Somalia Independence and Civil War

By | December 15, 2021

Independence was proclaimed on 1 July 1960 and on the same day the union with the former Somaliland, independent from 26 June, was approved. The governments placed at the center of their action the territorial claims against Ethiopia and Kenya, which resulted in an open conflict with the former, temporarily interrupted by the mediation of the OAU (1964), and in the breakdown of diplomatic relations until 1968 with the second and with Great Britain. In 1969, a military coup d’état brought General M. Siad Barre, president of the Supreme Revolutionary Council (a body which in 1976 became the leading group of the Somali Socialist Revolutionary Party, PSRS) to power. The 1960 constitution was abolished and the Republic proclaimed Democratic of Somalia, the military launched a program of profound economic and social reforms. In 1977 the conflict with Ethiopia over Ogaden re-exploded, which ended with the Somali defeat (1978); the military assistance provided during the war by the USSR to Ethiopia brought about a change in the foreign policy of the Somalia, which abandoned the traditional pro-Sovietism to approach the West. In 1979 a new constitution institutionalized the PSRS as a single party and Siad Barre was confirmed as president of the Republic. During the 1980s, tension with Ethiopia flared up again; the development of the guerrilla, supported by Addis Ababa, and the continuous worsening of economic conditions put the Siad Barre regime in increasing difficulty, which gradually degenerated into absolutism and personalism.

The authority of the government was openly challenged across the country by numerous militarized parties representing different clans, and not even the granting of a multi-party constitution (1990) could prevent the spread of the civil war. In 1991 Siad Barre was overthrown by the forces of the United Somali Congress (CSU); as the country plunged into anarchy and the population fell victim to a catastrophic famine, the conflict was further complicated by the split of the CSU into two factions, one led by Ali Mahdi Mohammed and the other by Mohammed Farah Aidid. In the same year Somaliland declared itself independent, behaving since then as an autonomous state, even without soliciting international recognition. The civil war (which caused tens of thousands of victims and an impressive flow of refugees to Kenya) was unable to end the missions sent by the United Nations since 1992 with the aim of pacification; Unable to guarantee a political solution to the conflict, the UN forces left the Somalia in March 1995. Meanwhile, the Muslim offensive was developing, which began in 1977, when Siad Barre had recruited hundreds of volunteers to fight Ethiopia. From that experience was born the main terrorist group of Somali fundamentalism, Al Ittiat al Islami (Islamic Union), active in the civil war and in the battle against the American military of the UN mission. For Somalia democracy and rights, please check

From the mid-1990s, fundamentalist groups began to spread throughout the country, imposing the Koranic law in some areas and taking control of the Islamic Courts, created previously to defend Muslim order and legality.

In 2004 the four main clans reached an agreement and a Nairobi, in Kenya, set up a transitional federal government, to which the African Union gave its support, deciding to send a peacekeeping force to allow them to return to their homeland and settle in Mogadishu, the scene of clashes between the militias of the warlords ‘and the Islamic Courts. In 2005 the transitional government moved to Somalia in Baidoa. However, it controlled only a very small area of ​​the country, to which in December 2006 was added Mogadishu, until then in the hands of the Islamic Courts and then subtracted from them by the allied troops of the federal government and Ethiopia. Despite the deployment of the African Union peacekeeping forces, the war between the government army and Islamic militias continued in the following years, while the food and health situation of the population remained catastrophic. despite repeated appeals from humanitarian organizations. Meanwhile, the phenomenon of the hijackings of ships in the Gulf of Aden, carried out by Somali pirates, against which naval missions from various States and the European Union were sent in 2009, was taking on increasingly worrying dimensions.The transitional federal institutions ended their mandate on 1 August 2012.

The approval of a provisional constitution, which was followed by the appointment of a new parliament of 275 members and the election of HS Mohamud as president, marked the ‘launch of a new political phase, although the divisions within the parliament have made negotiation difficult. The installation of the president and parliament was also possible thanks to a notable international military effort to regain control of the territory. The mission of the African Union Amisom (African Union Mission in Somalia), together with the Ethiopian and Kenyan troops, managed to steal large parts of territory from the radical Salafist Islamist al-Shabaab front, although the terrorist organization maintains control of large rural areas in central and southern regions and continues to destabilize the Somalia and neighboring countries with guerrilla attacks and attacks, such as those carried out between the end of December 2014 and January 2015 in the area close to the airport of Mogadishu and Lower Juba. In February 2017, former premier MA Mohamed took over from Mohamud in the presidential office, who in the same month appointed HA Khayre as premier, confirmed by a large majority by Parliament the following month and remained in office until July 2020, when he was replaced by MH Roble. In April 2021, the lower house extended the mandate of President Mohamed and his government by two years, which aroused bitter reactions from the international community.

Somalia Independence and Civil War