News / Africa

    Security Gaps Leave Room for al-Shabab Resurgence

    What's Behind the Resurgence of al-Shabab?i
    X
    March 03, 2014 3:04 PM
    The al-Qaida linked militant group al-Shabab has struck at the heart of the Somali government with a string of attacks in Mogadishu. Long thought to be on the defensive, the recent strikes and a fresh recruitment drive point to a resurgence of one of Africa's most feared terrorist groups. East Africa correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
    What's Behind the Resurgence of al-Shabab?

    Related Articles

    Gabe Joselow
    The al-Qaida linked militant group al-Shabab has struck at the heart of the Somali government with a string of suicide attacks in Mogadishu. The recent strikes and a fresh recruitment drive point to a resurgence of one of Africa's most feared terrorist groups.  
     
    Three years ago, the end of al-Shabab was thought to be in sight.
     
    The group had been driven out of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, by the African Union force AMISOM, and was losing its grip on cities across the country.  
     
    But then the fighting stopped. AMISOM has not taken any new ground from the militants since 2012, when Kenyan troops, later integrated into the AU force, took control of the port city of Kismayo.
     
    During the lull in fighting, the group has only become more dangerous.
     
    Suicide attacks against government targets in Mogadishu, like the February assault on the presidential palace that killed 17 people, have exposed security weaknesses in the capital.
     
    While last year's days-long siege on the Westgate Shopping mall in the Kenyan capital showed al-Shabab remains a serious terrorist threat to the region.
     
    International Crisis Group Horn of Africa project director Cedric Barnes says the militants have also been adding to their ranks.
     
    "They did do a lot of recruitment in the wider region over the past few years, there were several recruitment drives during 2013 both inside Somalia and elsewhere.  So we do not think they lack recruits at all," said Barnes.   
     
    Meantime, the federal government has been unable to provide services in areas under militant control, which gives al-Shabab leverage over the populations it controls, says Barnes.
     
    "Shabab does not really have to try very hard to provide anything.  But I think it is important to acknowledge that while they do have a very brutal side and a side that can be deeply unpopular, they also do provide some very basic services, not just physical services, but and some mediation services that the state can not provide," said Barnes.  
     
    A United Nations monitoring group estimates al-Shabab has about 5,000 members and operates from bases in southern Somalia.
     
    Horn of Africa analyst Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad, with Southlink Consultants, says the group should be no match for an AMISOM force comprised of about 22,000 soldiers.
     
    "One thing I know, if AMISOM are serious about defeating al-Shabab they can do [it]," said Abdisamad. "But the question is, are they willing to do so?"
     
    The Somali government and AMISOM have announced plans to resume ground operations against the group in their remaining strongholds, but so far there has been no action.
     
    Abdisamad believes the AU force needs to develop a stronger game plan to target the group, and bring Somali forces up to the task of maintaining the peace.
     
    "For the last couple of weeks, al-Shabab they are making havoc in the security of Mogadishu," said Abdisamad. "If they do not have a strategy to defeat al-Shabab if they do not have an exit strategy so that they can train the Somali security apparatus then, AMISOM, the sooner they leave the country the better."
     
    While AMISOM may have the firepower to defeat al-Shabab, Somali government and U.N. officials have said a military victory alone will not be enough, and that more has to be done to establish government authority in liberated areas to avoid potential power vacuums.

    You May Like

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
    March 04, 2014 9:52 PM
    No doubt that Somali officials will continue to siphon off aid money to off shore secret bank accounts, for sure Al Shabaab will remain the most feared never-defeated Muslim terrorist in East Africa by continuously killing civilian and AMISOM will ultimately be frustrated and will be forced to supervise the break up of Somali Republic into fragments.
    These are undeniable facts!

    by: Rev Opurong Christopher from: USA
    March 03, 2014 10:26 PM
    Africa should have a federal president limited to two terms. Each community across Africa should have a governor limited to two terms.

    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.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora