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Mogadishu Needs Martial Law

by Aman H.D. Obsiye
Friday, April 17, 2015

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On April 14th, Al Shabaab raided Somalia’s Ministry of Education, briefly entering and killing over a dozen people.  Somalia’s US-trained Special Forces promptly killed all the attackers and quickly regained control of the ministry.  On March 27th, Al Shabaab attacked the popular Maka al-Mukarama hotel killing scores of innocent civilians and Somalia’s Ambassador to Switzerland.  Al Shabaab held the entire hotel hostage for approximately twenty-four hours but was eventually subdued and defeated by Somalia’s Special Forces.  On February 21st, they attacked one of Mogadishu’s well known hotels, Central Hotel, and like the two previous mentioned attacks, Al Shabaab left many dead and was eventually defeated by Somalia’s Special Forces.

Al Shabaab’s new strategy is to attack soft targets in order to diminish the new aura of hope and progress found in Somalia’s capital.  It also seeks to derail the Somali Federal Government’s (SFG) and United Nations’ plans of successfully implementing Vision 2016.  One of the main goals of Vision 2016 is to have democratic elections in Somalia.  If the SFG fails at fulfilling its mandate, the international community may grow tired and eventually disengage from Somalia.  The world cannot afford the cost of failure, especially after the recent turmoil in Yemen which is situated less than 500km from Somalia.  The obvious nightmare scenario is that two of the world’s most dangerous terrorist groups, AQAP and Al Shabaab, team up and gain easy access to the Gulf of Aden and the strategic Bab el Mandeb.

The Somali people are resolute in their ambition to rid their country of violent extremism, but the current policing strategy of Mogadishu is failing.  Three brutal attacks in two months is psychologically damaging to those who reside in the capital.  In all honesty, the SFG needs to rethink its current strategy for pacifying Mogadishu; I would suggest implementing a form of martial law in Somalia’s capital for a year.  Article 131 of Somalia’s Provisional Constitution gives authority to the SFG to implement such a policy. 

Of all of the SFG’s security units, its US-trained Special Forces are the most professional, disciplined, and effectual.  The international peace keeping force, AMISOM, has done a good job fighting Al Shabaab, but the Special Forces are the SFG’s only organic Somali security unit that has proven capable of defeating Al Shabaab battle after battle.  The SFG should give the Special Forces full policing authority over Mogadishu and allow them to control Mogadishu’s security policy.

This will fulfill two needed goals: (1) a great reduction, if not complete eradication, of Al Shabaab’s capabilities to attack soft targets in Mogadishu; and (2) strengthening the Somali people’s resolve to personally defeat violent extremism in their capital.  In addition, it will build the security foundations needed for Somalia to eventually take full ownership of her national security.  Martial law needs to be implemented in Mogadishu if Somalis are to be ready for free and fair elections slated for 2016. 


Aman H.D. Obsiye is a Juris Doctor graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School.



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