Do Somalia’s security forces play politics?
MOGADISHU, Somalia – Throughout the Farmajo presidency, questions have been asked about his relationship with the security sector and their constitutional roles, which often leads to harsh criticism, despite his usual defenses.
For four years, both civilians and members of the opposition have raised serious concerns about the Somali National Army’s alleged bias [SNA], The Haramcad Police and the National Intelligence Security Agency [NISA], with a number of those proving the said discrimination.
As in February and April, the security forces were accused of targeting protesters, who were demonstrating against Farmajo’s extension period, which he has since repealed. The case is still under investigation but the federal government has given an apology.
In a Twitter space discussion hosted by Axadleon Tuesday night, several speakers accused Farmajo, who is facing a re-election debate, of politicizing security forces, at the expense of pushing for his “transient” political gains.
“If there is no power to control incumbent presidents, security can be politicized. Farmajo has been the worst at abusing security forces that are obvious in the performance of their duties,” said Abdisalam Guled, a former deputy director of NISA.
“Somali has four branches of armed forces. All forces trained outside these jurisdictions are for political reasons. They mainly oppress critics,” added Abdirashid Abdullahi, former FGS defense minister.
But despite the fact that security forces such as Turkish-trained Gor-Gor troops and the Haramcad police often take sides, Danab’s special forces, trained by Americans, have never participated in Somalia’s internal policy.
Just as in April, Danab’s special forces did not take part in Mogadishu clashes, which saw movers take on loyalist forces accused of supporting the illegal extension of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. Then the troops returned to the barracks.
“Danab’s forces are under US command and are monitored by the US Embassy. This is one of the reasons why they are not used for political purposes,” said Colonel Ahmed Abdullahi, a former commander of Danab’s special forces.
Abdirizak Mohamed, a former interior minister and now a federal parliamentarian, said parliament did not take security forces seriously, which means they are often involved in the country’s policies. He said: “Parliament’s lack of responsible monitoring of security forces is the cause of security abuses for personal political gains from current leaders.”
The discussion also raised the issue of young people being educated in Eritrea in what many have referred to as “secret” business. An unknown number of young people are said to be in Asmara, where they are undergoing military training even without their family’s knowledge.
While acknowledging this fact, the Somali government has refuted claims that a number of them either participated in or killed in the Tigray War. Their families took to the streets two weeks ago, demanding that they know where they were.
“Recruited members I personally contacted told me that Farmajo and Southwestern speaker Ali Fiqi were among those who attended the training of young people in Eritrea,” said Guled, adding that at least 50 young soldiers have since sneaked out of Eritrea.
“Somalia’s Prime Minister’s Office was not aware of young people being sent for military training in Asmara. The PM is strictly responsible for policy and development issues,” added Samira Gaid, a security analyst. Former Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire was in charge when the young people were smuggled out of the country.
Furthermore, the panelists had different views on the role of AMISOM troops in Somalia. The troops have helped the Somali government by crushing the Al-Shabaab militants, a mission yet to be completed.
The troops will leave the country no later than December 2021 after full implementation of the Somali transition plan [STP]. There are close to 22,000 AMISOM troops in Somalia, funded by international partners.
“The withdrawal of AMISOM is imminent and only needs to be monitored and acted upon by the federal government,” Samira said.
“AMISOM did better at first but has now slowed down operations against Al-Shabaab when the SNA is not ready to take over security responsibilities,” added Colonel Ahmed Abdullahi, who noted that Somalia still needs AMISOM to recognize peace and stability.