Democratic Senator Jack Reed who visited Mogadishu and met with the president of Somalia on February 20th, said that Somali government doesn’t have the confidence of its people; while al-Shabab -a hardline Somali islamist militia – is operating outside of Mogadishu and have a legitimacy in some places in Somalia.
” I left there feeling that we can keep al-Shabab off-base, off-kilter, if you will, but that, you know, they control so much territory. And there is a situation where the Somali government doesn’t have the confidence of its people. And ironically, al-Shabab is operating outside of Mogadishu, but they’re effectively collecting taxes. They’re adjudicating local disputes. They have a legitimacy in some places that the government doesn’t have. And until we reverse that – and that’s not just military action; that’s a lot of support for economic development, support for expanding government’s – the Somali government’s role – al-Shabab will still be there. And if they’re there, they have the capacity to plot against us not just there, but throughout the region and the world..” Jack said in NPR interview.
When asked why U.S. diplomats are restricted to the Mogadishu airport, he said: “It is not the most secure city. They had a terrible incident last October 14. Five hundred people were killed in a vehicle-borne explosive device. In fact, it was so shocking that I think al-Shabab basically didn’t want to claim responsibility. I was there 25 years ago in the 1990s when we had forces there, and to go back – the city itself has actually grown, expanded. Business is – seems to be improving. The Turks have invested in the airport and also a seaport. So there’s economic activity that didn’t exist before, but there’s a suspicion that that’s being tolerated, if you will, by al-Shabab because they’re getting some kickbacks..”