Islamist militants that have wreaked havoc in southern Somalia are now looking to strike outside the country and concerted international action is needed to prevent them from exporting their violence, Somalia’s Prime Minister told the United Nations today.
Abdiweli Mohamed Ali told the General Assembly’s annual general debate that while the recent retreat of al-Shabaab forces from the capital, Mogadishu, was welcome, “it may herald a new and more dangerous phase of the conflict as they increasingly turn to asymmetric tactics such as suicide bombings and the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) targeting the civilian populace.”
He said al-Shabaab and other groups affiliated with Al-Qaida were now “actively planning to strike further afield,” with al-Shabaab leaders quoted only this week as saying the group wanted to destroy the UN and the United States.
“It is also a well-known fact that the al-Shabaab have been focusing their recruitment and radicalization efforts on Somali diasporas in Australia, Europe, Canada and in the United States.”
Dr. Ali said it was “a small minority” such as those in al-Shabaab that was responsible for turning the drought afflicting the Horn of Africa into a famine in parts of southern and central Somalia.
This was because of “their policies of systematically looting grain stores; forcible recruitment of and extortion from farmers and their families; and preventing access to the most affected regions in the south to aid agencies.”
But he said recent efforts to overcome Somalia’s chronic problems of instability, clan rivalries and a lack of governance gave hope that the militants can be defeated.
Dr. Ali cited the national consultative conference held in Mogadishu at the start of the month which produced a road map for the re-establishment of legitimate and representative government. Somalia has not had a functioning government over the whole of its territory in two decades.
“The road map is a significant achievement for the Somali peace process. Its adoption marks the first of many steps on the path to the eventual conclusion of the transition process in a responsible and productive manner. It has also shed light on the remaining transitional tasks, including the drafting and promulgation of a new constitution.”
Today, the President of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss political and security developments in the country, the humanitarian situation across the Horn of Africa and the ongoing problem of piracy in the region.