Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Is the U.S. Strategy in Somalia Working?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle assigned to the California Air National Guard's 163rd Reconnaissance Wing flies near the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California in this January 7, 2012 USAF handout photo obtained by Reuters, February 6, 2013. (U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Effrain Lopez/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. Allen is currently an officer in the Army National Guard. His interests are in Africa,
conflict, and conflict resolution.
 
 
In the last week of January news outlets reported that an American drone had conducted an unsuccessful strike against a high level al-Shabaab leader in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia. Later reports stated that the target of the strike was Ahmed Abdi Godane, the presumed current head of al-Shabaab. While the strike failed in its main mission to eliminate Godane, it and other such strikes may represent greater success for American and Somali strategies against the terrorist organization than this single unsuccessful strike.
 
 
While Godane is still alive, sources have confirmed that he was in close proximity to the attack. The U.S. military was acting on accurate intelligence, and in fact killed one of Godane’s top aides, Ahmed Abdulkadir Abdullahi, in the attack. In an apparent response to this intelligence leak al-Shabaab recently began abducting the residents of villages in the Lower Shabelle. Of even more importance they are abducting people within their own organization. Four al-Shabaab members have reportedly been arrested.
 
 
This response reflects a deterioration in the stability of al-Shabaab as an organization. The breach in their security has forced al-Shabaab to react. Their reaction has been to attack their own members and base of power, as well as residents of al-Shabaab held territories. This kind of reaction may cause a backlash against al-Shabaab by residents within their sphere of activity, and possibly even their own members.
 
 
Another successful part of the U.S. mission was just how well the American and Somali governments cooperated. According to Somali officials they were notified of the intelligence and operation prior to its execution. According to Somali government spokesman, Ridwaan Haji Abdiwali, “such operations will help Somalia to be safe from the terrorists hiding in the country.” The cooperation between the Somali government and U.S. forces is key in combating al-Shabaab.
 
 
While the future of this conflict is uncertain and it is a difficult task to combat any insurgency, it seems that U.S. forces are moving in the right direction. By creating distrust within al-Shabaab and its power base along with building stronger ties with the Somali government, the U.S. forces are conducting successful counter-insurgency operations. It will be interesting to see if the U.S. continues this strategy and if it will be able to assist in dismantling al-Shabaab in Somalia for good.
 
Firstly, let me state unequivocally that everyone with the interests of the people of Somalia close to their hearts will concur with the general thrust of this piece, namely that the defeat and destruction of Al-Shabaab as an effective military and socio-political force is essential in order to create the conditions for rebuilding the state in Somalia and rescuing its people from the anarchy, brutality, devastation and misgovernment that they have endured for far too long.
 
 
However, the article suffers from several fundamental mistakes that arise from either over simplification of complex issues, or superficial analysis that overlooks the deeper, and more intractable, consequences of US policy in Somalia. Firstly, the piece refers to Ahmed Godane as the “presumed” head of Al-Shabaab. In fact, the ructions within this organisation over the last two years or so have comprised, at their core, the assumption by Godane of absolute and undisputed control over the group in response to being driven out of Mogadishu and Kisimayo by AMISOM forces. Godane has achieved this coup d’etat within Al-Shabaab by the complete and systematic eradication of prospective and potential rivals and challenges to his rule. In this context, it is important to bear in mind that Godane has proven to be as emphatically ruthless with perceived Somali adversaries as with foreign ones; indeed Dahir Aweys chose to run for his life from Godane and turn himself over to the donor group-imposed regime of Hassan Sheikh Mohamed, and therefore to western intelligence agencies, rather than face the his rival’s wrath.
 
 
Aweys is the erstwhile Hizb-ul-Islam leader that several years earlier had threatened to “discipline this young, northern loudmouth (referring to Godane) with an iron hand” if he continued to claim sole leadership of the ‘jihadist forces’. With respect to the non-Somalis in Al-Shabaab, those that did not accept Godane’s undisputed leadership have been summarily executed, or have chosen to decamp and leave the country, usually travelling to Yemen through Puntland. The saddest example of these erstwhile foreign cadre was the sad debacle of Al-Shabaab’s former chief propagandist, Al-Ameriki, who was reduced to plaintively appealing on the internet for Al-Qaeda’s leadership to save him from Godane whom he repeatedly vowed was going to kill him. In the event, Al-Qaeda’s leadership was unable to save him and Godane did indeed murder him.
 
 
The restructuring of Al-Shabaab as a Godane owned and operated franchise is important for other reasons which the article either ignores or does not comprehend, however these are beyond the scope of this response. The piece posits that Al-Shabaab is more unstable than it was in the past because it is abducting villagers from areas it controls and it has arrested a small number of its own members for security breaches. I would posit that the organisation is more stable now than in the recent past with the leadership issue so brutally and emphatically settled in Godane’s favour. Further, making periodic examples of ‘traitors’ among the population of the areas it controls has long been an Al-Shabaab tactic, as it has been throughout history for occupation military or para-military forces that control territory against the wishes of the indigenous populations.
 
 
It is true that successful operations have been conducted against Al-Shabaab by western intelligence agencies with the help of the Somali security services, and some of these operations have relied upon Al-Shabaab cadres that have been ‘turned’, often with monetary inducements. Indeed, it would seem that such operations present a fertile approach that is likely to yield more success, given the abject, grinding poverty in Somalia and the fact that the vast majority of Al-Shabaab’s local ‘recruits’ are often very young, uneducated, poorly paid and brainwashed with narcotics and mind-control techniques. However, to conflate these singular successes and Al-Shabaab’s standard response of cruel reprisals against the local communities it occupies and controls by force and brutality is a serious mistake. Further, to determine the effectiveness of drone strikes by the alleged result of one strike that missed its target, but may have hit a much lesser ‘target’ while conflating the Al-Shabaab response as an indication of ‘instability’ or weakness borders upon the delusional.
 
 
In fact, the history of the failure of the vast majority of drone strikes to hit their targets, while killing many innocent civilians that are already suffering untold and unimaginable misery even as death is rained upon them from the skies by an unseen, unheard and unaccountable robot has created a deep and sustained animosity and anger towards US policy among the ordinary people of Somalia. This animosity and anger towards US policy has also seriously eroded the support for the UN-imposed Somali Federal Government (SFG) which has emphatically supported the drone strikes, since it cannot bite the hand that not only feeds it, but has indeed created it. The principal failing of the SFG has been that it has chosen to focus upon serving the interests of its donor-group patrons and masters rather than build a constituency among its own people by seeking to establish good governance and basic services. Thus, it has no choice but to serve as the puppet of foreigners, instead of championing the interests of its long-suffering and traumatised citizens; this completes the vicious cycle by granting some spurious legitimacy to the nihilists of Al-Shabaab.
 
 
In conclusion, it seems to many observers, especially Somali observers, that US policy or strategy in Somalia is failing if the aim is to defeat Al-Shabaab and create the conditions to rebuild Somalia as stable and functioning state. However, if the aim is to maintain a perpetual war with Al-Shabaab limited to attacking Western interests at the fringes, while the West intermittently picks off the organisation’s leaders with hit-or-miss drone strikes that continue to rain death on innocent Somali civilians unaccountably, then the US strategy can be said to be working. The question then arises of accountability; i.e. when the point will be reached where the animosity and anger of the Somali innocents hardens and migrates into retaliation and vengeance. This is the calculation made by Godane and Al-Shabaab and the US and its allies would do well to consider this zero-sum arithmetic more deeply.
 
Firstly, let me state unequivocally that everyone with the interests of the people of Somalia close to their hearts will concur with the general thrust of this piece, namely that the defeat and destruction of Al-Shabaab as an effective military and socio-political force is essential in order to create the conditions for rebuilding the state in Somalia and rescuing its people from the anarchy, brutality, devastation and misgovernment that they have endured for far too long.
 
 
However, the article suffers from several fundamental mistakes that arise from either over simplification of complex issues, or superficial analysis that overlooks the deeper, and more intractable, consequences of US policy in Somalia. Firstly, the piece refers to Ahmed Godane as the “presumed” head of Al-Shabaab. In fact, the ructions within this organisation over the last two years or so have comprised, at their core, the assumption by Godane of absolute and undisputed control over the group in response to being driven out of Mogadishu and Kisimayo by AMISOM forces. Godane has achieved this coup d’etat within Al-Shabaab by the complete and systematic eradication of prospective and potential rivals and challenges to his rule. In this context, it is important to bear in mind that Godane has proven to be as emphatically ruthless with perceived Somali adversaries as with foreign ones; indeed Dahir Aweys chose to run for his life from Godane and turn himself over to the donor group-imposed regime of Hassan Sheikh Mohamed, and therefore to western intelligence agencies, rather than face the his rival’s wrath.
 
 
Aweys is the erstwhile Hizb-ul-Islam leader that several years earlier had threatened to “discipline this young, northern loudmouth (referring to Godane) with an iron hand” if he continued to claim sole leadership of the ‘jihadist forces’. With respect to the non-Somalis in Al-Shabaab, those that did not accept Godane’s undisputed leadership have been summarily executed, or have chosen to decamp and leave the country, usually travelling to Yemen through Puntland. The saddest example of these erstwhile foreign cadre was the sad debacle of Al-Shabaab’s former chief propagandist, Al-Ameriki, who was reduced to plaintively appealing on the internet for Al-Qaeda’s leadership to save him from Godane whom he repeatedly vowed was going to kill him. In the event, Al-Qaeda’s leadership was unable to save him and Godane did indeed murder him.
 
 
The restructuring of Al-Shabaab as a Godane owned and operated franchise is important for other reasons which the article either ignores or does not comprehend, however these are beyond the scope of this response. The piece posits that Al-Shabaab is more unstable than it was in the past because it is abducting villagers from areas it controls and it has arrested a small number of its own members for security breaches. I would posit that the organisation is more stable now than in the recent past with the leadership issue so brutally and emphatically settled in Godane’s favour. Further, making periodic examples of ‘traitors’ among the population of the areas it controls has long been an Al-Shabaab tactic, as it has been throughout history for occupation military or para-military forces that control territory against the wishes of the indigenous populations.
 
 
It is true that successful operations have been conducted against Al-Shabaab by western intelligence agencies with the help of the Somali security services, and some of these operations have relied upon Al-Shabaab cadres that have been ‘turned’, often with monetary inducements. Indeed, it would seem that such operations present a fertile approach that is likely to yield more success, given the abject, grinding poverty in Somalia and the fact that the vast majority of Al-Shabaab’s local ‘recruits’ are often very young, uneducated, poorly paid and brainwashed with narcotics and mind-control techniques. However, to conflate these singular successes and Al-Shabaab’s standard response of cruel reprisals against the local communities it occupies and controls by force and brutality is a serious mistake. Further, to determine the effectiveness of drone strikes by the alleged result of one strike that missed its target, but may have hit a much lesser ‘target’ while conflating the Al-Shabaab response as an indication of ‘instability’ or weakness borders upon the delusional.
 
 
In fact, the history of the failure of the vast majority of drone strikes to hit their targets, while killing many innocent civilians that are already suffering untold and unimaginable misery even as death is rained upon them from the skies by an unseen, unheard and unaccountable robot has created a deep and sustained animosity and anger towards US policy among the ordinary people of Somalia. This animosity and anger towards US policy has also seriously eroded the support for the UN-imposed Somali Federal Government (SFG) which has emphatically supported the drone strikes, since it cannot bite the hand that not only feeds it, but has indeed created it. The principal failing of the SFG has been that it has chosen to focus upon serving the interests of its donor-group patrons and masters rather than build a constituency among its own people by seeking to establish good governance and basic services. Thus, it has no choice but to serve as the puppet of foreigners, instead of championing the interests of its long-suffering and traumatised citizens; this completes the vicious cycle by granting some spurious legitimacy to the nihilists of Al-Shabaab.
 
 
In conclusion, it seems to many observers, especially Somali observers, that US policy or strategy in Somalia is failing if the aim is to defeat Al-Shabaab and create the conditions to rebuild Somalia as stable and functioning state. However, if the aim is to maintain a perpetual war with Al-Shabaab limited to attacking Western interests at the fringes, while the West intermittently picks off the organisation’s leaders with hit-or-miss drone strikes that continue to rain death on innocent Somali civilians unaccountably, then the US strategy can be said to be working. The question then arises of accountability; i.e. when the point will be reached where the animosity and anger of the Somali innocents hardens and migrates into retaliation and vengeance. This is the calculation made by Godane and Al-Shabaab and the US and its allies would do well to consider this zero-sum arithmetic more deeply.
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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
Somalia

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