Somalia asks for more help to fight Al-Shabaab

(MENAFN- SomTribune) Hassan Sheikh Mohamud says jihadism is un-Islamic and impossible to justify

I feel uniquely qualified to talk about international terrorism because I survived at least three assassination attempts. They came during my first term as President of Somalia from September 2012 to February 2017. The first attempt was on my very first day in office; the second while I was walking to pray at the mosque in the presidential compound; and the third while I was on my way to visit Marka, a town we had liberated from Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated and jihadist group that operates in Somalia.

Terrorism continues to wreak havoc in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and East Asia, and most countries around the world, including Europe and America, are on high alert. , according to the 2022 Global Terrorism Index (gti) compiled by the Australian Institute for Terrorism. Economy and Peace. Although the report says deaths from global terrorism are on the decline, it points out that Africa accounted for 48% in 2021. Somalia alone accounted for 8% of all deaths, tied with Mali and Niger and surpassed only by Afghanistan. (where 20% of deaths occurred) and Burkina Faso (10%).

Since the most prominent terrorist groups have extensive international goals and networks, and are aided by sophisticated technology, no one should take comfort in a relatively low score in the gti. Arguably, terrorism is not in decline, but terrorists are reinventing and adapting. We must do the same.

In Somalia, we have been at war with terrorists for nearly two decades and the conflict has cost our people dearly. I have witnessed firsthand how terrorism impedes sustainable development. It prevents the creation of an economy that can provide meaningful long-term opportunity – an important means of addressing some of the root causes of terrorism. It also harmed our neighbours. My new government is determined to bring it to a peaceful resolution through a mix of different security strategies and difficult negotiations with Al-Shabaab.

The Somali government’s gains against al-Shabaab are clear, but the rapid early progress made during my first term as president slowed dangerously under my predecessor. Somalia’s crippled politics have allowed Al-Shabaab to experiment with various tactics to scare, extort and kill the Somali people. We will liberate all remaining territories, however small or remote, so that our people can live in peace. But the group will survive if it remains able to coordinate and operate across borders, recruit locally and internationally through social media, and intimidate local populations in areas it controls.

Can we negotiate with terrorists? It is easy to approach the question philosophically when one is not a victim or a potential victim on a daily basis. But really it is a painful question. History suggests that discussions can be fruitful when groups are on the path to rejecting their violent ideologies. In Somalia, we are on the front line, like many other African countries, including those in the Sahel region, and we must be realistic about how we will bring lasting peace and stability. It is simply too dangerous to hold on to the idea that only military defeats will miraculously produce ready-made peace. Talks are also necessary.

Somalia’s experience and international research clearly show that terrorism is exacerbated by poverty, social exclusion, injustice and lack of opportunities for citizens, especially young people. (Of course, there are wealthy and educated individuals who also decide to become terrorists. Osama bin Laden was a notorious example.) We understand that we need to move faster on our state-building agenda. For a better society, we need good governance, economic opportunity, stronger rule of law and more inclusive policies. Bad politics guaranteed by rampant factionalism and perpetual crisis, as evidenced by the postponement of recent Somali elections, only serves to weaken fragile states like Somalia and provide respite and encouragement to terrorists.

Ultimately, it is up to the Somalis to secure their future against Al-Shabaab. Yet, we are grateful for the support provided to Somalia by all our valued international partners in the fight against international terrorism. This partnership is vital because although Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State cause the most suffering in their localities, they do not hide their international ambitions. In the past, they have shown their readiness to extend their brand of violent and inhuman misery to new geographical frontiers. It is therefore all the more urgent to redouble international efforts in terms of security cooperation and effective development assistance.

We can also work together to fight terrorism by exposing the lies behind it. Today’s so-called “global jihad” is a modern contradiction. It is impossible to justify it according to the peaceful teachings and principles of Islam and is only embraced by terrorists who seek to destroy humanity for their own benefit, not for God or a Caliphate. . This point is fundamental because it strikes at the heart of the erroneous ideology of the terrorists. For too long, the discourse on jihad and Islam in general has been hijacked and abused by terrorist organizations. In truth, they are nothing more than selfish fanatics. They should be reviled as such.

The fight against international terrorism is everyone’s responsibility, not just policy makers in government. Civil society, the private sector and local community leaders must be included when we discuss solutions. And solutions are desperately needed. Longstanding international policies of containing and degrading Al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups are no longer enough. For us all to be safe, these terrorists must be defeated militarily and ideologically. ■

By Hassan Sh. Mohammed
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Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is the President of Somalia.

The Economist

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