Posts by Mohamed Nuxurkey

Life in Capital Slowly Returning to Normal, Despite Lack of Security
Road Repair
Road Repair

Since Islamist movements took power in Somalia in 2006, there have been increasing attempts in Mogadishu to impose the repressive interpretation of Shariah law which al-Shabaab had already imposed on the rural areas of southern Somalia. Nevertheless, there are indications that this period of cultural suppression is ending, along with the retreat of al-Shabaab from the capital city. Gradually, life is returning to the cultural patterns to which Somalis are more accustomed, and even the infrastructure is visibly under repair, with buildings rebuilt and roads repaired.

Despite the series of atrocities during the latest fighting in Mogadishu, and although there remain obstacles to development, there is a sense of setting out on a new road to a different Somalia, after decades of civil war and hunger, and even as the country struggles for security.

Al-Shabaab had imposed bans on music and dance, and artists had been compelled to find other jobs, but some have started to return to work in their chosen fields. One resident of Mogadishu, Abdi, told Somalia Report that he is happy to resume his creative works. “We have been unable to function for years, because al-Shabaab banned anything related to music. Yet music is so important to our culture, we can’t abandon it for the sake of self-interest. I have been working music and film productions until I was young.”

Some local radio stations were not able to broadcast music or songs in Mogadishu for several years, but the privately owned radio station Simba is now not only plays music, it also hosts radio programs discussing current politics without fear of censorship. When al-Shabaab held power in Mogadishu, social issues such as gender and politics were unable to be discussed.

Al-Shabaab has yet to respond to the resumption of music programming on both Simba and Banadir district radio stations. Abdullah Atosh, current director for Simba radio, says the audience is gradually returning. As signs of a cultural revival, music is now heard playing everywhere in the capital, women dress in comfortable clothing walk together in the streets of the capital, and are driving and working in offices of the city. Women and men are reunited on public buses, mixing and talking to one another, after years of suffering gender segregation.

“I’m very happy to see this shift, you can see what the people are doing, it is great opportunity to return home, rebuild their country, and the people are more democratic than in the past,” said Ayaan Hussein Warsameh, in her business in Bakara Market. Despite positive signs in Mogadishu, security is still in jeopardy in the capital, which effectively proscribes the rise democratic developments. Series of bombings in recent weeks, including attacks by al-Shabaab on military bases and checkpoints established at intersections throughout the city.

Along with this, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) seems reluctant to discipline frequent misbehavior by their soldiers or fellow militias, who walk the streets armed, in addition to looting aid deliveries in camps.

Somalia has suffered from many years of chaos, famine and civil war since declaring independence in 1960.

Uncertain Future Awaits For Somalis Eager To Protect Their Culture and Language
Mogadishu Kids
Mogadishu Kids
Hundreds of Somalis who have returned to their homeland from abroad continue to struggle for a better future. Somalis who lived in the UK and the United States are the majority of those Somalis returning from abroad to attempt to rebuild their lives in Somalia.

Sadiiq Ali returned to Somalia in 2006 from west London, where he served as a community worker, organizing conferences for the Somali community in London. “I am comfortable in Mogadishu. Firstly one thinks about the immediate future, and then what you can do for your country. I have been working in London for 5 years, two of my children born in London, but I decided to resettle them here. I believe that life in London is not better for them then in Mogadishu. I have plans to establish a restaurant here in Mogadishu soon next year,” said Sadiiq.

Many of the Somalis returning from abroad to Mogadishu or elsewhere in the country relate in particular their concern over traditional insights they fear they would lose by living in the western nations.

Jabriil Ahmed is a 32 year old Somali taxi driver in Minnesota, who returned to Mogadishu 6 months ago. Jabriil talked Somalia Report about his perspective on life in Mogadishu: “I was concerned about returning, about trusting people in town because I was told that Mogadishu is too dangerous. Everyone talked about killing, how insecurity is widespread, how you have to be vigilant and don’t talk to people you don’t know. That is what my friends warned me, but what I’ve seen is quite different. I know that many Somali families in Minnesota are anxious to return home, to teach their children their mother language and culture. I’m really proud of my country. I want to encourage some of the Minnesota Somalis back home to repatriate, because Somalia needs its people -- that is what I keep in my mind when I go back to Minnesota,” said Jabriil.

The US government has accused some Somalis of returning to Somalia to fight alongside al-Shabaab, holding some on trial while accusing others of terrorism. The US courts have also charged Somalis in America with sending money back to the terror groups in the country, or join them to fight against the weak interim Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and its African Union allies. Some Somalis have tired of living under suspicion of terrorism.

There are also a considerable number of young Somalis who are studying in foreign universities, since Somalia remains mired in a conflict which makes pursuing higher education difficult. University students have come under attack in Mogadishu several times, most recently when al-Shabaab struck against students waiting their exam results outside of the education ministry on October 4.

The country’s future is still unclear to many Somalis. Somalia has suffered civil war since the fall of military rule by Mohammed Siyad Barre in 1991.

Djibouti to Join AMISOM
AMISOM Settling into Areas Deserted by Al-Shabaab
Somalia Report
AMISOM Settling into Areas Deserted by Al-Shabaab

The militant group al-Shabaab on Friday threatened to attack Djibouti if the Horn of African nation deploys her troops to Somalia.

In a speech aired on a radio station in the Somali capital, the Islamist group’s spokesman Ali Mohmuud Rageh said the insurgents were preparing themselves to launch the attacks if Djibouti went ahead with her plan to send her soldiers to Somalia to join the African Union peace keeping force (AMISOM).

“Djibouti has been a part of the foreign operation hosting American air surveillance in Somalia for a long time and the country’s plan of sending troops clarifies its aggression against our country,” said Rageh. “Somali people gave property and fighters to Djibouti people to help win their freedom from the French infidels, and now your government wants to attack us and support the infidels who want to capture our country,” he told an al-Shabaab radio station. “We tell you, your troops are not better than those of Uganda and Burundi. If you do not keep them from attacking us, you will see the bodies of your children scattered on Mogadishu streets,” Rageh added.

He claimed that the Djibouti troops had been training in Uganda and Burundi in preparation for deployment.

Djibouti has announced its plans to send a battalion of peace keeping forces to the war-torn Horn of African nation. It would be the third African country to contribute troops to the 9,000-strong AMISOM peacekeepers currently stationed in Mogadishu. Burundi and Uganda are the only countries whose soldiers are serving in AMISOM.

Another African country, Guinea, has also pledged to send troops.

With Support of Ethiopian Troops, Al-Shabaab Forced Out
TFG Soldier
TFG Soldier

Reports from Hiiraan region in central Somalia indicate that a heavy fighting between Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Shabelle valley Administration (SVA) backed by Ethiopian troops against Somali’s al-Qaeda linked group of al-Shabaab took place in Beledweyne district on Saturday morning.

Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces, supported by Ethiopian troops, assaulted al-Shabaab positions the town of Beledweyne, the capital of Hiraan region in southern Somalia. Local sources confirmed to Somalia Report that while fighting is continuing, al-Shabaab has been forced out and Beledweyne is now under TFG control. TFG and Ethiopian forces have taken control of strategic locations, including al-Shabaab bases in Jante-Kun-Dishe and Ugaas Kalif Airport in the outskirts of Beledweyne, which forced the insurgent to flee.

Hassan Gabow, a resident in Elgal, told Somalia Report that he saw Ethiopian troops and Somali soldiers storm the town.

“The fighting started about 6:30am of local time (300GMT) and both sides used heavy gunfire including mortars,” Mo’alim Abdilatif in Beledweyne told Somalia report. “Before the fighting the government forces shelled Beledweyne, which caused the death of two civilians.”

SVA spokesman Mohamed Nur Aga-jof Dabaashe claimed that they totally seized Beledweyne and vowed that they will eliminate al-Shabaab from the region. “Early of this morning our forces entered Beledweyne after the terrorist run away, the eagerly awaited operation started and will continue till we eradicate the extremist from Hiiraan region,” he said. “We killed more than 20 fighters from al-Shabaab, and one of our soldiers was injured, now we are in full control of the district,” he added.

“We are very happy that the people of Beledweyne are free from the extremist group, the community of Hiiraan are the most suffered of the consequences of al-Shabaab,” an elder from Hiiraan, Sheikh Ali Hassan Fidow, told Somalia Report.

Al-Shabaab militants have retreated, and are said to be reinforcing numbers. During the battle, al-Shabaab released over 80 prisoners in the town. No immediate comments available from al-Shabaab officers, but pro-al-Shabaab radio station briefly reported, “the Mujahideen vacated Beledweyne for tactical reasons.”

Hiiraan is a strategic region located in central Somalia which connects the southern and northern regions of Somalia. It also is one of the five regions in Somalia that border with Ethiopia.

The pro-government militias of Ahlusunna Waljamaa (ASWJ), SVA and TFG control parts of the region, while al-Shabaab insurgents control most of the regional districts, including Bulu-burde, Jalalaqsi, Mahaas and Buq-aqable.

Sheikh Sharif Opens New Year on Conciliatory Note
TFG President Sharif
TFG President Sharif
Speaking in a press conference in capital Mogadishu, Transitional Federal Government (TFG) president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, highlighted a number of issues. Mr. Ahmed reiterated his stance that parliament's decision to dissolve the Speaker, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, was unconstitutional.

“The dispute, which began on 13 September, have been incredibly destructive to the credibility of the TFG, and it have served to weaken your responsibility to the Somali people. You are the lawmakers for the people, and this has been overshadowed by parliamentary infighting. Please abstain from this senseless activity.

The president then appealed to al-Shabaab to dismantle its hardline activity in the name of peace for Somalia, referencing the scourge of conflict and drought that has affected millions of Somalis for two decades.

“I'm calling on al-Shabaab to please cease your campaign of violence. A life following this path is worthless, for you as well as million starving Somalis. Don’t destroy Somalia's peace prospects, and don’t deny the rights of your people. I encourage you to enter into negotiations with us. We are willing and waiting.

The president pointed out that 2011 had seen some progress in the campaign against al-Shabaab. Mr. Ahmed thanked the international community for their efforts to take part in fostering the peace, and assisting those affected by the drought. The president made special reference to the work of the Turkish government, the African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the European Union (EU), and the United States of America.

The president’s speech comes amid renewed fighting in the Hiraan region where TFG troops, supported by Ethiopian forces, are fighting al-Shabab.

Meanwhile, al-Shabab is trying to regain in the town of Beledweyne, after they were forced out last Friday by some hundreds of mixed Somali and Ethiopian troops, who managed to take control of the city.