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Siad Barre

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Siad Barre
Siad Barre

Mohamed Siad Barre (Somali: Maxamed Siyaad Barre) (1919 or 1921?, Ganane, Italian Somaliland - January 2, 1995, Lagos, Nigeria) was the self-proclaimed socialist president of Somalia from 1969 to 1991. Prior to his presidency he was an army commander under the parliamentary government Somalia had inherited from their former Italian colonial government.

As a boy, Barre was an orphaned shepherd before joining the Italian colonial police force. He had limited formal education, but studied hard and attended some military courses in Italy. He became the Vice Commander of Somalia's Army when the country gained independence from Italy in 1960. Barre became an advocate of Soviet style Marxist government after spending time with Soviet officers in joint training exercises in the early 1960s.

In 1969, during the power vacuum following the assassination of President Abdirashid Ali Shermarke, the military staged a coup and took over. Barre ruled with an iron fist for the next twenty-two years. He attempted to develop a personality cult; large posters of him were common in the capital Mogadishu during his reign, many of which can still be seen today.

During the Cold War, control of Somalia was of great interest to the Soviet Union and the United States due to its strategic location at the entrance to the Red Sea. Barre's government was initially supported by the Soviet Union, but lost Soviet support in 1977 over Somalia efforts to annex the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. The United States stepped in, and until 1989 was a strong supporter of the Barre government, providing approximately US$100 million per year in economic and military aid.

Barre's support was heavily based on ethnic and tribal affiliation. In the late 1980s, rival factional groups began to make substantial territorial gains, especially in the northern Somaliland region. Barre launched an intense counter-insurgency campaign. According to a 1990 report by Africa Watch, an affiliate of Human Rights Watch, fifty to sixty thousand people were killed in the fighting in between 1988 and 1990. Barre was finally unseated on the evening of 26 January 1991. He was succeeded by Ali Mahdi Muhammad until November 1991, but Ali Mahdi's government never managed to extert political or military control over most of the country.

After leaving Mogadishu in January 1991, Barre temporarily remained in the southwestern region of the country controlled by his son-in-law Mohamed Said Hersi. He twice attempted to retake Mogadishu, but in May 1992, he was overwhelmed by Ali Mahdi's army, and went into exile. He initially moved to Nairobi, Kenya, but opposition groups there protested his presence and support by the Kenyan government, so he moved to Nigeria only two weeks later. He died January 2, 1995 in Lagos, Nigeria, of a heart attack, and his remains were buried in his hometown in Somalia.

As of 2005, Somalia has had no real national leader nor any effective national government since Siad Barre was deposed in 1991.

ja:モハメド・シアド・バーレ nl:Muhammad Siad Barre

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