Ala Sheikh group ready to lead Somalia – [Op-Ed]

Ala Sheikh group ready to lead SomaliaSomalia is moving forward as the country is getting peaceful. The current government’s mandate is to hold fair and free elections by September 2016. While this is an ambitious target, nevertheless Somali elites are preparing themselves by either establishing political parties or infiltrating business groups and the education system in Somalia.

The one group that is well organized and is already making necessary steps towards 2016 is the Ala Sheikh group. They run universities, media outlets, research and think-tank organization, Oil and gas companies, and now established Daljir Political Party.

Ala Sheikh run City University in Mogadishu, which is the newest and the rapid growing education organization in Somalia. City University runs quality education as some of the teachers are from Kenya, US and other countries. It is the only university in Somalia that runs a one-year compulsory English course before students start university. The Dean of the university is Dr Abdikarim Jama, former Minister of Information, Posts & Telecom during Sheikh Sharif government in 2010. Dr Jama is a former Chief of Staff of President Sheikh Sharif during 2009 and 2010.

Ala Sheikh group also run media organizations such as Goobjoog, which is one of the newest and well funded and well run media outlet in Mogadishu. They also run Media Academy that runs training programs for journalists in Mogadishu. Both these media organizations run by Abshir Bukhaari, former Chief of Staff of President Sheikh Sharif during 2010 and 2011. Goobjoog also works closely with other media outlets such as Mustaqbal. Goobjoog also established an education TV in Mogadishu.

Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS) is the think tank and the research group that is well funded and well run by Abdirahman Aynte, former Al-Jazeera, BBC and VOA journalist. The Deputy of Heritage is Abdirashid Khalif, former Director of Communications of the Office of the President Sheikh Sharif and former Minister of Public Works during Sheikh Sharif in 2010. HIPS recently run a boll that they claim people in Mogadishu is ready to elect their Mayor and local authority representatives. While this may be true but the hidden agenda is that Ala Sheikh is preparing themselves for the election as they believe that they cannot gain the support form clans so the only alternative for them it to lobby for an election. HIPS also won the contract of the democratization process in Mogadishu. This gives them the tools and the political support that they were crying for sometime.

Dr Jama also runs HAS Petroleum Company. The company recently established their centre in Mogadishu and now they are the leading companies that provide fuel in Mogadishu. They also run gas cylinder business in Mogadishu, which is the fastest growing industry in the capital.

Daljir Party was launched on 1st December 2014 in Mogadishu and their leader is Hassan Moallim Mohamud, current MP and former State Minister of the Office of the President Sheikh Sharif in 2009 and 2010.

Therefore, the question every Somali citizen is asking is how come the group established themselves within 2 years with all these vital and necessary institutions? Where do they get the funding? The aim of this article is to highlight the power that is emerging very fast in Somalia and to find the answers to these questions. I hope the article will shed a light that can instigate the investigation and the research required in order to find the truth of the matter. The article will hopefully generate the debate and the discussion not only Ala Sheikh but other religious groups and Somali elite’s thinking of the way forward to the democratization process.

There is no doubt that the existence of all these vital institutions has helped greatly in the country in terms of providing jobs, making valuable contributions to the society, and indirectly contributing the improvement of the security in Mogadishu.

During the dispute between President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the then Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, the group decided to support the PM, so they mobilized MPs and even went as far as bribing MPs. Reliable sources say that the group received huge funds to support the PM and they cleverly managed to directly pay 10 – 15,000 USD to MPs without the direct involvement of the PM. Someone close to the PM said that we were very happy to see MPs that in their camp are getting money to support the defeat of the motion as the other side were also paying their MPs. The PM said that he didn’t receive any funds but was very pleased the support he was getting from the group. Ala Sheikh MPs, such as Hassan Moallim, Abdulkadir Ali Omar, Abtidon and others really used their hidden agenda during the political infighting between the President and the PM. They were strongly against the President. It is believed that they spent 700,000 USD in support of the PM. There are rumors that they get these funding from Turkey and UAE. It was clear that UAE were supporting the PM and it was clear that Turkey has helped all the institutions of Ala Sheikh to be established and they are still the major donors to all the institutions of Ala Sheikh.

The group’s top priority for now is to lobby Ahmed Fiqi to become the President of Central Regions State. On 17th December 2014 the group paid 3,000 USD each of the technical committee, as they wanted one of their group to become the Chair of the technical group. Despite their vigorous attempt they didn’t succeed and the technical committee chosen Halima Ismail (Halima Yarey) as their chairperson. The race was too close for Halima to win. So you can see that Ala Sheikh is willing to do all it can to secure Fiqi’s post of the President of Central Region State. On 21 December 2014 the group held in Mogadishu an event for the declaration of Fiqi’s candidacy of the President of Central Regions State. They invited traditional leaders in central regions that wholeheartedly supported Fiqi as the candidate that they chosen. Fiqi also started to influence private media as he was calling himself personally to their stations and claiming that Abdi Qeybdiid is a former warlord and media has a role to stop him becoming the President of Central Regions State.

Therefore, looking at the pace and the speed that Ala Sheikh is trying to influence the people it will be very difficult to stop them either getting the post of the President of Central Regions State or the top post in Somalia in 2016. Because they have the resources, the institutions and they are well-organized group that can win the hearts and minds of the people as Somalis are very much attached to the religion. Ala Sheikh they face no competition from other elites, as they are not organized well and that they don’t have enough resources or outside support as Ala Sheikh is currently enjoying it. But the people started questioning their motives, and why on earth that a religious group is heavily involved in the corruption practices by bribing MPs or others. Therefore, if there are no alternatives to Ala Sheikh and the only alternative is Damul Jadid who is loosing the confidence of the people by the day. Al Islaah which is another religious group lacks genuine leader and unless they make necessary reforms and recruit a genuine leader that is charismatic they will be a history. Therefore, it is clear that Ala Sheikh group will lead the nation in the near future, unless modern elites within the political circle is organized well and receives similar or more resources than Ala Sheikh.