JEDDAH — As a country working hard to counter terrorism, Saudi Arabia has an important experience to share with the world. Somalia has been suffering from the influence of terror groups and has subsequently turned to Saudi Arabia for help. One Somali official recently noted that his country has signed a contract with a Saudi company to help release 40 percent of the country’s population from the hands of terror groups.
Ambassador Abdul Razak Said Abdi, the permanent representative of the permanent delegation of the Republic of Somalia at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that his country now has serious security and political concerns. Abdi said that the country believes that education can be a strong method for combatting terrorism, and for generating job opportunities for Somali youth to relieve the unemployment problem that often drives many of them to join extremist cells.
“We have inked an agreement with the Saudi Education and Training Company, represented by its CEO Zuhair bin Ali Azhar, to help 5 percent of the people currently involved in terror groups to leave them within the next 10 years,” he said, adding that the process will take years, not months.
Project implementation will begin at the start of the new year, after the Somali president, known for his role in developing education, inaugurates the project in a formal ceremony.
Ambassador Abdi said that the Somali Minister of Education was convinced of the vision and achievements made by the Saudi company. “The company, with it strategic partnership with the Isesco, can play a leading role in the effort in Somalia, especially with the new techniques it employs in vocational, rehabilitation and technical training programs,” he told Arab News.
He explained that education and job creation programs can help Somalis regain stability after 20 years of excruciating wars that have left over 40 percent of the nation unemployed.
Abdi referred to the Al-Shabab militant group, one of the foremost terrorist groups in the world, that uses people in need to achieve their agendas by offering them money in exchange for their participation in terror groups. He revealed that the youth in Somalia are the primary victims of the current fight between the government and the Al-Shabab extremist group that feeds terrorism in a way that is not so dissimilar to ISIS.
The Somali ambassador stressed that the solution to the country’s problems starts with education, which creates awareness against the dark ideologies of these groups. At the same time, Abdi said the government has realistic expectations: “When the educational infrastructure was destroyed, we knew it won’t be easy to rebuild. However, if we really succeeded to train 5 percent in the next 10 years, we know that we can achieve more in the next phase,” he explained to Arab News.