Mohamed Farrah Aidid : biography
General Mohamed Farrah Hassan Aidid () (December 15, 1934 – August 1, 1996) was a controversial Somali military leader, often described as a warlord. A former general and diplomat, he was the chairman of the United Somali Congress (USC) and later led the Somali National Alliance (SNA). Along with other armed opposition groups, they drove out President Mohamed Siad Barre's regime from Somalia's capital Mogadishu during the Somali Civil War that broke out in the early 1990s.
In 1992, Aidid challenged the presence of United Nations and United States troops in the nation. He was one of the main targets of Operation Restore Hope, the UN and US joint humanitarian operation that sought to break the military siege. After eventually forcing UN forces to abandon the country in 1995, Aidid declared himself President of Somalia for a few months until his death the following year.
President of Somalia
Aidid subsequently declared himself President of Somalia in June 1995. However, his declaration received no recognition, as his rival Ali Mahdi Muhammad had already been elected interim President at a conference in Djibouti and recognized as such by the international community.[https://circle.ubc.ca/bitstream/handle/2429/5267/ubc_1994-0415.pdf?sequence=1 Djibouti Conference].
Consequently, Aidid's faction continued its quest for hegemony in the south. In September 1995, militia forces loyal to him attacked the city of Baidoa, killing 10 local residents and capturing at least 20 foreign aid workers.
On July 24, 1996, Aidid and his men clashed with the forces of former allies Ali Mahdi Muhammad and Osman Ali Atto. Aidid suffered a gunshot wound in the ensuing battle. He later died from a heart attack on August 1, either during or after surgery to treat his injuries.
Aidid was born in 1934 in Beledweyne, to a Habar Gidir Hawiye family. He was educated in Rome and Moscow and served in the Italian colonial police force in the 1950s. He later joined the Somali National Army.
For advanced military training, Aidid studied at the Frunze Military Academy in the former Soviet Union (Военная академия им. М. В. Фрунзе), an elite institution reserved for the most qualified officers of the Warsaw Pact armies and their allies.
In 1969, a few days after the assassination of Somalia's second president Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, a military junta led by Major General Mohamed Siad Barre staged a bloodless coup d'état. Aidid was serving as the Army Chief of Staff at the time of the putsch. He quickly fell out of favour with the new regime's leaders and was subsequently detained. Aidid was eventually released from prison six years afterwards to take part in the 1977-1978 war against Ethiopia over the disputed Ogaden region.
He later served in President Barre's cabinet and as Somalia's Ambassador to India, before finally being appointed intelligence chief., CNN, August 2, 1996.
United Somali Congress
After fallout from the unsuccessful Ogaden campaign of the late 1970s, the Barre administration began arresting government and military officials under suspicion of participation in the abortive 1978 coup d'état.ARR: Arab report and record, (Economic Features, ltd.: 1978), p.602. Most of the people who had allegedly helped plot the putsch were summarily executed.New People Media Centre, New people, Issues 94–105, (New People Media Centre: Comboni Missionaries, 2005). However, several officials managed to escape abroad and started to form the first of various dissident groups dedicated to ousting Barre's regime by force.Nina J. Fitzgerald, Somalia: issues, history, and bibliography, (Nova Publishers: 2002), p.25.
By the late 1980s, the moral authority of Barre's regime had collapsed. The authorities became increasingly totalitarian, and resistance movements, encouraged by Ethiopia's communist Derg administration, sprang up across the country. This eventually led in 1991 to the outbreak of the civil war, the toppling of Barre's government, and the disbandment of the Somali National Army (SNA). Many of the opposition groups subsequently began competing for influence in the power vacuum that followed the ouster of Barre's regime. Armed factions led by United Somali Congress (USC) commanders General Aidid and Ali Mahdi Mohamed, in particular, clashed as each sought to exert authority over the capital.Library Information and Research Service, The Middle East: Abstracts and index, Volume 2, (Library Information and Research Service: 1999), p.327.
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