Islamist Sheikh Is New Somali President

Geography Teacher, Dangerous Islamist or Something in Between?

During a session held in Djibouti the Somali parliament has decided on Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as the new president of Somalia. Ahmed will replace Abdullahi Yusuf, who was ousted last month under the threat of US sanctions.

Ahmed has a colorful history: a geography teacher who helped to found and eventually led the Union of Islamic Courts, he declared jihad when Ethiopia invaded and urged the populace to resist them. He joined the parliament this week after a falling out with the more hardline members of his Eritrea-based resistance movement.

With the Ethiopia-backed Somali government having lost virtually all control over the nation, the election of Ahmed may signal a formal takeover of control of the nation by the Islamist movement which already had in many cases de facto control. Though the United States backed the Ethiopian invasion to force Ahmed’s courts from power, it remains to be seen if they will accept him as the leader of a government that probably had no future without his faction.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.