Somalia ambassador to Kenya Mohamed Nur has urged regional governments, to work directly with the Mogadishu based Federal government to combat terrorism.
The man who arrived in Nairobi last month (January), to fill the position that had no substantive holder for two years, is keen on pushing for a more coordinated approach to defeat insecurity along the Kenya-Somalia border.
The envoy’s tour of duty started days before the deadly attack by Al Shabaab terrorists in Nairobi, as President Farmajo called President Uhuru Kenyatta and discussed security issues.
Nicknamed Tarsant, the former Mayor of Mogadishu and Governor of the Benadir region, wants governments in the region to collectively engage each other in information sharing and resource development to meaningfully deal with terrorists.
“Security challenges emerge when we are fragmented and our neighbours should therefore not deal with regional entities in Somali that have different tribes with competing interests,” said Nur.
To manage the problem, Somalia has insisted that issues involving cross border security, foreign policy and military operation be handled directly with government authority in Mogadishu or respective embassies in respective countries.
The enforcement of security in all regions of Somalia is currently under local police forces under the leadership of regional governments.
Other issues that Somalia wants resolved include the lifting of the United Nations (UN) enforced arms embargo so that the Somalia National Army (SNA) can be adequately equipped to deal with three terrorist organisations that are active in the country.
He laments: “We are the only African country that is dealing with terrorists linked to Alshabab, Daesh and ISIS and yet we do not have proper arms to fight them because of the embargo.”
Somalia wants Kenya and other African governments to raise their voices in the international arena in support of the lifting of the arms embargo.
Another demand is that troops reduced from the peace keeping African Union Mission (Amisom) in Somalia be filled by Somali soldiers.
Unfortunately that is not happening because there was drawdown in December last year and another one is coming soon.
That reduction has left Somalia leaders, Nur included worried because the international community was supposed to train and equip about 30,000 local soldiers before Amisom troops leave in 2021.
“That has not happened but our position is that they help us train and equip the same number of Amisom troops departing and after that the SNA will take responsibility,” said Nur.
Asked why no new territories have been recovered from terrorists in some regions since President Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo came to power, he blamed it on lack of a well trained and equipped army.
He drew a parallel between SNA which has “the same weapons that Al Shabaab use like the AK 47 rifles with the US army that has been unsuccessfully fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan for the last 17 years.
The envoy asks: “The strongest nation with its highly sophisticated weapons has failed. How do you expect an army with a UN imposed arms embargo to fight when our hands are tied at the back?”
Apart from security challenges, Somalia is also suffering from lack of institutions and infrastructure that need urgent attention from the international community.
Attention is focused on the training of teachers and nurses that was agreed by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Farmajo last year but is still pending.
The new ambassador plans to follow up on this and have it implemented so that the education and health sector in Somalia can get back to its feet.
Nur’s priority is to ensure that good relations socially, economically and politically remain so that the interests of both countries are protected and advanced.