Today from Hiiraan Online:  _
HOL Person of the Year 2022: Ali Jeyte Osman

Monday January 2, 2023
Hiiraan Online Editorial


Since its emergence in 2007, the militant group has outlived three administrations in Somalia, inflicted mass deaths, and displaced hundreds of thousands. The militant insurgency has wreaked mayhem in Somalia and abroad, roping in regional and international military actors in the process.

The group has also morphed into one of the world's deadliest terror outfits. Al-Shabaab has stood out as the single-most existential threat to  Somalia. Although the African Union - through AMISOM and now ATMIS -  has made significant contributions in their containment strategy,  especially in regaining former prized territories such as Mogadishu and Kismayo, the force, which stood at 22,000 at its peak, has not been able to defeat Al-Shabaab.

However, since June 2022, the tide has gradually turned against Al-Shabaab. A military offensive targeting the militant extremists has led to the group losing ground at a pace never before realized. A large part of the success is owed to a grass-roots clan initiative to battle Al Shabaab on their turf. Their battlefield successes have led the federal government to throw its weight behind the clan militias known affectionately as Ma'awisley for the bright sarongs they wrap around their waist. These farmers and pastoralists turned fighters have played a crucial role in supporting the Somali federal government's summer offensive in central Somalia.

For years, Al-Shabaab has manipulated Somalia's clan relations to its benefit. It draws fighters by force or coercion from the various clans and forcefully collects illicit taxes. Clans that refuse to submit to Al Shabaab rule are killed and maimed. Their homes are burned, and their wells are poisoned. 


But in late May, the battle to purge Al Shabaab from Somalia was reborn after the group brazenly and boastfully killed a prominent and innocent clan elder in Beledweyne, Hiiraan region. The killing of the Hawadle clan elder, Ali Moalim, on May 27, 2022, sparked protests from his clan, who described him as a 'neutral and clean Muslim' who never engaged in politics or any disputes. In response, Al-Shabaab said it could kill whomever it wishes without providing justification.

As punishment for speaking out, on September 2, Al-Shabaab militants attacked a humanitarian aid convoy between the towns of Beledweyne and Mahas, killing 21 people and torching the food trucks. It was later revealed that a young child was found among the victims inside a charred vehicle. For the Hawadle clan, it was now or never. In June, they began mobilizing its militia for a low-scale offensive but soon upped up their forces for a large offensive against the Al Qaeda-linked militant group. 

In the five months since the civilian-military campaign began, Ma'awisley has shown and proved to Somalis that armed and determined citizens can rise and defeat Al-Shabaab.


Against this backdrop, the HOL Editorial Board has unanimously resolved to recognize Ali Jeyte Osman as the HOL Person of the Year 2022. This decision has been informed by Jeyte's unparalleled leadership, loyalty and patriotism to his nation. His courage and determination to eradicate Al-Shabaab is a rare trait in Somalia, where vested interests run deep, and the risk of being targeted by Al-Shabaab is a near certainty.

As we enter 2023, Somalia's political landscape has changed dramatically. The new administration, led by President Hassan Sheikh Mahamud and Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre, has made fighting terrorism their main priority. As a result, all of the major population centres of Hirshabelle have been liberated from Al Shabaab. Nearly all of the key roads in the regional state are under the government's control.

With this new momentum, the Somali government is preparing to attack major bases in Galmudug and Southwest State.

The HOL Editorial Board believes that by acknowledging Jeyte as the HOL Person of the Year 2022, the journey of nation-building and stabilization can be realized through selfless commitment and dedication by every Somali citizen. The clan militia who have sacrificed life and limb for this consequential campaign, the clan elders who have provided the foresight, wisdom and blessings and the many women who have cooked and supported the campaign in diverse ways have all exemplified these ideals and made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation's survival.


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