We are not safe – UM

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Mogadishu (UM) – Yesterday’s violent blast killed over 30 people and injured even more. The pain of loss screamed through the air and the dust from the blast could not cover the tears of the injured victims. Yet, only hours earlier in the morning, the Somali government was celebrating the arrival of Ethiopian Airlines maiden flight and the President’s visit to Ethiopia to meet with his Ethiopian and Eritrean counterparts to advance regional economic ties. How a happy morning can give way so easily to a tragic afternoon is the real challenge this government needs to address.

The Somali government cannot condemn every attack and close the roads as a response to explosions. Both do not serve the public interest because one shows weakness and lack of preparation and the other just punishes the victims. Why close the roads after the attacks if the security services had failed to detect and prevent the attack in the first place? What difference will closing the roads make when the cars are already on the road and drivers and citizens are scared for their lives? What should they do? If they abandon their cars they will create suspicion and if they remain in their cars they cannot move. How can soldiers fight explosions with half empty AK 47’s? Where are the security cameras, bomb detectors, sniffer dogs and the Command Centre we were promised years ago? This disastrous situation always repeats itself after every explosion and the government never learns its lessons.

Fighting terrorism needs a counter terrorism strategy which has a civilian response built into it. Intelligence gathering, public support and information sharing are important but our security chiefs and advisers prefer to sit in expensive hotels and speculate on who will be the next President and other wasteful nonsense which undermines their promise to keep the public and country safe. Somalia has too many politicians already, what we need are soldiers, police officers and intelligence leaders. What these need in return is leadership and direction which does not seem to exist.

The politicians are good at blaming the security sector when things go wrong but it is they who appoint their friends to key posts which require genuine expertise. How can the government argue that it is serious about security when it’s national Security Minister still has no office and did not even go to it before it was blown up in a terrorist attack months before? Been the friend of the Prime Minister, as the Internal Security Minister likes to project, is not a qualification, it serves no public interest at all. Without security nothing will be possible including investment and debt relief. Yet security sector morale is low, ability is limited and the political leadership is distracted with its own survival.

It is no secret that Al-Shabaab collects extortion money for protection from legitimate business across Somalia. It is also no secret that this amount is so lucrative that Daesh is now fighting them for a share by killing prominent business leaders across Somalia including Mogadishu. Now, the government cannot fool the people by saying it is keeping them safe.

What worries the public most is that terrorists are now dressed like the government security forces in most attacks. Yet no one is ever investigated for these violations within the Security sector. Who should be held responsible for these dangerous breaches? If the Prime Minister is serious about accountability he continuously talks about he will address this issue urgently.

The President and Prime Minister must think hard and reform the security sector or Nabad and Nolol will be just another empty political dream like its predecessor the 6 Pillar Plan. A very late Twitter condolence from the Prime Minister comforts no one. The Somali people are sick and tired of empty words on security, now they need real action. The President and Prime Minister must hold each other accountable for every victim of every attack. They must never forget that ultimately they are responsible for the security of their people and the nation.

We pray for all the victims and their families.

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