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

Yemen Brings US, Iran Closer to Naval Face-off

US sending two more ships to waters off coast of Yemen to take part in 'maritime security operations' More

Minorities Become Majority Across US

From 2000 to 2013, minorities became the majority in 78 counties in the United States. Here's where those demographic shifts are happening More

Japan's Maglev Train Breaks Own Speed Record

Seven-car 'magnetic levitation' train traveled at more than 600 kilometers per hour during test run Tuesday More

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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs