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Mohamed Mohamed: Former Prime Minister of Somalia

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Mohamed Mohamed: Former Prime Minister of Somalia

When Mohamed took over as Prime Minister of Somalia, the state Department of Transportation worker faced a greater challenge than probably any other world leader. Plagued by drought, a 20-year civil war, piracy and terrorism many people in the international community referrred to Somalia as “ungovernable”. However, six months later when Mohamed was forced to resign due to conflicts with the Somalian President, there were protests in the street in support of his leadership. Undeterred, Mohamed stepped down in the interest of preserving what little peace there was in his country. Since then he has returned to his adopted home and family in Grand Island and resumed his job with the DOT.

What is the number one challenge facing Somalia today?

Drought is the main issue, already having caused the death of 30,000 children in just the past several months. Since I became Prime Minister, I have spoken to many international leaders and the media about the drought and made a very strong appeal in to the international community about this humanitarian crisis. I guess no one listened then and here we are now. Human beings are suffering and children are dying. What is next? I hope it is not too little, too late for help. The U.S. pledged to donate $100 million, is this enough? I don’t think so. Remember Operation Restore Hope in 1992? President George H.W. Bush ordered 25,000 U.S. forces to Somalia and led the international coalition to save 3 million people from brink of starvation, delivering food to the needy by force regardless the opposition of the local militias. The same kind of leadership and courage is required by President Obama to mobilize the international community to help starving people in Somalia. Will he do that? Time will tell.

Is the international community doing enough to help Somalia establish a functional government? What can Buffalonians do to help Somalia?

The cause of this drought—besides mother nature—is the lack of strong and organized central government and opposition by the Islamic extremists Al-Shabaab. Affiliated with Al-Qaeda, they want to overthrow the weak government and establish a base in Somalia, so they can launch terrorist attacks. The international community is not doing enough to empower and support the current weak government to deal with such a crisis.

Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant, the pilot of one of two special forces helicopters shot down [Ed note: the 1993 Black Hawk down incident], agrees and said “...Today’s famine in the war-torn nation could be directly linked to then President Bill Clinton’s decision to pull American soldiers out.” He meant that if U.S. stayed a little longer, there would not be Al-Qaeda fighting for power in Somalia and this humanitarian crisis would not occur.

I ask my fellow Buffalonians to contact their delegates in Washington to ask the government to treat Somalia like Afghanistan and help establish a strong government to fight two evils: terrorism and piracy. If not, this humanitarian crisis will repeat itself more often.

Which accomplishment achieved while you were in office are you the most proud of today?

Re-organized the government army, paid salaries, boosted moral, promoted good governance and zero tolerance of corruption, and mobilized the population in Mogadishu against Al-Shabaab. As a result, government forces have gained strength and succeeded in crushing the extremist- Al-Shabaab and itsl allies in Mogadishu, earning the trust of the people.

Has your experience as Prime Minister altered your opinion of politics? Do you have interest in seeking another office at some point in the future?

Sure, if you’re holding a public office and responsible for other people, you should think about them. To improve their quality of life, but not your approval rating. Certainly all my options are open when it comes to serve the people again, but not soon.

On a personal level, what has your return to Buffalo been like? Was it difficult to return with some much still to be accomplished?

A city of good neighbors, it’s a great place to be back and enjoy time with family and friends. We really take everything we have here for granted, very simple things, like peace. Think about people who neither have peace, nor government to protect them. 70% employment rate, no health system, endless violence and drought, and above all complete chaos in the city. Sometimes we should look at how other people survive before we complain about the little material things we have. Then, not only will we become humble but maybe more content. It’s difficult to come back when so many things need to be done, but I guess, the little time I was there, I made some progress to help some folks and gave them hope. I hope they keep that.

bonus: How has the Somali community transitioned to life in Buffalo? What are some of the things they are doing to help keep their culture alive in the city?

The Somali community are good and hard working people who want to contribute so much to this great city in terms of purchasing homes, paying tax, involving activities in their neighborhoods, and above all to be good citizens to this great nation. Buffalo is a home of many immigrant communities where diversity of cultures and traditions are welcomed and respected. Somali people will keep their culture alive while learning other cultures as well.

bonus: What simple things do you miss most from Somalia?

The Radio Mogadishu station used to keep my spirits high because they played 60’s and 70’s Somali songs which reminded me of a peaceful and beautiful time in Mogadishu. Good old days. Though sometimes it makes me sad.

bonus: What will it take to get a good Somali restaurant in town?

It will take some investment, $200,000 and to open on Elmwood.

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