News / Africa

Militant al-Shabab Fighters Bear Down on Somali Capital Mogadishu

Mariama Diallo

A top United Nations official, Lynn Pascoe, the U.N. under-secretary-general for political affairs, says he is "hopeful" for Somalia, where the government is trying to fight off an offensive by Islamist militants. This comes as Uganda is offering to send more troops to the beleaguered nation if the United States provides funding.

The militant group al-Shabab in late August launched an offensive aimed at toppling Somalia's Transitional Federal Government and the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia know as AMISOM. Mogadishu has come under heavy shelling. More than 100 people are dead.

Uganda says it will send more troops if the United States provides more funding. The State Department has responded by saying it will continue to provide equipment, training and logistical support, and encourages other donors to step forward with additional help.

Walid Phares from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies says the U.S. is already doing too much in other parts of the world. "We are now overseeing the withdrawal of troops in Iraq. We are engaged in escalation in Afghanistan. There is an issue of concern in Yemen just across from Somalia," Phares said.

But given the urgency of the present situation, Phares proposes an alternative. "Let's keep in mind that Somalia is a member of the Arab League. So we need a lot of financial support from the oil rich countries Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait…all the emirates. They have to pour in some money if they consider Somalia as a member of the Arab League," Pharea said.

Author Bronwyn Bruton, who writes regularly about the Horn of Africa and visited Somalia in April, advocates what she calls a new approach to Somalia. "The Shabab appear to be a very unified and directed organization, but, in fact, it's a very loose conglomeration of a lot kinds of people. Currently they are unified to get rid of Amisom, the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia and the TFG, the Transitional Federal Government, but without that unifying purpose, there is actually not a lot of cohesion there," Bruton said.

Bruton adds that some fears about al-Shabab are unrealistic. "These fears we have about the Shabab becoming the new Taliban in East Africa are very much overblown…. In this particular situation, it's worth asking if we didn't have this sort of artificial government in name only sitting in Mogadishu, then would the Shabab have a nationalistic reason to attack outside of the country," Bruton said.

But a spokesman for the Ugandan Army, Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye, says critics should not be so harsh on the TFG. "I mean, how can it be capable when it is just building from scratch? And dealing with an international terrorist group that is being funded by remnants in Afghanistan and Pakistan," said Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye.

Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed continues to enjoy U.N. support, but Kulayigye says the U.N. must do more. "One may ask why the U.N. appointed a permanent person for Darfur, for DRC, for Burundi, but there is no permanent person for Somalia. Isn't that a bit suspicious?," Kulayigye said.

Walid Phares from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies says something drastic has to be done because of repercussions for the Horn of Africa region. "What they need to do is the crafting of political national unity even with forces they don't agree on everything with… The second stage is for the United States to be very active not just with the government but with non government organizations with popular organizations in Somalia. That's the best we can do at this time," Phares said.

 

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

Studies point to possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More