Tackling the Al – Shabaab Menace (re-edited)

As the war on al-Shabaab rages on, it is high time that the military and the government draws out its long-term objectives and an exit strategy out of Somalia – although logically this should have been drawn and planned even before the first soldier set foot in Somalia.

The War on al-Shabaab should be one that adopts a combination of militaristic, diplomatic and a hearts and minds approach. The use of all these approaches should have the sole objective of addressing the root causes of the problems in Somalia. After the Kampala bombing, President Yoweri Museveni was on record calling on African leaders to team together and “kick al Shabaab out of Africa.” I put it that it is such radical views and war mongering that has continued to radicalize al Shabaab. Such views only aim at treating the symptoms of the crisis in Somalia but they do not effectively tackle the real problems in Somalia. Such a call only amounts to entrenching al-Shabaab’s terrorizing activities and offers them a good PR platform for their actions and message. When leaders like President Museveni chose to breathe out the “crazy war vibe”, which is the model that Kenya gladly adopted through issuing of threats by our Minister of Internal Security and Minister of Defense; al Shabaab gets free media platform to send out the message that “we are here and are stronger.”

The war on al-Shabaab should not be based entirely on militarized solutions (Operation Linda Nchi) but should also incorporate non-militarized ways which should aim at reaching the many young and old Somalis who are being recruited at an alarming rate. Media reports are already reporting that al-Shabaab has gone full throttle to recruit more militants as the Kenyan-led offensive intensifies its campaigns on al-Shabaab’s strongholds. Efforts to curb the al- Shabaab menace should be directed on how to win the hearts and minds of these young Somali’s who had become hopeless in a failed state where getting recruited into al Shabaab makes much sense than enrolling in school.

As our Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Wetangula and his fellow diplomats’ traverse the globe seeking support for Operation Linda Nchi and as they seat in consultative meetings in Addis Ababa, Washington and at IGAD’s meetings, they should be busy coming up with long-term strategies on how to reach and win the hearts and minds of the Somalis. They should craft incentives that involve the disarming of the young Somalis and enticing them to give up their militia lifestyles. These incentives should target to deconstruct the propaganda and brain-washing that al-Shabaab has been advancing to young Somalis. The international community should engage in efforts of how young people and Somalis in general can get access to alternative media sources and constructive information to emancipate the minds and hearts of Somalis from the al-Shabaab indoctrination. It should be recognized that this can not be an easy feat, given that al-Shabab has had an iron fist as far as media and recreational activities are concerned; but it is a sustainable way to creating a revolution within the Somalis against the al-Shabaab.

What should be realized is that the fight in Somalia is not just that of rooting out or “kicking” out al-Shabaab but the main battles include: how to re-establish rule of law, institutionalization of a governing system and addressing humanitarian issues such as the provision of basic needs and securities for every Somali citizen. It is the fight for basic needs such as food security, easy access to health care, education, peace and security, adequate water supply that should be the main concern of resolving the Somalia crisis and status as a failed state among the community of nations.

There is a great need of legitimizing and strengthening the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), whichich since it’s establishment exercised limited control in Mogadishu thanks to the presence of AMISOM troops. The TFG has no popular support in Somalia since it is seen as a western-imposed and western-backed government against the wishes of the Somali people. To legitimize the TFG there is need for creation of an inclusive and participatory process that charts the roadmap for a political solution and sustainable peace in the country.

One way to do this is to involve various Somali clan leaders from the different clans in the negotiation process for a Somalia National Government. It is only by creating an inclusive and participatory process of negotiation that a legitimate governing system will be established and that the rule of law in Somalia will be restored. Such a process will build legitimacy for the national governing body to be elected through a democratic process. Such an arrangement will provide the people of Somalia with an alternative leadership option as opposed to getting recruited by al-Shabaab and will ensure Operation Linda Nchi was not in vain.

In conclusion, acknowledgement should be recorded that the thoughts and proposals forwarded in this article are just a drop in the ocean of solutions to fighting and defeating the al-Shabaab menace. It should be appreciated that the situation in Somalia needs a multifaceted approach of incorporating military options and non-militarized options as a strategy towards conflict resolution and attaining sustainable peace for Somalia.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. nicholus wahome
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 10:05:06

    That’s true Rufus, peace is the uttermost conveyor belt that East African states will need to embrace if they wish to eliminate these evils that have bedeviled east African economy, particularly terrorist attacks and the insurgent of pirates continues to wreck havoc on our general development.

    political science graduate from UON


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