News / Africa

    Puntland Instability Underscores Somali Militants' Staying Power

    Puntland forces are seen heading toward the Galgala mountains, where al-Shabab militants are said to be operating (file photo).Puntland forces are seen heading toward the Galgala mountains, where al-Shabab militants are said to be operating (file photo).
    x
    Puntland forces are seen heading toward the Galgala mountains, where al-Shabab militants are said to be operating (file photo).
    Puntland forces are seen heading toward the Galgala mountains, where al-Shabab militants are said to be operating (file photo).
    Gabe Joselow
    NAIROBI - Al-Shabab militants attacked this week an army post in the Galgala mountains of Puntland, killing at least 10 soldiers, in one of the deadliest strikes by the group in months.
     
    The attack underscored the growing presence of al-Shabab in northeastern Somalia and the real security threat still posed by the militants.
     
    After being defeated by African Union, Ethiopian and Kenyan forces in the south, and expelled from the commercial hub of Kismayo in October, the militants have reportedly been seeking refuge in the mountainous regions of Puntland.

    Challenges
     
    Abdullahi Ali Barre, a businessman and politician from Puntland says the regional government does not have the military capability to confront the militants in this terrain.
     
    “Galgala is more or less like Afghanistan. It's like Tora Bora. It's very difficult to enter. And I don't think they have the equipment or aircraft for the government of Puntland to get into Galgala, so what is actually required right now is to get assistance from the international community.”
     
    The United Nations monitoring group report on Somalia released earlier this year says al-Shabab has joined forces with local militias in Puntland and has received financial and material support from local business owners.
     
    Local supporters
     
    One of the biggest supporters, according to the U.N. report, is a former warlord named Mohammed Said Atom, who helped to broker arms deals for the militants.
     
    Chairman of the Somali Justice and Development Party and a key political figure in Puntland, Ali Abdullahi says without a strong judiciary in place, Atom's influence has gone unchecked.
     
    “He's a mercenary who's hired by whoever gives him funds and weapons. He's a criminal and criminality has to have justice brought onto it. The problem we have in Puntland is there is no justice.”
     
    Abdullahi says one of the biggest problems in Puntland is the lack of governance, which he blames on regional President Adbirahman Mohamed Farole.
     
    He says Farole has shown a lack of leadership for the region's security forces, prompting police officials to resign.

    Signs of collusion
     
    Abdullahi also accuses the U.S.-trained Puntland Intelligence Service (PIS) of colluding with al-Shabab.
     
    “So this is the issue which I think the U.S. government must look at, at how the PIS is funded and at the operational activities and how that funding is used and where that equipment goes to, because the guys who were fighting recently in the Galgala mountains were using night-vision goggles. Where did they get this from?”
     
    Claims that al-Shabab used night vision goggles or that they are working with the PIS could not be independently verified.
     
    Security remains a huge challenge not only in Puntland, but in the rest of Somalia as well, which was left with a dysfunctional national army after more than 20 years of civil war.
     
    Somali political analyst Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamed says without better security forces in place, al-Shabab will continue to operate throughout the country.
     
    “As long as governments are not willing to train the security apparatus, then they are there. They are in Mogadishu, they are in Kismayo, as we talk right now, they are in Puntland, they are in Somaliland. They have a strong network.”
     
    The African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, AMISOM, credited with bringing relative security to Mogadishu and other parts of the country, is to begin training the Somali National Army next month.
     
    Still, al-Shabab has shown, with the recent assault in Puntland, and attacks in the town of Jowhar outside of the capital, the group still presents a serious security threat.

    You May Like

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora