Somalia had no functioning government since the collapse of the central Government in 1991 that was brought down by clan-based insurgents assisted by neighbouring countries. Once the State fell apart, Somalis withdrew into their respective regions and clans, trying to look after themselves in the absence of a national government. But the emerging lawless situation was bound to lead to an environment of the survival of the fittest, a recipe for human disaster. Somalia has become synonymous with anarchy, humanitarian disasters, famines and lawlessness. The warlords and profiteers benefited and enriched themselves, but the masses suffered, in particular southern Somalia, where close to millions died directly or indirectly from the civil war and other millions have to end up in refugee cams or seek refugee in the west.
The response of the international community was on the whole indifference or detrimental . It is no secret that some of the neighbouring countries played a decisive role in the fall of the Somali government as they armed and supported anti government clan-based insurgents operating from their countries. These governments have not only played a key role in the fall of the Somali government of Mohamed Siyad Barre and the ensuing collapse of the Somali State but also made sure that Somalia remained a failed state and its people divided into various clan based Bantustans.
The Somali civil war would have ended long ago if some of these neighbouring countries were not sending weapons to their respective proxies, often warlords who each carved his own fiefdom. The result was not only a prolonged political conundrum and paralysis, but endless humanitarian crisis, famine. mass displacements of population as most went across the international borers and ended in refugee camps. Dhadhaab, in the north east Kenya and close to the Somali border, had become the biggest refugee camp in the world hosting half a million Somali Refugee. The rise of Al Shabaab was a consequence of the invasions and interferences by outsiders in Somalia’s affairs for their own benefit but at the cost of Somalia and its people. The monster they created, Al Shabaab, is not only a problem for Somalia but also for their creators and their worldwide security.
Somalia belongs to the AU, IGAD and the League of Arab States. The Arabs have simply turned their back on Somalia when it needed them most. They did little or nothing to intervene politically to help their Somali brothers to settle their senseless civil war. Despite their immense wealth, they were also the least generous among the international community in responding the recurring famines and other humanitarian crisis. When it comes to AU and IGAD, both organisations had been used by some member countries to further their own agenda to keep Somalia divided and undermine its revival
Where governments fail to help a failed State, it is the international organisations that are supposed to look after its humanitarian needs and assist in its political recovery. There are no shortage of international organisations that set up shops in neighbouring Kenya all officially in the business to help Somalia. The reality is that few of them set foot in Somalia and its capital Mogadishu. If the city had acquired the reputation as the most dangerous place in the world, this may have some truth but it was largely manufactured and exaggerated by these organisations in order to justify their permanent sojourn in Nairobi and enjoy their comfort lives.
The international community was finally shamed by the Prime Minster of Turkey Rajjeb Dayyib Erdagon who together with wife and some of his top senior Government officials went to Mogadishu, landed at its feared airport, and who showed the world that the problem was not the danger of Mogadishu that was blocking international aid and intervention but the lack of will on their part. To the amazement of the world, there was the Prime of Turkey in the midst of the camps for hundreds of thousands of those displaced by the famine. The picture of his wife holding a child at this camp has left a lasting enduring impression and impact on the Somali people. As they say in English, a friend in need is a friend indeed.
What Turkey had provided is not only the sending of hundreds of its people to the country to provide immediate humanitarian aid and also undertake recovery projects. But its most important gift has been the transformation it brought to the Somali psyche. A new and hopeful era has dawned in Mogadishu. The capital is now experiencing a building boom. The Diaspora are returning in their droves with their money and expertise. Each success is creating its own other successes. For long in a quagmire, many Somalis had hitherto fatalistically given up on their state. Somalis had been known as the most proud, enterprising and energetic people in Africa. It is their pride they lost but not their individual strengths. That much is obvious in the way they dominate the business sector in Kenya and those of other countries in eastern, central and southern Africa. Their pride is now returning.
Turkey had magically unlocked the closed door that the rest of the international community could not find its key. And now there is a rush among many countries to cash in on Turkey’s success as free riders. At last more attention is being given to Somalia. The London conference and those in Istanbul are all part of this new effort triggered by Turkey to put Somalia back on its feet. Given the new resurgent mood among Somalis, few doubt that a new and stronger Somalia will take its rightful place among the nations of the world. It is for Turkey that we have thank for all this. Future Somali generations will ever be indebted Turkey.
Suleiman Hashi ,
Somali Journalists and Analysts