Al-shabaab, though has not claimed responsibility, has obviously masterminded the attack that left more than 75 people near Ex-checkpoint in Mogadishu. The suicide bomber targeted a large number of university students, making it as deadly and devastating as the Shamo Hotel suicide bombing ten years ago. Mogadishu security chiefs were lulled into a sense of security owing to a remarkable decrease in the number Al-shabaab attacks carried in the capital for the last six months.
The Saturday’s attack had all the hallmarks of Zope Junction attack of October 14 in 2017. Al-shabaab has changed tactics and aims for maximum casualties of civilians to shake citizens’ confidence in the security organisations in Mogadishu. The security reform conducted by the Federal Government of Somalia earlier this year had not addressed the root cause of security flaws exploited by Al-shabaab. In a recent meeting with a Somali political party leaders, the US Ambassador to Somalia, Donald Yamamoto, deplored the make-up of the Somali National Army. He said that the majority of the soldiers of the Somali National Army belongs to one clan. The former UNSOM Chief, Micheal Keating, expressed a similar sentiment three years ago. He used Marka city of Lower Shabelle region as an example about the unrepresentativeness of the Army. The implication for this situation is wider.
Puntland State of Somalia does not benefit from training despite facing threats from ISIS and Al-shabaab. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheire, both from Galmudug technically, have opted for the policy to isolate federal members states they think are not keen on toeing a resurgent centralism line they brazenly promote.The United Kingdom is commendable for opposing the lifting of the arms embargo against Somalia.
Somalia does not have an inclusive National Army. Army weapons end up in Al-shabaab hands. The Security Architecture proposed in London in May 2017 has faced opposition from Mogadishu-based politicians, who condone the Federal Governments policy to recruit soldiers from Mogadishu and nearby regions. It is increasingly becoming absurd to talk of Somali National Army. A review of the recruitment policy, training and remuneration of the Mogadishu-based Somali Army remains an urgent task. An army that is dominated by one social group in a war-torn country cannot respond to the threat posed by Al-shabaab and other transnational terrorist organisations.
© Puntland Post Monthly (to appear in January 2020 edition)