The Somali Government Stays Put for Now! 
by Hassan Zaylai
Aug 27, 2009

Obviously, on miracle-grow by AMISOM and my Uncle Sam’s backing, this government in Mogadishu lives; for now at least!  

Mind you, there is this reason for the survival of Sharif’s government: As “doing something” by its powerful patron, Washington, against the global barbarians (Islamic extremists) on the move!  

The last President Obama would want is for his Republican loyal-opposition to charge him with losing Villa Somalia to Al-Shabab—the local agent of Al-Qaeda! A charge any Democrat President would inordinately be sensitive to! For strong U.S. National Security has not been one of the Democrat presidents’ hallmarks since John F. Kennedy. 

In a way, this unqualified U.S. and others’ support for Sheikh Sharif and his government is wasted. It is not capitalized on by its recipients, the Somalis. How I wish the Sheikh or the Prime Minster or the Parliament—any one—would show some clever emotion of rhetoric at least, never mind tangible actions, of battling the fanatics. Even fighting-words seem hard to come by for the top leaders of Somalia today. 

History is full of crucial roles speeches by leaders played in turning around hopeless situations in nations. I cannot understand why Sheikh Sharif cannot or would not talk to his people in an intelligent and coherent manner. How much difficult could it be for the president of Somalia to take it to the airwaves in spelling out for his people his vision for them and country? Is there a virtual muzzle on the guy, which I am not aware of? 

What is more startling is the fact you have a president who is also a Mullah (cleric) by profession, who is somehow incapable or unwilling to debate on religion. After all, the extremists say they are right in doing what they are doing in the name of God (SWT) and His religion. Is that true? Of course not! They are clearly wrong.  

A better question would be: Does Sheikh Sharif agree or disagree with his former colleagues, now his ardent enemies, on religious grounds? If he does agree with them, then his silence is explained. This would mean the disagreement is on tactics used to fulfill such principles. That would make Sharif just as fanatic principally, but not methodically. He is a moderate Wahhabi then, if there is such a thing? 

If Sharif does not agree with them, why is he not preaching against them? Should not preaching come naturally to the likes of Sharif? People have been waiting to hear from this president. 

Surely, for every religious homily Sheikh Sharif may give against radicals, there will be a rebuttal sermon from one of the militant’s Mullahs. To me, that would be a debate worth having! This may also have the affect of distracting combatants from fighting, at least for short intervals, as they listen to the religious-duel, one after another! There could also be a potential dividend for the Sheikh of wining the hearts and minds of his populace, depending on his ability to articulate a good case. He has nothing to lose by undertaking such anyway! Why is not he doing it? 

Somalis, until recently, have been and still are an oral society. An old Somali proverb says: Dad af bay isku fahmaan, xoolana urta (people understand one another by words, while animals by sniffing each other).  

I have some news for the lame bunch in Mogadishu: The sooner there are other groups in Somalia who can show mass effectiveness against religious extremists, the sooner you so-called government will become irrelevant for Washington! The U.S. can only invest so much and so long in failure! U.S international support is never open-ended, except maybe for Israel!  

So far, there is only one Somali group which has met Al-Shabab face-on and defeated it in battle after battle. God bless the Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamah (ASWJ).

In Dhuso Mareeb, Guriel, Wabho and Gal’ad, towns in central Somalia formerly held by Al-Shabab, the Al-Shabab fighters’ corpses are littered all over! Slowly but surely, ASWJ fighters are claiming more territories from Khawarijite forces. With more spectacular successes like that against the radicals, ASWJ will receive due attention and respect from Washington. “Success has thousand fathers,” as they say. 

As for the Ethiopian support of Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamah, of equipping and training, so what? I would call this a “divine intervention” by Allah (SWT) in moving Somalia’s enemy number-one to spend its meager on Somali good guys! Meles (Ethiopia’s dictator) and Afawerki (Eritrea’s) are blood-cousins and brothers in faith. On what basis Somalis receiving Afawerki’s support kosher and Meles’s treasonous?  No basis at all!  

If Washington is serious, and I have no doubt it is, about the total defeat of religious radicals in Somalia, it should take few essential and urgent steps. One, Washington should setup a powerful ‘Free Somalia’ radio, whose signal should beam directly to the Horn of Africa. Radio is and has been the dominant medium by which Somalis receive information. Information empowers! So, our traditional Ulemas (clerics) of Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamah must have a megaphone to go to war against the bid’a (innovation) cult infiltration in Somalia.  

Two, respected Somali traditional Muftis (highest clerics) must be allowed to go on tours to North America and Europe, where large Somalis now live! Many Somali youngsters on these continents now know nothing about their cultural and religious heritage. Most of them were infants when their parents migrated to these continents, if not born on them! This will nullify the radicals’ long reach to brainwash mushy Somali-American young minds into enlisting the Jihadist cause, as already happen in Minnesota, U.S.A. 

In conclusion, Sheikh Sharif must immediately instrument a weekly address of the nation, in which he must mainly sermon religiously against the evil doers! This is within his power! He should also insist for the unity, in this difficult time, of the Somali people, restoring tradition of culture and religion, and against the evils of clan divisions! On the latter, he should call for Somali Elders Council.  

It would also be admirable of him if the Sheikh were to apologize for the role some of his own clan-misleaders have played in the destruction of the Somali state! A true leader should put everything out under sunlight to heal his nation. A gifted leader is one who can stitch together for his people, in an account, past and present mistakes. Yet, a leader must clamp both down with a powerful grip of optimism and a better tomorrow for all. Also, a leader must recall for his people bygone better days. Excellent leaders admit mistakes. And, like a good Sheppard with his flock, a leader brings and keeps his people together. By all means, this is not easy, but that is the job of a leader. He or she does it by opening the mouth and speaking from the heart! 

Never underestimate the power through a human mouth. This brings me the Qur’anic (also the biblical) story of Moses (pbuh). When Allah (SWT) revealed to Moses he is prophet-elect to the Israelites, Moses peace be upon him confessed his speaking weakness. For that, Moses asked Allah almighty to have Aaron, his brother, to be the co-prophet or leader. God said it is so, and the heavy-lifting of speech-making (communicating effectively) fell on Aaron. 

For good or evil, a gifted leader could command the attention of millions. As if he or she had put a hex on them, by mere oratory, millions could give their lives for the asking by and for such leader. History proves it!  

In other words, if Sheikh Sharif has any leadership quality in him, it is high past-time he shows it. No worldly support from great powers, such as Washington, could assume for him his role, which is to lead his people out of the pitch-black darkness into the sunlight! Show us the money! I wish the Sheikh and his government the best of luck for all our sakes.    

Hassan Zaylai 

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