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Publication: THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS PubDate: 10/5/1992 Head: UNDER THE GUN Many Somalis say arms

buildup worsens their countrys plight Byline: Ed Timms Credit: Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News Section: NEWS Edition: HOME FINAL Page Number: 1A Word Count: 1685 Dateline: BARDERA, Somalia Second of two parts BARDERA, Somalia -- One truck carries a recoilless rifle developed for the U.S. Army. Another is equipped with a Soviet-made cannon. The militiamen guarding Somali warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid are armed with the weapons of a dozen countries. Some are a deadly legacy of the Cold War, when superpowers wooed Somalia with military hardware. Others were simply sold for hard cash by the worlds merchants of death. Many Somalis say the proliferation of weapons -- such as automatic rifles, cannons and rocket-propelled grenade launchers -- has aggravated their countrys misery. At least 100,000 people have died in fighting since civil war broke out in January 1991, and at least 1.5 million, or more than one-fourth of the population, are threatened with immediate starvation. Relief groups have been unable to transport food by land to devastated areas because of looters armed with automatic weapons. Even during a tentative cease-fire between opposing factions, victims of gunfire continue to show up at the few hospitals still operating. If we didnt have the weapons from the East and the West, there would not be so much death, said Abdi Baffo, 39, an agronomist who once worked for Somalias ministry of agriculture. We used to fight, but with sticks and knives. Those who gave us the weapons to kill each other have some responsibility. Somalia and other countries in the Horn of Africa have long been a playing field for geopolitical intrigue and conflict -- and a fertile market for arms.

The colonial powers, which defined their spheres of influence with military might, began relaxing their hold after World War II, but not entirely. Unlike other Italian colonies, Eritrea was denied independence after World War II. Analysts say that a major obstacle was U.S. interest in operating military facilities there. Djibouti, which gained independence in 1977, is home to a big French naval base and about 4,000 French military personnel. Tensions between the United States and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War led to a massive infusion of arms, especially in Somalia and Ethiopia. High anxiety Much of the arms transfers occurred in the 1970s, when anxiety over the security of oil supplies in the Middle East was at its height. But even a five-year glimpse from the late 1980s provides a sketch of the number of arms suppliers involved. The United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency says Somalia was the recipient of $200 million in arms transfers from 1984 to 1988: $60 million from the United States, $10 million from France, $10 million from China, $20 million from Italy and $100 million from other countries. Ethiopia got $4.1 billion in arms during the same period. Its largest supplier was the Soviet Union, at $3.9 billion. Italy supplied $30 million, China and Czechoslovakia each supplied $20 million, and other countries gave $130 million. Sudan received $350 million. The United States was the largest single supplier, providing $120 million in arms transfers. France and China each supplied $30 million. A total of $10 million came from Britain and $160 million from other countries. The Horns strategic value was its proximity to the western shipping lanes of the Persian Gulf oil producers, who accounted for more than a third of the worlds oil supply during much of the 1970s and 1980s. Ethiopia and Djibouti command the entrance to the Red Sea and the southern gates to the Suez Canal. Somalia provides opportunities for naval and air forces to shadow the huge oil tankers sailing south for

the Cape of Good Hope and on from there to Europe and the United States. During his 21-year reign, which ended in January 1991, Somali dictator Mohamed Siad Barre parlayed geographic position into military aid -- first from both the superpowers, then primarily from the Soviet Union, then from the United States and Saudi Arabia, and then again from the Soviet Union. Soviet experts developed the northern port of Berbera, and Somalia was once the temporary home of about 6,000 Soviet military advisers. Mr. Siad Barres designs on the Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia -- an area ceded by Britain to Ethiopia in 1954 but populated largely by Somali-speaking people -- led to a flip-flop of military patrons. Financial aid Saudi Arabia reportedly pledged financial support for arms, with the understanding that Mr. Siad Barre would restore relations with the West. The Soviet military advisers in Somalia were expelled, and Somalia invaded the Ogaden in 1977. The Soviet Union then threw its support behind the Ethiopian government and in exchange was able to operate a naval base in Ethiopia, again providing it strategic leverage in the Red Sea. Before the Ogaden invasion, the United States had been a patron of Ethiopia, but its level of aid was on the decline. After the Soviets made their move into Ethiopia, Mr. Siad Barres government became the beneficiary of U.S. largesse. Somalias military operation in the Ogaden was unsuccessful, but the Siad Barre government continued to encourage secession movements in the region. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan heightened the United States strategic interest in Somalia. A defense treaty signed in 1980 gave U.S. forces access to Soviet-built air and naval facilities at Berbera. But eight years later, Mr. Siad Barre, dissatisfied with the level of U.S. military aid, renewed ties with the Soviet Union. Reports of human-rights abuses prompted Congress to halt U.S. aid in 1990. The Siad Barre regime, by that time, already was crumbling. Within

a year, he fled the port capital of Mogadishu in a tank, first to a tribal stronghold in southern Somalia and then into exile. The superpowers and their satellites, however, were not the only countries to provide arms to Somalia. Libya also was a source of arms, and according to one report, 40 tons of weapons arrived just after Mr. Siad Barres overthrow but in time to help arm the factions that have now divided the country. Western government officials say that despite an arms embargo ordered by the U.N. Security Council, Somali factions may still be getting weapons and ammunition from other countries, including Yemen, South Africa, Kenya and Egypt. Representatives of Gen. Aidid also have reportedly been seen in Lisbon, Portugal, recently, seeking to buy more weapons, say Western diplomatic officials. Merchants of death Relief workers at refugee camps along Somalias border say weapons also are being brought in from Ethiopia and Kenya and in some cases are being paid for with looted relief food. Libya and Iraq continue to support Somali factions with money for arms, relief workers have also reported. Abdul Malik al-Sindi, Yemens deputy information and culture minister, said in Dallas last month that Saudi Arabia was financing Afghani mercenaries in Somalia -- mujahedeen rebels from the Arab world who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan and retained a taste for warfare when they came back. Although some of the arms shipments may be politically motivated, private enterprise also has played a role. The private arms traders and grain merchants have had a field day in the Horn for decades, because of the extraordinary amount of food brought in by relief groups, because of the interruption in food supplies with the civil wars and droughts, and the ready availability of cash because of large amounts of aid that has come in, said John Prendergast, a research associate with the Washington-based human-rights group Center of Concern. Anybody who has weapons or grain to sell, theyre going to be sniffing around the Horn.

In nearby Sudan, another Horn nation that has been plagued by civil war, Mr. Prendergast said evidence is pretty clear that Iraq supplied a number of planeloads of weapons in exchange for sorghum, even as thousands of Sudanese faced starvation. Sudan boasts the first fundamentalist Islamic government in Africa, and that political slant also has attracted the attention of Sudans regional neighbors. Israel and Saudi Arabia are believed to have covertly financed opposition groups in Sudan. Before its fundamentalist regime came to power, Sudan was counted in the moderate camp of Islamic countries. It was one of three Arab League members that supported the Camp David Accords in 1978, and later, the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. But more recently, ties between Egypt and Sudan have been strained. While Egyptian forces helped liberate Kuwait, Sudan supported Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during the Persian Gulf war. An organization that promotes Islamic states in the pattern established by Irans Ayatollah Khomeini is active in Sudan, and Iran has provided military and technical aid. Egypts leadership is wary of a fundamentalist movement so close to home, both as a threat to internal security and to the free flow of the White Nile from Sudan, an essential water source. The Blue Nile flows from Ethiopia, and similarly, Egypt has an interest in political developments there that could threaten its water needs. A watchful eye Israel also has kept a close eye on Ethiopia. Human-rights groups have alleged that Israel has provided Ethiopian government forces with modern weaponry. Mr. Prendergast said one motivation for Israel was its concern for Ethiopian Jews, nearly all of whom have now been safely brought to Israel. But another, he said, was to be in a position of influence: to help protect Egypts water supply as long as Egypt remains friendly to Israel, or to use it as leverage if relations between Egypt and Israel deteriorate. Sharon Pauling, co-coordinator of the Coalition for Peace in the

Horn of Africa, advocates a regional arms embargo as one step to reduce the level of violence in Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia. But she acknowledged that the results would not be immediate. The situation in Somalia, she said, illustrates why. Theres so much hardware in the country already as a result of Cold War-vying that there really doesnt need to be any more input and people could continue to kill each other for years with U.S. M-16s and Russian AK-47s, said Ms. Pauling, also an analyst with the human-rights group Bread for the World.