Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Aideed, Mohamed Farah (1934–1996)

Controversial Somalian warlord who opposed the United Nations' peacekeeping mission in Somalia of 1992–1995. Born Mohamed Farah Hassan on 15 December 1934, probably in the central highland region of the former Italian Somaliland, Hassan preferred the moniker of "Aideed," a childhood nickname. After joining Somalia's Police Corps in 1954, he attended infantry school near Rome and soon after became chief of police in Mogadishu. Following his promotion to lieutenant in 1960, he spent three years in Moscow at the Frunze Military Academy. He later served as chief military advisor to Mohammed Siyad Barre's regime and then as Somalia's ambassador to India during 1984–1989.

In January 1991 Aideed successfully led opposition forces in deposing Barre and then embarked on a brutal military campaign to overthrow the interim government that resulted in a full-blown civil war and ignited intraclan hostilities that soon turned Mogadishu into a shattered war zone. The mounting crisis was magnified by the onset of a severe drought in the region, which prompted the United Nations (UN) to intervene in Somalia in April 1992. Aideed responded to the UN presence by ordering his militia to seize all foreign food aid shipments meant for the starving population. In May 1993, after the successful relief efforts of Operation restore hope, UN peacekeeping forces were ordered to police the region and maintain stability.

Aideed's militia fought back viciously, repeatedly wounding UN troops. On 3 October 1993, a bloody confrontation between Aideed's militia and U.S. military forces resulted in heavy casualties for both sides. The high-profile battle led the United States to withdraw from Somalia, allowing Aideed to consolidate his power for a time. In September 1995, shortly after the complete departure of UN personnel, Aideed declared himself president of the Somali Republic. He was, however, under constant threat from rival clans, and on 2 August 1996 he died in southern Mogadishu from a gunshot wound following an intraclan skirmish.

Scot D. Bruce


Further Reading
Clarke, Walter, and Jeffrey Herbst, eds. Learning from Somalia: The Lessons of Armed Humanitarian Intervention. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1997.; Stevenson, Jonathan. Losing Mogadishu: Testing U.S. Policy in Somalia. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1995.
 

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