By:Daud Ed Osman
Somalilandsun – The leaders of Somali Federal Government reiterated that Al-Shabab (Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist in Somalia) is defeated, disbanded and internally polarized and the remaining pockets that are hiding in the hinterland are to be apprehended by Somali Government security forces with the assistance of African Union contingency forces in Somalia.
This statement is misleading and it shows the Federal governments lack of comprehension of the nature of Al-shabab and the deficiency of its security strategy (if there is any) to deal with Al-Shabab. This statement perceives Al-Shabab as though it is a conventional military and mere effective use of concerted military campaign is tantamount to Al-Shabab’s defeat.
Al-Shabab is extremist group, but it is also local insurgency group that relish many advantages that maintain its existence, and allow them to recruit and train as many young Somalis as they can possibility accommodate including freelance foreign jihadist, for their delusional quest.
It is important to note that many of the significant dynamics that propelled Al-Shabab to prominence are still intact and they continues totap this comparative advantage – to use economics concept. Some of these dynamics are demography/youth bulge, presence of foreign/no Muslim troops, dysfunctional government, rampant corruption, existence of political framework that alienates youth population, presence of extremely high rate of youth unemployment, and lack of other economic and educational opportunities.
The biggest obstacle in terms of security is not the difficulty of finding viable security strategy, butabsence of government effort to devise smart security strategy that take into consideration the reality on the ground.
Any sustainable security strategy in Somalia must include two components; one is law enforcement and judicial system component such as strengthening security sectoras well ascreating functioning judiciary system. The second component is removing, altering or modifying the factorsmention above that give Al-Shabab an advantage over the Federal government.
The first component offers temporary remedy to the security problem by reducing Al-Shabab’s capacity to carry out well-coordinated, large-scale suicide bombing followed by indiscriminate killing such as the one in theBanadir Regional Court in Mogadishu in April 14, 2013 that left 29 innocent civilians dead,deadly suicide bombing in United Nations Development Program (UNDP) head quarter in Mogadishu that killed 15 people in June 19, 2013,July 12, 2003 suicide car bomb in Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu which left five people dead, more resent attack in Aljazeera Hotel which is less than a kilometer from the International Airport, andthe devastating attack in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya that created international fury and highlighted Al-Shabab’s complexity, resourcefulness, skill and its overall resilience that defy the existing paradigm and conventional analytical tools.
Many analysts, commentators and Federal Government leaders were predicting the demise of Al-Shabab, by highlighting some of Al-Shabab’s internal schism that led to defection, infighting and execution of some of its high ranking leaders such as Ibrahim Haji Jama, better known (Ibrahim AL Afghani),Abdihamid Hashi olhaye nicknamed (Sheikh Burhan), Muqtar Robow alias (Abu Mansur), and Hassan DahirAweys who is currently held by the Somali Federal Government.
Even the Somalia Federal Government’s handling of Hassan DahirAwey’s case, after he escaped with his life from Al-Shabab leader; demonstrate that Somali Federal Government’s inability to exploit this rare opportunity and its failure to create policy that exacerbate this internal schism, which is the result of irreconcilable doctrinal division that would allow the Federal Government the potential defectors and create the opportunity to access better intelligence from Al-Shabab network and its underwriters.
Daud Ed Osman