The most senior traditional leader of Hawadle clan, Ugas Hassan Ugas Khalif, has criticised the Federal Government of Somalia for putting pressure on people of Hiiraan to send child soldiers to Dhuusomareeb, where a reconciliation conference is taking place. “We do not oppose the Somali Army. What we oppose is the decision of the Federal Government to deploy child soldiers from Hiiraan” said the influential traditional leader.
Another traditional leader from Beledweyne clarified the exchange the Deputy Defence Minister had with Hiiraan traditional leaders. ” The Deputy Defence Minister said the Federal Government will lay off Hiiraan soldiers if we fail to abide by the instruction to send troops to Dhuusamareeb” he said.
Although the Federal Government of Somalia introduced several months ago a new system that substantially reduced the number of non-existent soldiers who were on the payroll in Mogadishu and nearby regions, troops in Hiiraan, Middle Shabelle and Galguduud paid in the name of the Somali National Army are still organised along clan lines. The dominant clan of a district or region contributes the largest number of recruits. In essence, Somalia has clan militias paid in the name of a National Army. The security architecture unveiled at 2017 London Somalia Conference aimed to professionalise the Somali National Army and other security sectors has not borne fruit.
Puntland, a key Federal Member State, has a separate, clan-based army known as Puntland Defence Forces. In 2017 Commanders from Mogadishu-based Somali National Army paid a visit to Garowe as a part of efforts to integrate regional forces. Integration efforts stalled after Federal Member States formed Inter-state Cooperation Council in Kismayo. Somaliland, an unwilling participant of 2017 election through MPs and Senators selected in Mogadishu, has its own army on war footing with Puntland over territory both administrations claim.
Puntland does not benefit from training for Somali National Army. The policy to exclude Puntland from training by Turkey and United Kingdom erodes the political capital built to strengthen trust between Puntland and the Federal Government. The overconcentration of training on South and South-central Somalia poses a threat to coexistence among Federal Member States particularly Puntland and Galmudug, two entities whose people thrived on 1993 Galka’yo Peace Agreement.
Rebuilding a National Army for a country whose government relies on peacekeepers requires prudence and the strength to resist the temptation to drive a wedge among war-weary Somali social groups. At the Federal Government of Somalia in Mogadishu those two qualities are woefully in short supply.
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