ABSTRACT

But General Aidid had been watching the UN’s mandate change and was fully aware that he was soon to be disarmed and marginalized-forcefully. Close Somali aides and many Western sources say that if every clan had been disarmed, early on, Aidid would have accepted. But if the previous months had taught the warlord anything, it was that disarmament was not likely to be carried out equally, and would therefore be dangerous to him, the strongest clan chief. Prematurely, US envoy Robert Oakley, despite promoting the December 1992 pact that preserved all warlords’ heavy weapons, had declared that “plucking the bird” was his strategy. “You take one feather at a time and the bird doesn’t think there’s anything terrible going on. Then one day he finds he can’t fly,” he said. “We did that from the beginning.”1