The new dangerous embodiment of al-Shabaab

The latest signal of the al-Shabaab operational resurgence in the Horn of Africa has come us Tuesday through the news that for the first time jihadist have reached the northern part of the Somali coast, until now relatively stable. The radical Islamic movement would have taken control of Garad, in Puntland, in northern Somalia. The port town has been for some time a refuge for pirates, where throwing the raids against commercial ships passing along the routes of the Red Sea.

Al-Shabaab militants. Photo credits AFP

Then, the international naval effort has largely driven the Somali pirates’ away and returned control of Garad to its original inhabitants, who now came under the grip of Somali Islamist fanatics, which in the early days of February also regained the coastal stronghold of Merca, with its strategic port.

All this, testifies to the attempt to re-launch of al-Shabaab after a long season of setbacks and defeats suffered by AMISOM, the African Union Mission in Somalia, which after inflicting severe blows to the jihadist group in recent months is showing do not have the strength to defeat him.

Repeated attacks against civilian and military

Somali extremists still control most of the peripheral areas in the south of the country, while maintaining the ability to carry out deadly attacks on a large scale to raise tension in the run-up to the presidential elections, which will be held next summer.

In recent months, Islamist insurgents have hit three AMISOM military bases. In the order, the attacks have taken place against the Lego compound, located one hundred kilometers north-west of Mogadishu, where last June 26 more than thirty Burundian soldiers lost their lives.

This episode was followed by the assault carried out by insurgents against the base in the town of Janale, in the Lower Shabele region, that is 80 kilometers from Mogadishu, where last September first, fifty Ugandans ‘green helmets’ were killed.

The last Shabaab’s attack against an AMISOM contingent has been pulled off on January 15 at the base of Elade, near the town of Ceel Cadde, in the south-west of Somalia, about 550 kilometers from Mogadishu, where lost their lives at least one hundred Kenyans soldiers.

Last February 26, the Somali extremists have also hit civilians’ targets raiding the hotel Somali Youth League, in the center of Mogadishu, where they killed twenty people. Only two days later, another attack has shocked Baidoa, Somalia’s second largest city, about 260 kilometers north-west of Mogadishu, where thirty people were killed.

AMISOM Weaknesses

The day following the carnage carried out by al-Shabaab in Baidoa, the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies in Mogadishu has published a report on the political and military situation in Somalia. The study states that the AMISOM alone cannot defeat the Islamist rebels and will not be able to achieve its objectives until Somali forces will not increase their efficiency in the fight against jihadist group.

According to experts who carried out the study, it is very unlikely that in the short-term Somali army and police are capable of operating in an inclusive way. To influence, are also disputes between the different Somali factions that prevent the creation of a solid structure capable of supporting AMISOM.

The report also warns that the wage of the soldiers of the peacekeeping mission could soon be reduced, after the decision of the European Union and the United Nations to cut by 20% funding for African multinational force.

The US airstrike at camp Raso

While AMISOM no longer seem able to exercise an effective fight against Somali rebels, last March 5, a US air raid, conducted with the help of unmanned drones, destroyed the ‘Raso’ training camp, about 200 kilometers north of Mogadishu, killing at least 150 militants.

The airstrike was carried out to neutralize the threat of an imminent attack on US Special Forces deployed in Somalia, reported by US intelligence.

Some analysts argue that the Somali jihadist movement is trying to show, in the most lethal way, all its relevance in the Horn of Africa to counter the attempt to look for converts inside it, operated in recent months by the Islamic State.

Yet so far, the ISIS group was able to push through its ranks only a small faction of al-Shabaab fighters led by Abdul Qadir Mumin, one of the spiritual leaders of the group. This confirms that al-Shabaab will continue to preserve its historical ties to al-Qaeda, remains largely focused about the Somali issues and refusing the ideological globalist implications of the Caliphate.


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