Somali president partially reshuffles army leadership

In response to criticism on his war strategy against Al-Shabab, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, facing countless setbacks, made changes to the army leadership.

Brigadier General Madey Nurey Sheikh Ufurow was appointed deputy commander of the armed forces. General Madey served as Admiral of the Somali Maritime Forces during Hassan’s previous term. He is from the South-West region.

Colonel Dayah Abdi Abdulle, who was previously a member of the Gorgor commando forces, was promoted to major general and appointed as the new commander of land forces, replacing Brigadier General Ahmed Aden Ali appointed to the post in June.

Mixed message and reception

Dayah Abdi Abdulle, as commander of the 17th Brigade of the Gorgor Commando Unit, has been in the news in recent years for his exploits on the battlefields. He worked under the command of General Bihi Tahlil, who was dismissed last June, and whose position he now holds.

Here, Hassan Sheikh, while showing that he is diversifying the command of the army, has in fact chosen a former close collaborator. Madey will in no way influence the decisions made by the usual culprits responsible for all of today’s fatal blunders.

Public opinion welcomes the appointment of Dayah Abdi Abdulle as the only good news from today’s reshuffle, but regrets that General Muhyaddin Addow is still chief of staff of the Somali National Forces. This gentleman, whose combat experience is limited, let civilians take charge of the fighting which decimated the army.

Reconciling with Turkish-trained Gorgor

Last Wednesday, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took a photo with officers belonging to the Gorgor Commando in Dhusamareb. It was his way to show he is reconciling with the elite commando force.

This Turkish-trained Gorgor unit was insulted and mistreated by himself and his ministers while they were in the opposition. Gorgor, unlike other army units recruited from clan militias, refused to mutiny in 2021 against former president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. They are known and respected for their professionalism.

Also, Ahmed Moalim Fiqi, the current Interior Minister, who once called them “Farmajo’s militia”, recently took a photo with Gorgor praising their effectiveness on the battlefield.

A step toward experience and merit

After a public outcry over how some army units were decimated by Al-Shabab due to poor leadership and desertions within the army, Hassan Sheikh changed the way he treated highly-trained and battle-hardened units. And today’s appointment of Major General Dayah shows he is beginning to learn from his mistakes.

Moreover, General Muhyadin Addow promised promotions and leave for units at the front. It remains to be seen whether the different rhetoric and perks will be enough to restore trust between the army and an administration lacking popularity.

Finally, President Hassan Sheikh has been in Galmudug for the second month to show his commitment to drive Al-Shabab out of Somalia. His timid change in army command comes as the withdrawal of military forces from areas they had previously captured due to Al-Shabab’s attack on the Awsweyne military base has drawn public criticism.

Omar Salad

Omar is an IT specialist based in Mogadishu.