Sunday, October 14, 2012

Al-Shabaab has been weakened but it is still far from destroyed

It is one year today since the Kenya Defence Forces moved into Somalia to tackle the threat posed by the Shabaab in the region bordering Kenya. Somalia expert Prof Ken Menkhaus of Davidson College, USA, offered his assessment of the intervention to Sunday Nation’s

Q: How has Kenya’s entry into Somalia and its new assertive and interventionist posture altered the regional geopolitical landscape? How are the other key regional players reacting?

A: Kenya’s intervention in southern Somalia initially complicated regional geopolitical dynamics, especially with regard to Ethiopia and its security concerns in southern Somalia.

Over time, the two countries have worked much more closely together to reach broad agreement on a number of matters, particularly how to handle the provisional authority that needs to be set up in Kismayu in conjunction with the new Somali government. In the end, this has actually helped improve and routinise regional cooperation between Kenya and Ethiopia.

Q: Cynics argue that Kismayu may turn out to be a poisoned chalice? Are they right?

A: It is too soon to tell. Everything now depends on the will of the Somali people to forge a broad-based local government in Kismayu and to produce circumstances that will welcome Somalis from all parts of the country to participate in the enormous potential commercial opportunities that Kismayu presents. If Somalis seize this advantage, Kismayu could actually become a model for the rest of the country.

If, however, Somali factions fight over Kismayu it is going to be the country’s Sarajevo — a divided and war-torn city, which will not so much be a poison chalice for Kenya but a poisoned chalice for the new government of President Mohamud.

Q: You have in the past suggested that you favour a “cosmopolitan solution” in Kismayu? What exactly do you mean?

A: What I mean by that is that Kismayu is a large commercial city in which many different Somalis and non-Somalis have lived for the past 120 years. There is an opportunity for Kismayu to be a place where all clans have full rights to live and do business.

The danger in Somalia is that many cities and towns have been claimed by single clans and the consequences have been clan conflicts.

What I am arguing is that we have to be very careful not to encourage a victor’s peace in Kismayu in which one clan militia or a coalition of clan militias dominate the city and excludes others. This may result in the excluded clans turning to insurgency — turning to Al-Shabaab.

Q: The US has in the past voiced reservations about aspects of the so-called Jubbaland initiative. Some analysts suggest the view in Washington is now more charitable. What is your own reading?

A: The US Government, as I understand it, was principally concerned that the Kenyan military intervention in the Jubba regions will produce the same kind of Somali anger and mobilisation that occurred when Ethiopia intervened militarily in Somalia in December 2006; in that case, Shabaab was the principal beneficiary. That did not occur with the Kenyan intervention, which was a pleasant surprise.

Most Somalis were in fact very unhappy with the Kenyan military intervention in Somalia. They saw it as yet another instance of foreign occupation of their country.

But for a variety of reasons — war-weariness, and certainly dissatisfaction with Al-Shabaab — Somalis did not mobilise around Al-Shabaab to resist the Kenyan military offensive. This was a legitimate fear on the part of the US Government.

Q: It is exactly one year since Kenya sent its troops to Somalia to dislodge Al-Shabaab from the Jubba Valley. Do you think it has achieved its goals?

A: It is too soon to tell. First, the Kenyan government expressed a variety of different goals last year, so many of us were not certain as to what the exact objectives were.

Once the objectives became better clarified — that is to oust Al-Shabaab from the city of Kismayu — I think the objectives have, at least, been partially met.
Kismayu is no longer under the control of Al-Shabaab, but everyone is aware that Al-Shabaab still has sleeper cells in Kismayu and that it is going to take some time before the city is completely stabilised.

Q: Many regional and foreign experts have been sceptical of the Kenyan military’s ability and competence to degrade Al-Shabaab. Have you been surprised at the relative success of the KDF’s military campaign? How do you assess the KDF’s overall performance so far?

A: First, let me say that I am not an expert on military matters, so my opinions are strictly as an amateur observer.

I would say that there were some initial concerns that had to do with the unusual timing of the intervention, as it occurred right in the middle of a rainy season. That raised some scepticism.

Since then, the main concern that most defence analysts have voiced is not that the Kenyan military will have trouble in the open country where it has superior firepower, but that it could get bogged down in an asymmetrical urban guerrilla war in Kismayu. This will be the real test of the capacity of the Kenyan military.

I should add that it will not test the Kenyan military’s ability to respond to periodic Shabaab attacks, but its ability to play the messy political role of referee of the many competing Somali factions and militias hoping to claim a role in the administration of the city.

Q: What is the future for Al-Shabaab?

A: Al-Shabaab, as a military insurgency, is certainly in decline and crisis. It has lost all of its main urban areas, almost all of its access to the sea.

It has been pushed into remote rural areas of the countryside in the south. It has lost most of its support from Somalis, and its finances, thanks to the loss of Kismayu seaport, have been devastated.

Al-Shabaab will however remain one of the most powerful militias in Southern Somalia for some time to come.

It continues to possess a network of cells in all of Somalia’s major urban areas and a capacity to engage in acts of terrorism. We can expect them to engage in targeted political violence in Somalia and in Kenya for some time to come.

And even if the movement eventually disintegrates, the grievances Al-Shabaab was able to tap into will remain. It is important for Somali leaders and regional and international actors to address those grievances or someone else will exploit them.

Q: Does this then mean Kenya is now at a greater risk of a violent blowback from Al-Shabaab?

A: We have long worried that Al-Shabaab will eventually take the war to Kenya. We know that Al-Shabaab has networks in Kenya both from Somalia and from those it has recruited in Kenya.

These networks possess the capacity to engage in acts of terrorism inside Kenya. As it faces growing pressure in southern Somalia, Al-Shabaab is relocating its activities to the north, into Puntland, and also southwards, into Kenya.

Q: You have in the past been critical of the Somali transitional governments. The country now has a more credible and popular leadership. Has Somalia turned a corner?

A: Again, it is simply too soon to tell. This new government has great promise in terms of the quality and commitment of the new leadership, and it enjoys broad support from a hopeful Somali population.

Unlike the TFG, which was unwilling and unable to govern, the current post-transitional government is unable but willing to govern. It wants to extend good governance, but it lacks the capacity.
It will take a long time to build up its capacity to govern and we need to be patient as it weathers what promises to be a very difficult period ahead.

Ken Menkhaus is professor of political science at Davidson College and a specialist on the Horn of Africa.

A video showing Kismayo Sea Port, southern Somalia.

KISMAYO SEA PORT from AU/UN IST News on Vimeo.
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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
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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,

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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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