MOGADISHU, Somalia – An art war designed by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and carried out by his military forces, along with locals has gained momentum as al Shabab – an al Qaeda – linked group lost large swaths in south and central Somalia.
President Mohamud has decided to eliminate al-Shabaab from the country by fighting it in three ways — militarily, economically, and ideologically.
With this be implemented, Mohamud made his a move and that had inflicted an stunning blow on al Shabab after his Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre appointed Mukhtar Robow as religious affairs minister.
Who is Robow?
Robow is a founding member of al-Shabab, and was trained with senior al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan.
He fell out with al-Shabab in 2013. He publicly denounced the group, but he was arrested in December 2018 while seeking to run public office in south west state and has been kept under house arrest until he was named as a government minister.
Robow was appointed because he is believed to be a powerful tool, especially in terms of ideology, as he will provide strong doctrinal pushback against al-Shabab.
“As a founding member of the group he knows the group inside out. He knows how they think and how they act”, said Abdirisak Mohamed, minister of petroleum while speaking with Somalis in South Africa’s Cape Town.
President Mohamud believes his appointment combined with a renewed military offensive will weaken al-Shabab sufficiently to force it into talks.
Mohamud also wants Robow to work with Islamic scholars to persuade people to leave al-Shabab by convincing them that what they do is un-Islamic.
Robow, many politicians said would be the downfall of al Shabab.
Somali army continues to wrest territories from al- Shabaab, and to keep the group from openly retaking any other town. The group already lost dozens of areas and towns as well as fighters to the recent operation.
Why al Shabab is losing?
For many years, Somali clans and villages have tried to resist demands from th extremist al-Shabab, which can include taxes called “zakat,” plus livestock, weapons.
They also threatened and abducted civilians in south and central regions to force communities to hand over their children for indoctrination and military training
The terrorist group ordered elders, teachers in Islamic religious schools, and communities in rural areas to provide hundreds of children as young as 8 or face reprisal attack.
Hundreds of children, many unaccompanied, have fled their homes to escape forced recruitment, said in a report published by Human Rights Watch.
Everything changed in early 2018, when al-Shabab militants raided and captured small village named as Gulane in the Middle Shabelle region north of Mogadishu, and asked residents to “donate” money, rifles and boys.
A local farmer, Hibaad Ali Dasar rejected to follow al Shabab order and chose to die rather than hand over his son, who was younger than 12 at the time. Then al Shabab burned down Dasar’s farm, relatives said.
Dasar gathered some men in the village whom their families were sent into government-controlled town and organized a militia with a name of Ma’awisley and started fighting against al Shabab.
Ma’awisley was about 60 when started to fight against al Shabab in May 2018. But today they are hundreds and are capable to bring al Shabab on their knees.
Unfortunately, Dasar and several of his men were killed in an ambush while planning to carry out an attack on an area held by al Shabab.
With his death surfaced, the rebellion he started had ended.
Years after his spirit sill lives on in another mobilization of locals in Hirshabelle and Galmudug states in south and central Somalia.
Hundreds of locals took up guns and followed his footsteps and are fighting against al Shabab in Hiran region and the group lost major strongholds.
The locals picked up guns because al Shabab burned their wells, boreholes, telephone towers and put their lives in a misery. Many say al Shabab left them no option but take a gun and fight back to protect their families, wealth and dignity.
President Mohamud’s appeal to fight Al-Shabab is a call for liberty, justice, and for development of the country. Al-Shabab took away everyone’s freedom, dignity, morality, and our peaceful religion as a race and as a nation.
It is time to stand with our brave men and women in uniform and join the liberation of Somalia because the terrorist organization, Al-Shahab distorted the interpretation of the verses of the Quran; brain-washed our youth and the illiterate in society.
Al-Shabab does everything that contradicts Islam. They’ve have no right to remain alive and continue to wreck havoc in Somalia.
Written by Abdishakur Alasow Mohamud, The first Secretary of Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Somalia to the United Nations.