimayo between the Al-Itihad militia and USC troops under the command of General Mohammed Farah Aidid.
This event was a turning point in the history of the movement. Before the battle, General Aidid sent parliamentarians to the AIAI camp, led by his first deputy, Colonel Hassan Dahir Aweys, with a proposal to the Islamists to retreat. There was no consensus in the AIAI leadership on this issue. Unexpectedly, during the negotiations, Colonel Aweis decided to go over to the AIAI side, sending the rest of the delegation back. This encouraged Al-Itihad al-Islamiyah fighters to resist. Although the Islamist forces were defeated by Aidid in the ensuing battle, the arrival of Colonel Aweys was a major political victory for the AIAI's military wing. With his arrival, most of the members of the organization decided to choose the path of armed jihad, and Aweis himself became its permanent military leader.
After the defeat at Kisimayo, most of the AIAI members went north and settled in Puntland, which was controlled by the Democratic Front for the Salvation of Somalia (DFSS), which represents the interests of the Mijurtin/Darod clan. Here they first attempted to create an Islamic emirate. The end of this effort was put by the leader of the DFDS, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed , an implacable enemy of the Islamists and the current president of Somalia. Despite the common clan affiliation, the ideological confrontation between radical Islamists and local traditionalists did not leave the opponents a chance for reconciliation.
During the summer of 1992, there were fierce battles between Islamist groups and the Puntland clan militia. As a result, the defeated Islamists went to the area of the small port of Las Korei in the disputed territory between Puntland and Somaliland, but could not gain a foothold there. The most persistent jihadists moved from Puntland to southern Somalia, closer to the Ethiopian border, and settled in the Gedo region, where they once again tried to realize their dream. 6
Here, Al-Itihad al-Islamiyah was able to establish an Islamic administration, which for four years showed the entire south of Somalia an example of a tightly controlled but safe territory for the civilian population. Punishments for crimes were carried out here in public, including amputation of hands for theft. The use of kata, a local light drug, was banned, as was the cultivation of tobacco. Women were required to wear a chador. The police were replaced by an Islamic militia. Teaching in schools was conducted in Arabic 7. The Sharia Court has replaced the traditional Somali law of kheer (in English). somalia - the "agreement"). However, this radical step did not strengthen, but on the contrary, most of all undermined the position of Islamists. After all, the heer has long defined the entire internal structure of Somali society: the powers of the clan's council of elders, relations with neighbors, and the decision of the most important issues, such as the terms and amounts of compensation related to blood feuds. These discussions traditionally involve the entire adult male population of the clan or community. As for written laws and legal norms, and even religious institutions (sharia), they are traditionally less important for most Somalis than kheer.
Meanwhile, the AIAI's strict regulations and religious fanaticism alienated the local population. The organization, not finding enough supporters in the struggle for influence in the Gedo region, was eventually defeated in the fight against neighboring clan groups supported by Ethiopia. At the same time, Ethiopian troops have repeatedly taken a direct part in military operations against AIAI, crossing the Ethiopian-Somali border.
The AIAI was dealt a decisive blow in August 1996. During a large-scale military operation, the Ethiopian army destroyed all the main bases of the Islamists. According to Addis Ababa, a large number of documents confirming the AIAI's connection with Al-Qaeda were seized from the group's headquarters in the city of Lugh. However, these documents were not published. It was also claimed that about 26 people of non - Somali origin-Pakistanis, Afghans, and Arabs-were among those killed and captured.8
Soon, a new organization, Jamaat al-itisam bill-kitab wa Sunnah ("Society for Following the Qur'an and Sunnah"), was created on the wreckage of AIAI, but it no longer had such influence. Former AIAI members focused their efforts on the humanities - education, law, healthcare, media, and social programs. Ethiopian political analyst Medhan Tadesse claimed that Al-Itihad al-Islamiya managed to put its people in important positions in business and politics.9 Several media outlets even accused former Somali President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan of having ties to AIAI.10
It is interesting that although AIAI ceased to exist in 1996, the organization, due to its alleged connection with Al-Qaeda, was again mentioned after the bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
We pay so much attention to AIAI also because this organization has become, of course, a kind of prototype for the creators of the current Somali Islamic courts. These structures were not judicial in the usual sense, but became politicized bodies of Islamic self-government. The first Islamic court was established in Mogadishu in 1993, in the old Medina district of the city, by members of the AAI splinter group Ansar al-Sunna.11
The following year, Sheikh Ali Dere of the Abgal/Hawiya clan established similar courts in the northern district of Mogadishu, but their harsh measures to restore order in the "subordinate territory" frightened the local population. However, the success of the courts in providing security in the war-torn city has been so clear that military leaders of traditional clan groups have raised concerns about the loss of their own influence among us.-
areas under their control. It was not without the involvement of these "warlords" that the Islamic courts in northern Mogadishu were dissolved in 1998. But in place of the closed ones, new ones usually soon appeared.
The aforementioned Colonel Aweis established Islamic courts in Ifka Halan (an urban area in western Mogadishu) and another in Merka. After that, Islamic courts began to appear one after another. In 2000, their leaders established the Sharia Implementation Council (SOC). The courts had their own police detachments, their own prisons, and conducted joint combat operations.
Former Somali President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan and the Government he created in 2000. The Transitional National Government (TNG) has attempted to integrate Islamic courts into the Government's reconstituted legal system. In turn, the Islamic courts hoped to realize their own goals and ambitions with the help of the new government. In the new Parliament, the percentage of representatives of various Islamic organizations was very high. This, by the way, was one of the reasons for the subsequent accusation of the TNG in cooperation with Islamists.
In May 2004. The SOSH was re-formed into the current Supreme Council of the Union of Islamic Courts of Somalia (UISC), which was headed by the former military leader of the AIAI, Colonel Hassan Dahir Aweis, who added the title of sheikh to his military rank. Former teacher Sherif Sheikh Ahmed became the chairman of the Union of Islamic Courts.
By mid-2004, the courts of Ifka Halane, Chirkola, Hararaile, and Toufik had the most significant influence.12 They agreed to create a joint militia of 400 fighters and 19 "techies" 13. About the latter military means should be said in particular. "Technichka" is a kind of mechanized wheelbarrow of the latest time. This purely Somali invention of the guerrilla warfare era (1980s-early 1990s) quickly became popular with various rebel and opposition military groups that fought against the Siad Barre regime (DFSS, SND, USC, etc.) 14. Most often, it is an open-bodied jeep with a large-caliber machine gun mounted on a turret allowing you to fire in any direction. Sometimes trucks also serve as the base for "techies", and in this case even small recoilless guns can be installed on them. After the fall of Siad Barre and the beginning of inter-clan clashes, the technicals became an important fire tool for opposing Somali groups.
The declared cooperation and cooperation of Somali Islamic courts initially turned out to be rather weak. However, the election of Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed as the country's new president in October 2004 changed the situation. A consistent fighter against Islamists and an ally of Ethiopia, he was a direct threat to the WSIS. His intention to invite foreign peacekeepers to the country, including from Ethiopia, forced the courts to rally and start acting aggressively.
The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) formed by the new President has launched an information campaign in the country against Islamic courts, claiming that they are run by people from the former Al-Itihad Al-Islamiya ,which is largely true.
The summer of 2005 was marked by a new escalation in the Somali civil war. The Islamic courts, which had previously limited their military activities to the protection of territories under their control, have adopted a more aggressive policy, seeking to extend Sharia law to the entire territory of Somalia.
The appointment of Aden Hashi Farah Ayro as the militia commander of the most militarily powerful court in Ifka Halane was a landmark event. Farah Ayro, a disciple and henchman of Colonel Aweis, is considered a " product of Al-Itihad." Since 2003, he has been known as the leader of the Shabab (Youth) group, the youth fighting wing of the Union of Islamic Courts, and as one of the most fanatical supporters of jihad. This is further confirmed by the participation of 720 Somali volunteers under his command in the Lebanon war in the summer of 200615
In November 2005, Airo units launched violent attacks on cinemas showing Western and Indian films in northern Mogadishu, prompting further armed clashes on the streets of the capital.
ALMOST A VICTORY
Somalia's traditional clan divisions have prevented President Yusuf Ahmed, as well as the newly elected parliament and government, from reaching an agreement. Disagreements began almost immediately, simply because the main ministerial portfolios in the government were distributed to the leaders of various, often opposing, clan groups. The executive branch was divided into two factions. Most of the clan chief ministers remained in Mogadishu, and the city of Jowhar, 60 km north of the capital, became the temporary capital of the President and his supporters.
This confrontation was in the hands of the Union of Islamic Courts. In early 2006, they began to oust the militia of clan groups from the "subordinate territories". Once again, the United States intervened in the conflict, supporting the Alliance for Restoring Peace and Counterterrorism (AVMC), an alliance of clan leaders formed in February 2006.
The motives for joining the clan leaders in an Alliance were different, but, of course, least of all it was a real fight against terrorism. Most field commanders saw the Islamists as a direct threat to their influence, while others simply expected to receive additional foreign aid for the new structure.
In turn, the Islamic courts, acting on approximately the same scenario and insistently implementing Sharia law, built a fairly effective security system in the areas they controlled, which the leaders of the groups could not do (or rather did not want to). Strict measures to combat banditry and looting attracted more and more Somalis to the side of the ships. However, their main trump card was that the courts managed to create a real union, since they had a common program of action and ideology - Sharia law. The military leaders of the clans did not have such a base for unification and therefore could not organize a united front of resistance to the Islamists when the latter declared war on them.
In May 2006, the general battle for Mogadishu began. At the same time, the Islamist militia turned out to be more cohesive and more motivated and disciplined. During the battles, she skillfully used reserve detachments, which made it possible to conduct combat operations almost around the clock. In the units of the clans, the fighters fought all together, and therefore quickly "fizzled out" and could even leave the battlefield at a critical moment. However, the SSISS detachments had their own problems, which should rather be considered common to Somalia. So, both the Islamists and the AVMC militants did not have a centralized command, each unit acted autonomously, which made it difficult to strike with large forces.
The turning point in the battle for Mogadishu came on June 5, when Kanyare Afrah (military leader of the Murosad/Hawiya clan) withdrew his strong group of fifteen hundred fighters from the capital without the consent of other field commanders. 16 Most of the city was in the hands of Islamists. Abgal / Hawiya clan military leaders Muse Sudi Yalahou, Omar Finishe, and Bashir Rageh continued to hold their territories, but failed to inspire their men to launch a counteroffensive. On June 14, 2006, Jowhar (the headquarters of the President and Transitional Government) was captured.
New Islamic courts were immediately established in the occupied territories. By August, there were already 24 of them in Mogadishu and another 8 outside it. The military militia of the courts consisted of detachments of 50 to 200 fighters. About a thousand more militants were in the joint reserve 17.
Thus, the political weakness of the government and the disunity of the clan leaders led them to a military defeat. By the end of the year, only the capital of the Rahanwein clan, Baidoa, and the surrounding area remained under their control. However, the situation in the country was soon changed by the intervention of Ethiopian troops.
ETHIOPIA COMES INTO PLAY
At first, Ethiopian aid to government forces was limited to providing instructors, ammunition, and sometimes artillery support. But after the Islamists declared jihad in Ethiopia itself, 18 direct combat clashes between the Ethiopian troops that crossed the Ethiopian-Somali border and concentrated in the Baidoa area occurred more often with the WSIS units. The Ethiopian high Command was preparing a large-scale invasion of Somalia.
On December 20, 2006, after catching the enemy in an inept Baidoa attack, the Ethiopians counterattacked. Islamist detachments, which had almost no heavy weapons, could not resist the Ethiopian armored vehicles advancing with powerful air and artillery support. The Somali Government's mobile infantry advanced under the cover of tanks. On December 24, a second group of Ethiopian troops launched an attack on Jowhar via Beledwein and Dusamareb north of Baidoa. The total number of Ethiopian troops deployed in Somalia has reached 30,000. 19 Several thousand more were allied units of the Somali Government and the AWMC. They were opposed by up to 10 thousand Islamists, among whom were foreign volunteers. Islamists tried to organize a defensive line in Jowhar, but were driven out of the city 20. On December 27, Mogadishu fell without a fight, and the next day the head of the WSIS, Dahir Aweis, resigned.
Retreating to the south of Somalia and concentrating, the Islamists (3 thousand. fighters and 60 "techies") tried to organize resistance to government troops near the city of Jilib. They set up positions in the dense forest and mined the roads to the city with controlled land mines. Despite airstrikes and heavy artillery fire, they managed to dislodge them only after 21 days.
The last time the Islamists tried to reverse the situation was on January 5, 2007, near the town of Ras Kamboni (near the border with Kenya), throwing up to a hundred "technicals"into battle. 22 On January 8-9, 2007, the United States openly intervened in the conflict, conducting a series of airstrikes on militant concentrations. The Americans managed to kill several prominent warlords.23 After that, the detachments of the Islamic courts dispersed.
The role of the United States in this conflict was very significant from the very beginning. The Americans provided the Ethiopian military with satellite intelligence and the necessary logistical support. From the sea, the coast of Somalia was blocked by a group of the US Fifth Fleet. In addition, between June 2005 and June 2006, the CIA transferred several hundred thousand dollars to Somali warlords belonging to the AWMC24.
At the same time, Addis Ababa made the decision to intervene in the Somali conflict on its own. Ethiopia has traditionally been distinguished by its ability to conduct its own politics, with either the Soviet Union (before 1991) or the United States (as it is now) as its allies. This time, however, Ethiopian and American interests coincided.
The restoration of a Somali state, and even under the banner of Islamists, does not suit Ethiopia at all, where more than a third of the population is Muslim. After all, it is possible that then Somalia will again claim the Ethiopian territory of Ogaden inhabited by ethnic Somalis, as it already happened in 1977-1978 and caused a major armed conflict between the two countries. That is why Ethiopia has supported and continues to support the weak Transitional Government in Mogadishu.
At the same time, a very sensitive blow was indirectly inflicted on Ethiopia's only rival in the region-Eritrea, which supported the Union of Islamic Courts. Since the 1998-2000 border war between these states, Ethiopia and Eritrea have been waging a covert war against each other in Somalia, supporting warring clans and groups. Instructors from Eritrea worked in Islamist detachments, moreover, according to some sources, more than 2 thousand Eritrean "volunteers"fought in their ranks.25
A WAR WITHOUT A VICTORIOUS END
After the defeat of large military detachments of the USISS, Islamists launched a guerrilla war in Somalia. At the same time, they do not distinguish between Ethiopian troops, units of the Somali Transitional Government, or African Union peacekeepers. 26 However, it would be a mistake to assume that all the guerrillas are committed Islamists.
Most of them just want the Ethiopian troops to leave the country. Many of them are ordinary bandits. The war in this country has been going on for almost 20 years, and since the end of the 1980s, it has almost never completely stopped.
By attacking the "occupiers", various Somali groups are also fighting among themselves, both those who support the government and those who oppose it. However, several current guerrilla groups definitely trace their lineage back to the Islamic Courts Union militia and the Shabab. These are, in particular, the "People's Resistance Movement of the Land of Two Migrations", " Brigades of Monotheism and Jihad in the land of Somalia "and"Youth Movement of Mujahideen". One of the leaders of the DNCZDM is former ICU field commander Aden Hashi Farah Ayro, who is considered by US intelligence agencies to be one of the main supporters of Al-Qaeda in East Africa. All these groups actively recruit Islamic volunteers via the Internet.
The presence of foreigners in the ranks of Islamists is proved by the fact that African peacekeepers and Ethiopian troops began to be subjected to suicide attacks. This practice is completely atypical for Somalis, who do not accept suicide, and therefore we can confidently say that these are foreign jihadi fanatics. Western intelligence agencies note that Somali Islamists are increasingly adopting Iraqi tactics, which are characterized by lightning-fast "hit and run" operations, skillful sniper and mine warfare,and well-established intelligence gathering. 27
The renewed fighting in Mogadishu in March and April 2007 showed that the situation in the country remains stalemate, that the structure of the Islamist resistance has not been destroyed. The militants boldly attacked and immediately disappeared into residential areas, which were then unsuccessfully smashed by Ethiopian artillery. 400 thousand refugees - the capital has not seen such a large-scale exodus since the early 1990s.
No serious attempts at reconciliation have been made so far. The Government in Mogadishu and the leadership of the Union of Islamic Courts, where Colonel Aweis has returned to Asmara, Eritrea, continue to accuse each other of betraying national interests.
The government structures themselves continue to be eroded by the struggle of clans. So, the 1st brigade of the newly formed Somali army collapsed before it could start serving: its units, made up of fighters from different clans, simply fought among themselves.
Confusion continues in the country's top leadership. President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, after the resignation of the opposing Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi in October 2007, has already replaced two prime ministers in search of a loyal one. The Cabinet of Ministers is constantly reshuffled, but there is no noticeable improvement from this, since the newly appointed ministers prefer to defend, first of all, the interests of their clans.
As long as there are Ethiopian troops in the country, power remains on the side of the president, but with their departure, the situation will inevitably explode, and the Islamists will certainly try to use their chance again. And then, most likely, another round of "war of all against all" will begin in Somalia, as it has happened more than once over the past eighteen years.
1 The main clans of Somali tribes (clan unions): darod-Marehan, Ogadeni, Dolbahante, Midgertin; dir-Issa, Gadabursi, Bimal; Isaac-haber-Awal, Haber-jelo, gaharjis; hawiya-habr-gidr (in ethnographic literature there is also a spelling - habr-gidyr), abgal, murosad, khawadle; rahanwein-digil, mirifle. To indicate the exact clan affiliation of a particular Somali, a combination is usually necessary. For example, the famous General Mohammed Farah Aidid belongs to the habr-hydra clan of the Hawiya tribal union, so his clan affiliation is designated as habr-hydra/Hawiya.
2 Such a division of clans is given, for example, in the book of the famous researcher of Somalia I. M. Lewis "Democracy of nomadic pastoralists" // Lewis I. M. A Pastoral Democracy. London: Oxford University Press, 1961.
3 Somaliland (capital of Hargeisa, population 1.5 million), which declared independence in 1991, is now a "de facto" independent State. The current President of the Republic is Dahir Riyal Kahin. Puntland (population about 2 million) has the status of an "autonomous state" within Somalia. The capital is Bossaso, and the president is Mohamed Mousi Ersi Addy.
4 Somalia' Islamists // Africa Report N 100, International Crisis Group, 2005, December, p. 4.
6 Ibid., p. 6.
Menkhaus K. 7 Somalia: State collapse and the threat of terrorism // IISS Adelphi Paper 364, Oxford University Press, UK, 2004, p. 56.
Ottaway D. B. and Ricks T. E. 8 Somalia draws anti-terrorist focus // Washington Post, 4.11.2001.
10 Abdiqasim Salad Hassan (b. 1942) studied at the Biology Department of Moscow State University during the Soviet era, and headed a community of Somali students. In the Government of Siad Barre, he served as Minister of Finance and Interior. On August 26, 2000, at the Arta peace conference in Djibouti, he was elected President of Somalia by the Transitional Government for a three-year term. His Government had no real power, controlling only a small enclave in Mogadishu. He left his post at the end of his term of office. Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed was elected the new President of the country on October 14, 2004.
11 Somalia' Islamists.., p. 19.
12 Usually, the name of a court is the same as the name of a locality or district of a city.
13 Ethiopia's deployment to Somalia risks regional security // Jane's Intelligence Review, 1.10.2006.
14 The Somali National Movement ( SNM) was an insurgent group of the Northern Somali clans of the Isaac tribal Union in the late 1980s that fought against the Siad Barre regime. Currently, its leaders lead Somaliland.
15 Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1676, November 2006 // Monitoring Group on Somalia, United Nations, 10.06.2006.
16 Sharia courts hold sway in Somalia // Jane' Foreign Report, 22.06.2006.
17 Ethiopia's deployment to Somalia risks regional security...
Heitman H. -R. 18 Somali Islamists declare jihad // Jane's Defence Weekly, 18.10.2006.
Yare H. 19 Troops dig in as Somalia war fears grow // Reuters, 13.12.2006.
Hassan M. O. 20 Ethiopian, Somali Troops Regain Jowhar // Associated Press, 27.12.2006.
21 Clashes as Somali forces advance on Islamist stronghold // AFP, 31.12.2006.
22 Fighting between Islamists and government forces continues near the Kenyan border // Shabelle Media Network, 6.01.2007. 23 U. S. raid may have hit top Somali militant: Pentagon // Reuters, 17.01.2007.
24 Ethiopia's deployment to Somalia risks regional security...
Heitman H. -R. 25 Tensions within Somalia continue to escalate // Jane's Defence Weekly, 8.11.2006.
26 In 2007, the African Union sent a peacekeeping force of 1,500 troops from Uganda and Burundi to Somalia.
27 No peace, no more // Economist, 31.05.2007.
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