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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More