The Ethiopian recuptured Baidoa — the bastion of Al-Shabab — the liberated population didn’t cheer at all for their neighborly help – and you may wonder why? Buy all acounts, the Ethiopian army showed their help in the most ferocious way by rounding up the elders of the city, including the President of University of Southern Somalia (USS), whom were not only humiliated but were also brutally beaten up and are now in hospital for life threatening injuries.
It seems as though the Ethiopians have not learned their lessons from their first foray into the Somali hinterland back in 2006, and are merely bent on running over the country and humiliating its people. This kind of reprehensible treatment of the locals and disregard of their human rights is how the Al-Shabab insurgents were born in the first place because at the time they seemed to be the lesser of two devils, until they wreaked havoc on everyone they came across. Nevertheless, the humiliations and rough treatments the Ethiopian army is inflicting on the local population of the so called liberated areas are quite disconcerting and inconsistent to what they supposed to do in order to win the hearts and minds of the local population. That’s if they’re genuinely there to help?
The president of the USS, Honorable Mohamed Ali Klaay, for example, is a well-respected and unaligned educator, who has been involved with education since early Seventies. He’s a well-known figure and highly regarded for his selfless focus on education and other progressive venues in the region — even despite the perilous situation there. Undeniably, the USS functioned and survived for many years under the numerous of the influential forces that changed hands in that region of Baidoa. The University’s survival is mainly due to Mr. Klaay’s sole focus on education for all and his neutrality in politics, as he was fully aware that any political muddling would undercut the progress of the University for which he’s the main administrator and advocate.
Historical perspectives should be an aide here, Somalia and Ethiopia had a long history of conflict and animosity between the two countries. The Somalis view Ethiopia as a neighborly hegemon that rules over a large region of ethnic Somali population. Nonetheless, times are different now and Somalia finds itself in a precarious position that old hegemonies and hatreds are a bit subdued at this time. On the other hand, Ethiopia –specially the current regime in Addis—made some efforts to allay those past conflicts and tensions between the two countries.
Therefore, when I decry these latest Ethiopian blunders in Baidoa, I am not resorting to the usual historical acrimony between the two nations. Rather, what’s important is that if Ethiopia is trying to help Somalia at this juncture then they must be very careful to tiptoe in not humiliating the local populations they are trying to help. Sadly, these past few days, the Somali Diaspora is really incensed when they learned about the humiliation and viciousness inflicted on one of their most revered hero in the region Mr. Mohamed Ali Klaay of the Southern Somalia University (USS).
Source: Hiiraan Online 31.03.2011