that the forces of transitional president’ Abdillahi Yusuf and
his Ethiopian allies have committed war crimes against civilians in the course
of trying to subdue the citizens of Mogadishu is no surprise.
Much more surprising, and morally satisfying, is the news that the European
ministers and officials, who have so vociferously and uncritically supported
Abdillahi in his bid to represent himself as Somali President, may also be
implicated in these charges. Whatever the judicial position, the European
Union is certainly morally guilty of doing its upmost to prop up the essentially
otiose transitional federal government, whose only significant political action
since its formation has been to get the Ethiopians to try to force their authority
What is particularly astonishing, and in my view inexcusable, is the imperialistic
behaviour of the European politicians and bureacrats in completely ignoring
Somali public opinion and its overwhelming rejection of Col. Abdillahi and
There are many causal strands in the present conflagration of violence in
Mogadishu, but the most obvious and the most regrettable is the external recognition
that Abdillahi has been given by people who clearly have closed their minds
to his lack of support within Somalia. One could say that it is only ignorance,
but I am afraid that it is worse than that, it is wilful ignorance on the
part of those whose democratic values seem not to be applied to the Horn of
There is certainly no lack of ignorance within Somalia on how Abdillahi was
appointed transitional president with massive Ethiopian support and how, with
Ethiopian prompting, he chose as prime minister their candidate, a connection
of Prime Minister Meles himself. These links to Addis Ababa underlie the Ethiopian
invasion. Another obvious link is, of course, the loosely organised Islamic
Courts whose unwisely bellicose threats to Ethiopia, were provoked by Abdillahi’s
reliance on the Ethiopians.
Thus, in Somali ears the uninformed chorus of EU approval appeared to embrace
the supporting role of the Ethiopians and to attack the Islamists. It only
remained for the Americans (for whom the Ethiopians acted locally) to enter
the fray, inevitably against the Islamic Courts a tiny minority of whose leaders
were actually extremists. The Americans, of course, are equally ignorant of
the really amazing achievements of the Islamists’ brief months in power
in southern Somalia.
The Courts, with their mostly humble and poorly educated local leaders, did
more to restore order and social progress there than the US has done in Iraq
in four years. Nevertheless, the suspected connexions of a minority of the
Courts’ leaders played into the hands of Abdillahi who, not for the
first time, portrayed his enemies as Muslim terrorists.
He still does this, of course, and fails to distinguish those who actually
fit the description and those who are simply local citizens who consider that
he has no legitimacy. As a former separatist guerilla leader, like his Ethiopian
friend Meles, he might be expected to easily recognise birds of the same feather.
However, he protests suspiciously loudly and in his claims, to be fighting
Islamist terrorists includes in the same rubric non-Islamist tribal militias
representing the ordinary citizens of Mogadishu.
After the terrible atrocities which have been committed in his name these
local people will never forgive him. Abdillahi thus has no chance of ever
ruling Mogadishuexcept under the kind of dictatorial oppression that
his ignominious predecessor General Mohamed Siyad Barre practised with American
and Italian support.
Is this what the European Union wants? God knows what the Americans might
want: the obscene results of their imperialist adventures in other parts of
the Islamic world give little cause for optimism
London School of Economics