I recently interviewed somali pm over the phone.
How many foreign foreign fighters are there and who are they?
There is no exact number for the foreign fighters, but they are many. Some of them are from Europe, America, Asia and Africa. There are also Somali nationals who went to other countries, changed their nationality and came back.
Q: Would you estimate them to be in their hundreds or thousands?
A: There are over 2,000. to 4, 000
Q: Who is their commander?
A: The commander of the Somali terrorist fighters is called Ahmed Abdi Godane, a Somali who was trained in Afghanistan. The Somali who changed their nationality and came back are commanded by a Pakistani General called Hajir. As for al-Qaeda, Abu Yahya al-Libi (a Libyan who fought in Afghanistan in the early 1990s) was assigned to control what is going on in Somalia. Osama Bin Laden himself talked about that.
What is the role of Eritrea?
Eritrea sends money. It is a transit point for the foreign fighters to come here. Eritrean officers are in Somalia (to train al Shabaab).
Are any other countries supporting al-Shabaab?
Yes, there are other countries behind Eritrea, but we are not naming them now.
What does it take to have a safe Somalia?
To stabilise Somalia, you need to build capacity, train the Somali security forces and complete the number of AMISOM peacekeepers to the amount that was pledged. We also need to maintain the peace talks by continuing to call those who are not yet on board to come and join us. In addition, we need to bring relief to the needy, help the injured and rehabilitate the militias. Reconstruction is another factor.
What is your strategy to counter al-Shabaab’s propaganda?
Because they are telling lies, their propaganda has now become counter-productive. It has back-fired. They say they are Muslims but their actions tell the opposite. They are preaching what they are not practising. As for the government, there is a task force to counter the propaganda. But the government is only one months old. We have a lot of things to do. And the financial means to improve our public relations may not be there.
There are supposed to be 20,000 peacekeepers 20,000 but there are only about 8,000, notably from Uganda and Burundi. Why has the world failed to send troops?
As far as the number of AMISOM soldiers is concerned, they are few because of economic factors. The African Union has pledged to complete the numbers. It is just a matter of time.
How would you rate the performance of the peacekeepers, particularly the Ugandans?
AMISOM soldiers operate within a mandate which they know. They consult and coordinate with the government on whatever action they plan. Their discipline is good. They perform their duties actively.
They have the support of the government and the Somali people. We thank the Ugandan government and the Ugandan people for sending troops. They are our brothers and sisters and they have shown concern for the Somali people. We commend the wonderful job they are doing to save Somalia. This is the beginning of the reality that Africa will be able to solve its own problems.
What is the way forward?
Somalia is at a cross-roads. It is moving from chaos to a government and statehood. The clan-system has been there for a long time. People are now tired of inter-clan fighting. The number of MPs is very large. That is to appease the clans, so that each clan is represented. The council of ministers is all-inclusive. The Somali people are not waiting for al Shabaab. They are waiting for a government. Al Shabaab is using terror and intimidation. We, on the other hand, enjoy good relations with the clan leaders. I meet them regularly one by one.
This government has the support of the people and the international community. The US, the EU and the Arab League support us. We hope their assistance will double. The current war is no longer an internal conflict. It is a global issue, a problem of international terrorism. The government is ready to defend its people in terms of mobilising them, telling them the right thing and establishing a security force.
Prime Minister thanks once again for this interview. .
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