Somalian PM Appoints Former al-Shabab Deputy Leader as Religion Minister
Somalian Prime Minster Hamza Abdi Barre has appointed Mukhtar Robow, the former deputy leader and spokesman for the Islamist extremist group al-Shabab as the country’s religion minister on Tuesday.
With links to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, al-Shabab has been in conflict with the federal government of Somalia and the African Union Mission to Somalia since 2006, describing itself as waging jihad against the “enemies of Islam.”
Muktar Robow, also known as Abu Mansour, is not new to regional politics. With a résumé that includes a failed candidacy in the 2018 regional elections, a four-year house arrest, and a US government $5-million bounty offered for his capture, this is certainly a turn in fate for Robow.
Robow’s appointment comes after recently elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud indicated his government’s willingness to negotiate with al-Shabab.
Fighting an insurgency against Somalia’s government for the past 15 years, al-Shabab remains powerful in the country despite an African Union operation against the group.
Al-Shabab fighters were removed from the capital Mogadishu in 2011 but have continued to launch attacks targeting the military, government, and civilians.
Extreme drought across the Horn of Africa has left 7.1 million Somalis struggling, with more than 200,000 on the verge of starvation, according to the UN.
President Mohamud’s new government faces challenges from an emerging famine and a violent Islamist insurgency that military means alone have failed to subdue.