A Short History of Somalia

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Somalia has dark spots in its own history. Prior to its current civil war, it was hit by the worst drought of the region in 1992, plunging the country into severe famine that killed 300,000 residents. In 1977, it suffered an ignominious defeat at the hands of the Ethiopians during an 8-month war between the two countries, and lost its 32,000-strong army and many of its war planes and tanks.

The country continues to experience the worst conflict in history, pitting its own people against each other in clan warfare. Lawlessness resulted from the collapse of the military government and the ouster of Somalia’s last recognized President Mohammed Said Barre in 1991. This lawlessness did not spare even the Operation Restore Hope, a United States-led relief mission of the United Nations, when it was engaged in a firefight by Islamist forces, resulting in the death of thousands of Somalis.

In 2000, the Transitional Federal Government was set up to establish national control. This was followed by the creation of the Transitional Parliament in 2004 to select the president of the country. In 2006, however, the Islamic militias under the Union of Islamic Courts brought down the warlords in Mogadishu to rule the entire south of the country. Before the year ended, the forces of the interim government, now backed by Ethiopian troops, seized control from the Islamists, and began consolidating under the TFG, which is now recognized by the international community as the country’s legitimate government. In 2009, interim President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed declared a state of emergency as peace continued to elude the country.

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