EDITORIAL: Al-Shabaab is a danger to us all even in season political divisions
EDITORIAL | Somalia’s story this past month has been mostly about political squabbles over the validity of the polling schedule and the officials to be charged with supervising the elections.
But the upcoming elections face a danger everyone should unite against Al-Shabaab. For years and months, Al-Shabaab has often looked on and off. But every time they attack, they leave behind a huge statement of loss.
Last week, Somalia lost a dedicated military officer after a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of Abdullahi Isse football stadium in southern Galkayo under Galmudug State in central Somalia.
Gen Abdiaziz Abdullahi Qoje, was the commander of the 21st division of the Somalia National Army. Maj Mukhtar Abdi Aden, was the commander for the Central Region of Danab, the special forces of the SNA trained by the US military.
The two top SNA commanders and their junior colleagues met their end and they oversaw security arrangements at a stadium for the visit of Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble.
Cut from the prime of their careers, their deaths mean one more blow to an army that is just trying to rebuild, with support from donors. In Galkaayo, the blast killed ten overall and injured a dozen others. It also means the intended message of the Prime Minister was severely curtailed.
Such is the brutality of al-Shabaab which has continually been their currency ever since they came on the scene in 2007. That they did it again means they can do more times over and it should awaken every leader to know what exactly ails the country.
Leaders should know that the terrorists, not other political rivals pose a greater danger to Somalia than any other thing.
Somalia may have risen in recent years, but there can be no denying the security challenges the country faces. It is obvious that since 2017 when President Farmajo took office, the group has retained its ability to strike at the center of Somalia’s government especially when the minds of leaders are focused on something else.
Farmaajo had promised to tame the group and even suggested talks to dissuade the youth to quit the group. That the attacks have continued means such ventures failed or were never implemented at all.
Yet this time, the debate has been on the validity of members of the Federal Electoral Implementation Teams (FEIT), which some 14 opposition presidential candidates have termed as biased and unconstitutional.
The blast occurred as Prime Minister Roble prepared to address a rally, part of efforts to market President Farmajo for the second term. Of course, the Federal Government has indicated that elections will go on with the current FEIT, regardless of the noise from the opposition.
The government may bulldoze through the program. But what it cannot achieve is taming al-Shabaab singlehandedly. Multiple reports including that of the UN Panel of Experts on Somalia have confirmed that Al-Shabaab no longer operates on the old modus operandi of smuggling.
Instead, the Al-Qaeda-linked extremists have infiltrated government entities, extort and tax businesses more than the government itself, and still have swathes of territory in their hands.
If Somalia’s government continues to bicker with rivals, chances are Al-Shabaab will strike again and be a daily danger to us all. It is vital that leaders sit down to iron out their differences so that their attention is not diverted from Al-Shabaab.