Templates by BIGtheme NET

News in English

Kenyan al Shabaab recruits fleeing US airstrikes in Somalia – Kanyiri.

Kenyan recruits have fled Somalia following sustained US airstrikes against al Shabaab terrorists, military sources confirmed on Friday.

The recruits have been accused of spying for the US Central Intelligence Agency and others targeting the militants’ camps in Somalia.

Joseph Kanyiri, director of the Boni Enclave Campaign, said some of those running away are part of the Jaysh Ayman elite squad, made up of many Kenyans.

Kanyiri noted a multi-agency team has scaled up security along the border with Somalia to deal with armed fighters.

On Tuesday, more than 100 militants were killed on a camp 125 miles northwest of Mogadishu.

“We are aware the condition in Somalia is not conducive for them and that they have decided to flee to the country. We urge them to surrender to authorities,” he told The Star on Friday.

Somalia’s government said on Wednesday it had requested the airstrike which killed suspected militants to help pave the way for an upcoming ground offensive against al Shabaab.

“Those militants were preparing explosives and attacks. Operations against al Shabaab have been stepped up,” Abdirahman Omar Oman, the Somali minister, told Reuters.


“We have asked the US to help us from the air to make our readied ground offensive more successful.”

More on this: US airstrike kills over 100 al Shabaab militants in Somalia

Kanyiri said operations to flush al Shabaab out of Boni Forest have also affected their operations in Somalia as much destruction has taken place.

He said the operations that include airstrikes and cordons to trap the terrorists have seen security agents achieve 80 per cent of their security target.

More than 300 members of the al Qaeda-linked group have operated from the forest since 2012. They retreat to it after attacking civilians and police officers.

Sources in the military further say intelligence agencies have managed to infiltrate the al Shabaab network and have averted most of their attacks. They are also assisting the United States with its operations.

In March 2016, more than 150 fighters were killed in airstrikes by the US.

But the terror group has retaliated. In January 2016, it executed three Kenyans accused of spying for the CIA and other agencies in Somalia.

Early this year,  Kenyans Yusuf Hassan and Ahmed Nur were executed by al Shabaab’s firing squad in Buq Aqable, Hiran region. The fate of others remains unknown.

More on war: Six al Shabaab militants killed after US airstrikes in Somalia

Also read: Al Qaeda confirms senior al Shabaab commander killed in Somalia

Egypt hunts for killers after mosque attack leaves at least 235 dead.

The Egyptian military kicked off a hunt for the attackers of a Sufi mosque in the northern Sinai, a military source said, combing the area of Friday’s assault that killed at least 235 people — thought to be the deadliest terror attack on the country’s soil.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi vowed to respond to the attack on al Rawdah mosque with “brute force.” Some 109 others were injured, Egyptian state media reported.

No one has claimed responsibility, but the strike bears the hallmarks of an attack by ISIS.

The mosque is known as the birthplace of an important Sufi cleric. Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam that some ultra-orthodox Muslims consider heretical.

Bodies lie on the floor of al Rawdah mosque in the northern Sinai after a gun and bomb attack Friday.

Bodies lie on the floor of al Rawdah mosque in the northern Sinai after a gun and bomb attack Friday.

Key developments

Coordinated attack: Gunmen fired on people fleeing after explosions took place at the mosque between Bir al-Abed and the city of al-Arish. The attackers also opened fire on ambulances, witnesses said.

The target: The mosque is known for being the birthplace of Sheikh Eid al-Jariri, a Sufi cleric considered the founder of Sufism in the Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt’s reaction: The President vowed to restore security and avenge those killed.

‘Ambush’ followed blasts

Blasts from improvised explosive devices caused considerable damage to the mosque, Ahram Online said.

The attack started when an explosive went off in a building adjacent to the mosque, and gunmen fired at worshippers as they fled, eyewitnesses told CNN.

Ashraf Abu Salem 27, said gunmen then went inside the mosque to fire at people. Entering the mosque afterward, he said the bodies looked as if people had been shot in the back. His clothes were stained with the blood of the injured he helped to carry out, but he was unharmed.

The gunmen had set up “ambush” locations and opened fire on ambulances as they were transporting wounded worshippers to al-Arish before the arrival of security services, eyewitnesses reported.

Photos from inside the mosque showed what appeared to be bodies lined up in rows on the carpet.

Osama, who didn’t want his last name used, drove one of the first ambulances to the scene. He said he turned around after shots were fired at the vehicle. Ambulances from al-Arish managed to reach the mosque only after security forces secured the road, he said.

The attackers used automatic weapons, said Diaa Rashwan, the chairman of the state information service. Some victims were also killed by the explosions.

Three days of national mourning

In a short, televised speech after meeting with security officials, Sisi said, “We will respond to this act with brute force against these terrorists. This terrorist act will strengthen our resolve, steadfastness and will to stand up to, resist and battle against terrorism.”

The presidency has declared three days of national mourning.

“Egypt is facing terrorism on behalf of the region and the world,” Sisi said.

Injured people are taken to the hospital after the mosque attack Friday.

Injured people are taken to the hospital after the mosque attack Friday.

Sisi met with several of his top ministers, according to the Ministry of Interior Facebook page. He affirmed his confidence that Egypt is capable of winning the war against terrorism and eradicating it, a spokesman said.

Sisi has expressed concern recently that as ISIS militants flee Iraq and Syria they will come to Egypt.

Ahmed Al-Tayeb, a top Sunni imam, told a nationwide television audience that the Al-Azhar Mosque supports the country’s leadership and the military against the terrorism groups, which he said have a false understanding of Islam.

He said the terrorists killed innocent people, did not distinguish between children, youth or elders, and the attack was a war crime.

Hints of ISIS responsibility

There is no word yet on what happened to the militants involved.


US airstrike kills over 100 militants in Somalia.

The United States military has confirmed that over 100 Islamist militants were killed in an airstrike launched against the al-Shabaab group inSomalia.

A U.S. defense official said that the strike on an al-Shabaab training camp was carried out by a manned aircraft, CNN reported.

The military’s Africa Command said that the strike was carried out on a camp 125 miles northwest of the capital, Mogadishu.

The Defense Department now has 500 personnel, including military, civilians and contractors, in Somalia.

The personnel are part of the effort to support African forces fighting al-Shabaab as well as the ISIS forces there.

Al-Shabaab has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and is dedicated to providing safe haven for terrorist attacks throughout the world.

According to the reports, Al Shabaab is fighting to topple Somalia‘s Western-backed transitional federal government and impose its own rule on the Horn of Africa country.

There have been 29 strikes acknowledged by the Pentagon so far this year. Seven of those strikes took place between November 9 and 14. (ANI)

China contributes US$2 million toward UNICEF’s humanitarian response in Somalia.

As the devastating drought in Somalia shows no sign of ending, UNICEF’s lifesaving work for women and children has received a boost from the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

A contribution of US$2 million will help UNICEF reach 15,000 young children who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, in the southern and central regions.

The humanitarian crisis, which was triggered by the failure of consecutive rainy seasons, has led to massive displacement, disease outbreaks and malnutrition, with 6.2 million people – half of the country’s population – now in need of humanitarian assistance. Some four million of them are children.

“Through UNICEF, we hope to reach the affected populations, especially those in remote places, with lifesaving services,” said the Chinese Ambassador to Somalia, Qin Jian. “We are committed to supporting the humanitarian response led by the Somali Government, and pleased to be working with UNICEF to ensure the needs of the most vulnerable group – children and women – are met. Together, we can to help the Somali people go through this difficult time.”

Since the beginning of 2017, UNICEF, working through implementing partners, has provided treatment for severe acute malnutrition to over 200,000 children, nearly all of whom recovered. However, the needs remain immense. Over the next year, UNICEF estimates there could be more than 230,000 children with severe acute malnutrition.

The funding will help to treat the 15,000 children with a therapeutic peanut-based paste. The supplies will be distributed at facilities and mobile sites as part of an integrated package of health, nutrition and water and sanitation services for people in the most affected areas. Some 120,000 children and their mothers are covered under the integrated services approach.

“Thanks to the generous joint response by the international community, we have managed to avert a famine so far,” said UNICEF Representative, Steven Lauwerier. “However, sustained assistance is needed throughout 2018 to prevent the loss of lives and the collapse of livelihoods.

The timely aid from the Chinese Government and the Chinese people will go a long way towards saving children’s lives. We hope this will be the beginning of a long and productive partnership between China and UNICEF in Somalia.”

President of Somalia visits Wahat Al Karama.

President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, Monday visited Abu Dhabi’s Wahat Al Karama, the national landmark built to immortalise the sacrifices of the UAE’s brave heroes.

President Farmajo was received by Sheikh Khalifa bin Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Director of The Martyrs’ Families’ Affairs Office at the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court.

The visit began with the Honor Guard performing a ceremony, after which President Farmajo laid a wreath before the Memorial, the monument made up of 31 massive aluminum panels leaning on one another to symbolise solidarity between the people and the leadership of the UAE.

Accompanied by Sheikh Khalifa bin Tahnoun, the President of Somalia toured the site’s prominent areas. He concluded his visit by signing the visitors’ log and lauded the UAE’s heroes for their noble sacrifices and inspiring bravery in the face of adversity.

AD CP hosts Somali President.

ABU DHABI: His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received on Monday at Al Shai Palace, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who is currently on a visit to the UAE.

Sheikh Mohamed welcomed the Somali President and his accompanying delegation and discussed fraternal relations and ways to enhance them in the best interest of the two fraternal countries.

Sheikh Mohamed and the President of Somalia reviewed issues of joint interest, especially development issues, development, humanitarian and charitable projects , and reconstruction projects implemented by the UAE to carry out the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to support the fraternal Somali people.

They discussed cooperation and coordinating efforts to fight terrorism, violence, armed groups and joint work to preserve security and stability in the Somali territories.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Mohamed was briefed by the Somali President on the latest developments in Somalia, the government’s efforts to implement development programmes and efforts in combating terrorism, extremism, violence, terrorist groups and terrorist organisations.

While speaking with the Somali President, Sheikh Mohamed emphasised that the UAE continues its approach aimed at supporting the Somali people to build its national institutions and preserve its security and stability. Sheikh Mohamed wished progress and development, cooperation and solidarity for the people of Somalia to continue building and reconstruction as well as achieve aspirations, security and stability.

The Somali President extended thanks and appreciation to the UAE stances and continued support for Somalia, which notably contributed to restoring normalcy, stability and development to life of the Somalis in a number of areas.


Sheikh Mohamed also received Mikhail Bogdanov, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Envoy, at Qasr Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Mohamed welcomed Bogdanov and discussed with him bilateral relations and ways to enhance them, to serve the common interests of the two friendly countries.

The two sides also discussed means to develop cooperation, particularly in political, economic and investment affairs, as well regional and international developments.


Somaliland’s ruling party candidate declared election winner.

The ruling party candidate in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Somaliland has been declared the winner of the presidential election but the opposition claims irregularities in the vote.

The electoral commission says Muse Bihi Abdi of the Kulmiye party won 55 percent of votes counted while Abdirahman Irro of the Wadani opposition got 40 percent.

Hundreds of ruling party supporters have taken to the streets while soldiers stand guard across Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital.

Electoral officials call the election the first in Africa to use iris-scan biometric technology to prevent anyone from voting more than once. The vote was monitored by a British-funded team of 60 international observers from 27 countries.

Somaliland declared unilateral independence from Somalia in 1991. Some voters hope the election will help the push for international recognition.


Read more here: http://www.islandpacket.com/news/nation-world/world/article185776193.html#storylink=cpy

After Huge Truck Bombings, U.S. Steps Up Attacks Against Somali Militants.

The United States has sharply increased attacks against Qaeda-backed Shabab militants in Somalia in recent days, conducting a flurry of airstrikes in the wake of the country’s deadliest terrorist assault last month and President Trump’s approval of new military authorities to hunt down insurgents around the world.

In a five-day stretch beginning Nov. 9, American drones and warplanes carried out six strikes against Shabab fighters outside Mogadishu, the Somali capital, and one strike against Islamic State combatants — one-quarter of the 28 strikes in the country this year. Last year, the military’s Africa Command said it conducted a total of 15 strikes in Somalia.

The strikes by armed American drones, which Pentagon officials said killed more than 40 fighters, came a month after a double truck bombing in Mogadishu left more than 380 people dead, and more than 300 others injured.

While no group has claimed the truck attacks, analysts suspect the Shabab, Somali-based militants who have terrorized the country and East Africa for years but who in recent years have lost much of their territory. The setbacks have been the result of attacks by African Union forces, a fitfully improving Somali Army and increasing American air power.

The Trump administration has redoubled its campaign to defeat the Shabab, but the group has proved to be a potent and resilient killing force.

As a result, the Pentagon in the past year has doubled the number of troops in Somalia to about 500, many of which are Special Operations forces dispatched to train and advise Somali army and counterterrorism troops, and conduct clandestine kill-or-capture raids of their own.

It is the largest American military presence in the Horn of Africa nation since the Black Hawk Down battle in 1993, when 18 Army soldiers died.

The military’s secretive Joint Special Operations Command has been particularly effective in building informant networks that lead to strikes. In turn, cellphones, laptop computers and documents captured after strikes generate information for additional attacks.

Mr. Trump gave the military wider latitude this year to go after militants in Somalia, specifically those associated with the Shabab. The head of the Africa Command, Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, waited months before exercising the authorities, citing the difficulty of striking militants who are mixed with a civilian population that is on the move in the midst of a regional famine.

“What’s going on now reflects the Trump administration’s desire to dial up the U.S. military effort, which has been increasing quietly for several months, combined with Shabab’s apparent intent to fight back as hard as it can,” said Michael R. Shurkin, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and former C.I.A. analyst. “I just pray we’re bombing the right people.”

Africa Command officials have investigated a handful of reports of civilian casualties in Somalia, but insist that the vast majority of strikes have targeted only insurgents.

The deadly attack in Mogadishu last month spurred more aggressive strikes by the United States, which is working closely with Somali and other African forces on the ground, security analysts said.

Tricia Bacon, a Somalia specialist at American University in Washington and a former State Department counterterrorism analyst, said the increase in strikes was probably the result of “better and more actionable intelligence,” meaning fresh tips about insurgents that commandos can act on immediately.

Pentagon officials sought last week to play down any notion of a major American troop buildup or escalating operations in Somalia. They said it was more of a coincidence earlier this month that multiple painstaking efforts to identify, track and kill specific Shabab militants — without hurting civilians — all came together within a few days.

“There’s no particular rhythm to it, except that as they become available and as we’re able to process them and vet them, we strike them,” Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the director of the military’s Joint Staff, told reporters last week.

General McKenzie acknowledged that initial strikes can cause surviving militants to flee, making them more vulnerable to attack and creating a kind of chain reaction. “A strike produces movement, and other targets become available,” he said.

Samantha Reho, a spokeswoman for the Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, said, “We’ve always stressed the importance of putting pressure on the network.”

The intensifying operations have carried risks for American forces. In May, a Navy SEAL commando carrying out a raid with Somali troops was killed in an attack against Shabab fighters.

Shabab militants are not the only extremists the United States is now striking in Somalia. The American military bombed Islamic State fighters in northern Somalia for the first time on Nov. 3, and again on Nov. 12, a sign that the air campaign against the group was expanding after recent battlefield successes against the insurgents in Iraq and Syria.

A militant faction loyal to the Islamic State has increased its ranks in northern Somalia to as many as 200 fighters this year from a few dozen last year, according to a United Nations report issued this month. The increased militancy in the north has raised concerns among analysts that it could offer sanctuary for Islamic State militants fleeing defeat in Iraq or Syria.

The increasing number of American airstrikes in Somalia has prompted some analysts, as well as Somalis, to voice concerns over the risks of civilian casualties, which could feed into the Shabab’s anti-Western propaganda.

“Should civilian casualties happen, it’s to the advantage of the Shabab,” said Abdirahman Hassan Omar, a lawyer based in Mogadishu.

In recent weeks, the American military’s presence across Africa has come under rigorous scrutiny. A team of Green Berets and support soldiers was ambushed, along with more than two dozen Nigerien troops, on Oct. 4 near the border of Niger and Mali by militants believed to be associated with the Islamic State. Four American soldiers were killed.

In June, a Special Forces soldier, Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar, was found dead in his room in Bamako, Mali. It is unclear exactly how he died, but naval authorities are investigating whether two commandos from the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 strangled him.

Scarred by Islamist terrorism & civil war, Somalia is failing to feed 6.7mn citizens.

At the start of 2017, Somalia required $1.5 billion to reach 5.5 million people at risk of famine. The total number of people in Somalia in need of humanitarian assistance rose by 500,000 between 2016 and 2017, from 6.2 million to 6.7 million, according to figures from the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit.

At present, 3.2 million people face “Crisis and Emergency” levels of food insecurity as a result of drought, internal displacement through conflict, and a sustained bombing campaign by Al-Shabaab militants. On a global scale, one in every 110 people is currently displaced by violence, famine, or persecution, the worst such displacement in human history, including both World Wars.

READ MORE: Conflict pushes 20mn to brink of starvation: RT primer on global famine, interview with WFP (VIDEO)

In addition, Somalia is also facing its worst outbreak of cholera in five years as a direct result of the forced movement of people and a subsequent lack of adequate hygiene and water facilities.

So far in 2017, there have been 38,000 cases and approximately 683 deaths from cholera. Somalia is also facing a measles outbreak which has affected over 7,000 people this year, 65 percent of whom are under the age of five.

These figures were expected to be compounded by the rainy season and projected flooding in several regions of the country. However, thus far, the rains have underperformed, compared with neighbors Ethiopia and Sudan, who have both experienced flooding.

One million people have already fled to neighboring Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and even Yemen, which is facing its own famine crisis, Oxfam reports.

Persistent and recurring cycles of violence have prevented Somalia from establishing and maintaining any kind of coherent and functioning transport, agricultural, and sanitation infrastructure.

Al-Shabaab militants have carried out 71 attacks that have claimed the lives of 784 people so far in 2017. The deadliest twin attacks took place on October 14 and claimed over 300 lives marking the worst terrorist bomb attack in Somali history.

For context, there were a total of 395 IED attacks in Somalia throughout 2016 which killed 723 and wounded over 1,100, which marked a 110 percent increase from 2015. While the number of attacks decreased, the overall intensity of the explosives used and the destructive consequences greatly increased, further destabilizing an already precarious security situation and exacerbating the country’s multiple humanitarian crises.

Somalia never really stabilized for any great period of time following the unification of Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland in to form the Somali Republic on July 1, 1960. Immediately after the assassination of former President Shermarke on October 15, 1969, Mohamed Siad Barre led a military coup which seized power. Siad Barre was viewed as a dictator by many and ruled with an iron fist while declaring Somalia a “Scientific Socialist” state.

“When I came to Mogadishu…[t]here was one road built by the Italians. If you try to force me to stand down, I will leave the city as I found it. I came to power with a gun; only the gun can make me go,” Siad Barre said, as quoted by Mohamed Diriye Abdullahi in his book,Culture and customs of Somalia.”

Barre ruled Somalia from 1969 to 1991 but was overthrown and exiled by militias. The power vacuum left by the collapse of the military junta shortly thereafter has led to an ongoing system of tribalism, with North Somalia, or Somaliland, cutting ties with the South and the Puntland region following suit.

The fractured clan politics within the country, combined with a dearth of natural resources, led to increased competition for power and resources, allowing Islamist extremists to take hold as just another faction vying for control.

“Clans form the bedrock of Somali society and identity, but political exploitation of their rivalries has blocked every attempt at peace since Somalia collapsed into war in 1991,” Reuters reported in 2011.

Since 1991, Somalia has experienced at least seven periods of famine resulting from droughts. Concurrently, Somalia has been in a state of civil war between rival factions, clans, and insurgents since the collapse of the Siad Biare government in January 1991.

Apart from Somalia’s two main rainy seasons – ‘Gu’ from April to June and ‘Deyr’ from October to the end of November – the country experiences relatively little precipitation. When these rainy seasons fail, as is the case so far in 2017, both agriculture and pastoral industries collapse as inflation precludes the vast majority of the population from buying food.

Already this year, the ‘Gu’ rains failed to meet expectations, leading to a low harvest in one of the main bread baskets in the country’s south, the vast majority of which is under the control of Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab.

“Because of the increase in food prices, [the famine] has been a boon for al-Shabaab’s recruitment campaign because when you don’t have purchasing power to buy the food, you will be encouraged to be recruited because then you will be saved, and you can use that salary or you could be given food,” Bruno Geddo of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Somalia said of the 2011 famine that killed an estimated 260,000 people. Little has changed in the interim.

Source: rt.

AMISOM: A Decade into the Fight Against Al Shabaab.

The multinational peacekeeping force known as AMISOM has been losing the momentum in its battle against al Shabaab in Somalia, as evidenced by the massive Oct. 14th truck bomb that killed more than 350 people in the capital Mogadishu. While AMISOM – the African Union Mission in Somalia – was initially successful in rooting out the group from southern Somalia, it can’t address the root cause that has given al Shabaab purchase on the population: a weak Somali central government that is still unable to provide services or security to its people.

  • Somalia’s struggle with Islamist insurgencies dates back to the early 1990s when the country broke out into civil war.
  • Al Shabaab, meaning “the youth,” was formed in 2006, was designated by the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in March 2008, and officially pledged allegiance to al Qaeda in 2012.

AMISOM has been spearheading the campaign against al Shabaab since its establishment in January 2007. A regional peacekeeping mission comprised of forces from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, AMISOM was initially granted a six-month mandate by the UN and the African Union’s Peace and Security Council to provide stability in Somalia and support the country’s national reconciliation government.

  • The mission’s tenure has been consistently extended over the course of the last decade as Somalia’s central government has been mired in political turmoil, and the Somali military has failed to ameliorate a deteriorating security situation.
  • In mid-August, the United Nations authorized AMISOM to maintain troops in Somalia until June 2018 but required it to reduce its personnel in the country to a maximum of 21,626 by the end of this calendar year.
  • According to AMISOM’s mandate, its main objectives include reducing the threat posed by Al Shabaab by conducting operations against the terrorist organization, providing security to enable the political process in Somalia as well as to focus on stabilization efforts, reconciliation and peacebuilding in the country, and enabling the gradual handing over of security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali security forces.

During its first five years, AMISOM did achieve a certain level of success in the battle against al Shabaab.

Ambassador James C. Swan, U.S.
Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

“Between 2007 and 2012, AMISOM largely achieved its core objectives.  AMISOM forces secured the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), allowing time for needed changes in leadership and then the replacement of the TFG by a new Federal Government of Somalia. AMISOM troops recaptured much of Southern Somalia that had been administratively controlled by al Shabaab, gradually extending the government’s presence from what as late as 2010 was still just a toe-hold in Mogadishu.”

By 2012, AMISOM had managed to push al Shabaab out of its major strongholds in southern Somalia, including the port city of Kismayo, where the group had established its de facto capital, leading analysts to conclude that al Shabaab was on the brink of defeat.

Grant Harris, Former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs

“It is a testament to the region that AMISOM has been as successful as it has in combating al Shabaab. I recall years ago when the Somali transitional government controlled only a few city blocks in Mogadishu. Since that time, regional forces have increased the strength and success of AMISOM and given a new government the chance to start building its security institutions.”

Nevertheless, al Shabaab managed to rebound and transform into an enduring regional threat. Since the group vacated Kismayo, it has carried out regular, large-scale attacks against military and civilian targets throughout the Horn of Africa, including the September 2013 shooting spree at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which left 68 people dead and 175 wounded, and the April 2015 massacre at Kenya’s Garissa University, which left nearly 150 people dead.

Cheryl Sim, Former Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa

“There continues to be a misperception that AMISOM and the SNA defeated al Shabaab in Mogadishu in August 2011 during what was referred to at that time as the Ramadan offensive. Rather than being defeated in the traditional sense on the battle field, al Shabaab made a tactical decision to withdraw its forces from the city instead of continuing to try to hold territory through conventional fighting.”

Today, AMISOM is confronted with the same challenge it faced during its inception: how to prop up a weak central Somali government while simultaneously battle an escalating terrorist adversary. This daunting task, combined with a recent uptick in the number of al Shabaab-orchestrated attacks, has tarnished AMISOM’s accomplishments over the years.

Cheryl Sim, Former Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa

“AMISOM has also been hampered by unrealistic expectations placed on it by Somalis and the international community to engage in governance activities, including civic action and other humanitarian type activities, that should be the purview of the Federal Government of Somalia and the regional governments. The mission is not equipped or funded to carry out these activities.”

In essence, AMISOM’s battlefield successes have been undercut by the failure of the Somali central government to exert authority, provide critical services and win the hearts and minds of the local Somali population.

  • The continued deployment of foreign troops in Somalia through AMISOM, including from country’s that have previously clashed with Somalia, such as Ethiopia, has sparked some tension in Somalia, which al Shabaab has incorporated into its propaganda. An opportunistic organization, “Al Shabaab has always played upon the pragmatic, local and political equation to survive and operate,” Bronwyn Bruton, Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, told the Cipher Brief last month.
  • For AMISOM to ultimately achieve its objective of facilitating peace and stability in Somalia, the solution does not solely reside in military operations. AMISOM’s presence in Somali has offered some semblance of stability, but it ultimately remains in the hands of the Somali central government to shoulder the burden to achieve a lasting peace.

Ambassador James C. Swan, U.S.
Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

“Five years on, AMISOM is bedevilled by the challenges that confront any fighting force in a protracted counter-insurgency campaign: ultimately the keys to victory are political and developmental, not just military. Since its inception, AMISOM’s mission has afforded time and space for Somalis to build effective military, police and intelligence capacity that could protect government administration in areas recaptured from al Shabaab. Yet, efforts to bolster Somali security forces have been hindered by sluggish cooperation between the central government and the federated states, and by insufficient alignment and coordination among external security partners. Meanwhile, even in areas they hold, the central government and federated states struggle to administer territory, provide basic services and overcome a decades-long legacy of corruption and mismanagement of state institutions. These weaknesses create openings that al Shabaab continues to exploit.”

Bennett Seftel is deputy director of analysis at The Cipher Brief. Follow him on Twitter @BennettSeftel.