We, in this campaign, were deeply saddened to learn of the deaths and injuries of innocent Somali people in yesterday's terrorist attack on Hotel Afrique near KM Four in Mogadishu. We strongly condemn their murder by al-Shabaab terrorists and offer sincere condolences to their families. General Mohamed Nur Galaal, a Somali military hero of great renown, and considered one of the SNA's old-time top-flight generals was among the casualties of this barbaric slaughter.
While we condemn their terrorist acts, we also need to utilize all available tools in the fight against al-Shabaab, including the rule of law; community engagement; community-oriented policing; early intervention programmes; using technology and social media to fight against hate speech and extremist propaganda; special investigation techniques; human intelligence operations; surveillance operations; investigative interviewing; detention regimes while protecting the right to liberty and due process and the humane treatment of prisoners; deradicalization programmes; using force while protecting the right to life, and maintaining public order.
Yes, of course, we must track terrorists down with a stronger military, tighten the net around their finances, and improve our intelligence capabilities. But let us also understand that ultimate victory against our enemies will come only by rebuilding our country and bringing hope and opportunity to millions of young Somali people around the country.
According to Somalia Human Development Report 2012, Over 70 percent of Somali people are under the age of 30. Most of these young people face blocked transitions to adulthood owing to multiple social, economic and political exclusions.1
The social science literature proves that a youth bulge (a disproportionally youthful population) and political violence are intertwined in contexts of poverty and social neglect.2 Historians and political scientists observe that revolutions occur more often in countries unable to absorb large populations of energetic young men.3 Moreover, it has been suggested that youth bulges were one of the central factors driving two waves of revolutions in the mid-seventeenth and late eighteenth centuries, and that also a disproportionate expansion of the youth cohort led to the rise of fascism and other extremist ideologies in the 1920s in Europe and North America.4
Some political scientists, moreover, note that the proportion of youth in the Iranian population rose dramatically in the 1970s before the outbreak of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, and that a similar surge took place in Algeria in the early 1990s coinciding with the rise of the Front Islamique du Salut (FIS).5 The famous academic Samuel Huntington described young people as "the protagonists of protest, instability, reform and revolution".6 Some historians of terrorism claim that the only common feature of every terrorist movement they had ever studied was that the bulk of their members were young.7
Our leaders must be able to understand this complex web of causation and effect and come up with new ideas to address them.
In my campaign, I pledged that we shall initiate national youth education, training, engagement and empowerment programmes to provide opportunities for employment and income generation to young people in cities across the country. We start in Mogadishu by building two huge zones, called 'Zones of education, skills, training, engagement, employment and economic opportunities' that can accommodate tens of thousands of young people at any one time. I shall provide more details later.
Ending terrorism would entail, among other things, changing the political reality and mentality that engender it, and the institutionalization of democratic legal authority, and to address the underlying root causes of conflict: corruption, injustice and inequality, exclusion, discrimination and marginalization, extreme poverty and lack of livelihoods, and youth unemployment - to name just a few of the interminable drivers of conflict in Somalia.
We therefore call on all runners and riders for our country's up-coming Presidential Elections to put forward policy ideas as to how our country can address the scourge of al-Shabaab terrorism devastating our society, but also how we can transform our politics, security, and economy.
1. UNDP (2012) Somalia Human Development Report 2012: Empowering Youth for Peace and Development. Nairobi, UNDP.
2. Urdal, Henrik (2006) A Clash of Generations? Youth Bulges and Political Violence, International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 50, No. 3, p. 623.
3. Kennedy, Paul (1993) Preparing for the Twenty-First Century. Random House, p. 34.
4. Jack Goldstone (2016) Revolution and Rebellion in the Early Modern World, Routledge, 2nd Edition.
5. Cleveland, William & Bunton, Martin (2016) A History of the Modern Middle East 6th Edition. Routledge.
6. Huntington, Samuel (1996) The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Simon & Schuster; p. 118.
7. Walter Laqueur (2001) A History of Terrorism. Transaction Publishers, p. 120.