SOMALI YOUTHS’ PRIMARY PRIORITY:
Throughout history, young people have played crucial roles in shaping transformative movements, from the rise of Islam to the struggle for Somalia’s independence. Somali youths, inspired by a deep sense of national identity and a longing for freedom, actively participated in resistance against colonial powers during the early days of the struggle for independence. Despite limited resources and experience, their resilience and determination were instrumental in achieving sovereignty and shaping Somali history.
In a contemporary world where young people face evolving challenges, Somali youths have emerged as resilient and indomitable champions in the fight against terrorism. They are actively involved in changing the mindset towards Somalia’s stature, to reflect the progressive strides the country has taken over the past decade and a half. Overwhelming majority of the young generation are peace-loving and development-minded who are playing pivotal roles, both in the private and public sector, including in military, financial, and ideological battles against terrorism, particularly in the offensive against Al-Shabaab (AS).
THE MILITARY FRONT: SOMALI NATIONAL ARMY AND THE BATTLEFIELD
Under the leadership of youthful commanders, the Somali National Army (SNA) has taken a proactive role in the military battle against terrorism. By joining the ranks of the SNA and earning the trust and support of their leadership, these gallant soldiers have been effective in the quest to uproot and flash out terrorists from their hideouts.
Thousands of young people who recently graduated from high schools and universities have answered the call from their fellow citizens and leadership to defend their country against terrorists. Within a year, the National Army has demonstrated exceptional heroism and resilience in combat, earning respect both domestically and internationally. Their deep understanding of the local terrain, ownership coupled with a strong sense of patriotism have led to the successful re-liberation of large swathe of land, included strategic territories from AS terrorists.
In addition to security operations, SNA also works diligently to maintain stability in newly liberated areas, to ensure citizens safety and security, as well as providing healthcare, relief, and assistance to local communities. By carrying the national vision and engaging in face-to-face interactions with locals, SNA counters extremist narratives and instead inspires hope through awareness. Such engagements foster dialogue, encourage critical thinking, and challenge the recruitment tactics used by extremist elements. Many members of terrorist groups continue to surrender to the armed forces and choose the path of peace and redemption.
THE ROLE OF GOVERNANCE
The role of civil servants in the fight against terrorism and liberation operations is of paramount importance for the stability and security of the nation. From law enforcement to policy formulation and implementation, directors-generals, policymakers, and officers, all consistently contribute to the development and implementation of counterterrorism strategies. They ensure effective measures are in place to combat terrorist strategies, including post -AS stabilization and developmental programs in the liberated regions.
Cognizant of the criticality of disrupting the financial networks of terrorist organizations, well-educated youthful officers have taken the lead in the country’s governance institutions. They actively engage in countering terrorist financing, working tirelessly to disrupt the root causes and stifle financial lifelines of terrorist groups. This commitment and dedication contribute to the government’s security agenda of fighting terror groups on multiple fronts and improved collaboration and coordination among various agencies and departments involved in counterterrorism efforts.
Moreover, it is not just the Somali security forces and civil servants who are championing the war against terrorism. Young entrepreneurs are also disrupting the cycle of poverty, which often fuels extremism, by establishing businesses, creating job opportunities and fostering economic growth.
THE IDEOLOGICAL BATTLE: PROMOTING ISLAM AND COUNTERING EXTREMIST PROPAGANDA
Drawing inspiration from the transformative power of youth in shaping the history of Islam, Somali youth are reenergized in the ideological campaign against radicalism. They counter extremist narratives and tirelessly work to reshape Somalia’s perception. Through media, community engagements, and social activism, they promote unity, tolerance, and the values of peace and Islam.
Their dedication, creativity, and commitment to promoting peace and tolerance contribute to building a more resilient society that rejects violence and embraces a positive vision for the future.
Somali youths amplify alternative narratives that challenge extremist sentiments through blogs, social & mainstream media campaigns, and townhall meetings. Through creation and utilization of online spaces for government officials, civil society, religious scholars, youthful activists share counter-narratives and provide positive perspectives about ongoing liberation efforts and the deplorable living conditions under extremist control.
In the education sector, youngsters actively engage in mentorship programs to guide and support vulnerable individuals who may be susceptible to extremist manipulations, such as those living in IDP camps. Youthful educationists work closely with schools and universities to provide educational opportunities by equipping young people with knowledge, critical thinking skills, and positivity to resist violence and extremist ideas, enabling them to make informed choices.
In a nutshell, Somali youth have emerged as critical resource in the fight against terrorism and as agents of positive change. Through their active leadership in the military, governance, financial, in the private sector, and ideological battles, they have proven to be pivotal stakeholders in shaping the future of Somalia. Their unwavering spirit and commitments inspire not only their fellow citizens but also the government leadership and future generations of Somalia.
The commitment of Dan Qaran Government and the exceptional valor of the Somali National Army in freeing Somalia from terrorism require continued ownership from the Somali community, and the concerted efforts of the youthful generation who constitute 75% of the population. By nurturing and investing more in the potential of Somali youths, Somalia can ensure a brighter future for the nation, their continued contribution to nation building, peace and stability as well as their triumph over terrorism.