Tension, fear and death grips Somalia as AMISOM hold Mogadishu
Tension, fear and death remained a common feature in the troubled Somalia as AMISOM forces led by Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) strive to restore peace in the capital Mogadishu.
Insecurity resulting from constant and unpredictable insurgency by the militant Al Shabab, who are largely linked to the global terrorist group Al Qaeda and ISIS, makes the Somali capital, one of the deadliest places in the world.
As the world’s attention continues to focus on Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as the most dangerous countries on the globe far as killings are concerned, attention ought to be put on Somalia.
Al Shabab, militant group currently blacklisted as a terrorist organization could remain key factor in the country’s stability for some time.
Somali journalist Osman Aden Mohammed of Radio Wadeni News said presence of the United Nations and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are supposed quell Al Shabab, but ironically they are largely seen as causes for escalating insurgency. Mogadishu, under former President Said Barre, used to be one of the most beautiful oceanic cities whose people love former Ugandan leader Idi Amin Dada. Today it remains a ghost city with sizeable citizens starving to death with no food and drinking water. Most streets are deserted with few pedestrians on roads many of whom are disgruntled youths while almost every vehicle has armed soldiers. On the roadsides elderly women are seen selling Somali tea and miraa. National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) Secretary General Mr Omar Faruk Osman told the Workers Eye there is no clear and specific description of Al Shabab activists. :" This is a complex situation facing AMISOM forces as they try repulsing the terrorist group,” he said. A Somali National Army (SNA) source that preferred anonymity said a sizeable number of Al Shabaab compromises of youth and the elderly women moving on donkeys and camels.
AMISOM had over 22,000 soldiers and police from six African countries to protect the Somali government and to fight the militants. The armies are from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Djibouti. The sophistication of the Al Shaaab Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and the lack of attack helicopters, coupled by proximity of operationz, have helped militants to launch attacks without being easily monitored through surveillance operations. International Labour Organization (ILO) Head of Somali office Mr Syed Hussain Gilani said employment trends are affected by youths indoctrinated with sectarian hate messages. "Employment trends are affected by youths indoctrinated with sectarian hate messages," he said. Matters are even complicated further by concentration in downtown corridors by youths in densely inhibited Mogadishu suburbs, which aids the terrorists in terms of quick offensive, setting up well - coordinated and executed ambushes coupled with swift tactical withdrawals to evade AMISOM’s offensive.
It is against this background that on July 12, 2019 Al Shabaab attack on Medina hotel in Kismayo killed 26 people including Ms Hodan Nalayeh, a Somali - Canadian journalist, and her husband, Farid Jama Suleiman. The pace of US airstrikes against Al-Shabaab every late evening is in line with AMISOM three phase protracted operations to flash terrorists out of their hideouts. It is estimated that there were about 47 strikes in 2018 and over 50 airstrikes have so far been executed this year. The helicopter gunships have disrupted adversely Al-Shabaab operations but the militants still enjoy cover hideouts in their strongholds within the central and Southern parts of Somalia. It is inconceivable whether the AMISOM forces will ever eliminate Al Shabaab out of Mogadishu which authorities are not in full control..
A high - powered International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) delegation to Somalia from August 19 to 23, 2019 under invitation of National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), the United Nations and the Somali government, brought out underlying factors in Mogadishu. The delegation led by IFJ President Younes Mjahed, included the President of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) Sadiq Ibrahim Ahmed, the Vice President of Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA) Mr Stephen Ouma Bwire, the Secretary General National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) Mr Omar Faruk Osman, and IFJ Gender Council Member Mounia Belafia. They landed at a heavily guarded Aden Adde International Airport named after Aden Abdullahi Osman Daar, the first President of Somalia, off the Indian Ocean coast adjacent the green zone manned by AMISOM. The IFJ team was picked off the plane under tight security and driven in tainted bullet – proof vehicles viaVIP section about 40 meters away before being driven to the hotel.
They got a real feel of Mogadishu on August 20, 2019 when Somali security foiled a possible ambush by Al Shabaab youth riding a motorcycle on the way to Prime Minister's office in Villa Somalia. The IFJ convoy came to a halt after radio communication and the terrorists fled behind slummy houses. Somali security expert Khalid Muhammad said surveillance alert signaled a possible attack. Two UPDF officers Khalid Mbusa, from Walukuba in Jinja and Geoffrey Kazoora from Mbarara, who guard the Prime Minister's office, said they take long to know what goes on in Mogadishu city centre and its suburbs. Another UPDF female officer Angella Ekirinyi guards President’s office where she said she was delighted to meet the IFJ team, and to talk to a Ugandan journalist who was part of the delegation.“ We spend time working here in a place which is exclusively cut off from the city centre,” she said.
The IFJ delegation held meetings with Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire and Information Minister Mr Mohamed Abdi Hayir. Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo told the IFJ team August 21, 2019 at Villa Somalia that AMISOM forces have played a significant role in tackling insecurity and containing Al Shabaab with the urgency it deserves. He reiterated government’s total commitment to protect journalists, but hastened to add that although journalists are free to do their work, they should stop sensationalism and helping Al Shabaab in its heinous killings. .“Reporting by Somali journalists has been sensational and at times helping Al Shabaab in its heinous killings,” he said. So far 60 journalists have been killed in Somalia which has a population of 15 million people, of whom 2.5 million are in Mogadishu.