The situation in southern Somalia is both promising and perilous. It is promising, on one hand, because Al-Shabab fighters have been retreating and losing ground. Today, they do not control Mogadishu, Afgooye, Hiiraan, and parts of Gedo. The exception is Kismayo, the only major city the group still controls. The Kenyan contingent of the AMISOM forces has practically not made much of a progress in capturing the port city of Kismayo, a hub for the al Shabaab militant forces.
The situation is perilous, on the other hand, because liberated areas are suffering from poorly-organized local administration and lack of safety, and, hence, no law and order. However, Al-Shabab fighters are still able to operate and carry out assassinations in areas controlled by the TFG with impunity. The militants have been successful in melting in with local populations after their ignominious defeats. There is still pervasive fear of the radical group in the South. Moreover, the rate of political assassinations has skyrocketed in Mogadishu. Journalists, artists, and politicians are regularly targeted. The South has been experiencing a new phenomenon: the TFG armed forces are killing, raping, and pillaging in the liberated areas too. Whereas Al-Shabab imposed strict and draconian rule in these areas, there were, at least, no armed robberies or rape reported. Many of these residents are now wondering if they were better off, after all, with the hated Al-Shabab. There is also the fear that southern Somalia could resort back to lawlessness and warlordism.
On the other hand, the city of Mogadishu has transformed into a beehive of activity for self-serving Diaspora Somalis seeking political positions in post August Somali transitional government. Many of these Somalis, who are an assortment of former taxi/truck drivers, university professors, businessmen, and pilferers, consortium of criminals, and men and women of good standing, are currently congregating in the ramshackle city. There is the warlord who is craving for a comeback so that Somalia may descend into chaos as it was in the nineties; there are the sword-wielding Mullahs who would like to spill blood if given the chance; there is the fanatic who is struggling tooth and nail to have access to the political spectrum; and there are those currently at the helm who have acquired wealth through looting and embezzlement of the public treasury and donations that were meant for the poor. Prospective presidential contenders also include individuals who may not be acceptable to the ordinary citizen because their secularism may not augur well in Somalia’s political environment where Islam is the guiding principle. Some of the potential political leaders from the Diaspora are heavy with hard cash--whether it is legally or illegally acquired is anybody’s guess-- while others are utterly broke. The groups include experts in showmanship, clanists, opportunists, etc. Some have come to watch unfolding events from the sidelines while rejoicing during their spare time chewing the poisonous green leaf known as Qaat- a plant capable of easing frustrations and uncontrollable obstacles facing the consumer. Others abandoned their family’s responsibility while resorting to absenteeism as their wives abroad succumb to despondency, isolation, and dependency on welfare benefits.
In these critical times, Somalia needs men and women with integrity, vision for the future, who would put forth a comprehensive plan to bring Somalia out of the anarchy, mayhem, and also would uphold the territorial integrity of the country.
The momentum of this important transformation should not be lost at this juncture in the history of Somalia when millions of Somalis, both at home and in the diaspora, anxiously anticipate for the reestablishment of a functioning recognized government, which would occupy its rightful place in the family of nations. To achieve this cherished goal, WardheerNews believes that there should be a transparent and ethical conduct from both the candidates and the new parliamentarians:
Though the outcome of the presidential selection currently under way in Mogadishu is anyone’s guess, if the steps outlined in this editorial are followed, we may not only have a transparent process and citizens willing to embrace the political process, but also an able leader that will confront the challenges that has been facing Somalia for the past two decades and bring law, order, and sense of normalcy to the country.
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