Mogadishu — In preparation for training Somali armed forces at home, the army has called on squatters and internally displaced persons (IDPs) occupying military bases in Mogadishu to voluntarily evacuate the buildings or be forcefully removed by February 25th.
General Abdullahi Ali Osman, commander of the army's second regiment charged with liberating south-western areas including Lower Shabelle, Bay and Bakol, Gedo, Middle Juba, and Lower Juba, gave squatters and IDPs 30 days to return to their original homes.
"We will force our way into illegitimate homes unless they heed our orders and we will detain anyone that shows resistance or destabilises the security situation," Osman told Sabahi.
The Somali army currently occupies two compounds in the Kahda and al-Jazeera areas in the south-western part of the capital, while their former barracks are occupied by armed local businessmen and IDPs.
"I would like to tell them enough is enough after 21 years of taking advantage of state institutions," he said. "Every Somali citizen has to know that the army will strictly deal with the occupation of its facilities."
Osman said the government plans to rebuild the military hospital in Hodan, the military airport adjacent to the Aden Adde International Airport, the old Circolo Ufficiale, a recreational centre for military officers located in Howlwadag, and all other military compounds in Mogadishu's Hodan and Daynile districts.
Friendly countries are helping Somalia build these training and rehabilitation camps for Somali forces, and other facilities for supplies such as a new factory for making military uniforms worn by officers and a factory for canned goods specifically for members of the armed forces, Osman said.
Somali military chief General Abdikadir Sheikh Ali Diini called on al-Shabaab fighters to surrender, so the armed forces can focus on rebuilding the army barracks in collaboration with partner countries for the purpose of training and equipping the troops.
"We do not want to kill all our sons who are fighting in the name of al-Shabaab, a group that has defamed Islam," he said.
"We are now in a state of war against the invading al-Qaeda terrorists and their Somali partners who have strayed," he told Sabahi. "We are fighting the enemy with one hand while we rebuild our military compounds with the other."
Partner countries ramp up support for Somali forces
Over the past two months, Somali Foreign Affairs Minister Fowsiyo Yusuf Haji Aadan and Minister of Defence Abdihakim Haji Mohamud Fiqi have been busy meeting with foreign leaders to secure funding and support for development and security.
Aadan secured Italy's support in the judicial, security and development sectors after meeting in Rome with Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata on January 7th.
Somalia also signed a military agreement with Turkey on December 6th to strengthen a partnership that would bolster the Somali army and deepen the relationships between the two countries.
In a statement to the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation on January 19th, Fiqi said 120 Somali officers and sergeants would be trained in Turkey this year.
"Security is our priority and the Somali al-Shabaab group is not only a local threat, but an international one as well," he said. "It is important for the international community to provide support until we are able to stand on our feet."
To further support the restoration of peace and security in Somalia, the Turkish Minister of Development Cevdet Yilmaz on January 27th presented a $1-million check from the Turkish government to the African Union Mission in Somalia.
Preparing Somali forces to take over security
Mukhtar Osman Roraye, a Somali military affairs expert, said European officers from Spain, Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands are training hundreds of Somali soldiers in a military camp close to Kampala, Uganda. The governments of Sudan and Ethiopia are also playing an important role in training the army and police to respond to fighters who engage in guerrilla war tactics, he said.
After the Council of the European Union extended its training mission for Somali forces for two more years on January 22nd, the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) in Somalia said it "will continue to contribute to the strengthening of the Somali armed forces so they can ultimately take over security responsibilities".
About 3,000 Somali soldiers have been trained under EUTM Somalia since its launch in February 2010.
Roraye said friendly countries would likely contribute advanced military equipment to the Somali army if the United Nations votes to lift the arms embargo imposed on Somalia since 1992.
"Because of its strong will and determination, the Somali army, which does not possess tanks, mortars, armed vehicles or uniforms, is fighting against a criminal enemy that wants to destroy and terrorise its people and all the citizens of East African countries, particularly Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Burundi," Roraye told Sabahi.