What Were the Causes of the Civil War in Somalia  Term Paper

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Somalia Civil war


Columbia Encyclopedia describes the geographical position of Somalia in these words:

Somalia is directly south of the Arabian Peninsula across the Gulf of Aden. It comprises almost the entire African coast of the Gulf of Aden and a longer stretch on the Indian Ocean. It is bounded on the NW by Djibouti, on the W. By Ethiopia, on the SW by Kenya, and on the S. And E. By the Indian Ocean. Mogadishu is the capital. There are 18 regions. (The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2000)

Somalia has been ruled by various imperial empires. Some of its earlier rulers were the nations of Oman, Turks and Zanzibar. Most of these nations lost control in Somalia. Britain, France and Italy came to this part of the world in the 19th century. Each country has had a say during its rule. It was first used by Britain to guard its links with its colony in Aden, as it was dependent on livestock supplies from Somalia. The Italians used Italian Somaliland as an agricultural base to grow citrus fruits and sugarcane. The British managed to seize a lot of land after the original occupants (the Egyptians) left to fight the Sudanese people. After forging alliances with the local tribal leaders, they established themselves as the guardians of the country.

Its colonial masters divided Somalia into portions. The British controlled the northern territory, with the French controlling the east and southeastern territories, and the south controlled by Italy. Ethiopia controlled part of Somali territory, (The Ogaden) in the west. The British had to face a resistance movement from the Salihiyah brotherhood. The leader of this group was Mohammed Abdille Hassan. This resistance group sought independence from their colonial masters. They also declared war on Ethiopia seeking the return of the Ogaden from their clutches. The war of resistance ran for twenty years, 1899-1920. It caused a lot of mayhem and chaos throughout the Somalia territories. There were a lot of casualties from the fallout of the war and a lot of Somalia's economy was destroyed.

Lewis (1988) writes:

The Long Drawn Out campaigns against the Dervishes in British Somaliland, and the gradual extension of Italian rule in Somalia, left little time or resources available for economic or social improvement. In Somalia, however, from the beginning of the period of direct control, the aim was to attract settlers from the mother country and to develop colonial plantations along the Shebelle and Juba Rivers. (I. M Lewis, 92)

The Italian Somaliland flourished as a lot of fruit plantations were created. This was very beneficial for the economy. It helped to improve the economy of the south. The rulers neglected the British Somaliland. There were no development funds for the colony as they were used to control the uprising. The British just used the colony as a post for livestock. The merger of the north and south of Somalia into an independent country in 1960 had a lot of tragic consequences. This sowed the seeds for a civil war many years later. After independence, the legacies of the former colonial masters proved to be futile. The north was far behind the south in a lot of economic factors. With the southern part of Somalia being more experienced they had a better say in the state's economy and politics. This angered the northern Somalis as they felt betrayed.

Italy controlled a great part of Somalia. It increased the size of its territory by adding more land in the south and north. The Italians named their new territory Italian Somaliland. They took over Somali speaking districts of Ethiopia and combined them with Somalia. Italian Somaliland was made a province of Italian East Africa. Italy attacked Ethiopia and took over its rule. After conquering Ethiopia they set their sets on the occupation of British Somaliland. This reunited the two parts of Somalia after long time.

It merged the territories of the Ogaden and the northern and southern parts of Somalia. The Italians were good rulers as they modernized the Somali economy. There were also no protests against the Italian rule. However the British reoccupied British Somaliland in 1941 and ejected the Italians from the south of Somalia. The British put the Ogaden, and southern Somalia under military rule. Italian Somaliland remained with Britain till 1950 when the UN ordered it to be made part of an Italian Trust Territory. The Ogaden was returned to Ethiopia in 1948. This was a very upsetting decision as most of the inhabitants of the Ogaden were Somalis.

The road for independence was set after southern Somalia was returned conditionally to the Italian Trusteeship Administration. Under a UN led decree, the Italians were to prepare the Somaliland for independence over a ten-year period. The UN formed an advisory council to look after the progress of the administration. The Italian administration gave the Somalis an education in politics and self-government. There were also plans to improve and expand the educational system, improve the economy and teach people about their rights of freedom.

These efforts were to lower the pressure from Somali nationalists (the SYL), who wanted to unify the two parts of Somalia. The British also made attempts to develop north Somalia but could not reach up to the mark of south Somalia.

Meanwhile, the SYL (The Somali Youth League) got suspicious of the administration's goals. A lot of the SYL members were fired from civil posts and jailed. The syl accused the administration of having a hidden agenda and responded with acts of protest and civil disobedience. The UN stepped in as a mediator and cooled matters down.

Somalis gained a lot of legislative and executive experience with the formation of the Territorial, Municipal and rural councils. All of these created to tackle urban and rural problems. Elections were held in southern Somalia in 1956 for a seventy seat legislative assembly. This assembly took over the functions of the territorial council. The syl won around 43 seats out of 60 seats while the HDM won 13 seats. The other 10 seats were reserved for non-Somalis. This gave the assembly power to look over domestic affairs though the governor would be of the Italian administration. The Italian administration still had a lot of power and controlled a lot of the territory's affairs.

The southern Somali government wanted to find ways of being self-sufficient economically. There was also a major concern about the constitution after independence. They couldn't decide whether to adopt a federalist or unitary form of government. The HDM wanted a federal government while the SYL wanted a unitary form of government. The syl claimed that a federalist government would be a cause of a lot of problems such as clannishness and social injustice. Due to their political strength, the SYL won. Then there was also the sensitive issue of greater Somalia. There were some Somali inhabited areas in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, which were left out of Somalia due to the former colonial masters. The Somali leadership wanted to have peaceful relations with their territorial neighbors but making claims on their territory could be a bad move of hostility. The SYL wanted the constitution to include an article, which would lead to the unification of Somalia by "all means necessary." (Clarke, 1997)

The SYL swept the 1958 municipal elections in the south Somalia. This was due to support from one of the clan members who formerly supported the HDM. This gave it a powerful position before the election campaigns for the new republic

It took a lot of Political protests in British Somaliland in 1957 to force Britain to accept the unification of British Somaliland with South Somalia. They were also forced to allow the Somalis form their own representative government. A member in the legislative council represented all the clans. Elections were held in 1960 with a big victory for the SNL and the USP. They shared 32 out of 33 seats in the Legislative Assembly.

Due to a rise of popular sentiment, the leaders of the two territories pushed their plans to go for an immediate reunification. The British government reluctantly agreed to end its rule in 1960. The leaders of the two territories met in Mogadishu in 1960 and agreed to create a unitary state out of the two territories. The British Somaliland received independence on June 26, 1960 and merged with south Somalia on July 1, 1960. The new nation was called the Somali Republic.

Abdirashiid Ali Shermaarke, a modernist was appointed prime minister by Adnan Abdullah Usmaan, the president. He was elected president by the legislature and his appointment was confirmed a year later by referendum. Shermaake's government was dominated mainly by the SYL and also supported by the northern parties of the SNL and the USC.

Cracks had already started to appear in the new state. The British and the Italian had left them systems, which were totally opposite of each other. Everything was different in the…

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