Dismissals alone will not improve security in Somalia – UM

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Mogadishu (UM) – Last Sunday was another painful day for most Somalis as they had to reflect on the attack on Nasa Hablood 2 hotel so soon after the Zoobe attack only few weeks prior. After the Zoobe attack there was a collective national feeling of “Never again” but it seems that this has regressed into a case of “Yet again” with the most recent attack.

Last Saturdays attack on Nasa Hablood 2 hotel was significantly smaller in scale than Zoobe but the results were equally as tragic for all the victims and the Somali people.

Security is Somalia’s single greatest challenge and it is important to remember, in amongst all the carnage, the courage of the security forces who risk their lives to safeguard the Somali population daily. The valiant efforts of all the responders to all the attacks is commendable. However, it is also important to ask why lessons are never learnt from frequent security failings.

In an emergency Cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, the Somali government dismissed both the NISA and Police Chiefs for incompetence. Only a few days earlier, the NISA Director, Abdullahi Mohamed Sanbalooshe, wrote in the New York Times that he did not have the means to deliver the security the Somali people needed because of financing, technical weaknesses and lack of information sharing from international partners. He urged that international partners be proactive in assisting his agency and the wider Somali security forces in these areas of deficiencies.

The Police Chief, Abdihakin Dahir Saeed, also echoed these remarks in many forums in the past but while resource challenges exist, the Somali security services consume the largest share of the tiny national budget.

While indeed the Zoobe and Nasa Hablood 2 attacks prove the incompetence of the NISA and Police Service’s leadership, it is important to consider the wider challenges to security in Somalia, and, more specifically, Mogadishu, the capital. A recurring issue is the lack of capacity and subsequent accountability on the part of Security leaders and this will not change until they are appointed on merit rather than clan or political affiliation.

There just are too many Generals in a country which is still unable to provide an accurate figure for its national Army. No amount of resources can reverse the security misfortune of Somalia without merit based appointments and accountability.

Almost every partner nation seems to be assisting Somalia with security in different ways. Yet, integrating the Somali Army, improving the capacity of the Police Force and restructuring NISA is still a distant dream although a National Security Architecture, which specifies these, has been agreed nationally. All these are in addition to the over 20,000 African Union troops that are stationed in Somalia tasked with assisting the Somali National Army in stabilising the country. It is clear from all this that Somalia’s security challenge is not entirely resources but political will to reform the sector and demand results on the part of the Federal Government.

In a recent speech to Federal Member States leaders, President Farmaajo questioned the overall morale and patriotism of the Somali security forces. This is crucial because the next NISA and Police leaders must be able to address this positively. Therefore, they must be qualified and understand the magnitude of the task ahead of them. They must be ready to commit to remaining at home and out of politics to radically improve the security situation in the country. They must remember that they are not the Foreign Minister and swap frequent flyer points with international airlines and weekends in Nairobi with directing ground operations within their organisations. More importantly, they must understand that failure will not be accepted, and this is a message that both the President and PM must reinforce with the public’s full support.

The luckiest survivor of the security leadership upheaval is the Minister of Security Mohamed Abukar Islow, The sad irony is that it was his hotel, Nasa Hablood 2, that was attacked. This has made him a figure of ridicule in the public eyes who rightfully question his ability to protect them from harm again.

However, now that he has survived, the Minister of Security must take the lead and coordinate and re-organise what is a shambolic security architecture with enormous long-term capacity challenges, including ghost workers.

Security is the only key national policy priority which the President personally oversees with the Prime Minister. Given this special treatment, it must radically improve and quickly. The Somali people have suffered enough.

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