Mohamed Aden Farkeeti
During the Occupation (Sept. 1995 - June 1999)
Baidoa, the headquarter of Bay region, was occupied on Sept 17, 1995 just about six months after the declaration of the autonomous Riverine State. In those six months, Bay region has made a tremendous social and economic recovery. Baidoa was a focal point of the country's catastrophic famine in 1992. Baidoa represented Somalia's effort to scratch back to normalcy. Its market offered a range of foods and clothing, even simple appliances and electronic goods. It is one of the few areas in the country where several clans lived together in relative peace. As the country's agricultural center, it serves an area that grows 80 percent of Somalia's staple food (sorghum).
After Aideed invaded the town, thousands of families fled. Aid agencies, which had an estimated $300,000 in equipment looted by Aideed's militia, also left. And, perhaps most important, trucks have had difficulty getting out of Baidoa to take food to other parts of Somalia.
Aideed's invasion represented a step back to the days in 1992 and 1993 when clans took over areas where they historically had not been present. The takeover of Baidoa endangered the food supplies throughout Somalia. Food shortages have once again become a concern in Somalia, because 1995 sorghum harvest of 71,000 metric tons fell in hands of Aideed.
After the occupation however, Aideed's militia set a rudimentary colonial type presence in the region. The rest of the Inter-riverine particularly, the Riverine and the Coastal regions were already occupied since 1991. Aideed's militia introduced into the region all forms of colonial policies. They are not taking only people and products, but also confiscate properties and extort ransom from kidnapping. The Riverine regions have been suffering from forced labour since 1991. Baidoa jails are full of detainees waiting to be freed with ransom money.
On January 16, 1996 Huddur the capital city of Bakool region was invaded. In the same week Tiyeglow (an important trade center) fall also in the hands of Aideed's militia. Thus the occupation of the inter-riverine regions was completed.
August 1, 1996 his son Hussein took over and continued the infamous policies on the region.
September 21-25, 1996 Aideed's militia led by Mohamed Jumale Farah burned down the villages of Alyow Mumin, Manas, Goofgaduud and many other hamlets. They killed hundred of innocent people destroyed farms, food storages and raped women. In Alyow Mumin and its environs, they burned 2000 houses and raped more than ten women- including an underage girl who died while she was being raped.
1 October 1997 the forces of Hussein Mohamed Aideed massacred 260 Rahanwein civilians and 20 villages torched.
February 5, 1998 Hussein Mohamed Aidid, has pledged to abide by the agreement to withdraw his troops from the southern town of Baidoa on schedule but later failed to do so.
February 23, 1999 Mass killings took place Husein Aydid's militia killed dozens of civilians in and around the south-central town of Baidoa. The civilians had been rounded up in Baidoa and the nearby village of Daynuunay before being shot. 23 people were killed on 21 February 1999 and 17 on 22 February 1999.
As relations deteriorated between Eritrea and Ethiopia, Eritrea sought to distract attention from the disputed border areas, Eritrea backed Oromo fighters recruitment by Hussein Aideed, a major critic of the Sodere agreement. In February 1999 Aideed returned from a visit to Asmara with three planeloads of weapons and some 1,500 Oromo fighters to join hundreds of other Oromos trained earlier at Qoryoley in southern Somalia to consolidate their grip over the fertile land of Digil & Mirifle.
Post Occupation (June 1999 - present)
On June 7, 1999 Hussein Aideed, admitted defeat and to have lost control of the city of Baidoa, after several days of heavy fighting with the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA). RRA was established in October 1995 to resist the occupation.
July 6, 1999 the RRA announced that it favours a federal system of government. Since the liberation of Baidoa the security in the area has improved dramatically. The only incident reported since then was the fighting took place in and around the town of Dinsoor in October 19, 1999.
June 21, 1999 supporters of the Somali faction leader, Hussein Aideed, are reported to be fleeing from the town of Qoryoleh and neighbouring villages, fearing an imminent advance by the RRA army.
During July many members of the Rahanwein clans who fled to surrounding villages due to atrocities committed against them by Aidid's forces, most of them members of his Habr Gedir group, have trickled back to the town (Baidoa). Thus prompting aid agencies to issue a donor alert for 17 million dollars to alleviate the suffering of an estimated one million people in the Bay, Bakol and Gedo regions.
9 December, 1999, The Rahanwein Resistance Army has set up its own administrative area becoming the fourth group in Somalia to have a regional administration. The RRA has established a local government for the central regions of Bay and Bakool. The former RRA spokesman, Mohamed Ali Aden Qalinleh, was installed as governor and other fighters appointed to senior positions.
On 31 January 2000, the villages of Da'arrey and Bulo Wabo were captured by the RRA, significantly enlarging the area controlled by RRA. Before start of the Djibouti conference there was ongoing clashes between the RRA and Hussein Aideed militia together with 'Islamic' militia who are also members of Habr Gidr clan.
The chairman of RRA Hassan Mohamed Nur 'Shargaduud' visited England on April 9, 2000 and met Somali communities in London and also gave interview to BBC, which he elaborated the challenges that his movement is facing, and his views about the proposed Somali peace conference by Djibouti.
May 18 A large convoy carrying commercial supplies and food aid from the World Food Program of the United Nations has reached Baidoa through the dangerous and closed Mogadishu-Baidoa road. The WFP stock on 26 heavy trucks carrying maize for the Bay region has warmly been welcomed in Baidoa town. More than 40 heavy-duty trucks carrying miscellaneous business items have also been accompanying the food aid convoy. It has been the first time for the business convoy to cross to Baidoa via direct road since the town has fallen for the RRA in mid last year. But it has been the second time for the food aid convoy to reach Baidoa on the same road since April 23 when more than 50 trucks from WFP and CARE-International have broken the record by passing through the long closed road between Mogadishu and Baidoa.
Muunye , a controversial Bravese tycoon was elected as the senior most politician of Digil and Mirifle. Perhaps encouraged by RRA's victories on the ground, Munye managed to successfully lobby to link Bravenese community and RRA leadership.
On April 25 a four-member delegation, which was led by Second Deputy Chairman of Djibouti parliament Iddiris Harbi Farah, visited Baidoa to explain to the RRA's senior officials about the Djibouti reconciliation conference and the possibility of persuading them to attend the meeting. The RRA had earlier refused to attend the Djibouti conferences long as some factions continue to control areas rightfully belonging to their faction.
On May 3, a second Djibouti delegation led by the advisor of the Djibouti president Osman Ahmed Yusuf was dispatched to Baidoa to convince RRA officials to participate the conference, which RRA eventually agreed by sending a 50-strong delegation led by Abdalla Deerow, the general secretary of RRA.
On May 10, 2000 the head of the RRA Colonel Hassan Mohamed Nur Shatigudud, the leader of the northeast regional state Abdullahi Yousuf Ahmed and Major General Aden Abdullahi Nur Gabyow of the SPM, issued joint communiqué in Garowe saying that they feared insecurity which might be triggered by the current Djibouti peace meeting. In their statement they urged the international community to support the formation of "building blocks", clan-based regional states, that could later form a federal government.
May 22 Digil & Mirifle delegation in Djibouti threaten to withdraw from the Somali Peace Conference after they faced enormous pressure from the Conference organizers, a claim later denied by the Dijbouti government and some members of the D&M delegation.
RRA officials angered by comments made by the political advisor of Djibouti President over the current reconciliation efforts for Somalia have staged demonstration against Djibouti Conference on May 24. Hundreds of people took to the streets of Baidoa protesting against the on-going conference for the reconciliation of Somalia in Djibouti. The rally sponsored by the RRA officials in Baidoa was in response to the latest developments achieved by the main traditional leaders of Somalia now attending the meeting. There was a similar rally staged on 14 April 2000.
In an official letter signed by the RRA chairman Colonel Hassan Mohamed Nur Shargudud, the RRA said they are totally boycotting the conference. The letter urged the government of Djibouti to return back the 72-member Rahanwein delegation now attending the conference in Arta. The letter has appealed to the international community not to assist the government of Djibouti for what it called its plot against the Somalis in general.
Note: this article is mainly based on factual events reported through the international media. It will be revised to include unreported incidents for fuller understanding of the situation during these periods