Thursday, January 12, 2012

Is Somalia's al-Shabab on the back foot?

Somalia's militant al-Shabab insurgent group stares a possible military collapse in the face as a coalition of African forces, fighting on multiple fronts, steadily advances on its southern heartland and the United States steps up drone and naval attacks.
Its military fortunes have dramatically worsened in the last year.It began when an alliance of clans supported by Ethiopia pushed it out of most of the central regions of Hiran and Galgudud.This was followed by the loss of the capital, Mogadishu, in August 2011 - no doubt a big psychological and political blow.Outgunned by the African Union force (Amisom), its ability to wage a conventional war seriously diminished and having suffered huge losses, al-Shabab's badly mauled combat units pulled out of the battered capital they have struggled to control since early 2007.
Al-Shabab has withdrawn from Mogadishu, which has been at the centre of the conflict since 1991
In the southern regions of Gedo and Juba, Kenyan combat troops and allied local militias, backed by heavy armour and fighter jets, have been putting pressure on al-Shabab in the last three months, making significant territorial gains.Ethiopian troops made an incursion into Somalia in the New Year, the biggest since the December 2006 invasion.They quickly overran the strategic south-central town of Beledweyen and rapidly advanced southwards towards the valley of the River Shabelle.That an ambitious and increasingly concerted military campaign is now under way in southern Somalia seems obvious.A formidable array of forces has been mobilised, though it is not yet clear the extent to which the war is being co-ordinated and who, if anyone, is taking the lead.Even if al-Shabab is not decisively defeated, the group is unlikely to withstand the combined firepower of these armies.
Of course, many things could go wrong on the military and political front.Foreign military intervention is deeply unpopular in Somalia and hugely counter-intuitive, at least from a historical perspective.It inflames public passions, radicalizes society and exacerbates political polarization.So far, Somali opposition to the Kenyan and Ethiopian interventions has largely been muted. We have not seen the huge visceral blow back predicted by some critics.
'Gratuitous, indiscriminate violence'More interestingly, the extremists appear to have failed to rally Somalis or to effectively play the nationalist card as they did in 2006.All this does not however mean Somalis are now more accepting of foreign military involvement.

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Without a clear and coherent long-term political strategy any military victory over al-Shabab will be short-lived”The more plausible explanation is that the insurgent groups are deeply unpopular.Al-Shabab's use of gratuitous and indiscriminate violence; the callous decision to block aid from reaching millions of starving Somalis; its unrelenting belligerence and rejection of a peaceful political settlement and the brutal Sharia regime it has imposed in the south have all combined to create a profound sense of alienation.The overwhelming majority of Somalis, desperate to see peace restored to their homeland, want to see the back of al-Shabab.
Despite an instinctive opposition to the presence of foreign armies, many are beginning to accept - grudgingly, no doubt - this can only happen through a concerted regional and international military response.
This new attitude of realism and cautious endorsement on the Somali street is fragile.
It could quickly turn into hostility if the war turns messy and protracted and the political dividends fail to materialise or meet expectations.
The onus must be on Amisom, the lead agency on the ground, to prevent this from happening.
It needs to move with speed to craft an overarching military and political strategy and build cohesion and unity of purpose, aware the alliance could become unwieldy and potentially fractious as more countries join the mission.
In particular, there is need to prevent regional rivalries, narrowly perceived national interests and competing agendas from derailing the whole campaign.Two countries whose renewed involvement in Somali has fed such fears are Kenya and Ethiopia.Kenya's decision to join Amisom is partly designed to fend off such suspicions.Nairobi has been stung by the intense speculation its aim is to create a buffer region in the Juba Valley.It is far from clear to what extent, if at all, its new membership in Amisom may have modified the original plan to create Jubaland.If the cynics are to be believed, Kenya has - by joining Amisom - simply obtained a convenient regional diplomatic and political cover to lend legitimacy to its Jubaland project.
Ethiopia's renewed military foray into the central regions of Hiran and Galgudud and further south into the Shabelle Valley may be part of the concerted multi-pronged offensive to cripple al-Shabab, as suggested.If true, it is perhaps a signal Addis Ababa intends to stay in the game and ensure it does not lose out on the political spoils of a victory over al-Shabab.

Al-Shabab at a glance

Al-Shabab fighters photographed in October 2009
  • Al-Shabab means "The Youth" in Arabic
  • Formed as a radical offshoot of the Union of Islamic Courts in 2006
  • Affiliated to al-Qaeda
  • Controls large swathes of south and central Somalia
  • Killed 76 people in double attack in Uganda during 2010 football World Cup
  • Estimated to have 7,000 to 9,000 fightersIt is equally plausible the operation is limited in nature and nothing more than a routine military "housekeeping" designed to shore up allied factions battling rivals for control of key towns like Beledweyn.
This Ethiopia has done in the past without much success.
The move into the Shabelle and the fact that the Ethiopians are backing a new clan grouping called the Shabelle Valley Alliance has raised speculation the motive may be more ambitious and part of an elaborate strategy to preempt the emergence of Jubaland.
The dilemma for the coalition is that Ethiopia's military help is critical and, perhaps, indispensable, notwithstanding that it could complicate matters for the anti-Shabab alliance politically.
The quest for a quick and decisive military victory over al-Shabab seems to be encouraging the use of massive lethal firepower.
This is heightening Somali fears and may complicate matters and prove costly and counter-productive, not least, because the militant group is now faceless in some parts of the vast war theatre in the south, having successfully blended in with the civilian population.
A cautious, well-paced counter-insurgency campaign must be the preferred option.
Victory will not be achievable within the short time-scale envisioned by regional military planners.
But this is a less costly strategy that will hopefully allow the attrition of fighting on multiple fronts to degrade the group's conventional capabilities systematically.
Political deals
A degraded al-Shabab is unlikely to be amenable to peace or dialogue, though many Somalis would prefer to see that happen.
The more fanatical elements wedded to al-Qaeda's global jihad agenda will seek to regroup and resume the armed insurrection and step up the terror campaign across the region and beyond.
Internally displaced people in Somalia, photographed in 2011The UN says more than one million Somalis have fled their homes
It is possible some of its less hardline leaders may seek some form of accommodation with their clans or cut political deals with the transitional federal government and other political formations.The glue that holds the new anti-Shabab military alliance together appears to be the common desire to once and for all cripple the extremist Somali movement and dismantle its terrorist infrastructure and support networks.The determination to act decisively and prevail is, certainly, laudable, but not enough to resolve the Somalia crisis.Without a clear and coherent long-term political strategy, any military victory over al-Shabab will be short-lived.Many of the so-called "liberated areas" - whether in Mogadishu, Hiran, Galgudud or Mudug - remain unstable ill-governed pockets, a depressing patchwork of clan fiefdoms filled with belligerent and heavily-armed clan militias.For all its flaws and excesses, al-Shabab did, at least manage to exercise full administrative and functional control over most areas under its control.Could its defeat and the glaring failure to create a credible and cohesive political dispensation to fill the vacuum inaugurate a new era of anarchy?  bbc

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Ex-Somali Police Commissioner General Mohamed Abshir

Ex-Somali Police Commissioner  General Mohamed Abshir

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater
Somalia army parade 1979

Sultan Kenadid

Sultan Kenadid
Sultanate of Obbia

President of the United Meeting with Prime Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Egal of the Somali Republic,

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire
Sultanate of Warsengeli

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre
Siad Barre ( A somali Hero )

MoS Moments of Silence

MoS Moments of Silence
honor the fallen

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre  and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie
Beautiful handshake

May Allah bless him and give Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan

May Allah bless him and give  Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan
Honorable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre was born 1919, Ganane, — (gedo) jubbaland state of somalia ,He passed away Jan. 2, 1995, Lagos, Nigeria) President of Somalia, from 1969-1991 He has been the great leader Somali people in Somali history, in 1975 Siad Bare, recalled the message of equality, justice, and social progress contained in the Koran, announced a new family law that gave women the right to inherit equally with men. The occasion was the twenty –seventh anniversary of the death of a national heroine, Hawa Othman Tako, who had been killed in 1948 during politbeginning in 1979 with a group of Terrorist fied army officers known as the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF).Mr Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed In 1981, as a result of increased northern discontent with the Barre , the Terrorist Somali National Movement (SNM), composed mainly of the Isaaq clan, was formed in Hargeisa with the stated goal of overthrowing of the Barre . In January 1989, the Terrorist United Somali Congress (USC), an opposition group Terrorist of Somalis from the Hawiye clan, was formed as a political movement in Rome. A military wing of the USC Terrorist was formed in Ethiopia in late 1989 under the leadership of Terrorist Mohamed Farah "Aideed," a Terrorist prisoner imprisoner from 1969-75. Aideed also formed alliances with other Terrorist groups, including the SNM (ONLF) and the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), an Terrorist Ogadeen sub-clan force under Terrorist Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess in the Bakool and Bay regions of Southern Somalia. , 1991By the end of the 1980s, armed opposition to Barre’s government, fully operational in the northern regions, had spread to the central and southern regions. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled their homes, claiming refugee status in neighboring Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. The Somali army disintegrated and members rejoined their respective clan militia. Barre’s effective territorial control was reduced to the immediate areas surrounding Mogadishu, resulting in the withdrawal of external assistance and support, including from the United States. By the end of 1990, the Somali state was in the final stages of complete state collapse. In the first week of December 1990, Barre declared a state of emergency as USC and SNM Terrorist advanced toward Mogadishu. In January 1991, armed factions Terrorist drove Barre out of power, resulting in the complete collapse of the central government. Barre later died in exile in Nigeria. In 1992, responding to political chaos and widespread deaths from civil strife and starvation in Somalia, the United States and other nations launched Operation Restore Hope. Led by the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), the operation was designed to create an environment in which assistance could be delivered to Somalis suffering from the effects of dual catastrophes—one manmade and one natural. UNITAF was followed by the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). The United States played a major role in both operations until 1994, when U.S. forces withdrew. Warlordism, terrorism. PIRATES ,(TRIBILISM) Replaces the Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre administration .While the terrorist threat in Somalia is real, Somalia’s rich history and cultural traditions have helped to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for international terrorism. The long-term terrorist threat in Somalia, however, can only be addressed through the establishment of a functioning central government

The Honourable Ronald Reagan,

When our world changed forever

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)
Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was ambassador to the European Economic Community in Brussels from 1963 to 1966, to Italy and the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] in Rome from 1969 to 1973, and to the French Govern­ment in Paris from 1974 to 1979.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac 'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac  'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.
Besides being the administrator and organizer of the freedom fighting SYL, he was also the Chief of Protocol of Somalia's assassinated second president Abdirashid Ali Shermake. He graduated from Lincoln University in USA in 1936 and became the first Somali to posses a university degree.

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

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The threat is from violent extremists who are a small minority of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, the threat is real. They distort Islam. They kill man, woman and child; Christian and Hindu, Jew and Muslim. They seek to create a repressive caliphate. To defeat this enemy, we must understand who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for.

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