Saturday, January 5, 2013

Taking a hard look at Somalia as a model for intervention in Mali

The West is moving toward a military intervention in Mali, somewhat slowly yet entirely deliberately, due to concerns about al-Qaeda’s control of territory there. An October UN Security Council resolution authorizes such military action, and while the United States has long supported such a move, Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s recent comments indicate that Canada, too, may be willing to contribute troops to such a venture.
 
Supporters of this intervention can point to a model in the quiet campaign the U.S. has waged for the past half-decade against jihadi groups in Somalia. But it is not yet clear, when all is said and done, that the Somalia campaign will be viewed as a success.
The elevation of Somalia as a model for future military action comes at a time when jihadi groups, and al-Qaeda in particular, have been undergoing an evolution. Since the death of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s core leadership in Pakistan has experienced a significant amount of attrition, much of it on the receiving end of American drone strikes. This leadership may prove to be more resilient than many observers believe, but for the time being it appears to have receded to the background while al-Qaeda’s affiliates and fellow travellers step to the fore.
The most prominent place where this has occurred is northern Mali, a locale that the Associated Press recently called “al-Qaeda’s new country.” Not only is this the largest territory that al-Qaeda and its affiliates now hold, but some observers believe their control is greater than it was in pre-9/11 Afghanistan. As former diplomat Robert Fowler told the Associated Press, “Al-Qaeda never owned Afghanistan. They do own northern Mali.” Concern about these developments is shared by multiple countries: As one Western diplomat put it, the perception exists that jihadi control of territory in Mali “will pose a direct threat to Europe.”
This concern brings us back to Somalia, and the model that many Western observers think we have found there. After all, for several years, Somalia looked awfully similar to how Mali looks now: the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab controlled a rather vast territory, was able to implement its harsh version of sharia law, and appeared increasingly able to carry out attacks outside the country’s borders. The most dramatic example of this was the group’s attack in Uganda that killed seventy-four in the summer of 2010.
But this year, because of several factors, al-Shabaab lost control. It badly mishandled a drought that slammed the Horn of Africa in the summer of 2011, exacerbating the crisis by accusing humanitarian organizations of trying to spread Christianity then ejecting them from areas it controlled. Further, the U.S. developed a strategy for reversing al-Shabaab’s gains that included supporting African Union counterinsurgency efforts, recruiting Somali groups to function as proxies against the extremists, building an indigenous Somali intelligence network, and employing “decapitation” strikes (often employing drones) against al-Shabaab leaders. Even Kenya got into the anti-Shabaab action, mounting its own invasion of Somalia in October, 2011.
After losing its final stronghold of Kismayo in late September, al-Shabaab is seen as being on the run – and hence, the interest in the “Somalia model.” For example, an op-ed written by a senior adviser for a communications group that counts the African Union in Somalia among its clients explicitly states that Somalia is a good model for intervention in Mali. “International intervention by proxy has become a more attractive option since the hard-won success in Somalia,” the op-ed states.
Nor are proponents of the Somalia model limited to those on the African Union payroll. As the Washington Post has reported, the Obama administration similarly believes the intervention in Somalia “could present a model for Mali.”
It is unclear precisely what the administration and commentators have in mind when they speak about drawing lessons from Somalia, though a few threads of thought are clear. One principle is that there should be no Western “boots on the ground” – although drones, special forces, and the ubiquitous “military trainers” may play a role. Other principles include local forces taking the lead in combat operations, and working multilaterally with other countries. The aforementioned UN Security Council resolution on Mali laid the groundwork for multilateral efforts there.
But the $64,000 question is how well will things turn out in Somalia? While al-Shabaab has experienced legitimately large setbacks, there are reasons for concern that the Somalia model is being oversold.
I have a database of attacks executed by al-Shabaab that begins when Kismayo was surrounded by African Union forces in late September. By the beginning of December, al-Shabaab and its sympathizers had carried out 68 reported attacks in Somalia and Kenya, with 144 killed and 300 wounded. There was a relative lull in attacks through most of the month, with the pace picking up again near the end. Attacks near the end of the month included the shooting of a Kenyan policeman in a border town, the assassination of one of the clan elders who selected the country’s National Constituent Assembly, and a clash with government troops in southwestern Somalia that killed two.
The group that al-Shabaab emerged from as a splinter, the Islamic Courts Union, lost the hold over Somalia that it gained in 2006 after Ethiopia – supported by the United States – invaded Somalia to stabilize the country’s transitional federal government. Within a couple of years, this invasion would be seen as a failure, as the Islamic Courts were able to mount an insurgency, and al-Shabaab emerged as the strongest military force in the country’s south. It is not clear that the current attacks in Somalia are similarly sharpening into an insurgency: even before the lull in attacks in mid-December, there was no discernible trend in terms of the frequency and quantity of al-Shabaab-inflicted casualties, which were not perceptibly increasing or decreasing over time. (Since I began this database only as Kismayo was falling, it offers no comparison to violence levels while al-Shabaab still controlled that city.)
In the longer term, there are reasons for both optimism and also pessimism. Perhaps the biggest reason for optimism is al-Shabaab’s mishandling of the drought. The group’s policies caused drought-stricken areas it controlled to descend into famine, leaving behind great resentment of its years of misrule. With a hat tip to Mao, this may make the population less likely to allow al-Shabaab to move amongst them as fish swim in the sea. Another reason for optimism is that al-Shabaab has experienced internal splintering during the past year that may be exacerbated following the loss of Kismayo.
But there are also reasons for pessimism. When Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006, it had the advantage of surprise, and secured most of southern Somalia in less than thirty days. In contrast, the African Union’s advance on Kismayo was gradual. Al-Shabaab retained control of territory in southern Somalia for months following its flight from Kismayo, as can be seen by the fact that Jowhar remained under al-Shabaab control as late as Dec. 9. Thus, al-Shabaab may be able to maintain some of its core strengths, and also evacuate its leadership to plan for a long-term insurgency.
We will certainly hear more about Somalia as a model in the coming months, and it may end up being seen as one. But it is worth noting that not only did the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006 appear successful for a short time – before the insurgency caught on – but so too were the success of other recent interventions greatly exaggerated at first. The Afghanistan war appeared to be a stunning success after the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance quickly displaced the Taliban following the 9/11 attacks, but preventing the Taliban’s resurgence would prove far more difficult. Even the Iraq war seemed highly successful after the rapid collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
It is possible – though not inevitable – that in several years, the current talk of Somalia as a model will appear every bit as myopic as talk in 2003 that the Iraq war was a strong precedent for the U.S. deposing further Middle Eastern dictators.
Post a Comment

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
Somalia

About Us

The Foundation is dedicated to networking like-minded Somalis opposed to the terrorist insurgency that is plaguing our beloved homeland and informing the international public at large about what is really happening throughout the Horn of Africa region.

Blog Archive

We Are Winning the War on Terrorism in Horn of Africa

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.

Terror Free Somalia Foundation