Somalia History and Politics

Somalia History

A long time ago

The region of what is now Somalia was probably inhabited many thousands of years ago, as can be seen in cave paintings. These have been discovered in several places both in the north in Karin Heegan or Laas Geel and in the south in Buur Heybe.

Egyptian sources report a country called Punt. Scientists suspect that parts of this country were Punt in what is now Somalia, but also probably Eritrea. There are no written records and it is not known exactly where the residents originally came from. They probably came from the southeast, from what is now Ethiopia. People who spoke Cushitic languages settled there.

Spread of Islam

Islam spread to Somalia in the 7th and 8th centuries. Arabs established Muslim sultanates. The first settlements emerged mainly on the coast. Even then there were always wars and conflicts. The rulers took turns again and again.

The original way of life of the people of that time consisted of nomads growth, so the wandering with their herds of cattle, and agriculture in the south, especially in the vicinity of the two great rivers, where there was plenty of water. But at this time, too, droughts occurred again and again, the consequences of which were conflicts and wars, which again led to hunger.

Somalia as a colony of Europeans

At the end of the 19th century, Europeans also began to colonize and exploit Somalia. British and Italians divided the country. The south and east came to Italy as Italian Somaliland and the north to Great Britain as British Somaliland.

While the British benefited primarily from the export of meat, the Italians built plantations for bananas, cotton and sugar cane. Settlements were established. Even though there was no longer any slavery, it was mainly people from the Bantu tribes who were forced to work on the plantations. Mogadishu was the capital of this colony. For the British in the north, the capital was the port city of Berbera.

Struggle for independence

The Somalis fought for the independence of their country. But it was not until 1960, only then, were the former British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland united into an independent republic. It was then called Somalia.

The first president of independent Somalia was called Aden Abdullah Osman Daar. But that should not calm the country for a long time. Mainly disputes among each other, but also disputes with Ethiopia and Kenya, repeatedly created new sources of conflict.

Democratic Republic of Somalia (1969-1991)

In 1969 there was a military coup by General MS Barre, which proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Somalia. Somalia became a socialist state. As a country located in Africa according to businesscarriers, Somali was also introduced as the official language during Barre’s reign – unusual for Africa, as many African states retained the language of their colonial rulers as the lingua franca.

1974 and 1975 turned out to be bad years for Somalis, as a drought resulted in the loss of cattle herds and thus hunger for the people. There was also war again and again, especially against Ethiopia. There was a dispute over the course of the border. The consequences were many deaths and refugees. In this war, the US supported Somalia, while Ethiopia received aid from the Soviet Union.

But President Barre’s reputation fell because he was now ruling like a dictator. In January 1991 Barre was deposed after much back and forth and much internal fighting. Many groups had formed against him that actually wanted to form a new government.

But once again there was no agreement. The north split off from the rest as Somaliland. However, Somaliland is not internationally recognized as an independent state. Somalia fell more and more into separate parts, in which clans exercised their power and fought one another. This again had dire consequences for the population, as there were again famines.

Civil War in Somalia

Attempts were made to intervene from outside and to send relief supplies. A mission, the United Nations Operation in Somalia, or UNOSOM for short, was founded specifically for this purpose.

This mission was also supported by military forces, most of which were provided by the USA. The foreign occupation was not well received by the population. The military was accused of partiality and the mission failed. While it was possible to set up a relatively stable system in Somaliland in the north, the conflicts in the rest of Somalia continued.

Also Puntland in the north had become one autonomous declares state. There were always wars and clashes between the different clans and radicalized Islamists also got involved. Many Somalis fled to neighboring countries such as Djibouti and Eritrea, and huge refugee camps were set up here.

There is no longer a government in Somalia that governs the whole country. In 2000, a transitional government was created, but it did not succeed in making lasting peace.

The situation in Somalia today

The situation was not able to calm down until 2011, after repeated attempts to create peace in Somalia had failed again and again. But it would be wrong to speak of a stable situation now.

Hassan Sheikh Mahamoud was elected President in 2012. There was a new constitution and the interim government was dissolved. The country is to be divided into states and thus organized on a federal basis.

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed followed as President in 2017. But how things will continue will only be shown in the future. In any case, nobody is advised to travel to Somalia at the moment, it is still too dangerous. Again and again there are attacks by Islamists in which people die.

The drought always brings severe famine with it, there are regions that are completely cut off from food aid.

Somalia History