Somali ‘Awakening,’ potential solution to al Shabaab menace

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Fighters loyal to Hisbul Islam party take part in a street fight against Somali government forces in Mogadishu July 3, 2009.  REUTERS

Fighters loyal to Hisbul Islam party take part in a street fight against Somali government forces in Mogadishu July 3, 2009. Photo/REUTERS 


Posted  Monday, January 24   2011 at  00:00

In fact, a group of Al Shabaab commanders have asked the Shura Council, Al Shabaab’s ultimate decision making council to accept the return of aid agencies in Al Shabaab controlled areas.

Although the foreigners and the other hardcore Somali Jihadis accepted, they perceived the operations of aid agencies disruptive, accusing them of being spies for Western countries

An Awakening in Somalia is possible if the clan elders revolt against Al Shabaab’s foreigners and extremists.

Following the Ramadan offensive many clan elders in particular in the Bay and Bakool region were infuriated that their sons were left to die in Mogadishu without ammunitions and other supplies.

The elders had asked Sheikh Muktar Robow to revenge their sons that were sacrificed by the Northerners and foreigners.

If the clan elders in other regions in South Central Somalia can be convinced to turn against Al Shabaab, the clan based commanders could turn their fighters against the foreigners and the Somali hardcore Jihadist!

It is however, important to mention that the Sunni Awakening was made possible by strong financial backing from the US once they realised that the Sunni tribal leaders could be more efficient than the US military in defeating al Qaeda.

Each fighter was paid $300 per month and the Sunni business leaders raised an additional $200. The Somali awakening would have to be backed financially by Somalia’s partners.

The Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa (ASWJ) phenomenon in the central regions is actually the first Awakening.

In the Galgadud region, clan elders from the Hawiye, Darod and Diir clans — who were once divide over land and other rivalries — came together and agreed to get rid of what they called the Khawarich or Heretic.

Since they were previously divided because of land and other rivalries, they decided to unite under the banner of ASWJ.

In reality, the majority of Somalis are ideologically aligned with ASWJ. The phenomenon was replicated in the Hiraan region and now in the Banadir region.

Clan alliances to defeat Islamist extremists should be encouraged by empowering the elders.

Al Shabaab is first and foremost a political problem and any process to engage in a dialogue with the group must be Somali owned and led.

But the group must first be weakened militarily in order to force it to understand the virtues of dialogue and that effort must also be owned and led by the Somalis with the backing of other international partners.

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