Somalia had myriad of heroes, but none like Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the young chairman of the now toppled Union of Islamic Courts (UIC,) who spearheaded an unflinching public uprising campaign that ended a decade and half of turmoil in Mogadishu and South-Central Somalia.
Hiiraan Online recognizes Sh. Ahmed as the person of the year 2006 for his profound contribution to that short-lived effort.
We understand that Sh. Ahmed and the UIC are no longer in the political arena of Somalia, (at least for now), following Ethio-TFG’s incursion, but Sh. Ahmed’s legacy lives with us, ostensibly forever.
The son of pious a father, Sh. Ahmed mastered the Qur’an and Islamic theology at puberty. He later studied law at a Libyan university.
He was barely known beyond Jubba high school, where he taught geography and history during late 1990’s to early 2000. At some point, a valedictorian student of him was kidnapped by one the nefarious Mogadishu warlords for ransom.
Aghast by this action, he assembled a force that successfully freed the student. This victory provided him a daring conviction that he could put a squeezing halt on the notorious kidnapping-for-ransom business in the CC neighborhood, where he lived and worked. He was elected to head the Islamic Court of CC, which soon annihilated the organized gang activity in Towfiiq.
Sh. Ahmed realized that all organized gang and warlord activity could be curbed with courage and conviction. He embarked on an audacious plan to improvise a unified umbrella for more than the 30 individual Mogadishu Islamic courts, operated by distrustful clans.
Thought to be impossible, he detached almost all Islamic courts from their clans and amalgamated them into a new force, dubbed “The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC.)”
The new UIC jittered the foundation of Mogadishu warlords, who jumped hoops to cajole Washington’s deep pockets for anything labeled “anti-terrorism.” Before we knew, the CIA was bankrolling a new, unprecedented alliance, aptly called “The Alliance for Peace and Counter-terrorism.”
It was doomed alliance. The UIC, under the deft leadership of Sh. Ahmed, crushed the warlords to near death, and pacified Mogadishu for the first time in 16 years.
UIC removed nearly 300 roadblocks around the country, re-commissioned Mogadishu International airport and seaport, all the while extending its hand to the Baydhabo-holed Transitional Federal Government (TFG.)
In the process, Sh. Ahmed, 43, was often referred to as the “moderate face of the UIC” in the Western media. Indeed, he developed an aura that appealed to all walks of the society, including his enemy. He’s famous for his superior oratory skills and negotiation capacity.
Simply, he might be the best leader Somalia has ever known.
His tenure was ended last week with Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia, while helping the Transitional Feferal Government.
Hiiraan Online recognizes Sh. Sharif Sh. Ahmed as the person of the year 2006, not only for his magnanimous personality, but for spearheading a fledgling, non-monolithic group, which, at times, overstepped its powers, and, at other times, underestimated its enemies.
Whatever the cause of failure of the UIC maybe, Sh. Ahmed epitomized peace for six historic months in Somalia, where he captured the stage by every stretch of the imagination. Without him, Mogadishu, dotted with the tanks of Somalia’s once arch enemy, fear and confusion is lurking in the minds of its embattled residents, as a new chapter of their live opens, rather precipitously.
We wish him the best luck in his future endeavors. Please join us in congratulating him and wishing him well.
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