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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid