somalia in World War II

June 19, 2007 at 6:56 am | Posted in somalia | Leave a comment

World War II

HISTORY PAGE

Somalia in WW II.

Italian hegemony of Somalia was short-lived, because on the outset of World War II, Mussolini realized he would have to concentrate his resources primarily on the home front to survive the Allied onslaught. As a result the British were able to totally reconquer Somalia by 1941. During the war years, Somalia was directly ruled by a British military administration and martial law was in place, especially in the north where bitter memories of past bloodshed still lingered.

Unfortunately these policies were as ill-advised as they were previously. The irregular bandits and militias of the Somali outback received a windfall in weaponry, thanks to the world wide surge in arms production from the war. The Italian settlers and other anti-British elements made sure the rebels got as many guns as they needed to cause trouble. Despite a fresh Somali thorn in their side, the British protectorate lasted until 1949, and actually made some progress in economic development. The British established their capital in the northern city of Hargeisa, and wisely allowed local Muslim judges to try most cases, rather than impose alien British military justice on the populace.

The British allowed almost all the Italians to stay, except for a few obvious security risks, and regularly employed them as civil servants, and in the educated professions. The fact that 9 out of 10 of the Italians were loyal to Mussolini and probably actively spying on the Italian army’s behalf, was tolerated due to Somalia’s relative strategic irrelevance to the larger war effort. Indeed, considering they were technically citizens of an enemy power, the British lent considerable leeway to the Italian residents, even allowing them to form their own political parties in direct competition with British authority.

 

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