Somalia: Independence till Date
Comprised of a former British protectorate and an Italian colony, Somalia was created in 1960 when the two territories merged. Since then its development has been slow and the country has had no effective government since 1991.
1970 – President Barre proclaimed Somalia a socialist state, paving the way for close relations with the USSR.
1977 – with the help of Soviet arms, Somalia attempted to seize the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, but was defeated.
1991 – President Barre was overthrown by opposing clans but they failed to agree on a replacement which plunged the country into lawlessness and clan warfare. The decades of fighting between rival warlords meant that the country was ill-equipped to deal with natural disasters such as drought, and around half a million people died in the Somali famines of 1992 and 2010-12.
Years of anarchy followed the downfall of President Barre, and it was not until 2012, when a new internationally-backed government was installed, that the country began to enjoy a measure of stability once more.
1992 – United Nations troops arrived to monitor the ceasefire after the fighting which followed the fall of President Barre. A US-led task force delivered aid.
1993 – the United Nations mission to Somalia receives a fatal blow when US rangers are killed in an incident made famous by the Hollywood film Black Hawk Down.
1995 – UN troops withdraw, leaving the Somali warlords to fight on amongst themselves.
2000 – at a conference in Djibouti, clan elders and other senior figures appointed a new president. Thus, a transitional government was set up, with the aim of reconciling warring militias. However, as its mandate drew to a close, the administration had made little progress in uniting the country.
2004 – after protracted talks in Kenya, the main warlords and politicians signed a deal to set up a new parliament, which later appointed a president. This fledgling administration was the 14th attempt to establish a government since 1991.
2006 – this year saw the rise of Islamists who gained control of much of the south of the country, including the capital, after their militias kicked out the warlords who had ruled for 15 years. A transitional government backed by Ethiopian troops threw out the Islamists from the capital, Mogadishu, in December 2006, but since then Islamist insurgents have carried out almost daily attacks. About 20,000 people flee fighting in Mogadishu each month. More than two million Somalis rely on food aid to survive.
The young Islamist fighters launching attacks around Mogadishu are known as Al-Shabab. Recently placed on the United States’s list of “foreign terrorist organizations”, in February 2012, Al-Shabab released a joint video with Al-Qaeda, announcing that the two groups had merged.
2007 – in January 2007, the African Union (AU) deployed a peacekeeping mission to Somalia (AMISOM), paving the way for some 8,000 troops to enter.
2008 – the Islamists fought back against the government and Ethiopian forces, regaining control of most of southern Somalia by late 2008.
As of late 2008, a 2,400-strong peacekeeping force, made up of some 1,600 Ugandan troops and 800 troops from Burundi, had deployed to Mogadishu. The UN Secretary-General also called for the UN Security Council to consider sending 27,000 peacekeepers to Somalia to replace the AU peacekeeping force.
2009 – Ethiopia pulled its troops out of Somalia in January 2009. Soon after, Al-Shabab fighters took control of Baidoa, formerly a key stronghold of the Somalia transitional government.
In late January, Somalia’s parliament swore in 149 new members, extended the mandate of the transitional federal government for another two years, and installed a new president. However, in May 2009 Islamist insurgents launched another attack on Mogadishu, prompting the president to request help from the international community.
2011 – Kenya entered Somalia in pursuit of the Al-Shabab militia which withdrew from Mogadishu in August of that year.
The worst drought in six decades hit Somalia leaving millions of people on the verge of starvation and causing thousands to flee to Kenya and Ethiopia in search of food.
Somalia is very much a country in progress as is much of Africa and the future will tell what the conclusion of the story will be. With any luck, it will be a happy ending.
Credits: BBC, Geneva Academy