From al-Shabab to the cupboard: Somalia’s strikes gas the talk

Former al-Shabab group co-founder and spokesman Mukhtar Robow sits amongst colleagues after he was appointed minister in control of faith by Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre in Mogadishu, Somalia August 2, 2022 [Feisal Omar/Reuters]

Somalia’s appointment of a former al-Shabab chief to the federal government is fueling debate.

While some are important of Hamza Abdi Barre’s administration for appointing Mukhtar Robow as minister in control of spiritual affairs, others are praising the transfer as a step in direction of reconciliation and sensible option to battle the group.

The once-feared man – an al-Shabab co-founder, its former spokesman and deputy chairman – had been in hiding for years earlier than surrendering to the federal government in August 2017. He cut up with al-Shabab in 2013.

After intense negotiations with the state, Robow was faraway from the US terror checklist and publicly condemned al-Shabab.

But no matter his dramatic turnaround, his journey from home arrest – as he had been for the previous three years – to senior minister was removed from anticipated.

Some analysts consider the appointment may play a big position within the battle towards al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked group shaped in 2007 that desires to topple Somalia’s internationally acknowledged authorities and impose strict Islamic legislation.

“I think the reason he was brought from house arrest to the minister is to create and come up with a counter-narrative to al-Shababs, as he deeply understands their philosophy and their tactics,” Zakaria Yusuf, a researcher on Somalia within the International Crisis Group, instructed Al Jazeera.

“He may also have affect throughout the militant group [group] and will appeal to extra fighters from the group [to the government’s way of thinking.]

“I believe he can successfully run this document given his background and experience in endowment cases.”

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Somalia’s president since May this yr, has vowed to battle al-Shabab militarily, economically and ideologically.

“He understands al-Shabab’s tactics”

Robow, 52, as soon as had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head.

He shouldn’t be the one senior al-Shabab chief to defect from the group, however stays the just one to have been given a high ministerial position.

Abdirahman Turyare, the Somali authorities’s spy chief between 2014 and 2016, mentioned Robow’s appointment indicators the federal government’s dedication to preventing the group.

“Given his involvement for years, I consider he understands al-Shabab’s ways, methods and the way they wage their battle towards the federal government. He additionally has a massive following in his house Bay and Bakool areas, the place the group holds vital quantities of territory ,” mentioned Turyare, who initiated talks with Robow in 2014. “He may simply persuade them to defect from the group.

“His appointment will help the government not only militarily but also ideologically and will encourage those in al-Shabab that they can go over to the government and can be welcomed and even pardoned if they denounce.”

In December 2018, Robow made it recognized that he had political ambitions and needed to contest for Somalia’s South West regional presidency.

In the top, nonetheless, he didn’t take part in the race and was positioned beneath home arrest.

According to Afyare Elmi, head of the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies, a suppose tank in Mogadishu, Robow’s appointment indicators what new governments wish to do about al-Shabab “and encourages the militant leaders that they can negotiate with them”.

He instructed Al Jazeera by phone: “It additionally exhibits that they both wish to battle or meet them ideologically. There is a common concept that he can affect many sectors – maybe amongst these inside al-Shabab who might be excited about becoming a member of the federal government.”

Regarding issues that the federal government’s embrace of a former al-Shabab chief symbolizes impunity, Elmi mentioned: “It is true, but we must remember that there has never been accountability for all the people who were involved in the civil war, regardless of whether they are warlords or former military leaders. So I think it’s not just for Robow, but there are many other individuals who are accused of crimes against humanity, and they’re either in parliament or other levels of government.”

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