OPINION: Who’s to blame for the Somali National Army’s (SNA) breakdown in Galgaduud? Hassan Sheikh forgot to mention one key decision-maker. Speaking on X (previously Twitter) on Friday night, the Somali President finally addressed the recent setbacks of the SNA and allied local forces in Galgaduud and vowed to hold those responsible accountable.
Dhuusamareeb, Galmudug State, SOMALIA. By Yahya:
For his address to the nation, the President decided to use a platform that, according to available data, only 1% of the eligible (aged 13 and above) Somali population uses. This rather unconventional selection raises questions about the audience the President intended to reach. Clearly, Hassan Sheikh did not aim to address the vast majority of Somalis who do not use X (Twitter).
Moreover, the President, who appeared visibly tired and stressed in the video, blamed whoever else he could except for one key decision-maker, himself. The lack of self-reflection was uncanny. He admitted that “There is no other place where government forces have suffered such a major loss,” referring to the loss of Osweyne on 26 August. He decided to blame his government, which he is the head of: “We are aware that government officials committed major mistakes.”
Hassan Sheikh promised to hold these officials accountable, blatantly ignoring the fact that the President has the ultimate responsibility for his government officials – their successes and failures. When the SNA and Ma’awisley forces liberated El Buur, the government was quick to celebrate the historic victory.
The Somali National News Agency (SONNA) even reported about an alleged ‘secret meeting’ of al-Shabaab’s ‘top command’ in El Buur, where the members supposedly argued that “it would be a suicide mission to confront the well-equipped and determined national army,” further stressing that the militants agreed to “quietly leave the town to avoid further casualties.”
The extent to which this reporting was misleading and misinforming was learned a few days later when al-Shabaab compelled the government forces to withdraw from all the recently ‘liberated’ areas along the southern Galgaduud frontline, including El Buur, leaving the government media conspicuously silent and Somali public astounded.
Adhering to a popular saying, ‘better late than never,’ Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, for the first time on Friday, admitted that government forces and allied Ma’awisley militias suffered substantial losses on the Galgaduud frontlines when fighting al-Shabaab. When addressing Osweyne, he even said that “there [was] no other place where government forces have suffered such a major loss.” He acknowledged that Somali forces had to retreat and emphasized the need to bolster these troops’ morale.
The President of Somalia flagged ‘certain government officials’ as those who committed significant errors and abused their power. Without specifying names, he called on holding these individuals accountable. Speculations immediately flooded the online space, with social media users accusing high-level officials of embezzlement of military logistics and political interference in the SNA’s operations.
However, only a few recalled that the President temporarily moved to Dhuusamareeb to ‘spearhead’ the operations while putting a lot of effort into letting people know that he was in charge. As the state media reported, the President personally assumed command from the Galmudug’s capital, making himself the key decision-maker responsible for everything that went well and wrong.