From al-Shabab to the cabinet: Somalia’s move fuels debate

by | Aug 5, 2022 | World

Somalia’s appointment of a former al-Shabab leader to the cabinet is fuelling debate.While some are critical of Hamza Abdi Barre’s administration for naming Mukhtar Robow as the minister in charge of religious affairs, others laud the move as a step towards reconciliation and smart way to battle against the group.

If Somalia 🇸🇴 was a working society, Muktar Robow should’ve been executed publicly him still being alive alone should’ve been an insult to our sensibilities. https://t.co/mSd8pzATdt
— Leila Siyad (@leilasiyad) August 3, 2022

The once-feared man – an al-Shabab co-founder, its former spokesperson and deputy leader – had been in a hideout for years before surrendering to the government in August 2017. He split with al-Shabab in 2013.
After intense negotiations with the state, Robow was delisted from the US terror list and denounced al-Shabab publicly.
However, regardless of his dramatic U-turn, his journey from house arrest – which he had been under for the past three years – to high-ranking minister was far from expected.
Some analysts believe the appointment could play a significant role in the fight against al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked group formed in 2007, which wants to overthrow Somalia’s internationally recognised government and impose strict Islamic law.
“I think the reason why he was brought from house arrest to the cabinet minister is to create and come up with a counter-narrative to that of al-Shabab since he deeply understands their philosophy and their tactics,” Zakaria Yusuf, a researcher on Somalia at the International Crisis Group, told Al Jazeera.
“He may also have influence within the militant [group] and could attr …

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