The Suicidal State in Somalia: The Rise and Fall of the Siad Barre Regime, 1969–1991
This book is a critical reposition of the study of military regimes in Africa. Documenting and delving deep into the reign and rule of General Mohamed Siad Barre regime in Somalia from 1969 up to 1991, the book puts emphasis on African agencies—ostensibly shaped by external beneficiaries and patrons—over what went wrong with Africa after the much-awaited post-colonial period. It does so by critically engaging with the wider theoretical and conceptual frameworks in African Studies which more often than not tend to attribute the post-colonial African State raptures to colonialism. The main thesis of the book is that colonialism left Africa on its own space wherein African leaders could have made a difference. By putting discrete perspectives into historical context, the book circumnavigates through comparative and comprehensive holistic approach to the Siad Barre regime to reveal how colonialism did not produce less than what criminalisation of the State resulted in Somalia. This empirical analysis is crucial to understanding the contemporary conundrum facing the Somali world today. The argument is that the contemporary conflicts are not only attributable to—but also because of—the past plunders of the post-colonial leaders trained by the departed colonial authorities. Employing nuanced analytic concepts and categories, the aim of the book is to refine the past to recapture the present and envision the future. Framing new ways of analyzing military regimes in Africa begins with (re)assessment of how the Siad Barre regime was previously approached. Marshalling extensive and extraordinary amount of sources, the book unveils the intricacies and contradictions of the dictatorship and its impact on the Somali psyche. The book locates the evolution of the regime within the wider context of the Cold War political contestation between the East and the West. Unparalleled in-depth and analysis, this book is the first full-length scholarly study of the Siad Barre regime systematically explaining the politics and process of the dictatorial rule. The historicity of exploring Somali State trajectory entails employing a Braudelian longue durée approach. Thus, three interrelated sets of contexts/questions inform the study: how Siad Barre himself came into power, how he ruled and maintained his authoritarian reign over the Somalis and who had assisted him from inside and outside the Somali world.
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This book is nothing but a collection of biased stories and fabricated facts. The Siad Barre regime of course as any government has done good and bad things. However, the vast majority of Somalis and non-somalis (including it's staunch critics) admit that it reached goals impossible for many African governments to reach at the time. For instance, it managed to write the Somali script within few years, raised the literacy level to 80% which was a landmark not reached by many western governments, it managed to develop the agricultural and livestock sector as well as industry to greater levels. They built the country's judicial, police and military capacity. Mass schooling from primary to university were established throughout the country. Employment levels rose, the pride and the self-confidence of Somalis reached all time high. In the end, tribalism, Somali people's greatest disease caused the downfall of this regime.
This book not only focused on negative things about this regime, it unashamedly overlooked all the good things it did. Such bias could only come from deeply rooted tribalism which is now filtering to the younger generation who were expected to be objective and free from tribalism. For me, this is the reason I would prefer only non-Somalis to write about the Somali affairs, as they will not have a tribal-line to take. I would say to the author, as a young Somali man, look at the situation of your people and your country then compare it with how it was under the Barre regime, and then you might see the light if you think outside the box.