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The Failed State: Is South Sudan?

In 1964 democratic elections where held and allegation of fraudulent sparks dispute between rivaling groups. In 1969 gloomy clouds started to hover over Somali when reports of fraudulent activities surfaced for the second time in general elections. The government formed immediately afterward was perceived by citizens of Somalia including police and national army as being characterized by corruption and nepotism. By 15th October 1969 the president of Somalia was assassinated as army took strategic targets in Mogadishu. Subsequently, Supreme Revolutionary Council led by General Mohamed Siad Barre was formed. 

 

Gen. Barre banned political debates on governance. All political parties were dissolved and no one was expected to voice any opinion. The Gen. Barre execised his absolute authority on the nation and went far as to dissolve the National Assembly. Siad Barre formed a socialist dictatorship under what he called ‘Somali Democratic Republic’.

 

Within the first decade of Somalis independence, many political events that followed saw ethnic communities or clans fleeing in thousands in search for safety in the neighboring countries. Targeting killing as clan rose against the other took root in and around the country.

 

General Barre began to develop another ambitious plan to reunify Somalis from the neighboring countries such as Ogaden region in Ethiopia, Somalis in Djibouti and Kenya into Greater Somalia under his leadership. His ambition to unify Somalis community raised concerned over its neighboring states such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.

 

To achieve his goal General Barre started to support Somalis related rebellions from its neighboring countries like shifta moment in Kenya, and Ogaden region in Ethiopia. He believed Somalia would be better placed under the Supreme Revolutionary Council other than their home states.

 

Eventually Somalia went into war with Ethiopia in 1977. The war started when Gen. Siad Barre attacked and claimed annexation of the Ogaden region of Ethiopia to Somalia.  The war attracted the cold war giants, the US and the former Soviet Union into the region. The proxy war was fought on the soils of Somalia and Ethiopia. Both countries received military aids in support of the other and against the other. Former Soviet Union responded to Gen. Barre utterances of ‘scientific socialism’. As a result Somalia government got military aid from Moscow. The cold war descended on Ethiopia and Somalia on their soils with barrel of sophisticated guns in battlefields from the world powers – the two principals of the cold war.

 

During this war Ethiopia was faced with enormous turmoil internally as Somalia was making some advancements inside Ethiopian territory. Ethiopia finally decided to cross to East when US pressured it to reach peaceful solution with Eritrea. Somalia on the other hand, had already crossed before Ethiopia and was seated on Soviet Union laps. When Somalia decided to go to war with Ethiopia, Soviet Union was torn in unpleasant position supplying both Somalia and Ethiopia with weapon to fight their battle.

 

After attempts to reach ceasefire failed, Soviet Union eventually abandoned Somalia for Ethiopia. Somalia retaliated by cut links with Soviet Union.

 

Ethiopian forces received reinforcement from Cubans troops and finally drove Somalis forces out of Ogaden region of Ethiopia in a humiliating defeat.

 

The Ogaden defeat weaken Somalis military capacity and to defend the country. On the other hand there was general dissatisfaction with General Siad Barre’s leadership. The leadership was weakening even further. The entire tricks dictator uses to further his rule were waning. The suppressed voices gained access to arms supplied by international sources across the country.

 

Although US had mended diplomatic ties with Somalia, internal protests sympathizing with Ethiopian air backed militants were increasingly growing. The rebels were led by Mohamed Farah Aideed defeated Siad Barre forces and entered Mogadishu.

Forces of Mahdi another rebel’s faction could not agree to share power. This led to a divided Mogadishu into forces of Farah Aideed and Mahdi. Attempt by US to intervene was met with hostility that saw US forces pulling out of Somalia.

The fighting descended into clan rising against the other. The Somalia descended into a state of nature described in social contract theory as a state where every man is against every man. Living was by chances or mercy of the strong!

 

How did reach failed state?

The above narrative on Somalia might have given us a hint of a failed state. William Clark defines a failed state as “a state-like entity that can not coerce and is unable to successfully control the inhabitants of a given territory”. Political thinkers believe that if a state is not able to exercise the monopoly of physical force or can’t excess certain areas of its territory than that state has failed. A state can’t be termed failed if it can reach all corners of its territory and exercise statehood. South Sudan is not a failed state as long as it can reach Jie, Kashivo and provide them with services.

 

There is no perfect state under the sun. However, there are states like US, France, UK, etc. who are closed to the desired end for every state. All states are in one way or another failed states. It is only the degree of failures that should worry us.

 

It does not hurt long when one admits his or her mistake. We can rise from our ashes if we stand up to say yes; here and there we have failed in, but will work toward improvement. Every child born to human must fall many times before he rises to speed and firmness. We might stumble now, but with time and effort we will stand firm and progressive. We will rise above our challenges.

 

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