Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Somali Internal Security Minister Abdullahi Mohamed Jan Balushi has told Asharq Al-Awsat that he does not fear being assassinated as had happened to his late predecessor Omar Hashi Adam, who was assassinated by the Islamic rebels seeking to overthrow the regime of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat 24 hours after his appointment to his new post, he said that he was looking forward to receiving international support, particularly from the states and governments of the Horn of Africa as well as Arab and Muslim countries to rehabilitee and train the Somali security forces. He noted that the security challenges in Somalia are extremely difficult.
It is to be recalled that the Somali Government suddenly announced the evening before last that it appointed Balushi, who is a former colonel in the Somali Army and who belongs to the Al-Hawadili tribe, to which the former minister Adam belonged. In his first statement, the new minister pledged to build strong security forces and to reform the government’s security apparatus. He stressed that he was determined to succeed in his mission, noting that he would make the plans and articulate the visions pertinent to the function of his ministry in cooperation with the various Somali security agencies.
It should be recalled that the new Somali internal security minister was born in the Hiiraan province in central Somalia in July 1968 and had received his education in the Somali capital, Mogadishu before he obtained a diploma in human development from the Geneva University, Switzerland, and an MA in administrative and economic sciences from the American University of Nairobi. He also worked for the UN mission in Somalia in the early 1990s performing tasks in various UN offices. He is married and has 16 children. This large number of children did not stop him from saying, “yes, my family members number more than a soccer team; I have my own community.”
The following is the text of the interview:
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How would you handle the security issues faced by the country?
[Balushi] I think the current security challenges in Somalia are extremely big, serious, and difficult. We seek to rehabilitee all our security forces and give them modern training to be able to cope with these difficult challenges. We will train our forces and provide them with all that is necessary to succeed in their mission. In other words, we seek to transform our security forces into professional forces to handle the current situation.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] So you will need the international support?
[Balushi] Certainly. We cannot handle the current situation on our own; we will rely on the international support though we will have our own means and methods.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] To which countries would you resort for help?
[Balushi] We will not deal with only one or two states. We look forward to receiving assistance from the entire international community. We will particularly cooperate with the states and governments in our region (the Horn of Africa),the Arab and Muslim states, as well as the United States and the EU.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What kind of support do you expect?
[Balushi] We want to train our forces on a professional basis to deal with security issues. We naturally expect a logistic support to enable us to handle terror problems. We particularly want to rehabilitate and build our forces in a sound manner and supply them with the various equipment they need to succeed.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How were you chosen for this post?
[Balushi] I had previously worked with Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, and both President Sheikh Sharif, and the prime minister made the decision to appoint meto this post.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Don’t you fear being assassinated?
[Balushi] I am not worried about this. This is the reality on the ground, and this is the status quo in Somali nowadays. I am extremely sorry that my predecessor was assassinated. I will try to do my best to protect myself.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] This is a difficult matter, isn’t it?
[Balushi] It is extremely serious indeed, but I have to serve my country and people. I cannot shirk my responsibility. Despite all the dangers that surround us, we must step forward to assume our responsibilities. I am ready to sacrifice my life for my country and the interest of my people.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Don’t you fear a possible attempt on your life?
[Balushi] No, everyone will die one day; this is the nature of life. I am a Muslim and I believe that I will die on the day I am destined to die.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Your record shows that you do not have any military or security background; do you expect to succeed in your mission?
[Balushi] Yes. If one is smart and professional, one can do what one wants. If you have administrative and executive potential, you will succeed in performing the tasks assigned you. I will not myself directly handle the security issues; I will define the missions and the work plan of the ministry. I will cooperate with everyone. Do not forget that we have professionals. My mission is political rather than practical or administrative.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] I have learned that you have 16 children; this number represents a soccer team?
[Balushi](Laughing) Yes, even more than a soccer team. I have my own community and I am proud of it.