The formation of the Somali National Movement ( SNM ) was sparked by that general mass discontent with Siad Barre’s Regime. The initiative was made by members of the Isaac Communities outside the country particularly in the United Kingdom and the Middle East, who were free from the intimidation and repression of the regime. In late 1978 and early 1979 mobilizations intended to upgrade the consciousness of the Somali people started within the country. Committees comprising of elders or community leaders, officers, intellectuals, business people, students, youth and civil servants started underground campaigns in an effort to educate the people against the evils of the Siad Barre’s regime.
At this stage in the SNM history Siyad has openly engaged in divisive and sectarian clan politics to discredit and lobby for caesura of that internal mobilization. He has created bandits who were armed by the government and were in the military payroll to destroy total communities to instill harassment and intimidation in those communities. During 1979 to 1980 hundreds of people, mostly women and children were massacred around Gabiley, Wajale, and Allay Baday areas.
The opposition from within and from without the country had contacts and a smooth follow of communication for quite a considerable time. On April 6, 1981 the Somali National Movement ( SNM ) was officially proclaimed as an opposition organization in London, UK. In November 1981 the residents of hargeyisa initiated self-help programs intended to upgrade the educational and health facilities of their community. 38 young professionals, intellectuals, and businessmen who were the leading organizers of the community project were imprisoned, some of them tortured. In February 1982 they received sentences ranging from two years to life. As a result, the first anti-government riots broke out in Hargiesa , Burao, and Sheikh Secondary Students in Sheikh. This marked the first head-on confrontation between the public and the regime. Siad Barre who had never experienced open public unrest was caught by surprise. Consequently, he started a Hitler-like repression comprising of detentions, tortures, and execution.
Almost a year after the formation of SNM in London the internal wing of the SNM took a historic and daring move. A decision was made to establish the movement in Ethiopia. In February 1982 prominent high-ranking military officers and other government officials started deserting the regime. A week after the execution of Colonel Abdillahi Haji Saeed in Dharkeen Geeye, Near Burao by the regime’s man (Gani “ He Paid the price on the hard way), the first such officers crossed the border. Among them were Colonel Adan Sheikh Mohamed ( shiine ) “PBOH”, Colonel Ahmed Dahir ( Dhagax ) “ PBOH”, and Colonel Mohamed Kahin Ahmed.
With the acceptance of the Ethiopia government the SNM Executive Committee, therefore moved from London to the Somali populated areas in Ethiopia in order to keep the movement close to home. They started setting up offices and training camps. within very short period of time groups of military officers, soldiers, intellectuals, businessmen, and students crossed the border and joined the movement. Area nomads and villagers also joined and signed up for their training programs. Surprisingly the SNM started attacks against the regime almost immediately. In those attacks the SNM has inflicted great damages on Faqashi’s troops. They also confiscated combat as well as transport vehicles, arms ammunition and communication equipments.
Following those successful attacks the SNM established more then 10 bases in the North, Central and southern border areas within a year. The SNM, therefore, got engaged in highly sophisticated operations of national and international significance. In January 1983 the SNM forces fulfilled a major operation at Mandhera Maximum Security Prison. In the operation the SNM liberated hundreds of political prisoners. They also killed more than 130 soldiers from the Mandhera and Adadley garrisons. In a retaliatory move the regime executed 55 civilians in Adadley, Mandhera, and Go’a area. More then one thousand were detained by the regime’s military and NSS.
On April 12, 1983, in a spectacular rescue mission, the SNM forces freed Colonel Abdillahi Askar from the highly fortified prison of the 26th sector of the Somali army. He was caught in Hargeisa by the security forces while fulfilling a secret mission with the SNM internal wing. Colonel Abdillahi Askar who was savagely tortured with candles and cigarettes was to be executed the day following the evening he was rescued.
When Siad Barre realized the threat that the SNM poses to his dictatorial regime and the popular support it enjoys both in and outside the country, he “ Afweyne” started to fight with the SNM and its supporters ferociously. Those who lived under his jurisdiction were those who were hit hard. They have suffered:
Indiscriminate detentions, imprisonment, and massacres.
Looting and constant confiscations of private properties.
Total blockade of food and fuel supplies.
Denial of access to water supplies during the dry seasons.
Destruction or poisoning of water reservoirs and watering wells
Burning down of entire villages and communities
Children killed and women raped.
Other communities who live in the areas where the SNM activities are prevalent have experienced a similar but a different kind of warfare. Afweyne Barre disguised some of his regular troops as marauding bandits licensed to plunder and exterminate both human lives and their livestock. The concerned communities with the assistance of the SNM responded to Afweyne’s barbarous raids by not only defending themselves but by also making counter attacks against the combined Afweyne forces. In these counter attacks Afweyne’s Troops suffered a severe damage. The following is an estimated damage that was inflicted on the Afweyne Troops:
In Mahollin area, south of Gashamo, the regime lost more than 450 soldiers in 1982 and 1984. The area residents captured military documents, communication equipments, small arms and ammunition.
In Xaye and Qararo area it lost more than 350 including 3 officers. The area residents seized two jeeps, and armored personnel carrier ( APC ) and three army trucks.
In Aware area Afweyne troops suffered 250 casualties in 1984 they also left behind various military equipments.
It is extremely important to mention here that the SNM has prevented a genocide that was in the making. If the regime and its organization bandits were not checked by the forces of the area communities supported by the SNM, It is a historical fact that large portions of the Somali people would have been eliminated from the face of the earth.
The capability of the Barre troops was greatly severed in the above-mentioned operations. The SNM on its part continued to wage constant attacks on Afweyne’s troops inside the country and forced them to opt for a defensive strategy. A Foreign correspondent describing the situation of the Afweyne armed forces in March 1984 wrote, “ The Somali army did not perform to any standard. The inefficiency of the Somali armed forces is legendary among foreign military experts. Last month Somalia shot down one of its own nine functioning aircrafts. Military officials in Somalia have grown disgusted with the performance of the Somali army and its inability to keep anything working”.
On the other hand SNM has been growing a gaining momentum day after day. At this stage in the struggle of the SNM to liberate the country, Afweyne Barre has desperately pulled some embarrassing tricks in an attempt to weekend the position of the SNM. The following will be the different political games played by Afweyne Barre to strengthen his position against the MUJAAHIDIIN SNM.
LA SOCO XILIYADA DANBE///
ANIIS ABDILLAHI ESSA
FOUNDER AND HEAD OF
SOMALILAND ADVOCACY GROUP
WASHINGTON DC USA