Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Somalia: Hardline Islamic group condemns efforts to stabilize security situation

Somalia's hardliner Islamic group, al-Shabaab has sharply condemned a National Security meeting aimed at improving the security situation in the capital, Mogadishu. The meeting which ended Tuesday was called by new President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. It aimed to pave the way for the relocation of the National Unity government and parliament to the capital in the coming days. The National Security Council members unanimously agreed at the meeting to integrate both secular and Islamic insurgent forces, including the police to maintain peace. This comes after the new prime minster said he was ready to hold negotiations with Islamic insurgent groups including hardliner group, al-Shabaab.

Described by Washington as a terrorist origination, al-Shabbab promises to take over the country and refuses to recognize both the new president and the prime minister. Abdullahi Nur is a Mogadishu resident. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that most residents are hopeful of a return to peace and stability.

"I think the people support the ongoing peace efforts, but there are some differences like some of the non-cooperators of the National Reconciliation held in Djibouti and those in Mogadishu so they both need to talk before a final action is decided upon. So, what the Security Council has said so far is good and many Somalis support what they are doing in order to bring back peace and stability to the capital, Mogadishu," Nur pointed out.

He said there seems to be hope in the latest development effort to ensure ordinary Somalis living in the capital, Mogadishu are safe.

"So, I think what the Council says is a good thing for the country. They are saying reassuring words to people about the security in the country and they are encouraging the civil society. And they are saying we need to participate I mean all parts of the people including the traditional elders and the women groups and that is very fine. But their word is not enough because we need from the statements some action because we need to see that the remaining militias romancing and looting and killing people to be brought to book. These guys are looting the people and they have their big guns some say are given to them by the TFG (Transitional Federal Government) and that is very dangerous," he said.

Nur said there are high expectations among Mogadishu residents that peace would return.

"Hopefully, I think some changes will happen. But according to our experiences the peace and reconciliation in Somalia make people not to be too optimistic. And since the new President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was elected there is hope things would be better. He is is very intellectual and very high reputation among Somali parliamentarians and we most feel things would be improving soon," Nur noted.

He said there was need for ordinary Somalis to be educated about the current situation in the country.

"We need a civic socialization mission in Somalia. The ordinary Somali need to understand what is going on not only to understand but also to be aware because from what I have heard from the local media and the international media that other peace keepers are coming to join AMISOM (Africa Union Mission in Somalia). So there is hope that things would improve and I think the majority of the people support the government but the majority need the minority too since they are all part of the society," he said.

Nur said flexibility of the new administration would help bring Islamic hardliners like al-Shabaab into the administration and peace to Somalia.

"My view is always positive because al-Shabaab was or has always been part of the Islamists before ARS (Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia) separated. So, I think the situation would improve if the new unity government like the president and the prime minister show flexibility not only for al-Shabaab but also all the other insurgents because all the community has changed. And the root cause of the Somali problem is the clanism and the ideological manipulation," Nur pointed out.

Published with the permission of Voice of America
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
Putting principles before profits