As the recent United Nations Monitoring Group published its yearly comprehensive report on Somalia, the assessment made within the report and its overall findings is helpful, Ford – ward looking and provides a framework which to build on for Somalia’s on- going recovery. This report is to be welcomed and applauded for its widespread investigative sources and content, which should form part of Somalia’s, recovery, peace and stability.
Having read through the report it is still unfortunate there are a number of individuals with influence that receive tribal militia protection who are sighted by the UNMG as individuals who are an obstacle to peace and stability in Somalia.
As a social activist and a Broadcaster in the diaspora who yearns for progress and stability in Somalia, I would like to formally request the UN Monitoring Group to turn their attention to Somalia’s former Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmake and his cohorts for promoting instability and chaos in Somalia’s affairs (regional states).
The Federal Government structure is still fragile and the last thing Somalia needs are more political spoilers who seem to be advancing the interest of other nations or interest groups hell bent on fragmenting the Federal unity of Somalia in pursuit of their own foreign policy goals. This is to be discouraged as the international community has invested heavily politically and economically in Somalia. To have political spoilers who enjoy immunity as parliamentarians is counterproductive to peace and stability.
The Somali money transfer companies and other companies still remain a key role in delivering economic growth and assisting humanitarian support. They continue to remain the live line for the Somali economy and the ability of the Somali diaspora to send much needed financial support for their families in Somalia. Having faced many challenges abroad through bank account closures, they are still resilient and are by majority is still effective means of sustaining the lives of millions of Somali citizens, home and abroad.
However, there are also a number of major Somali Money Transfer companies and other business entities who pay “extortionate form of taxation to Alshabaab”, which is wholly unacceptable and counterproductive to fighting terrorism. I would like to also bring this issue to the UN Monitoring Group for their consideration in the next reporting from Somalia.
This is an open secret that needs urgent attention and action from the international community and Somali government. If we are all honest and serious about preventing terrorism financing and violent extremism together, we ought to turn our attention to these substantial issues, which is a hindrance to Somalia’s security and stability.
To put it simply, the recent horrific double terrorism attack in Mogadishu Zoope and Nasa Hablood Hotel where we have lost over 500 innocent citizens would not have taken place without the availability of solid financial support for Alshabaab. We are already counting the cost and we should not continue to tolerate this anymore.
As the UN Monitoring Group noted “finally, the overall magnitude of illicit exports of charcoal from southern Somalia remains similar to previous levels. In contrast to much of 2015 and 2016, when Al-Shabaab intermittently banned the charcoal trade in areas under its control, the group has resumed systematic taxation of charcoal at checkpoints between stockpiles and the ports at Buur Gaabo and Kismayo.
A conservative estimate suggests that Al-Shabaab receives at least $10 million each year from the illicit charcoal trade. Dubai, United Arab Emirates, continues to be the primary export destination as well as a hub for criminal networks that violate the charcoal ban with near impunity. With the notable exception of Kuwait, implementation of the charcoal ban has been poor, particularly by the Interim Jubba Administration and the African Union Mission in Somalia, and the United Arab Emirates among importing countries.
A lack of commitment with regard to the consistent implementation of sanctions, and in some cases a conspicuously deliberate failure to comply with the charcoal ban, facilitates Al-Shabaab financing and undermines counter-terrorism efforts in Somalia“ page 7 UNMG Report
The above information is also a grim reading as the UNMG report refers to the United Arab Emirates as a country turning a blind eye to charcoals sales by Alshabaab entering their country, indirectly aiding or abating the profits of Alshabaab.
Under this context, it is essential for the UNMG to start focusing on individuals such as Omar Abdirashid Sharmake and nations without fear or favour in the next UNMG formal report to the Security Council. It is my view that without concrete consistent approach to Somalia by the international community, Somalia’s recovery will be hampered and slow. This is not in the best interest of Somalia and the international community.
Therefore, the UNMG should consider bolder sanctions/actions and recommendation to discourage future political spoilers. Somalia is recovering and a fragile state, and should not be utilised for geo-politics purposes. More than ever, it needs political, economic, and legal and security protection from the United Nations Security Council in order to see through the reforms needed to rekindle the Somali nation again. To do otherwise, I fear history will determine the International Community were also part and parcel of Somalia’s problems.
By Abdihafid Mahamud Jama