News / Africa

Somalia: Not Much Changed in 2010

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

In Somalia, 2010 saw a continuation of fighting between militant groups and the forces loyal to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).  And Somalia continued to be home to one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.

Former U.S. ambassador David Shinn says, “If you look at the total picture, the situation at the end of the year is very much like it was at the beginning of the year.”

Politics and security

“Taking the political situation first,” he says, “the one positive note is that there were many analysts during the course of the year who predicted the total collapse of the Transitional Federal Government sometime during 2010.  That didn’t happen.  So, the worst case scenario was clearly avoided.”

Somali fighter loads and cleans AK-47
Somali fighter loads and cleans AK-47

Shinn, who’s adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, says the TFG still has not made the progress it needs to make to be an effective governing body.

“On the other hand,” he says, “the opposition, mainly al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam, have been so fractured by internal problems, that although they have held their own, they haven’t been able to make the breakthrough that they tried to make, particularly with the attacks during Ramadan in Mogadishu.”

Shinn says, “I would argue that the TFG, thanks to the African Union force, AMISOM, in Mogadishu, is in a slightly better position than it was at the beginning of the year.  As I understand it, Shabab now controls only about 40 percent of Mogadishu proper, which is down from about 60 percent just a few months ago.  AMISOM has added Ugandan and [Burundian] troops to its force.  It’s up to 8,000 plus now and seems to be clearly in control of a larger section of the city.”

Humanitarian crisis

The conflict in Somalia has created what the U.N. calls one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.  The World Food Program says it’s providing food aid to two and a half million people.  It says more need assistance, but they are in areas that humanitarian workers are unable to access because of insecurity.

“If you take the humanitarian side,” says Shinn, “I think the situation is slightly worse than it was at the beginning of the year.  You have 1.5 million internally displaced persons.”

About 400,000 thousand of them fled Mogadishu and have settled in the Afgooye corridor outside of the capital.

“This is obviously not an acceptable situation,” he says.

Militants

“It’s very hard to know what is going on within al-Shabab.  There have been rumors for several months of a significant split in al-Shabab involving Mukthar Robow, who is effectively the deputy commander.  He’s denied that he has any disagreements with the al-Shabab leadership, but that denial has not been really proven yet either,” he says.

Also, Shinn says, “There clearly are factions within al-Shabab, but I think there are disagreements…on the role being played by foreign Jihadi forces -- not Somalis from the Diaspora, but non-Somalis who have Jihadi goals and are looking to create an Islamic caliphate (a caliphate refers to an early Islamic system of government).”

“I think an awful lot of supporters of al-Shabab are more nationalists and they’re really not particularly interested in that agenda.  On the other hand, the leadership of al-Shabab, who I think almost to a person tends to be very extreme.”

What’s more, he says, “There are also strange things going on between Hizbul Islam and al-Shabab.  One faction of Hizbul Islam announced a couple of days ago that it was joining al-Shabab, but it was not Hassan Dahir Aweys who made the announcement; it was another person.  There’s a lot of movement both within al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam which suggests they’ve got their own problems.”

Aweys is considered one of the more radical leaders.

2011

As for the New Year, the former ambassador says, “Over the short term, I would expect to see a continuation of the current patterns.  That is, continuing disarray – disarray may be too strong of a term – within al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam.  And very, very slight strengthening of the security situation for the Transitional Federal Government, but no solutions to their internal political problems.  The TFG has not shown that it has a vision and it has not shown that it can eliminate the differences between the executive branch and parliament.  There is no indication that parliament is in a position to resolve its internal differences.”

He says, “Looking medium term, that is, six months to a year, I am not one of those who is willing to predict a victory by the extremist forces.  I don’t think that will happen.  The bigger question is: Can the TFG get its act together? President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed is supposed to come to the end of his term at the end of January.  The mandate for the Transitional Federal Government is over as of August of 2011.”

Right now, Shinn says, the TFG shows no signs it will be “better and different” in the New Year.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid