UB graduate appointed Somali prime minister.

Halkaan ka akhri

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed earned his master’s degree in American studies from UB in 2009. Nearly 18 months later, Mohamed has been named prime minister of Somalia.

Mohamed, who has been living in Grand Island with his wife and four children, was appointed prime minister of his troubled homeland last Thursday by the Somali president. Mohamed replaces Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, who had a long-running feud with the president of the African nation and resigned last month.

Mohamed fled his war-torn home country during the mid-1980s. After working in the Somali Embassy in Washington D.C. from 1985 to 1989, Mohamed resettled in Western New York in 1990. Mohamed earned a bachelor’s degree in history from UB in 1993, gaining U.S. citizenship along the way.

In 2009, Mohamed earned his master’s degree in American studies from UB. His thesis was titled “U.S. Strategic Interest in Somalia: From the Cold War Era to the War on Terror.”

“He is a very bright student who always provoked lively discussions,” said Donald Grinde, a professor of American studies and history and Mohamed’s thesis adviser. “His thesis discussed the current chaos in Somalia and United States interventions. We have had many discussions about the structure of the government in Somalia and have played around with ideas of what types of federal government would suit Somalia.”

From 2002 until his appointment as prime minister, Mohamed worked as commissioner for equal employment at the New York State Department of Transportation in Buffalo. He also taught leadership skills and conflict resolution at Erie Community College.

Mohamed has been active in the local Somali community. Mohamed and his family first settled on Buffalo’s West Side before relocating to Amherst and, after that, Grand Island. When West Side leaders organized a local refugee coalition, Mohamed was the first to step forward as a leader and was elected as the organization’s first president.

“He is a natural leader,” said Harvey Garrett, a West Side activist and friend of Mohamed. “He is soft spoken and he really listens and understands and then leads from that understanding. He is not overbearing and he is peacemaker, which is what Somalia needs. His strength comes from his ability to bring people together.”

Mohamed worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Somalia before he left for the United States over 20 years ago, and although he has not lived in Somalia since then, he is very knowledgeable about its current affairs.

Mohamed will now have the opportunity to put some of his ideas into action.

Various political and regional factions, including local warlords in the south and in two “republics” in the north, currently control the country. Because of Somalia’s current corrupt condition, friends of Mohamed fear for his safety.

“Somalia is a very dangerous place,” Garrett said. “Anyone who comes into power gains criticism, and while his U.S. connections will hopefully help him and give him credibility, he is bound to face some criticism from individuals for being an outsider.”

Somalia has lacked any internationally recognized central government since the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991. The current Transitional Federal Government is the 17th attempt to create a formal state. The most recent attempt brought the opposition, Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia, into the government in February 2009.

Political analysts that have weighed in on the selec tion have generally expressed optimism for Mohamed’s prospects of fulfilling his duties in the face of an obstinate insurgency.

Analysts cited Mohamed’s background in the Somali Diaspora, his lack of political baggage, his relatively young age (which might help galvanize the government by presenting a fresh perspective), his administrative experience, his familiarity with the protocols of classical democracies, and his diplomatic demeanor.

Additionally, many local residents and UB community members are excited about Mohamed’s achievement, as a part of Western New York has found its way into the country of Somalia and its current government.

“I think it’s great to see a graduate of our school, which is so small in the grand scheme of things, to be appointed in such an important international political position” said Barrett Sweet, a sophomore exercise science major. “I wish the best for him and am hopeful that he will be successful and bring recognition to Buffalo as an academic and cultural capital.”

Parliament is scheduled to deliberate whether to approve his appointment within a month of the date when he was appointed. If approved, Mohamed will be expected to name a new cabinet.

Source:    ubspectrum


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