Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My New Article on Harakat al-Shabab, AMISOM, Sufi Militias, & the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia at openDemocracy

Harakat al-Shabab spokesman 'Ali Mahamoud Rage, also known as 'Ali Dheere

I have a new article, "Military Success but Political Failure: The Fight against Al-Shabab in Somalia," was published today at openDemocracy. The article focuses on providing a brief but (hopefully) comprehensive overview (within the 1,200-word limit) of the current situation inside Somalia's civil war that pits the weak and corrupt (but U.S., U.N., and E.U.-backed) Transitional Federal Government (TFG), a 9,000-soldier African Union military force with a U.N. mandate, and a ragtag Somali Sufi militia umbrella group against a virulent insurgent movement, Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen (Al-Shabab) that espouses an eccentric and particularly harsh form of Islamism. My central argument is that recent military successes by AMISOM (the African Union force), the TFG, and the Sufi militias will be for naught if TFG corruption and ineptness continues. The TFG's faults have been the greatest gift to Al-Shabab.

The beginning reads:

"Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen (Movement of the Warrior-Youth, hereafter Al-Shabab), the Somali Islamist-insurgent movement, is facing a serious military challenge to its continued control of key swaths of territory inside the capital city of Mogadishu and along the country’s western borders with Kenya and Ethiopia. The insurgency, which has held much of southern and central Somalia since mid-2008, is being stretched militarily by a series of simultaneous offensives launched in mid-February by the 9,000-man African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) military force, the soldiers of Somalia’s internationally-recognized Transitional Federal Government (TFG), and militiamen of the TFG and AMISOM-aligned Sufi Islamist militia Ahlu-Sunnah Wal-Jamaacah (ASWJ). However, the military gains on the ground by AMISOM, TFG, and ASWJ forces continues to be hampered by severe infighting within the TFG, particularly a bitter feud between its president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, and parliament speaker, Sharif Hasan Sheikh Adan."

Read the rest of the article at openDemocracy.

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