Somalia government: We’re no longer a failed state.

Halkaan ka akhri

Somalia is no longer a failed state besieged by Islamist militants, the country’s information minister said Monday. He also said that multinational naval efforts to combat pirates hijacking civilian and commercial vessels are not working.

Speaking to CBS News as the new transitional government reached its 100th day in office, Abdulkareem Jama denied that large parts of the capital city of Mogadishu and swathes of the country’s south were controlled by Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab. Last June, the country topped Foreign Policy magazine’s annual list of “failed states.”

“Seventy percent of Mogadishu is in the hands of the Somali government,” said Jama. “Over 80 percent of the population of Mogadishu lives in government-controlled territories.”

He said there was also widespread popular support for government efforts to deny al Qaeda a toe-hold in the country.

“The government is denying al Qaeda a base in Somalia, starting with Mogadishu and moving through the regions, because this country belongs to Somalis and not to foreign criminals looking for a place to hide,” said Jama. “The people are convinced of that.”

Somalia remained a “fragile state,” he said but was “recovering fast” and had made “great strides in restoring security” thanks to its soldiers receiving regular salaries and specialized medical care.

However, Jama said efforts to tackle piracy were not enjoying the same success and that if the Somali government was given the international support it needs “hundreds of hostages” would be freed “immediately.”

4 Americans on hijacked yacht dead off Somalia

Multinational taskforces — including warships from France, Germany, the United States and China — currently patrolling the waters off Somalia are wasting “billions” and are not addressing piracy at its source, which lies on land and not at sea, he said.

“As you know, piracy is something that needs to be controlled from the land,” said Jama. “A lot of time, effort and funds is now directed toward putting large ships in the seas to patrol and try and quell piracy.

“The pirates come from the land … they take their captives to the land, they spend their ill-gotten gains on the land,” Jama said.

His government needed “to extend government control to the areas where pirates” exist and share resources with insurgent groups, he said. The minister claims these areas are in central and northeast Somalia.

“The billions that are spent on warships is not the best investment that can be made,” said Jama. “A more effective and more cost-effective, much less expensive approach would be to help Somali forces deploy to the areas that pirates operate from.

“It will immediately free hundreds of hostages that should not be there, and it will deny pirates from going into operations from that area or returning to this area with their ships,” Jama said.

But Jama was quick to deny this was an invitation for the west to put forces on the ground in Somalia.

“We are not asking for American or European forces inside Somalia,” he said. “We need just the support, political, economic and otherwise, to allow us to do the job.”

Pro-government forces reportedly took control of the strategic town of Luuq in western Somalia Monday after Islamist rebels abandoned it without a firefight.

The pro-government offensive was said to be part of a campaign to oust Islamist fighters from their strongholds in the center and south of the country.

Source: CBC News

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