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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs