Intricate mix of clans and grievances
The collapse last week of the Islamic Courts Union in Mogadishu is
reviving old clan rivalries that experts say will play a key role in
Somalia's future. The following is a primer on the nation's clans. There
are six main clans and minority groups, and dozens of subclans.
Somali Prime Minister, Ali Mohamed Gedi, second left, with his
delegation in Afgoye, Somalia, Friday, Dec 29, 2006. The prime
minister promised thousands of cheering Somalis peace and stability
after he drove through battle-scarred Mogadishu in an armed convoy,
a day after an Islamic movement's fighters abandoned the capital
ahead of his Ethiopian-backed troops "Today is the beginning of a
new life, new stabilization and a new future for Somalia," Ali
Mohamed Gedi said. -AP
Hawiye, the largest by number, are historically based in central
Somalia and the capital, Mogadishu, though, like most clans, can be
found all over the country. Darod are found in Puntland in the north, as
well as being from the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, though many also live
in the south.
Rahanweyn are found in Lower Shabelle, Baidoa and other areas. Dir,
including Isaak, are mainly in Somaliland, a self-declared republic that
broke from Somalia in 1991. The Jarer and Banadiri are smaller and often
work together to boost their clout.
The 1991 collapse of Mohamed Siad Barre's regime sparked clan wars,
with large and more powerful groups attacking smaller rivals.
At the same time, there were intraclan conflicts involving Hawiye and
Darod in Mogadishu and Kismayo. The conflicts led to a massive "reclanization,"
as Somalis resettled to be closer to their traditional clan base for
Barre was a member of the Darod. His subclan dominated Mogadishu and
its resources. After 1991, Hawiye tribes, working with Darod subclans
who opposed Barre, invaded the capital and drove out some Darod subclans
and other clans, seizing land, homes and property.
Many of those grievances have yet to be resolved.
Transitional President Abdullahi Yusuf is a Darod. Before he became
president, he led his clan's fighters in civil war clashes against
Many Hawiye fear he will use his position to seek retribution.
The Islamic Courts Union temporarily unified various clans under
Islam. But even before the alliance collapsed, familiar clan rivalries
were beginning to emerge because nearly all of the courts officials were
The Hawiye clan is divided into many subclans whose rivalries often
surpass the tensions between Darod and Hawiye.
Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi, a former professor of veterinary
medicine who lived in Ethiopia, won his job in part because he comes
from an important Hawiye subclan in Mogadishu, but many in the group do
not support him, leading to credibility problems.
His subclan is seen as being one of the two most antagonistic toward
the transitional government. The second is the Hawiye subclan of Sheik
Hassan Dahir Aweys, former chairman of the Islamic courts.
Both subclans are thought to be heavily armed and reluctant to heed
the government's call to disarm.