| Gorfayn Editorial
Somalia at peace with itself
The government of Somalia has welcomed the self-mobilisation of local communities and their efforts to kick al-Shabaab (AS), the insurgency group that is fighting the Federal Government of Somalia, out of their towns. This all began when the al-Qaida linked extremist group burned down houses, destroyed water wells, and burned travellers including children alive in Hiran, Hirshabelle. Fed-up communities galvanised themselves to put an end to the vicious atrocities committed against them by the extremist group.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud personally welcomed the involvement of the local communities. In a widely read piece, the President declared “I am proud of the courage of our resilient communities across Somalia which have joined forces with their government security services to make a firm stand against AS and their abuse and subjugation of our people and nation. Our unified message is clear: we will no longer be bullied, humiliated, extorted, or killed. We will defend ourselves, our communities, and our country against international terrorists. Terrorism will have no friend or anywhere to call home in Somalia”.
The President’s words are in line with his campaign promise of “Somalia at peace with itself and with the world”. In this regard, unlike most politicians, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s administration is one of the most inclusive administrations in Somalia’s history. The President appointed rivals and foes to important political offices. He kept vocal proponents of the previous governments in their posts, and as soon as he came to power embarked on a peace caravan around the country to calm some nerves.
During the local resistance to AS, the President met military generals and politicians from Middle Shabelle region who expressed their support for the ongoing efforts. The President, on his part, pledged material and moral support to the gallant Somalia National Army (SNA) forces and the supporting Ma’awisley fighters. Further, the president, in a recent address to the parliament reiterated his commitment to the current fight against AS, and tabled bills including the Counter-Terrorism Act, and a bill that would target AS’s financial mechanisms. However, cracks have started to appear in the battleground and eventually war erupted between two neighbouring clans that were on the same side at the beginning of the resistance.
Dark forces at play
Emerging news indicates that the infighting between locals in Middle Shabelle is caused by a cabal of local leaders that hold various grievances with the current administration. These leaders are all from the President’s subclan.
The first group are politicians that are worried about the lessening of their influence if the Federal Government takes over the areas. Some of these politicians believe the President, one of their clansmen, neglected them as soon as he got into office, and as an act of revenge, seek to embarrass him by working to make him fail in his own backyard. On the same token, due to Somalia’s 4.5 power-sharing system, some of these politicians do not simply want this president to win this war as it would render them irrelevant.
The second group are businesspeople that allegedly have nefarious business deals with AS. A freed and regulated Middle Shabelle would render their businesses obsolete. Therefore, they leave no stone unturned in impeding and sabotaging the President’s efforts.
The Somali National Army is now strong enough to attack, liberate and hold territories. Therefore, the President, whose weakness has been trying to make local leaders happy, should take decisive action and continue the fight.
This war against AS, at this juncture in Somalia’s history, will be the biggest legacy President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s reign will be remembered for; therefore, he should spare no effort in making it a success. He can do this by finally returning the five thousand Somali troops in Eritrea. These troops, coupled with the current SNA forces in the country, are enough to liberate and secure the country.
For the time being, SNA should take the lead and use Ma’awisley as a supporting act that, more than anything else, legitimises the fight as they stand for the will of the locals.
In the meantime, to prevent further clan infighting, the Federal Government should deploy the special police forces to the newly liberated areas.