Siad Barre

Jaalle Mohamed Siad Barre
محمد سياد بري
Siad Barre.png
Military portrait of Major General Mohamed Siad Barre, c. 1970
3rd President of Somalia
In office
October 21, 1969 – January 26, 1991
Vice PresidentMuhammad Ali Samatar
Preceded byMukhtar Mohamed Hussein
Succeeded byAli Mahdi Muhammad
Personal details
Mohamed Siad Barre

October 6, 1919
Garbahaareey, Somalia[1]
DiedJanuary 2, 1995(1995-01-02) (aged 75)
Lagos, Nigeria
Resting placeGarbahareey, Gedo, Somalia
Political partySomali Revolutionary Socialist Party
Spouse(s)Khadija Maalin
Dalyad Haji Hashi[1]
RelationsAbdirahman Jama Barre
ChildrenMaslax Barre
Military service
AllegianceItaly Kingdom of Italy (1935–1941)
Somalia Somali Republic (1960–1969)
Somalia Somali Democratic Republic (1969–1991)
Branch/serviceSomali National Army
Years of service1935–1941
Rank15-Somali Army-MG.svg Major General
Battles/warsSecond Italo-Ethiopian War
East African Campaign (World War II)
1964 Ethiopian-Somali Border War
Shifta War
Ogaden War
1982 Ethiopian-Somali Border War
Somali Rebellion
Somali Civil War

Jaalle Mohamed Siad Barre (Somali: Jaale Maxamed Siyaad Barre; Arabic: محمد سياد بري‎; October 6, 1919 – January 2, 1995)[3] was a Somali politician who served as the President of the Somali Democratic Republic from 1969 to 1991.

Barre, a major general of the gendarmerie, became President of Somalia after the 1969 coup d'état that overthrew the Somali Republic following the assassination of President Abdirashid Ali Shermarke. The Supreme Revolutionary Council military junta under Barre reconstituted Somalia as a one-party Marxist–Leninist communist state, renaming the country the Somali Democratic Republic and adopting scientific socialism, with support from the Soviet Union. Barre's early rule was characterised by widespread modernization, nationalization of banks and industry, promotion of cooperative farms, a new writing system for the Somali language, and anti-tribalism. The Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party became Somalia's vanguard party in 1976, and Barre started the Ogaden War against Ethiopia on a platform of Somali nationalism and pan-Somalism.

Barre's popularity was highest during the seven months between September 1977 and March 1978 when Barre captured virtually the entirety of the Somali region.[4] It declined from the late-1970s following Somalia's defeat in the Ogaden War, triggering the Somali Rebellion and severing ties with the Soviet Union. Opposition grew in the 1980s due to his increasingly dictatorial rule, growth of tribal politics, abuses of the National Security Service including the Isaaq genocide, and the sharp decline of Somalia's economy. In 1991, Barre's government collapsed as the Somali Rebellion successfully ejected him from power, leading to the Somali Civil War, and forcing him into exile where he died in Nigeria in 1995.[5][6][7]

Early years

Mohamed Siad Barre was born on October 6, 1919, near Shilavo, a town in the predominately Somali-populated Ogaden region of the Ethiopian Empire, into the Somali Marehan Darod clan and the sub-clan of Rer Dini.[8][9] Barre's parents died when he was ten years old, and after receiving his primary education in the town of Luuq in southern Italian Somalia moved to the capital Mogadishu to pursue his secondary education.[9] In 1935, Barre enrolled in the Italian colonial police as a Zaptié despite being ineligible as he was born in Ethiopia, instead claiming to have been born in Garbahaareey in order to qualify.[8][10] Barre seems to have probably participated as a Zaptié in the southern theatre of the Italian conquest of Ethiopia in 1936, and later joined the colonial police force during the British Somaliland military administration, rising to major general, the highest possible rank.[11][9] In 1946, Barre supported the Somali Conference (Italian: Conferenza Somala), a political group of parties and clan associations that were hostile to the Somali Youth League and were supported by the local Italian farmers. The group presented a petition to the "Four Powers" Investigation Commission in order to allow that the administration of the United Nations Trust Territory could be entrusted for thirty years to Italy.[12] In 1950, shortly after Italian Somaliland became a United Nations Trust Territory under Italian administration for ten years, Barre (who was fluent in Italian) attended the Carabinieri police school in Florence for two years.[13][9] Upon his return to Somalia, Barre remained with the military and eventually became Vice Commander of the Somali Army when the country gained its independence in 1960 as the Somali Republic.

In the early 1960s, after spending time with Soviet officers in joint training exercises, Barre became an advocate of Soviet-style Marxist-Leninist government, believing in a socialist government and a stronger sense of Somali nationalism.