Mike Durant’s helicopter “Super Six-Four” heading out over Mogadishu on 3 October 1993.
The Somali Civil War is an armed conflict in Somalia that started in 1988.
Downfall of Siad Barre (1986 – 1992)
Main article: Somalian Revolution (1986-1992)
The first phase of the civil war stemmed from the insurrections against the repressive regime of Siad Barre. After his ousting from power, a counter-revolution took place to attempt to reinstate him as leader of the country.
The increasingly violent and chaotic situation evolved to a humanitarian crisis and to a state of anarchy.
UN Intervention (1992 – 1995)
Main articles: UNOSOM I, UNITAF, UNOSOM II, and Operation Restore Hope
UN Security Council Resolution 733 and UN Security Council Resolution 746 led to the creation of UNOSOM I, the first mission to provide humanitarian relief and help restore order in Somalia after the dissolution of its central government.
UN Security Council Resolution 794 was unanimously passed on December 3, 1992, which approved a coalition of United Nations peacekeepers led by the United States to form UNITAF, tasked with ensuring humanitarian aid being distributed and peace being established in Somalia. The UN humanitarian troops landed in 1993 and started a two-year effort (primarily in the south) to alleviate famine conditions.
Critics of US involvement pointed out that “just before pro-U.S. President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991, nearly two-thirds of the country’s territory had been granted as oil concessions to Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips. Conoco even lent its Mogadishu corporate compound to the U.S. embassy a few days before the Marines landed, with the first Bush administration’s special envoy using it as his temporary headquarters.” The cynical assertion was that, rather than a purely humanitarian gesture, the US was stepping in to gain control of oil concessions. Somalia has no proven reserves of oil, but there is considered to be possible reserves off Puntland. Even today, oil exploration remains a controversy. The Transitional Federal Government has warned investors to not make deals until stability is once again brought to the country.
For many reasons, including concerns of imperialism, Somalis opposed the foreign presence. In October, several gun battles in Mogadishu between local gunmen and peacekeepers resulted in the death of 24 Pakistanis and 19 US soldiers (total US deaths were 31). Most of the Americans were killed in the Battle of Mogadishu. The incident later became the basis for the book and movie Black Hawk Down. The UN withdrew on March 3, 1995, having suffered more significant casualties. Order in Somalia still had not been restored.
Independence and Autonomy Movements (1991 – 2002)
In 1991, the Republic of Somaliland, comprising the northwestern section of the country (between Djibouti and the northeastern area known as Puntland), declared itself independent, though it was not formally recognized as such by the international community.
Another secession from Somalia took place in the northeastern region. The self-proclaimed state took the name Puntland after declaring “temporary” independence in 1998, with the intention that it would participate in any Somali reconciliation to form a new central government.
A third secession occurred in 1998 with the declaration of the state of Jubaland. The territory of Jubaland is now encompassed by the state of Southwestern Somalia and its status is unclear.
A fourth self-proclaimed entity led by the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) was set up in 1999, along the lines of the Puntland. That “temporary” secession was reasserted in 2002. This led to the autonomy of Southwestern Somalia. The RRA had originally set up an autonomous administration over the Bay and Bakool regions of south and central Somalia in 1999.
Rise of the ICU, War with the ARPCT, TFG and Ethiopia (2006-present)
Main articles: Somali Civil War (2006-present), War in Somalia (2006–present), Transitional Federal Government, ARPCT, and Islamic Courts Union
In 2004, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was founded in Nairobi, Kenya. Matters were still too chaotic inside Somalia to convene in Mogadishu. In early 2006, the TFG moved to establish a temporary seat of government in Baidoa.
During the early part of 2006, the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT) was formed as an alliance of mostly-secular Mogadishu-based warlords. They were opposed to the rise of the Sharia-law oriented Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which had been rapidly consolidating power. They were backed by funding from the US CIA. This led to increasing conflict in the capital.
Height of ICU Power
Main articles: Second Battle of Mogadishu and Battle of Baidoa
By June 2006, the ICU succeeded in capturing the capital, Mogadishu, in the Second Battle of Mogadishu. They drove the ARPCT out of Mogadishu, and succeeded in persuading or forcing other warlords to join their faction. Their power base grew as they expanded to the borders of Puntland and took over southern and middle Jubaland.
The Islamic movement’s growing power base and militancy led to increasingly open warfare between the Islamists and the other factions of Somalia, including the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Puntland and Galmudug, the latter of which formed as an autonomous state specifically to resist the Islamists. It also caused the intervention of Ethiopia, who supported the secular forces of Somalia. The ICU allegedly obtained the support of Ethiopia’s rival, Eritrea and foreign mujahideen, and declared Jihad against Ethiopia in response to its occupation of Gedo and deployment around Baidoa.
Collapse of the ICU
Main articles: Battle of Bandiradley, Battle of Beledweyne, Battle of Jowhar, and Fall of Mogadishu
In December 2006, the ICU and TFG began the Battle of Baidoa. Fighting also broke out around the Somali town of Bandiradley in Mudug and Beledweyn in Hiran region. The ICU aimed to force the Ethiopians off Somali soil. However, they were defeated in all major battles and forced to withdraw to Mogadishu. After the brief final action at the Battle of Jowhar on December 27, the leaders of the ICU resigned.
Main articles: Battle of Jilib and Fall of Kismayo
Following the Battle of Jilib, fought December 31, 2006, Kismayo fell to the TFG and Ethiopian forces, on January 1, 2007. Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi called for the country to begin disarming.
Main article: Battle of Ras Kamboni
In January 2007, the United States officially militarily interceded in the country for the first time since the UN deployment of the 1990s by conducting airstrikes using AC-130 gunships against Islamist positions in Ras Kamboni, as part of efforts to catch or kill Al Qaeda operatives embedded within ICU forces. Unconfirmed reports also stated US advisors had been on the ground with Ethiopian and Somali forces since the beginning of the war. Naval forces were also deployed offshore to prevent escape by sea, and the border to Kenya was closed.
^ Kretzman, Steve (Jan/Feb 2003). “Oil, Security, War The geopolitics of U.S. energy planning”. Multinational Monitor magazine.
^ Fineman, Mark (January 18 1993). “Column One; The Oil Factor In Somalia;Four American Petroleum Giants Had Agreements With The African Nation Before Its Civil War Began. They Could Reap Big Rewards If Peace Is Restored.”. Los Angeles Times: p. 1.
^ George, Dev (1995). “Will the majors return to Somalia?”. Offshore: p. 8.
^ “Abdillahi Yusuf’s Transitional Government And Puntland Oil Deals”, Somaliland Times. Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
^ UN trying to clarify problems in Somalia – The Final Call – Jun 29, 2006