By Mohamed Mukhtar
Thursday September 21, 2023
Reflecting on the ongoing battle against Al-Shabaab in Somalia, there is a beacon of hope and optimism. For nearly two decades, this ruthless terrorist organisation has plagued our nation, causing untold suffering and bloodshed. However, under President Hassan Sheikh's leadership, Somalia has a better chance to defeat this menace and usher in a new era of peace and prosperity.
The first question is what kind of change his government envisions. The answer is clear: Somalia without terrorism. The people of Somalia have endured far too much pain and loss due to Al-Shabaab's actions. The recognition that actual progress can only occur in a peaceful and secure environment is at the core of this vision.
The President is not merely a leader by title; he's leading from the front lines of this battle, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to the cause. He understands that to inspire change, he must be at the forefront of the fight against Al-Shabaab.
Tackling an issue as complex as terrorism requires a multi-faceted approach. The government has adopted a three-pronged strategy.
Military: The Somali National Army, with the support of local people and international partners, has been engaged in relentless operations against Al-Shabaab. The military approach is vital in dismantling the organisation's operational capacity.
Financial: Strangling the financial lifelines of Al-Shabaab is equally crucial. The government has taken steps to disrupt their illegal income sources, including taxation, extortion, and illicit trade.
Ideological: Winning the hearts and minds of the Somali people is essential in eradicating the extremist ideology propagated by Al-Shabaab. The government actively promotes a moderate, tolerant form of Islam and counters extremist narratives.
Timing is critical in a conflict of this nature, and the interventions against Al-Shabaab are happening at precisely the right moment. Local communities are rising against the terrorist group, showing they are no longer willing to tolerate its presence. This shift in sentiment has bolstered the government's efforts and turned the tide against Al-Shabaab.
Crucially, the sustainability of these changes hinges on the Somali people themselves. While the first AMISOM troops landed in Somalia on March 6, 2007, today, the final chapters of the Al-Shabaab saga are being penned by Somali hands. Our responsibility, alongside our brave Somali army, is to ensure that the narrative ends in victory over terror. Looking ahead to a Somalia free from Al-Shabaab's tyranny, the critical question is how these changes will be sustained and implemented. What is evident now is that the fight against Al-Shabaab has transformed into a local problem with local solutions. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has been instrumental in stabilising the country. Still, the Somali people and the Somali army must now write the ending chapter of this dark period. They take ownership of their future and ensure that hard-fought gains are preserved.
In this war against Al-Shabaab, we must brace ourselves for the harsh realities of conflict. There will inevitably be setbacks, disappointments, frustration, and the painful toll of death and destruction. This is not a fleeting struggle; it's a battle for the very soul of our nation. We must demonstrate the endurance and determination to weather the storm, no matter how long it lasts.
Mohamed Mukhtar[email protected]