News / Africa

Observers Struggle to Explain al-Shabab Withdrawal from Mogadishu

Some analysts speculate insurgent move is a ploy to take the battle to more advantageous terrain outside the city

Al-Shabab fighters march with their guns during military exercises on the outskirts of Mogadishu (File)
Al-Shabab fighters march with their guns during military exercises on the outskirts of Mogadishu (File)

Multimedia

Audio
  • Interview with Ken Menkhaus-Political Science Professor Davidson College

A few days ago, the Somali insurgent group al-Shabab announced a surprise withdrawal from the capital, Mogadishu. The group said its decision was a “tactical move” that would allow it to redeploy fighters to other parts of the country.  But the transitional federal government, whose power is mostly confined to the capital, says the retreat is a defeat for the al-qaeda linked group.

The sudden withdrawal from Mogadishu has many observers speculating about the change in strategy.

Ken Menkhaus, a professor of political science at Davidson College in North Carolina, said “there are competing interpretations right now. Some claim it’s a result of the defeat of al-Shabab at the hands of the offensive by the AU force and TFG and other militia…”

Others say the withdrawal is a ploy to take the battle to more advantageous ground outside the city. This, they say, would make the AU and aid agencies more vulnerable to attacks.

“There is no guarantee,” said Menkhaus, “that al-Shabab has not held back some [of its] operatives who will engage in assassination attempts and other attacks designed to stall the relief agencies.”

Menkhaus says the group could be changing strategy to a more effective “symmetrical urban guerilla warfare.”

This entails shifting forces to the south where they can get assistance. Earlier offensives by AU forces had pushed al-Shabab from the popular Bakara Market which many consider to be the nerve center of Somali business. According to Menkhaus, the loss dealt a blow the group because the market was a major source of revenue for the insurgents.

Others speculate divisions within al-Shabab’s leadership are responsible for the weakening of the group. Earlier reports of a widening rift between key militia leaders are said to have been the reason for the continued survival for the embattled Transitional Federal Government which was operating from within the AU forces compound.

Menkhaus said the group is divided on strategy and has taken a beating as a result of its handling of the famine.

The withdrawal has taken pressure off of African Union forces, allowing them to expand their area of control in the capital. Aid agencies also see this as an opportunity to reach more people affected by the famine.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid