Mogadishu (UM) – Since the Zoobe and Nasa Hablood 2 attacks, the President has worked hard to reassure the public and international community by undertaking a regional tour to meet the heads of AMISOM Troop Contributing Countries. In addition, the NISA and Police chiefs have been sacked and the President chaired a meeting between AMISOM ground commanders in Somalia with their Somali counterparts in the presence of the Prime Minister and the leaders of the Federal Member States. The discussions are the typical of all that have gone before them: We must defeat Al-Shabaab by working together.
Yet, working together is proving difficult because the AMISOM Commanders on the ground still mainly take orders from their capitals and not the Somali/AMISOM force commanders on the ground. Worse, they operate sector by sector along nationality lines and rarely share information effectively. There are very few battle enablers such as helicopters despite many promises previously and there is a concern about the financing of the Mission which is heavily supported by international partners, including the EU and USA.
A radical but obvious solution for an embattled Government which has been forced to catapult security further up the list of priorities after the two most recent devastating attacks is to strengthen its partnership with the people.
The security discussions so far have focused on a top down strategy of command and control where the public have been relegated to spectators. They are not. The Somali public are the greatest victims of terrorism because they do not live in a bulletproof bubble or behind Hescot sand bags like their politicians, senior security officials and AMISOM. They are on the front line daily and need to be consulted and won over to support the national security efforts.
The Somali public understand the importance of collaboration with the Government to combat insecurity but there is little trust in the Government’s ability to protect them if they cooperate. Community policing was, and remains, an idea on a drawing board somewhere, but even this simple well proven concept for reducing crime and violence cannot work without genuine trust between the security forces and the public.
While the President is entertaining the Federal Member State leaders and pleading with them to work with him on national security, it is those Somali citizens that live in their territories that are at most risk and not them. Instead of wasting his efforts and public funds on begging these “leaders,” the President will better serve his country by demanding a community based and led security strategies of both AMISOM and the Somali Security Forces which is accompanied by real State and confidence building measures including the constructions of minor infrastructure to provide public services from his side.
Most of the Somali people are rightfully afraid of cooperating with the national security services because most of them are incompetent and poorly led. They are also underpaid, and morale is very low. President Farmaajo himself admitted that the Somali security forces need to be as motivated as their enemy if they are to defeat them in a recent speech. In many ways, there still exists parallel States in Somalia: One clear in its objectives of coercion and violence and the other legitimate and well-intentioned but disorganised and under resourced. The Somali people are living between these two to their detriment.
The majority of the Somali people clearly support the Government of President Farmaajo but the honeymoon is certainly over. The people want security delivered and know they must play a key role in bringing this about. However, the reassurances and leadership they need from the Government and the Somali security forces on this key issue is clearly still missing. This is the real challenge that must be addressed urgently if Somalia is to progress to Nabad and Nolol.