Peace and War in Somalia

By Prof. Mohamoud Iman Adan- Virginia (Keydmedia) - In Somalia, the after-effects of local wars and political controversy can be asked only to someone who had been exposed to quarter of a century of anarchy and social tragedy. Allegorically, to the local perception- peace and war are as different as Heaven and Hell, and the description is quite fitting.
Article Keydmedia Online
Peace and War in Somalia

Life prospers in peace, where war and its after-effects deplete life and tear apart the fabric of social harmony in irreparable way: Physically, mentally, spiritually, as well as in many underpinning social aspects.

In peace, life is so sweet, harmonic and productive, enchanting and captivating, imaginative and carefree; where war is destructive and wasteful, bloodshed and crippling, disturbing and denying, bitter and agonizing, stressful and insane, just to quote a few negative effects.

Perhaps I could say that no society on the planet earth had ever experienced the magnitude of devastation, denials and humiliation that the Somali people share with the Jewish society, though in parallel prospective. It is believed that the Jewish success and tragedy was caused by biased external factors, such as: Faith-based persecution, ethnicity, the stamina of enterprising vision, social competence, frugality and self-reliance.

In the contrary, the Somali case has to do with mundane self-inflicted wounds based on political corruption and lack of trust in the governing system, where nepotism and favoritism gain the upper hand, as well as a corruptive ambition for leadership position. All these negative factors are compounded with lack of accountability and transparence on the expense of merit and justice. As a tool of diversion and disharmony, government leadership promotes inter-clan struggle for local prominence. Yet, Jewish and Somali societies had lived through bondage in time line and in different settings; but the castigating factors are entirely different and serve a historical anecdote.

In Somalia, what has begun as a local power struggle since1990 is tragically infused with a heavy dose of foreign influence that resulted of turning the egalitarian political landscape into an intractable national dilemma that came to the point of endangering the commercial shipping lines of the Horn of Africa, as well as the raise of Al-Shabab insurgency in the southern regions of Somalia.

In the absence of a genuine central government more than three decades, some communities drifted away from the mainstream nation and formed autonomous regions that are not fairly friendly to each other, but they have their problem now. The contending bone is not mainly of political challenge between local giants, but the advancement of clan hegemony, the build-up of regional military muscle and land expansion believed to contain prospective natural resources, just to mention a few of the nascent conflict.

Honor the Customary Laws of the Land

Predominantly, the Somali population hails from pastoral background where daily life is riddled with localized incidents of similar nature, but followed by urgent attention of peace containment brokered by clan leaders and religious exponents. During bipartisan debates, hot temper may trigger further bloody conflict, but in essence, all damages are addressed in the most expedient manner without lingering grudge to each other.

In the reconciliation conference under the acacia tree, showmanship of contesting parties are avoided, false assertions are disregarded, resolved past incidents are high lightened and recalled in mind for peace-brokering reference. In the peace-making process, heated rhetoric may get into the way, but nothing should go beyond the grasp of the local peace-makers.

The origin of hostility may be a negligible matter and miss- communication is held the main culprit. It could be about pasture land rights and water resource, blood vendetta, poetic slander, camel raid, embezzled of a rifle, broken wooden water trough, the stolen wooden bell of a prodigious she- camel, etc...

Political Instigation of Inter- Clan Wars?

Accidental skirmishes may erupt from time to time between neighboring clans, which is instigated by politically motivated interest group. The conflict does not have a defined political agenda or social principles that guide the conduct of war. Neighborhood disturbance may be a factor, but the following plans may trigger the current Somali style conflict:

  1. Land expansion
  2. Historical inter-clan blood vendetta
  3. Acquired Military strength, and
  4. Presumed natural resources

Pastoral conflict cannot afford lingering enmity among rival communities. They are blood related and inter-dependent to each other in all social aspects, while they share water and pasture in the land. In any event, an accidental incident may trigger limited skirmishes, or an open warfare between contesting parties; but community leaders from respective parties launch a peace-making campaign with the intervention of religious personalities and wise elders as well; while restraining the tension, specially, in the camp of the grieving party. The magnitude of the damage is viewed and taken into account by paying adequate indemnity, followed by a determining reconciliation effort; and yet, the peace-brokering process never lasted beyond a season, thanks to the timely intervention of bipartisan local peace-makers.

To go an extra mile and nailing down a permanent peace accord, gracing maids are exchanged for marriage as a way of consolidating peace agreement with the following respected dictum, “A placenta fluid has to be washed where conflict blood has inundated.” The inter-clan marriage promotes peace and stability among bordering clans, and the new generation becomes instrumental of brokering a lasting peace in the land through wise engagement, lineage dialogue and compromise. The final deliberation is accepted because the participants of both sides are recognized as genuine pastoral ambassadors.  

Politicized Pastoral Life

Now the pastoral life has a big hand in the local politics, and parochial visionary leaders of the Southern and Central regions take the rule of the land in their hands in the place of political parties and the democratic system of government. Consummate politics is not anymore an urban tool and the rule of law, order and democratic process are out of touch. Some pastoral elders, myopic local politicians, upstart wealthy men, political agitators, former camel herders and religious goons table their antagonistic views as a national agenda, and that’s one of the current major political hurdles of the day.

Setback of Peace Promoters

Peace is a gift of God that needs nurturing, culling, uplifting, compromising and guiding to the right direction. It is the right thing that everyone has to enjoy in lifetime. “Be aware of those who are geared to severe the main tendons of peace; and ward-off the interest groups-foreign or national- that abort the fruits of peace,” remarked a dedicated wise elder.

“But reward those who carry peace on their backs and crown them with gracing green leaves; they are the vigilant saints who are risking life and limb, just to save the product of peace and stability,” stressed a committed inter-clan peace-broker leader. A widowed mother reminded us, “Let’s praise the valiant sons who are committed on peace-making efforts, while they reach out across political lines and clan denominations in order to convert a few heads a day.” A learned religious sheikh asked the forgiveness for those who go politically astray and stressed, “We also pray for the conflict instigators who are blowing the horn of war, and helping them out in order to abandon the sinister tricks of benefiting from the misery of the people.”

Finally, peace is attained under the shade of an acacia tree without spending millions of dollars through intermediaries of business brokers, interest clubs and patronizing neighboring countries who are interested to galvanize Somalia.

This nation has a long history of inter-clan wars which is always resolved in lasting peace agreement, and such tools are available even today. However, the contending Somali politicians are the wrong tool of enhancing peace and stability. It is equally wrong to invest in the current TFG politicians in order to attain peace and security in the southern and central region. I hope that 21 years of political anarchy and social tragedy can suffice an example.


The southern regions of Somalia are living in a hostile condition for a long time and are in the threshold of becoming an insane hospital ward. All the ingredient factors that drive insanity to the core are happening there since 1990.

People of all social strata has experienced the effects of prolonged political conflict and armed power struggle between faction groups. The magnitude of devastation is quite staggering and includes:  Death and destruction, massive displacement and humiliation in refugee camps. It includes famine, depravation, hunger and malnutrition on daily basis. The general public suffer a wide spread of apathy, weariness, lack of self-worthiness, hopelessness and stress that hunt the mental frame of victimized people day and night. And yet, there’s no glimpse of hope at the end of the tunnel.

The worrisome aspect of the peoples’ future is that the same actors who created this social tragedy in the first place are currently the guiding force of the fate of these regions, and are recognized and accepted by the world as legitimate leaders. It is wrong. “Don’t load a raw meat delivery on the back of hyena,” has a respected wisdom!

At these critical cross-roads, the mental health of the masses is shuttered and close to be called an insane multitude! And yet the UN and other humanitarian organizations do not recognize the facts on the ground!

Who are the culprits? They are local, regional and international bodies that include: The Somali warlords, the unpopular TFG establishment, the anti-social radical groups, the AMISOM armed contingents, the UN Security Council and the AU who mandated foreign troops to maintain peace and stability in Mogadishu.

The truth is that AMISOM is there only to protect themselves and a few pockets of TFG strongholds in the Capital City. Their mandate is self-defense and protecting TFG enclave, and millions of dollars are invested a futile effort! What about the rest of the City and the whole region? As a routine exercise and, perhaps a show of force, AMISOM lobes blind mortars and cannons to the residential quarters and congested business markets in Mogadishu and kill, mime and destroy properties, while forcing thousands of civilian residents out of their homes and their way of life; and they are paid to do that! Quite paradoxical, but it is happening! Not only that, but there are the patronizing EGAD countries who manipulate the political quagmire in Mogadishu, soliciting arms shipments to an autonomous region, the un-proportional development programs funded by UNDP in some autonomous regions, and delayed relief supplies in the face of devastating drought and shortages of drinkable water, are just to mention a few incongruent policy of UN oversee in the southern and central regions of Somalia.


Have you ever seen or heard a delegation of psychologists and psychotherapy experts analyzing the mental health condition of the war victimized masses? And we are talking about the entire population of the southern and central regions of Somalia!

Have you ever seen CNN Doctor Gubta, New York Times, Washington Post and other medical reporters shuttling across the country and inquiring the mental health condition to widowed mothers, malnourished infants, insane war victims, destitute families, the war handicapped segment of the society, the terminally sick and autistic phenomena inflicted to thousands and thousands of despondent children begotten by emotional, stressed mothers? The raise of autism in children in Somalia is a new phenomenon attributed to the stressful life condition of pregnant mothers living in war zones, and no one is lending a helping hand!  

The medical prescription is not forthcoming, and the international medical mass-media is equally being blamed for the degenerating healthy situation of southern and central regions of Somalia, and time is ticking. What will happen next!

By Prof. Mohamoud Iman Adan ( ) - Correspondent

Article 21 May 2021 10:14

I read your article on Foreign Policy with keen eyes and interest. While whining from public officials does not deserve response from any sensible citizen of the Republic of Somalia, I felt compelled to counter false narrative with more objective analysis.