By Mohamed Fatah
After more than two years, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) has failed to execute the Implementation Plan of the National Security Architecture approved by the National Security Council (NSC). The FGS failure to implement the architecture has negatively impacted security and stability of Somalia, and the region, delaying International Partners funded programs to reconstitute credible, viable, integrated and affordable Somali National Armed Forces (SNAF). The failure has also impacted the capability of Somali Security Forces and delayed critical programs to support the brave Somali National Army (SNA) forces in the front lines at Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) fighting Al-Shabaab and other violent extremist groups.
The FGS delay to implement the architecture is a part of a cynical political ploy by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheyre and Fahad Yasin, the Director of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) to marginalize Federal Member States (FMSs), and starve federal, state and local security forces the support they urgently require to combat Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State. The delay to implement the security architecture and failure to support SNA forces fighting with Al-Shabaab and dependence on Mogadishu-centric training programs poses significant threat to the security and stability of Somalia, as these new forces do not represent integrated national armed forces, but are seen by Somali regions, and many clans and sub-clans leaders as a top down approach designed to forcefully institute a national forces loyal to President Farmaajo and PM Kheyre.
The FGS force generation programs of the SNA are neither integrated nor sustainable, because of erosion of public confidence in the federal government’s legitimacy and support from across Somalia. The FGS actions will likely move Somalia back, if the international community partners are not careful to make sure appropriate safeguards are in place to prevent Somalia sliding back to civil war and perpetual state of conflict. In addition, Fahad Yasin and proxy allies have delayed and undermined the the US-Pentagon’s efforts to support the Somali Security Forces efforts to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al-Shabaab and other violent extremist groups, increasing threat to US national security interests, including Al-Shabaab threat to US homelands.
Fahad and his proxy allies prefer to use rogue Ethiopian forces disguised as African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), paying corrupt Ethiopian political leaders and military officers millions of dollars from a Gulf State to forcefully capture, hold and marginalize Somali states for a feeble and corrupt federal government that lacks local support to fairly win state elections. Fahad Yasin and proxy allies’ efforts in Southwest, Jubaland and Galmudug are an example of FGS corrupting of democratic elections and use of non AMISOM Ethiopian forces, potentially leading to clan unrest and conflict in the states.
The FGS use of non AMISOM Ethiopian forces for domestic politics is a treasonous act, and will further erode Somali people’s confidence in the federal government and will endanger the African Union Mission to Somalia leading to increase support for Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State insurgency and terrorism attacks on AU forces, unless the international community curbs Ethiopia’s meddling in internal political affairs in Somalia.
In 2019, Somalia continues to face significant political, and security challenges that unless resolved, the security and stability of the nation and the region will be at risk. Despite FGS claims, by all measures of success, Al-Shabaab is in control of or contesting more territory today than that of any point since 2017. The international partners risks turning a chance for success in Somalia into a failure and are repeating the mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan, supporting a centralized government that lacks credibility and legitimacy, ignoring political will and wishes of the people. The government in its present form, is an artificially created and supported by the International Partners and lacks legitimacy with the majority of people, a critical foundation for success in governance in Somalia.
In almost three years, the FGS has failed to meet its political and security commitments despite many agreements with FMSs. The government has not made tangible progress towards peace, security, stability and prosperity, a cornerstone of the 2017 London Security Pact. In addition, the government leaders have failed to lead the nation through inclusive process of peacebuilding, state-building and forging new agreement to resolve many outstanding issues. The post 2017 election euphoria, hope and optimism have been replaced by political infighting, grandstanding, despair and blame games. Today, Somalia is politically more unstable than in the past decade, with majority of people and political class in opposition to President Farmaajo and PM Kheyre’s policies.
The federal government has therefore not set out inclusive political, security and economic reforms required to move the nation forward. Despite claims and choreographed social media campaigns, the government has not improved on weak governance, political, justice, rule of law, human rights, security, stability and delivery of basic service to its citizens. The government has also failed to combat corruption and resolve pay and benefits issues with security forces.
As a result of these failures, and the federal government preoccupation with weakening and destroying Federal Member States, and opposition political groups, Al-Shabaab, an affiliate of Al-Qa’ida has in the last two years expanded its abilities to strike across the country, and have stoked insurgency that is running a parallel government, collecting taxes in and around Mogadishu, expanding threat and fostering terrorism in Somalia. The worsening security has generated and allowed a large pool of fighters to conduct attacks and bolster insurgents and cells attacks in Mogadishu, Puntland, Galmudug, Southwest, Jubaland and Hirshabelle.
Despite claims of progress by the International Partners, the outlook is more negative than it has been in a decade and the situation in Mogadishu and across Somalia remains fragile. Therefore, we call on the FGS, and the International Community to change coursein orderto reverse failing security conditions of the nation. We propose the establishment of a new Joint FGS, FMS, and IC effort to reverse the morphing Al-Shabaab threat and ensure national reconciliation, durable peace, security, stability and state building in Somalia.
Without change in course, the federal government and member states will continue to face daunting challenges and will fail to create the conditions for sustaining reconciliation, peace and stability, and rebuilding the state institutions, through inclusive process. The cause of many problems is the desire by President Farmaajo, PM Kheyre, and Fahad Yasin to centralize power, ignoring Somalia fragile history that led to the 1991 collapse of the state and governing structures, resulting in over two decades of civil war, chronic conflict, lawlessness and poverty. We know that piracy, terrorism, constant streams of refugees and periodic famine are very well-known problems resulting largely from centralized power failure and the followed instability in Somalia.
President Farmaajo and PM Kheyre do not have stake in Somalia, and can leave for their comfortable lives in the west if Somalia fails again. They both left Somalia before and during the early part of the civil war for the United States and Europe, and were not in Somalia to witness the horrors of the 1990s civil war, famines, perpetual state of clan and sub-clan violence, terrorism, humiliation, and indignation many Somalis endured over the past three decades. They must understand Somalia is not a game, or an academic exercise for the IC or a get rich project, and the aspiration and future of the Somali people is at stake.
Rebuilding Somali citizens trust in the central government will entail the FGS accepting urgent reform efforts aimed at restoring confidence in the government and facilitating building capacity of state institutions, communities and putting in place effective and accountable governing structures. Strengthening federalism and security will be critical, after more than two decades of conflict. In this context, a bottom up approach to address political, security, economic, and development gaps in a coordinated matter that moves the agenda nations forward remains the only option that can succeed. Furthermore, without policies for sustainable management of natural resources, FGS and FMS will continue be on opposite end of many issues, leading to the status quo that will undermine confidence and legitimacy of the central government and delay implementation of political, security, economic and development reforms and goals. This will lead to failure to building long-term resilient Somalia with a sustainable peace and stability, and significantly improves the livelihoods of the Somali people.
As result of the failure to implement all the 3rd, and 4th National Security Council (NSC) meetings in 2017, and failure to implement political agreement with FMSs, including the implementation plan of the National Security Architecture and the Comprehensive Approach to Security (CAS) will probably not be achieved before the current FGS term ends. The international partners must call of FGS to commit to a new political, security and economic pact and develop a new implementation mechanism to parallel support for national and state security forces as well as better leadership and coordination to advance security sector development and the reconstitution of integrated, credible, capable, and affordable national and state security forces.
After more than two years, and because of FGS failure to lead, it’s clear that the National Security Architecture has not achieve the security objectives of Somalia, and must therefore be replaces with a new strategy, policy and implementation plan that will advance the interests of Somalia and the people and not the interest of some international community seeking to maintain the status quo.
A New Sector-based National Security Strategy
In 2019, Somalia continues to face morphing terrorism and insurgency that unless countered will significantly impact the security and stability of the nation. As a result of failures, the nation is facing morphing security challenges. The FGS has wasted valuable time, space goodwill and resources to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al-Shabaab. To reverse failures and achieve security objectives, we propose establishing a sector-based security, governance, reconstruction and development lines of operation, replacing the Mogadishu-centric approach with effort that simultaneously establishes and builds security sectors in Mogadishu and across all Federal Member States.
The focus of the new strategy focuses on disrupting, dismantling and defeating Al-Shabaab, preventing terrorist attacks and violent extremist use of safe havens, by properly establishing and resourcing integrated SNA and FMSs Darawish Forces as National Guard Forces (NGF) that will augment Somali National Armed Forces (SNAF). The new strategy will refocus international partners to reinforce, create clear state measures of security, counterterrorism and counterinsurgency increasing effectiveness and evaluating security progress.
The focus of the New Sector-based Security Strategy will be:
- Simultaneously provide security support to Mogadishu and across all Federal Member States
- Support SNA and Darawish to take on increasing role in security counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations.
- Fully support and resource SNA and Darawish counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign to diminish Al-Shabaab capabilities.
a.The joint COIN strategy and campaign consists of sequenced operations across four lines of operation:
i.Security, Governance, Reconstruction and Development
b. Develop integrated approach that synchronizes the COIN efforts to achieve effects across the lines of operation in the COIN framework:
i.Clear, Hold and Build
c.Training SNA and Darawish Forces
Over the past two years, security situation continues to deteriorate across Somalia. Al-Shabaab insurgents continue to attack innocent civilians, security forces and infrastructure and continue to attempt to influence and intimidate the population. Al-Shabaab successfully carried out more attacks in the last two years than previous five years, including one of the deadliest terrorist attacks since 9/11 attacks. The increasing level of violence is due in part to failure to support building federal and state security institutions. We assess that unless urgent and significant changes are made, there will continue to failure at achieving political, and security objectives. “What good is debt forgiveness going to do for Somalia, if fast territory of the country including the capital is controlled by Al-Shabaab”.
Achieving the core goals of the new Sector-based National Security Strategy is vital to security in Somalia. It requires, first of all, realistic and achievable objectives. These include:
- Disrupting Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State terrorist and insurgent networks in Somalia.
- Promoting a more capable, accountable and effective government in Somalia that serves the people and can eventually function, regarding security, counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts with limited international support.
- Develop self-reliant federal and state security forces that can lead security, counterterrorism and counterinsurgency fight and reduce international community and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) assistance.
- Assist the efforts to complete the constitution, and support the 2020/2021 elections as well as enhance the development of economy that provides opportunity for Somali citizens.
The core goal of the new strategy is to develop security sector at each state supporting SNA and Darawish Forces to disrupt, dismantle and eventually defeat Al-Shabaab, command and control, support structures, safe havens. The federal government and all member states must share common goal of denying violent extremist groups sanctuary in their states. Unless changes are made, the current political instability will continue to negatively affect Somalia, increasing instability with profound implication for Somalia and regional security, and stability.
As Stated above, we assess that scrapping of the National Security Architecture and developing a new agreement on a New Sector-based Security Strategy will quickly move the nation forward, increasing size and capabilities of federal and state security forces. The sector-based security development model will provide resources directly to integrated national and state security forces all sectors, as well as accelerate training of security forces., and help transition of security, counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts in the country. In addition, the new strategy will accelerate security preparation for the upcoming 2020/2021 elections and will ensure that the necessary military, security, law enforcement, civilian and financial resources are available and coordinated to support free and fair democratic election for the Somali people.
Email: [email protected]
Mr. Mohamed Fatah is a Somali-American executive with over 15+ years’ experience in foreign policy, national security, banking, and regulatory compliance. Mr. Fatah previously served as a Senior Advisor to President Farmaajo and he is the First and last Director – General of the National Security Office (NSO) at the Office of the President of Somalia in 2017. Mr. Fatah chaired the Technical Committee of the National Security Council (NSC) in the 3rd and 4th National Security Council (NSC) meetings in 2017. He is the leading US authority and subject matter expert on Somalia and the region. Mr. Fatah in the past advised current and past Somalia governments on public diplomacy, security and engagement with the international community.
Prior to that, Mr. Fatah had a distinguished career in the U.S. Government where he served as Senior Advisor and Policy Coordinator to the National Security Council (NSC) at the White House. He routinely analyzed global issues of concern, resulting in clear, concise, analysis and briefings for the President of the United States, Vice President, Senior Policymakers, the National Security Council (NSC), the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Cabinet Secretaries and Combatant Commands. Mr. Fatah brings to any discussion an unparalleled depth of expertise, advising the Pentagon and the United States Congress foreign affairs, defense, and appropriation committees on political and security matters in Somalia and the region.
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