by Warsame O. Hashi
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Zoope area truck bombing in Mogadishu that killed at least 587 people and injured 316
To contextualize Somalia today, if one assesses where Somalia was and where it is today, one could be forgiven for questioning the integrity and narrative of the recent article on Somalia and its leaders by Michael Rubin on Washington Examiner titled “Somalia’s president is no ally against terrorism”. Somalia is used to all forms of shoddy and lazy journalism written from the comfort zones of faraway landscapes, which is out of touch with realities on the ground. Unfortunately, this time, it was no different again. As clearly evident in his previously invariably warped opinions, I am not at all surprised by his disdain for the millions of people displaced, and the death of thousands of innocent women and children as a result of terrorism.
However, if one examines the facts – (and I reiterate the facts) on the ground Somalia, its people and its leaders are paying a huge and damaging price for fighting terrorism in the Horn of Africa. On one day alone, 14th October 2017, Somalia lost around 500 innocent lives on a single day bombing and since January 2019 to date Somalia lost significant number of innocent lives to terrorism. Where was the Washington Examiner?
As I write today, Eng Abdirahman Omar Osman ‘Yariisow’, Mogadishu’s Mayor and Governor is fighting for his life on life support machine due to injuries suffered in the most recent Alshabaab terror attack on 24th July 2019 in Somalia. I ask again, where was the Washington Examiner? I find it fictitious and irresponsible to accuse Somalia’s leadership for not being allies against terrorism when they are in fact on life support machine from the cost of terrorism. The level of lazy journalism, lack of perspective as well as the sinister narrative deployed in Michael Rubin’s latest article on Washington Examiner is a disappointment to the integrity of journalism.
On the subject of corruption, there is no doubt Somalia has had a long journey on fighting corruption. It’s a constant struggle. However, the article has again been economical with the truth on this subject. Should the paper take a closer look on the facts and developments in Somalia, they will find the current Somali Government has taken great strides on fighting corruption by bringing in accountable financial management systems and new accountable ethos to Somalia’s politics and economics. These developments on the ground have prompted the World Bank and IMF to formally engage with Somalia since the collapse of the state 30 years ago. This is all due to the progressive fiscal management from Somalia’s leaders. On a closer inspection, one would also find that the European Union, Government of Norway, Turkey and Qatar having been directly sending money to the Somali Central Bank to assist Somalia’s recovery and reform agenda for the first time under the current administration’s watch. It is worth pointing out that the United Nations Diplomatic Mission to Somalia, International non-governmental Organisations and the IOM as well as other key international diplomatic missions have all formally moved into Somalia, Mogadishu, away from neighbouring Kenya due to their trust in Somalia’s progress to stability and development.
The world is witnessing a new open government in Somalia that is committed to tacking corruption in spirit and practice, bringing in a renewed confidence on Somalia’s economic and political management. Its pity the Washington examiner article has also failed to recognise this.
The issue of corruption is a constant struggle in the Horn of Africa generally, more so in some of our neighbouring countries. However, to rely on old facts and generalisation without taking the effort and fact-checking the issue deserves, amounts to lacklustre reporting to say the least.
The Somali government, its leaders, its people and the international community, including the African Union have so far paid heavy price in blood and treasure to continue fighting Alshabaab terrorism in the Horn of Africa. Terrorism is a global phenomenon, attributing it to a Somali issue as is suggested in Michael Rubin’s article amounts to not only an act of callousness, but indeed one of grave error of misjudgement. This is a long global struggle for global security and peace. It’s a struggle of our time and Somalia’s leaders with the help of its international, regional partners and its people are committed and will prevail against this global scourge.
It is unfortunate the article on Washington Examiner has resorted to narrow political views to complex issues in Somalia without correct facts on the ground. These reporting should be viewed in the context of over-zealous or political campaigning on the behest of others intended to misrepresent the progress that has taken place in Somalia.
To simply put, the article has not just missed the point, but is also out of touch with the realities on the ground. Somalia’s people, its leaders and international community recognise the golden opportunities as well as challenges for Somalia to overcome, and Somalia is determined to capitalise on the fundamental progress witnessed so far. No amount of lazy reporting from the comfort of the great city of Washington will derail this optimism and progress.
Warsame O. Hashi is a Security and Development analyst. He can be reached at: [email protected], Twitter: @warsamehashi