Trusteeship Council, peace accord, Berbera, Soviet base, naval facilities
On July 1, 1960, by agreement with the UN Trusteeship Council, Somalia was granted independence. It merged thereupon with the former British protectorate, to which the United Kingdom, by prearrangement, had given independence on June 26. The first president, Aden Abdullah Osman Daar, elected in 1960, was defeated for reelection in 1967 by the former premier Abdi Rashid Ali Shermarke. On October 15, 1969, Shermarke was assassinated, and days later a military group, led by Major General Mohamed Siad Barre, seized power. In 1970 Barre declared Somalia a socialist state, and in the following years most of the modern economy of the country was nationalized. A drought in 1974 and 1975 caused widespread starvation.
In mid-1977 ethnic Somalis in the adjacent Ogaden region of Ethiopia initiated open warfare aimed at ending Ethiopian control of the area. The rebels were armed by Somalia, which also contributed troops to the effort. The Somalis captured most of the Ogaden by late 1977, but Ethiopia, aided by Cuba and the USSR, reasserted control over the region in early 1978, as Somalia’s army suffered heavy losses. Subsequent fighting in the Ogaden precipitated a flood of refugees into Somalia; the number of homeless in 1981 was estimated at close to 2 million. The United States gave both humanitarian and military aid and was in return granted use of the naval facilities at Berbera, previously a Soviet base.
Opposition to Barre’s rule began to coalesce in 1981 after Barre chose members of his own Marehan clan for government positions while excluding members of the Mijertyn and Isaq clans. Insurgent groups from those clans initiated clashes with government troops beginning in 1982. A peace accord ended hostilities with Ethiopia in 1988, but the civil war intensified, despite Barre’s attempts to placate insurgents by proposing a multiparty government. By 1989 only Mogadishu and portions of Hargeysa and Berbera were firmly in government control. In 1990 the clans opposing Barre formed a united front to fight the war. Barre was forced to flee the capital in January 1991, and was eventually accepted for asylum in Lagos, Nigeria, where he died of a heart attack in 1995.
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