A former Somali ambassador to Iran once recounted to me how he came close to finalising a mega deal in 1980s with Iran. In the 1980s, Saudia imposed a ban on Somalia’s livestock. As a result, the Somalis were vigorously looking for a replacement. The diplomat attempted to put up a project together to convince Iran to replace Saudi Arabia as Somalia’s main buyer of livestock. Iran accepted, under the condition that it would be packaged meat as opposed to live animals. They proposed to create a joint-owned IRA-SOMA company that will build several new abattoirs in Somalia, including other additional various factories, bring a huge Iranian workforce that will permanently be based in Somalia.
Somalia’s leader at the time, Siad Barre, was relucant and quite anxious about the deal even though Somalia at that time severely needed it but instructed the Somali ambassador to continue negotiating to arrive at a solution more favourable to Somalia. The ambassador, quite excited, thinking that he is about to close a deal and get a fat promotion was called to Villa Somalia [presidential palace] the next day. Siad Barre asked him:
Waxaan ku weydinaya… shacabka Soomaaliyeed…dadkaan Soomaaliyeed, waxay isku leeynayaan ma taqaana?
Waxay isku leeyneyaan, qabiil Illaahay meel u ku amaanay aysan jirin, bey isku leeynayaan. Ka waran hadii ee kula baxaan Shiica iyo Sunni. Intaan aan halkaan fadhiyo, Shiica Soomaaliya lagu beeri maayo. Raalli ahoow, waad dadaashay..mashruuciina halkaas ku jooji.
Let me ask you something..the Somali people…do you know the primary reason for their internal conflicts?
It is due to clannism, clannism that was never praised by Allaah, they are killing in the name of it. what about if Shiasm takes root in Somalia and they become two different sects, Shias and Sunnis. Until I stop being a leader of this country, Shiasm will never be implanted in Somalia. I apologise, you have put in alot of effort but cease the project from henceforth.