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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid