In Somalia today, you will see women police officers manning check points, the former Al-Shabaab revenue collection centre- Bakara Market re-opened, young boys playing a previously banned sport – football – on the open streets, press from all over the major houses reporting from the terrorists’ previously held training ground, Ugandan police officers working alongside the Somali police to compel the Somali people to observe law and order, the Transitional Federation Government (TFG) soldiers sharing a tent with AMISOM troops, and patients lining up to seek treatment from the AMISOM troop medical team. Capt. Dr. Dungu checked the pulse of a Somali woman who had been taught by religious extremists that it is a taboo for a woman to seek medical help, especially if it is fistula.
Welcome to Mogadishu city, just recovering from 20 years of interclan conflict and battle hostilities. A country where over the last few years, the airport was only accessible for people bringing in ransoms or goods and services to the militants or war lords, and where the sea port serving as a docking station for pirates. A city where every building has at least one gunshot hole. But it is a new era, where citizens are only opening up now to realities and possibilities of the silence of the gun, substituted by new construction engagements visibly going on and possible investments.
Yet, the war of propaganda is taking shape, with unconfirmed reports that Al-Shabaab has yet again killed more AMISOM troops, in what should be the last signal that the 9,000-person force needs urgent reinforcement. This comes on the heels of yet another suicide mission that killed well over 70 innocent Somalis when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a busy market area. This is definitely the evil mindedness and cruelty of insurgents and extremists against life and a free society. The insurgents now avoid going to frontlines and target the vulnerable civilians. The majority of those who died are students, looking up scholarships and study opportunities abroad – especially in Turkey – a country that is making heavy investments in Somalia today.
We are left to wonder if this indeed is the “change in tactic” that the “abrupt withdrawal” from Mogadishu by the Al-Shabaab was portrayed to be. To turn up as suicide bombers and snipers. And these terrorists are playing into our minds, opening up communication channels and websites to create sympathy to win support.
But AMISOM and TFG are not taking anything lightly, as one of the commanders who preferred to remain anonymous said. “Africa has a duty to break the chain of terror, it is only that Uganda responded first. The duty at hand is to defeat terrorists in whatever form they come.
” However, good news comes from Kenya, which has deployed into Somalia after their tourism sector was seriously affected by the continued kidnapping of tourists across the border. This seriously affected their economy. Yet the Al-Shabaab leader Adan Ali called on people to take part in what he called a “holy war” against aggressors, threatening that Al-Shabaab will punish those who refuse to join their war against Kenyan troops.
The Kenyan Minister for Security George Saitoti said that the Kenyan territorial integrity is susceptible to serious
security threats of terrorism and he promised to “pursue the enemy, Al-Shabaab, to wherever they will be, even in their
country.” Kenya now confirms what President Museveni stated a few years ago that Africa should collectively deal with Al-shabaab.
For AMISOM, this is the best time for peace in Somalia, when everyone begins to feel right about deploying, as opposed to waitto- be attacked-and-respond attitude. It is the best time because every peace initiative is supported by the Somali people. The capital is returning to life and the world must not deny these Somali people an opportunity to live freely.
Yet, what these extremists want is for streets to remain closed and to have Somali people pay taxes to them. They want a place where terror can thrive and even be exported, as they did when they killed innocent Ugandans during the World Cup finals.
However, even with the continued successes being registered in the war against terror, we are probably years away from a toast to the everlasting peace in Somalia. But what is certain is that there is a new wave of gun silence and better attitudes towards freedom. And it is starting to bear fruits, especially in the hive of activities propelling Mogadishu, which is probably the most virgin area for big and long-term investment opportunities, especially in education, construction, oil and gas and the transportation sector.