Militarising Mogadishu will not keep it safe – UM


Mogadishu (UM) – The last week, two explosions took place in the space of under one kilometre on the Maka-Al-Mukarama road. The violent attacks killed around 20 people according to government officials and left many more wounded and traumatised. In this time of political instability and public fear, a robust security response is needed. So far, all the Somali people got was more dangerous and economically crippling road blocks.

After interviewing with many Mogadishu residents this week, UM published a story today highlighting their concerns about the growing insecurity and irregular public services because of the Motion of No Confidence against the Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Osman Jawaari. Despite these concerns about the current political instability and its negative impact, security in the capital should not be so bad that it strangles the entire city, its residents and their daily activities.

Today, the Maka-Al-Mukarama road, has more security checkpoints than it ever did since 2012. Only those with a government Identification card can drive through the newly installed checkpoint outside the Ministry of Interior and come from the main road connecting the Bakara market to the Maka-Al-Mukarama road. This is not effective security but a ticking security and economic time bomb.

Security is this governments number one priority. Both the central government and the Mayor of Mogadishu have pledged to protect their backyard from further insecurity. However, both have been unsuccessful against the asymmetric attacks of Al-Shabaab on their front door. Moreover, rather than planning for and executing a better security plan, both the central government and local government are busy erecting walls and barriers to keep themselves safe while stifling public activity, including, going to work for those lucky few who are employed. The Somali people are sick of road blocks, they want better security to rebuild their lives after 25 years of violence and destruction.

Mogadishu, as the capital, has arguably the highest concentration of Somali security forces and AMISOM. The former is well paid and armed while the latter know the landscape and the people. Combined, these two forces can and must secure not just Mogadishu but the whole country. Perhaps, as they claim, they both are trying their best but with every explosion their credibility dwindles. Better partnership, proactive strategies and intelligence sharing, can go a long way in dealing with these attacks.

The Minister of Internal Security and Mayor of Mogadishu must spend more time thinking about Mogadishu’s security and less on what suit they wear to visit the attacked sites after the event. The Mayor and his team walking through the attacked sites after people have died and property has been destroyed or the Minister of Interior alarming people by shouting out that there are explosive laden cars in the city, are unhelpful and unprofessional.  These actions also undermine public confidence in security institutions and the government Ministries responsible for them.

Erecting checkpoints against terrorist attacks is a futile exercise because a car full of explosives driven by a murderous criminal will just break through it and kill innocent people anyway. However, CCTV, effective communication, intelligence sharing, trust and inter-security agency coordination will be more effective in keeping Mogadishu, its residents and their property safe. This proposal needs leadership, strong partnerships and real, not imagined, resources. All of these must be found within the Somali government, people, AMISOM and the national security forces. In the end, it is only this partnership that can keep Mogadishu and Somalia safe.