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Dissension in the Al Islah group
The Indian Ocean Newsletter
April 26, 2013


One of the two rival Al Islah factions has joined the Damul Jadid Islamic group that is highly influential in President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud`s entourage.

An end is in sight to the deep gulf that since last year has grown between two rival groups in the Al Islah movement, the Somalian counterpart of the Muslim Brotherhood. The faction led by four of Al Islah`s five founders, namely the group`s leader Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed Nur aka Garyare (Sheekhal), Mohamed Yusuf Hassan (Sheekhal), Ahmed Rashid Hanafi (Hawadle) and Abdallah Mohamed Abdallah (Reer Aw-Hassan), merged with the Islamist group Damul Jadid on 21 April. The latter is itself the fruit of a split in Al Islah in 2004 and is very influential with the current government in Mogadishu. Garyare, an opponent to then President Siad Barre, left Somalia for Saudi Arabia in 1974, where he founded Al Islah in 1978 with four other young Somalians. In 1989 he moved to Toronto (Canada), subsequently returning to Mogadishu.

Al Islah split into two rival factions in July 2012, two months before Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, a follower of Damul Jadid, was elected President of Somalia. The Al Islah rival faction was formed in response to Garyare`s supporters, around the presidential candidate Abdurahman Moallim Abdullahi aka Badiyow (Abgal/Waceysle), a former officer in the Somalian army and ex Vice President of Al Islah. It included Ali Bashe Omar (former Al Islah President), as well as the founder and president of Mogadishu University, Ali Sheikh Ahmed Abubakar, the only one of Al Islah`s five founder members who did not rally behind Garyare. The latter`s partisans then accused their rivals of appropriating the funds to finance Badiyow`s election campaign. After that, the split only deepened.

According to sources in Somalia, Badiyow`s faction, whose leading light is Ali Sheikh Ahmed Abubakar, is planning to hold a convention in Mogadishu to create a new Islamist party. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which unsuccessfully tried to mediate between the two factions in Mogadishu last week, now has to choose which of these two groups to recognise.

© Copyrights 2013 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved 

Spotlight on the new cabinet
The Indian Ocean Newsletter
November 17, 2012

A distinctive feature of the new cabinet that Parliament has just approved is that several ministers are ideologically close to Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Three members of the new Somalian government team belong to the Damul Jadid ("new blood”, a splinter group of Al-Islah) Islamic group which exerts a strong influence on President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud`s team (ION 1341). They are the minister for home affairs, Abdikarim Hussein Guled (Hawiye/Habar Gidir), one of Hassan Sheikh`s close associates; the minister for justice and religious affairs, Abdullahi Abyan Nur (Dir/Biyamal), the only Member of Parliament in the government; the minister for information and telecommunications, Abdullahi Ilmooge Hirsi (Darod/Ogaden), a former serviceman in the Somalian army who lived in the United States for several years and is the nephew of Sheikh Nuur Baaruud Gurxan, Damul Jadid`s spiritual leader.

The minister for public works, Muhiyadin Mohamed Kalmoy (Jareer), a diplomat at the Somalian embassy in Lybia,was selected at the last minute in preference to a Damul Jadid member Jamal Baarow who had been tipped for this post. The new minister for natural resources, a Canadian national, Abdirasaq Omar Mohamed (Hawiye/Hawadle), is a distant relative of President Hassan Sheikh: he is the nephew of the President`s half-brother. Mahamud Hassan Saleebaan (Darod/Majerteen), a former banker and business partner of Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon, becomes the new finance minister.

Last but not least, two former ministers under AbdullahiMohamed Farmajo have also been given jobs in the new cabinet: one is Abdihakim Haji Mohamud Fiqi (Digil Mirifle), a loyal supporter of former President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who keeps his job as defence minister and the other is Maryam Qasim (Barwani), the chairwoman of the Tayo Party created by Farmajo in the spring of 2012, who becomes the minister for social affairs and development.

© Copyrights 2012 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud
The Indian Ocean Newsletter
October 06, 2012

In order to get himself elected President of Somalia last month, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, a Hawiye/Abgal/Wa`isle, had the backing of several members of the Islamist organisation al-Islah (the reform), which is ideologically close to the Muslim Brotherhood and plays an active role in civil society (see p.4). Although he has officially distanced himself from al-Islah, there is little doubt in Mogadishu about his ties with it. Moreover, his Peace and Development Party for the most part consists of present or past members of al-Islah, as well as students of SIMAD, the private universityhe created in 1999. Farah Sheikh Abdiqadir Mohamed (Hawiye/Shiikhaal), who was his campaign manager, is a prominent member of al-Islah. However, the new President of Somalia has also forged ties with two other Islamic groups. The first is Damul Jadid (new blood), a faction which left al-Islah to join the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) when Ethiopia entered Somalia in 2006.

The second is another branch of al-Islah, which broke away in 2007 and is close to Abdirahman Moalim Baadiyow (Hawiye/Abgal/Wa`budhan), an unsuccessful presidential candidate. However, Hassan Sheikh is well known for being much more tolerant and open in his views than most of the members of al-Islah. Moreover, he has cultivated good relations with the United Kingdom, since he worked as a consultant for the Department for International Development (DFID) for several months and for the War-Torn Societies Project for several years. Locally, he is backed by the major retailers from the Abgal clan, which claims his home town of Mogadishu. This support, which helped him up the ladder to the presidency, could now go against him if it gives him too partisan an image.

© Copyrights 2012 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

President`s inner circle
The Indian Ocean Newsletter
October 06, 2012

Some members of several Islamic groups close to the Muslim Brotherhood make up the political entourage of the new Somalian President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Farah Sheikh Abdiqadir Mohamed (Hawiye/Shiikhaal) is an essential figure in the election campaign which brought Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to the presidency last month. He was the campaign manager and could well be a minister in the next government. An eminent member of the Islamic organisation al-Islah (close to the Muslim Brotherhood), he handles its links to international bodies. He was also in charge of part of the funds, particularly from Kuwait, which helped to finance Hassan Sheikh Mohamud`s campaign. A former chairman of the Kuwait funded network of private schools FPEN, he now heads the Somalian section of the NGO Africa Muslims Agency (AMA), which too is based in Kuwait. He is widely considered Hassan Sheikh`s political guru and has become something of a fixture at the presidential palace, Villa Somalia.

Four other men comprise the Somalian President`s inner circle of advisors: Abdikarim Hussein Guled, Omar Sheikh Ali Idriss, Mohamed Nuur Ga`al and Mohamed Ahmed Abtidoon. One point they all have in common is that they are all members of Damul Jadid (new blood), a dissident faction of al-Islah which joined the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) in 2006. Abdikarim Hussein Guled (Hawiye/Habar-Gidir/Sa`ad) hails from the central region and is fairly close to the former Somalian President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. Omar Sheikh Ali Idriss has been the ambassador to Doha since 2009. After being an UIC official, he joined the Alliancefor Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) in Asmara (Eritrea), subsequently joining the Damul Jadid group where he is the contact man for other Islamic groups, particularly in Qatar. Mohamed Nuur Ga`al (Hawiye/Murusade) is an active member of civil society: a university lecturer. Mohamed Ahmed Abtidoon was also in al-Islah before moving to the UIC and subsequently Damul Jediid.

These four men all have a common ideological base that is not far removed from the al Shabaab radical Islamists, but consider themselves moderate as they refuse armed action.

© Copyrights 2012 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

Al-Islah causes damage in Hargeisa
The Indian Ocean Newsletter
October 20, 2012

President Silanyo suspects security minister Mohamed Nour Arale of having links to the Al-Islah Islamist group.

The Islamist organisation Al-Islah is in the crosshairs of the President of Somaliland, Ahmed Mohamed Mahamoud known as Silanyo. This organisation is ideologically close to the Muslim Brotherhood and has ties of varying levels of strength with the new Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and his entourage (ION 1341). According to our sources, Silanyo sent a letter to his minister for security, Mohamed Nour Arale known as Duur, on 10 October complaining about the latter`s direct contacts with this group and other Islamist bodies in Mogadishu. Silanyo cites as evidence an interview in the Somalian language recently broadcast on Horn Cable TV (HCTV), in which Arale affirmed his support of the Al-Islah group on the grounds that it does not use violence to attain its aims.

President Silanyo took advantage of this letter to settle some scores with his minister, who is well-known as a supporter of traditional Islam (ION 1335). He accused him of having contacts with “enemies of Somaliland” during his trip to Nairobi last month, and also of fanning a local conflict between the Borama and Gabiley clans. He also noted that since being appointed security minister, Arale had never publicly denounced Al-Shabaab terrorism, nor that of any other radical Islamist group. Finally, he complains that the minister has done nothing, even though reports from the intelligence services state that radical Islamist leaders have arrived with their families to take up refuge in Somaliland. President Silanyo ends his letter with a “last formal warning about his career”.

© Copyrights 2012 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

Somali analysts says Islamist influence diminishing with internal squabbles
BBC Monitoring Africa
April 29, 2012

The Islamist star within the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia [TFG] may be setting in Somalia.

This was not the case three years ago when the Ethiopians withdrew; an Islamist was elected president of the Somali TFG, half its parliament was drawn from the Islamist-dominated Djibouti wing of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS). The cabinet was filled with Salafist (in the form Al-Ictisam, an offshoot of the original Somali Islamist group, Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya) and nationalist Islamists.

When Sheikh Sharif Ahmed was elected president of the TFG, the pro-Sharif wing of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and the Djibouti-ARS combined to control most of Mogadishu, most of Middle Shabelle region, almost all of Hiiran region, and some areas of Galguduud region.

Faced with growing calls for Shari`ah implementation from the pro-TFG Islamists and to weaken the rebel Islamists, the Islamist-dominated parliament voted in early 2009 to make Somalia an Islamic state ruled by Shari`ah. This did nothing to discourage the rebels from continuing their war, saying that voting for Shari`ah is itself disallowed in Shari`ah, and that there would be no implementation of Shari`ah by the TFG. They were right: Shari`ah was never implemented in the few blocks of Mogadishu into which the TFG was boxed for the greater part of three years.

In early 2009, even the Al-Shabab admitted that the pro-Sharif forces had better arms and more men than them. They skilfully played their cards, casting Sharif as a puppet, controlled by foreign masters, with no say in the future of the country except what he was told to say. ICU members started defecting to the Al-Shabab in droves; entire districts with their administration intact would join the Al-Shabab (interestingly, mass defections also took place among the ranks of the Islamist faction Hisbul Islam, which was also initially more powerful than Al-Shabab, at least in early 2009).

In the first days of the fighting between the pro-Sharif and anti-Sharif Islamists, some Shaykh, including the Qatar-funded Organization of Somali Islamic Scholars (OSIS) took a middle stance and opted to give some time to Sharif to prove he would implement Shari`ah, and also asked for African Union Peacekeepers (AMISOM) to withdraw its then almost 4,000-strong force.

At least one major commander from the ICU who had defected to the Al-Shabab, Muhammad Kofi, listened to the Shaykhs of the OSIS, despite having joined the Al-Shabab just weeks before with hundreds of his men (he did not get back even one, due to Al-Shabab`s habit of dispersing and mixing new recruits).

Al-Shabab made the mistake of not listening to the Islamic scholars, instead following Al-Qaidah and Osama`s labelling of Sharif an apostate that had to be fought.

The ideological war between the Somali Islamists has gone online, with rival groups posting videos and audio clips supposedly showing the heresy of the opposing group, and posting rebuttal videos when the other side is on the offensive.

For example, last year pro-HSM youth posted online an audio that featured the Al-Ictisam head, Shaykh Muhammad Idris (an Eritrean who can speak better Somali than me; his mother is Somali) saying that he did not care about Mogadishu. In his defence, those youth kept asking him questions about Mogadishu at a Minneapolis mosque, but they made it look like he had no empathy for the suffering of people in Mogadishu, when in fact he merely seemed to be angry about their interruptions.

The Islamist break has made it into the heart of the TFG. While the TFG Islamists of all stripes (with the exception of the Sufis) had enjoyed good relations with one another, lately they have showed signs of breaking up and those groups that are more similar have coalesced around one political party.

Members of the Salafist groups Al-Islah (New Blood Faction), Al-Ictisam and Ala-Sheikh united under one political party , “Native Party,” on February 13 to present one candidate in the August 2012 elections. Perhaps to give an impression that they are nationalists, their logo doesn`t have any indication that they are Islamists. No Quran, or Al-Shabab-style flag; just a map of Somalia draped in the Somali flag.

Feeling left out, the more nationalist elements formed their own political party days later, on the 19th, and called it the “Unity Party.” This party has its logo clearly showing that they are an Islamist party: they have a Quran, but above it they have the Somali flag. They could have easily written Islamist Nationalist on their logo and the result would be the same.

Neither of the two parties was invited to the London conference, but both have members that are very influential in the Islamist scene in Somalia. Not to worry, since they share the lack of invitation with Ras Kamboni and the?dare I say?the “real” Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama`a.

While the different Islamists factions are uniting to form political parties, their collective power is diminishing as their differences are now magnified. You have the more nationalist and clan-based faction in the form of the Unity Party on one hand, and the Salafist Native Party on the other.

This disunity of the Islamists will most likely cost them the presidency of the federal government in the upcoming elections? a good thing for Somalia. Unless President Sharif uses state funds to bribe MPs to vote for him. In Somali politics, campaign money goes directly to the voters: all 550 of them (225 in the coming reformed parliament).

The Islamists` squabbling and bloodletting has shown how they are not too different from the secularists in the TFG. Sharif was elected to gain the TFG more territory and bring peace to Somalia; he failed to do both.

Hopefully, the new parliament will not vote as president an Islamist who may harbour sympathy to the Al-Shabab, as Sharif is accused of by the secular faction of the TFG

Somalia can not stand four more years of Islamist mismanagement. The Islamist division will hopefully prevent that.

Writer: Mubarak

Source:, in English 29 Apr 12

© 2012 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

New political party formed in Somalia to counter President Sharif
BBC Monitoring Africa
February 14, 2012

The three largest Islamic political parties in the Somalia, Al-Itisaam, Al-Islah and Ala-Sheikh, united to form a new party, Daljir, which will take part in the presidential election in August of this year with the intention of countering the power of Shaykh Sharif, the president of Somalia`s Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

Sources close to al-Itisaam confided to Somalia Report that 70 members of the three groups, which are mainly made up of former government officials who are now vying to regain power in the TFG, met on Monday [13 February] to elect a leader and representatives.

During yesterday`s meeting, the members elected the former minister of information, Shaykh Dahir Mahamumd Gelle of the al-Itisaam movement, as the chairman of the new party. The former minister of religion of the Farmajo government, Abdullahi Abyan Nur from the Islah movement, was elected to be the deputy chairman while the former minister of communication, post and information, Abdikarim Hasan Jama from the Ala-Sheikh movement, was elected as general-secretary of the new Daljir party.

The prominent members of the new party are the former deputy prime minister, Hasan Ma`alin, MP Shaykh Bashir Adow, former religion minister, Mahamud Abdi Ibrahim Garweyne, former minister of defence, Abdi Muhammad Abtidon, former minister of justice, Abdirahman Janaqow, and the former international relations minister, Abdirahman Abdihakur.

Some of these members are close friends of Shaykh Sharif and worked closely with him during the time of the Islamic Courts Union, but now are trying to change the political direction of the country.

The announcement of this movement came after the group decided to formally oppose Shaykh Sharif and former Speaker Sharif Hasan, who still believes he is Speaker despite being fired in December.

But what remains unclear is that how will these three movements, which have different religious interpretations, work with each other to benefit Somalia. What is clear, however, is that this party puts President Sharif`s political ambitions in jeopardy since they are the very people who supported him to win the presidential seat. Also clear is that the new party is united against Al-Shabab and vows to fight the Islamic military group battling for control of Somalia.

The party is expected to officially announce the establishment of Daljir within the next few days.

Other reports indicate that yet another party will soon be announced by some of the former leaders of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which is expected to be headed by Shaykh Abdikadir Ali Umar, the former minister of internal affairs.

Source:, in English 14 Feb 12

© 2012 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Moderate Somali Islamic group urges USA to review policies
BBC Monitoring Newsfile
September 16, 2008

The Al-Islah organization [moderate Islamic organization in Somalia] has called for the support of the peace agreement reached in Djibouti and urged the US government to reconsider its policies in the Horn of Africa.

In a news conference, Al-Islah greatly supported the recent peace agreement reached in Djibouti between the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia [TFG] and the Alliance for Re-liberation of Somalia [opposition ARS].

In a statement released today, which had several points on the peace agreement, Al-Islah said it fully supported the agreement reached between the TFG and ARS.

The agreement followed the reconciliation peace talks organized by the UN special envoy to Somalia, Ahmad Ould Abdullah, and hosted by our brotherly government of Djibouti.

It urged the various groups of the Somali society to fully support the agreement and play a key role in its implementation, saying the agreement was an initial step towards the return of lasting peace to Somalia. It urged the two sides that have signed the agreement to work towards the implementation of the agreement, particularly the key issues in the agreement, including the cease-fire and withdrawal of all Ethiopian forces from Somalia.

Al-Islah also urged its followers to put forward the interest of the nation before their own, and overcome the internal differences within the organization.

The organization reminded the UN Security Council of its responsibilities to save and rescue the Somali people, and called for the deployment of UN peacekeepers.

Al-Islah also urged the US government to review its policies in the Horn of Africa and come up with initiatives in support of Somalia`s peace, and stop the selective policy of fighting what it terms terrorism.

The organization greatly praised the president of the Republic of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh, and the Djibouti people for the role they played in the peace process.

Al-Islah also praised the role played by the UN special envoy to Somalia, Ahmad Ould Abdullah, during the reconciliation talks.

It also praised the humanitarian assistance by governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations, urging them to double their humanitarian activities in the country which was currently facing a humanitarian catastrophe.

The statement was signed by Abdirahman Ma`alin Abdullahi (alias Badiyow) who is Al-Islah`s spokesman.

Source: Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 15 Sep 08

© 2008 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.





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