Many Somalis believe the unceasing violence in Somalia is sponsored by foreign countries or entities out to advance their economic interests in the impoverished state despite vast untapped resources, including oil and gas.
Well, it seems Somalis have a reason to think this way.
On 22 July, the New York Times published an expose claiming it had obtained an audio recording from a phone conversation between the Qatari ambassador to Somalia and a Qatari businessman close to the Emir of Qatar boasting about militants who had carried out a bombing in the Somali port city of Bosaso to advance Qatar’s interest by driving out its rivals, the United Arab Emirates.
These reports have resurfaced long after the Gulf Crisis, where Qatar was blockaded by its Arabian Gulf neighbours Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain allegedly for what they termed as its support to terrorists.
A UAE-affiliated company, DP World, runs the port of Bosaso in the semi-autonomous state of Puntland.
The bombing referred above by the businessman took place in May outside a Bosaso courthouse, wounding at least 10 persons, including a judiciary official. In yet another separate attack associated with the above commercial motives, unknown gunmen on February 3 assassinated the Bosaso head of DP World, the same UAE company managing the port of Bosasso.
If indeed the New York Times expose turns out to be true, which is likely to be so given the Times reputation, then Somalis should brace themselves for worst times ahead. Talking of violence, in July alone, there have been three massive suicide attacks in Mogadishu and Kismayu, killing nearly 50 innocent people.
This includes famous Somali Diaspora journalist Hodan Naleye, who was killed alongside her husband. Even more sadly, she was pregnant. These three attacks have also wounded close to 100 other people, many of who were unarmed civilians.
The latest attack on July 24 was the most audacious. A female suicide bomber blew herself in a hall where the mayor of Mogadishu, Eng Abdirahman Osman Yarisow, was meeting with his District Commissioners to discuss Mogadishu’s security.
The blast killed six officials, including three district commissioners and wounded many more, including mayor Yarisow.
Al Shabaab claimed responsibility of the attack, saying they were targeting the new UN envoy to Somalia, James Swan, who had just left the mayor’s office moments before the attack.
In the wake of the Qatar accusation, the Somalia government must investigate the serious claims as well as any other corroboration that might be linked to the attacks in Somalia that might be foreign-sponsored.
Surprisingly, Mogadishu simply defended Qatar, saying they believed Doha’s denial of the New York Times article. Many say since Qatar helped fund the election of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, Mogadishu is likely to ignore the latest accusation of supporting terror in Somalia.
TERRORISM AND RESOURCES
If you look carefully, you will notice a trend of such terror or other private militia linked attacks in most mineral-rich African countries — Nigeria, Mali, Congo, Central African Republic, Somalia, Libya, Sierra Leone and Angola.
This cannot be a coincidence. Violence or terrorism seems to be following oil, gas, gold, diamond, cobalt and other rich minerals.
Just look at those countries closely and you will also notice the presence of high illiteracy and unemployment rates, weak, divided, corrupt and ineffective governments. All these are good fodder for terrorists to use to further their unholy wars. Somalia is a classic example, with all those characteristics in abundant.
For the last 11 years, the world has paid millions of dollars to African Union peacekeepers, whom we must thank for helping to weaken al Shabaab.
However, the Somalia National Army and other Somali forces remain weak, divisive, unpaid, underpaid or in some case totally neglected and demoralised. As a matter of fact, foreign forces can never restore order or peace without a properly equipped and professional government forces who are patriotic.
Inasmuch as much as the Somalis must fix their own problems, how do we expect them to secure their country when they cannot arm their military because of a UN Security Council arms embargo?
But that is not the only problem. Politicians are even more divided than the forces. The national government is currently at loggerheads with its federal member states and has of late been acting like a rogue government that has no respect for the law.
It has illegally been usurping power by installing their yes men in the federal states. They have already done that in HirShabele and SouthWest States and are currently fixing Galmudug State.
The leadership is now fixated on the upcoming Jubaland election, which they also want to control and put their yes man in power. They are apparently doing all this in the hope of getting back to power in 2020 when the next general election in Somalia is expected to be held.
We have no problem with them usurping power in all these federal states, but surely if they cannot take care of Mogadishu alone, how will they secure the whole country? If a female suicide bomber can penetrate all the security layers, checkpoints, armed soldiers and barriers to blow herself inside Mogadishu mayor’s office, what can’t those heartless vagabond terrorists not do? How safe is the whole country from these terror cells who seem to be getting a helping hand – from both outside the country and within inside the government?
Mind you, this is not the first time for a female suicide bomber to hit at the heart of government and kill high-ranking officials. A former Interior Minister was also killed in 2011 by a similar female suicide bomber. Somalia must learn its lessons and know the enemy its fighting against. That is the only way it to can tackle this mammoth task of securing itself.
These are some of the hard questions the Somali people are asking themselves now that it is very clear the violence that has torn apart their country, killed tens of thousands and virtually left them in limbo, is a proxy war between foreign powers fighting over their resources.
But before Somalia can do anything about those foreign legions, it must put its house in order, protect and serve its own people because it is the people who make a nation great. However, as long as the people and their leaders continue to be annihilated like locusts, then there is really a crisis in the making that needs to be seriously addressed by Somali leaders.