Friday, January 27, 2017

No Comrade of ours

Muhammad Siyad Barre had been from 1969 until this day in 1991, when fhe was forced to flee, the dictator of the Somali Democratic [sic} Republic.  He came to power with the assassination of Abdirashad Ali Shermarke by one of his own bodyguards. Shermarke's death led to an unopposed, bloodless coup d'état by the Somali Army commanded by one Major General Barre, who liked to be known as Comrade Siyad.   No Comrade of our class, he sought to blend the immiscible: the Qur'an and Somali nationalism with Marxism.   In reality, this led Somalia to develop state capitalism under Russia's sphere of influence.   His achievements were recognised three years later when presented with a gong: the Order of National Flag, First Class, of the Democratic [sic} People's Republic of Korea.   The relationship with Russia soured in 1978 as a result of Barre's pursuit of  Greater Somalia and the invasion of Ethiopia. Given Somalia's strategic position at the Horn of Africa, the USA became the main supplier of economic and military aid.   Literacy and nutrition improved with the development of capitalism, but Barre's priorities were military, to the extent that in 1985 they ate 65 per cent of the budget.   War abroad was soon followed by civil war.  Barre fled, first to Kenya and then Nigeria.   He died there in 1995 at the age of 75.  

The average life expectancy for men in Somalia is 45.   The ongoing civil war has resulted in 500,000+ deaths and more than 1,100,000 people being displaced.

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