News / Africa

Victory in al-Shabab Somalia Stronghold Creates New Problems

A man climbs onto a Somali university building to take down an Al-Shabab flag in the center of Baidoa, a day after the town was seized by Ethiopian troops and allied Somali government forces on February 23, 2012.
A man climbs onto a Somali university building to take down an Al-Shabab flag in the center of Baidoa, a day after the town was seized by Ethiopian troops and allied Somali government forces on February 23, 2012.

Ethiopian and Somali soldiers seized control of the town of Baidoa in central Somalia this week, driving al-Shabab militants from one of their major strongholds.  But analysts say the strategic victory carries significant risks.

Ethiopian forces working alongside troops from Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, TFG, met very little resistance on the road to Baidoa.

Empty town

TFG field commander Adan Ahmed Omar told VOA his forces fought a series of small battles on the way to Baidoa, killing 12 al-Shabab fighters and capturing five.  He says the town was empty by the time they got there.

Omar said his forces have now liberated the Bay and Bakool regions of central Somalia, with the exception of a few districts.

The victory in Baidoa also opens up a pathway to the biggest al-Shabab stronghold, Kismayo -- a port city in the southeast controlled by the militants, and a major transit point for guns and money.

Baidoa, too, was an important strategic operating base for the militants.

"Major victory"

Once the seat of the former transitional federal government, and a major trading center, al-Shabab took control of Baidoa in early 2009.  The city also hosts an international airport big enough to land cargo planes that could be used to bring in weapons, supplies and soldiers.

Rashid Abdi, an independent Horn of Africa analyst, says capturing Baidoa is a "major victory," but that the work is not finished.

"The fact that it has now reverted back to TFG control I think is hugely significant, but the problem, again, is how to really create a legitimate credible administration in Baidoa which will be acceptable to the people.  I think that will be more important than the military victory itself.”

Mistrust

Somalis are also sensitive about Ethiopia's role, fighting alongside the TFG, because of the country's history.

In 2006, Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in a successful drive to overthrow an Islamist government that briefly controlled Mogadishu.

But the invasion increased popular support for al-Shabab, and its campaign to defend the sovereignty of Somalia against foreign forces.  A little more than two years later, Ethiopia withdrew.

Rashid Abdi says it is essential for Ethiopia to leave quickly, but he is unsure that the TFG or the African Union's force in Somalia, AMISOM, have the capability to provide security on their own.

"So if that is the case, it will mean that Ethiopians will have to stay for some time.  And the longer they stay in Somalia, the greater the risk of a public backlash and I think the Ethiopians are very much aware of that problem," he said.

Challenges along with victory

The transitional government has struggled to establish government in towns and villages reclaimed from al-Shabab.

In the southern towns recently seized by Kenyan Defense Forces, the TFG has empowered local, allied militias to keep the peace and administer some sort of law and order.

But infighting and inter-clan rivalries that have stymied all attempts at peace in Somalia for the past 20 years, continue to a pose a threat to these fragile political alliances.







You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid