A ghost country
In 1991 after rebels removed Dictator Siad Barre from power, a series of clans, warlords and ultimately al-Shabaab took power. Up to 1.5 million Somalis died because of the conflicts and an estimated 2.5 million were displaced with about 1 million leaving the country.
The country became famous all over the world for piracy, kidnapping, terror attacks and famines. The country did not exist anymore as a country. No judiciary or police force or even taxes.
Since spring, Somalia had a new government and European diplomats have been talking about window of opportunity. Even if Mogadishu is the only place where the government has a bit of control, large parts of the country are still controlled by al-Shabaab.
Even though the extremists were driven out of Mogadishu six years ago, the city is not at peace. In addition, deaths are still occurring in high number. Car bombs are the biggest danger and entire neighbours are still destroyed with people living in ruins.
New structures are appearing and the real estate market is growing. New villas can cost up to $1 million. Recently, over 100,000 Somalis have come back from abroad. New hotels and restaurants are opening as well as banks and taxi businesses.
In the late afternoon, there is a large number of armoured Land Cruises with tinted windows arriving at the Mogadishu’s country club owned by Manar Moalin. She greets her important guests, which include members of parliament, the heads of state television and businessmen, and leads them into a room lit by green fairy lights.
The country club is a space of freedom in the city where guests are served Dolphinfish and linguine with a tomato-coriander sugo, and lobster.
There is a man sitting at a table at the rear of the garden. He has a soft face and an American East Coast Accent. His name is Mohamed; he is wearing a slim-tailored suit and lots of pomade in his hair. He understands how the city works, warlords rule Mogadishu.
He says that today’s warlords are business people. They pursue their interests with the same old methods, with weapons, car bombs kidnapping and beheadings. He also says that business deals in Mogadishu are not done to finance the war but war is waged to ensure business continues to bloom.
Mohamed says that recently the government wanted to impose an audacious plan in the form that all those paying taxes to al-Shabaab were to be punished. Sop owners protested and the plan was dismissed. Everyone that owns a shop pays taxes to al-Shabaab and if they do not they will incur into big troubles.