From al-Shabab to the cabinet: Somalia’s move fuels debate | Al-Shabab News

Somalia’s appointment of a former al-Shabab chief to the cupboard is fuelling debate.

Whereas some are essential of Hamza Abdi Barre’s administration for naming Mukhtar Robow because the minister answerable for spiritual affairs, others laud the transfer as a step in the direction of reconciliation and sensible method to battle in opposition to the group.

The once-feared man – an al-Shabab co-founder, its former spokesperson and deputy chief – had been in a hideout 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 delisted from the US terror checklist and denounced al-Shabab publicly.

Nonetheless, no matter his dramatic U-turn, his journey from home arrest – which he had been underneath for the previous three years – to high-ranking minister was removed from anticipated.

Some analysts consider the appointment may play a major position within the combat in opposition to al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked group shaped in 2007, which desires to overthrow Somalia’s internationally recognised authorities and impose strict Islamic legislation.

“I feel the rationale why he was introduced from home arrest to the cupboard minister is to create and give you a counter-narrative to that of al-Shabab since he deeply understands their philosophy and their ways,” Zakaria Yusuf, a researcher on Somalia on the Worldwide Disaster Group, advised Al Jazeera.

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

“I consider he can efficiently run this docket given his background and expertise in endowment affairs.”

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Somalia’s president since Could this 12 months, has promised to combat al-Shabab militarily, financially and ideologically.

‘He understands al-Shabab’s ways’

Robow, 52, as soon as had a $5m United States reward on his head.

He isn’t the one high-ranking al-Shabab chief to have defected from the group, however stays the one one to have been handed a prime ministerial position.

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

“Given his involvement for years, I consider he understands al-Shabab’s ways, methods and the way they function their combat in opposition to the federal government. He additionally has an enormous following in his native Bay and Bakool areas, the place the group holds substantial quantities of territory,” stated Turyare, who initiated talks with Robow in 2014. “He may simply persuade them to defect from the group.

“His appointment will assist the federal government not solely militarily but additionally ideologically, and would encourage these inside al-Shabab that they’ll defect to the federal government and will be welcomed, and even pardoned, in the event that they denounce.”

In December 2018, Robow made it identified he had political ambitions and needed to vie for Somalia’s South-West State regional presidency.

In the end, nonetheless, he didn’t take part within the race and was put underneath home arrest.

In line with Afyare Elmi, head of the Heritage Institute for Coverage Research, a think-tank in Mogadishu, Robow’s appointment indicators what new governments wish to do about al-Shabab “and encourages the militant leaders that they’ll negotiate with them”.

He advised Al Jazeera by telephone: “It additionally exhibits that they wish to both combat or face them ideologically. There’s a normal concept that he can affect many sectors – possibly amongst these inside al-Shabab who could be desirous about becoming a member of the federal government.”

On issues that the federal government’s embrace of a former al-Shabab chief symbolises impunity, Elmi stated: “That’s true, however we’ve got to do not forget that there has by no means been accountability for all of the individuals who had been concerned within the civil warfare, whether or not they’re warlords or previous army leaders. So I feel it’s not just for Robow, however there are various different people who’re accused of crimes in opposition to humanity, and they’re both in parliament or different ranges of presidency.”

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