President of Somalia Tells VOA Somalis Support His Government, not al-Shabab
WASHINGTON (August 4, 2014) — The president of Somalia says his government is winning the battle against the Islamist militant group al-Shabab. In an interview at Voice of America headquarters in Washington, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud acknowledged that al-Shabab had stepped up its attacks in Mogadishu in recent months, but he said the militant group was carrying out attacks in the country’s capital because it is being beaten on the battlefield by soldiers of the Somali army and the African Union Mission in Somalia.
Al-Shabab is losing geographical territory, President Mohamud said, so it is resorting to urban warfare and Mogadishu, with its two million people, is a good place for that war. But the president was confident his government would win the urban battle against al-Shabab. “This is a war,” he said, “where the party that gets the support of the people will succeed and the Somali government is getting more and more support from the public today.”
President Mohamud knows first-hand the danger al-Shabab poses, having survived several assassination attempts since he became president in 2012, but he is confident that his country has turned the corner. One sign of which, he told VOA, was that public education resumed last year, having been halted during the years the country was torn by civil war. Another positive sign is what he described as “a new dawn” in the relationship between the United States and Somalia; he said the United States is opening an embassy in Mogadishu and Somalia will do the same in Washington. “We know,” he said, “that the U.S. has interests in our country and we have our own interests in the U.S.”
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is in Washington to attend the U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit, which got under way today.
VOA began broadcasting to Somalia in early 1990, but programming was halted after 18 months. VOA Somali was re-established February 12, 2007. In the less than eight years since then, it has become the most listened to international Somali language station in Somalia.
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