Amid recent ATMIS troop withdrawal confusion, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud called for unity against al-Shabaab in a passionate address. Speaking at an event in Dhuusamareeb on Thursday night, Hassan Sheikh invited key leaders, including the President of Jubaland and Members of the Somali Parliament, to discuss the persistent challenge of the al-Shabaab insurgency.
Dhuusamareeb, Galmudug State, SOMALIA. By Dalmar:
In his speech, President Mohamud highlighted the prolonged duration of the conflict, spanning 16 years. The impact it has had on the rural areas of Somalia has been dire. The President lamented that many young Somalis have grown up in an environment where al-Shabaab has maintained control. This has led some to become militants themselves.
“For 16 years in rural Somalia, where many Somalis live, livestock, resources, and all the good things are, the men [al-Shabaab] control it. The boy who was five years old at that time [when the insurgency started] is now 21. He is now carrying a gun and fighting. It has been a long period,” President Mohamud remarked.
The President stressed that al-Shabaab, despite their prolonged presence in parts of Somalia, is not superior in their number, intellect, or wealth compared to the Somali people. He asserted that the extremist group had no legitimate reason to rule over the rest of the nation. “It makes them happy to see our people dying in thousands. There is nothing good or humane about it,” President Mohamud declared.
Somalia at a critical juncture
The President’s call for unity against al-Shabaab comes at a critical juncture. The Presidential Office recently requested the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to delay the second phase of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troop drawdown. The request underscores not only the ongoing challenges in the fight against al-Shabaab but also the enormous confusion in which the government operates.
On 14 September, the Somali government went to the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union. It reported that the situation in the country was good and asked to proceed with the 3,000 ATMIS troops’ withdrawal. Shockingly, the government even requested 851 police officers to leave in addition to the original plan.
In sharp contrast to these requests, Somalia’s National Security Advisor sent a letter to the UNSC only five days later. He reported that the Joint Technical Assessment (JTA), outlining the impact assessment of phase I drawdown, including threat assessment in Somalia, had found that the security situation in Somalia has been dire. He then requested a 90-day postponement of ATMIS troops’ withdrawal.