Saturday, 8 March 2008

BBC Recycles stereotypes about Somalia

The BBC’s Mark Doyle visited Somalia recently. The report Mark filed from Mogadishu shows the futility of relying on local interpreters for analysis about the complexity of the Somali problem. Relying on the BBC research unit might have been more appropriate than recycling old stereotypes about Somalia: clan warfare is sole culprit in Somalia.
The clan conflict has led to state collapse and prolonged civil war in many parts of Somalia. “In the background is always the clan war. Mr. Yusuf, [the Somali president], is from the Darod clan, one of the four big clans in the country. Many of the business leaders who backed the Islamic Courts regime overthrown by Ethiopia between late 2006 and early 2007 are from the powerful Habr Gidr, a sub-clan of the Hawiye group. The Darod and the Habr Gidr have fought many wars, and distrust between them runs deep,” reports Mark Doyle. This characterisation about the Somali conflict is frozen in time- in the first half of 1990s when clan warfare was not diluted by quasi-religious ideology as means to achieve political goals.
The Habr Gidr sub-clan supported the Union of Islamic courts because the head of the Courts and the defense chief—Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweis and Yusuf Mohamed Siad Inda'ade respectively-- hail from the Habr Gidr sub-clan on whose forces the late General Aidded depended when his forces stopped relief supplies bound for famine stricken Baydhaba which foreign journalists dubbed the city of death.
The insurgency in Mogadihsu is between the government forces and splinter group—Al Shabaab—that has cut all ties with the Asmara based Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia of which Islamic Courts’ leaders are members. This is where indaquacies in Mark Doyle’s report begin to appear.
About Ethiopia’s intervention Mar Doyle writes: “Addis Ababa did not send in its troops just to save Mr. Yusuf. It wanted to create a buffer region to stop Ethiopian - but ethnic Somali - rebels from using Somalia as a rear base from which to attack Ethiopia.” This is a major inaccuracy given the fact that the Yusuf Mohamed Siad Inda'ade, the security chief of the Somali Council of Islamic Courts, called for foreign jihadists to “fight in Somalia and wage jihad and, God willing, attack Addis Ababa.” Who can say the BBC is not dumbing down?
© 2008 Somali Press Review