The government believes that al Shabaab will be eliminated as a major security threat by the end of 2015. That may be too optimistic but is not impossible. Currently al Shabaab is operating in about 20 percent of the country and no longer control any towns or cities. The Islamic terrorists now hide in remote villages or thinly populated rural areas. Some al Shabaab have set up camps across the northern border in Puntland, but these are regularly being attacked by local forces. The government admits that there are underlying problems (unemployment, poverty and corruption) that entice young men to join Islamic terror groups or bandit gangs and that until those issues are dealt with there is always the threat of something like al Shabaab returning. The government is also aware of the fact that the foreign donors won’t pay for a peacekeeper force forever and already there is pressure to shift that peacekeeping effort to other parts of Africa. While the Somali economy is improving the country is still crippled by corruption and divided by tribal (clan) loyalties.
In Kenya the government is asking Somali refugees to voluntarily return home and is offering inducements it hopes will persuade at least 100,000 to go back by the end of 2015. This is a big step back from the original plan to expel all (over 600,000) legal and illegal Somali refugees in the country. The expulsion threat came in response to ever more horrendous al Shabaab attacks, including an April 2nd massacre of 148 Christian students at a university campus. The UN promised to help with refugee camp security and moving more of the refugees back to Somalia but strongly opposed expulsion. In Somalia politicians and al Shabaab agree that Kenya must stop mistreating Somalis in Kenya and this attitude is used by al Shabaab for recruiting. The Kenyan government recognizes this problem and talks about curbing violence against Somalis in Kenya but controlling popular hatred of and hostility towards Somalis is difficult. This is particularly true because of the recent al Shabaab terror attacks in Kenya and the centuries of Somalis raiding into Kenya. It’s an old problem that does not lend itself to quick or easy solutions.
Meanwhile the UN has to cut food supplies (30 percent to 1,520 calories a day) to all the refugees in Kenya (mostly Somali but some from Sudan) because not enough donors could be found. There is only so much donor money out there and many donors seek areas where they believe their money will do the most good. Long term refugees (as with the Somalis in Kenya) are not seen as the best use of donor funds. Currently the UN spends about $115 million a year to feed the refugees in northern Kenya. Nearly half that money comes from the United States. Refugee officials continue having problems maintaining security in the Somali refugee camps and a growing number of foreign aid organizations are withdrawing from some camps because of the chronic violence.
Meanwhile there is another refugee situation developing in the north (Somaliland and Djibouti) as Somalis who fled to Yemen are now fleeing Yemen because of a civil war there. While most foreigners have already fled Yemen the Somali refugees in Yemen are trying, without much success, to flee back to Somalia. There are over 300,000 Somalis just across the Gulf of Aden in Yemen, most of them there illegally. Foreigners, particularly illegal migrants, have become a target in Yemen. The most hospitable and accessible refuge for Somalis in Yemen is Somalia. So far about 30,000 have made it back to Somalia (usually Somaliland up north or neighboring Djibouti) so far. The UN is planning to help mover over 100,000 more back to Somalia and Djibouti. The rest try to remain in Yemen, stay out of the way and survive.
June 11, 2015: West of Mogadishu, near the Ethiopian border al Shabaab ambushed a peacekeeper convoy and killed at least a dozen soldiers. Reinforcements soon arrived and drive off the Islamic terrorists.
June 6, 2015: In northwestern Kenya a group of al Shabaab gunmen seeking to attack a tribal leader who frequently criticized Islamic terrorists got lost and shot up the wrong house. Two men and a woman died and the killers fled. A subsequent police investigation concluded that the attackers were al Shabaab because that group had said it was going to “punish” the outspoken tribal leader. Elsewhere in the area rival Turkana and Samburu tribesmen fought over grazing rights and cattle stealing, leaving eleven dead.
June 2, 2015: In northwest Kenya a group of al Shabaab occupied a village and urged the locals to accept their extreme form of Islam. Outside the village the Islamic terrorists set up roadblocks and demanded payment of “taxes” for those who wanted to pass. All this happened 15 kilometers from a military base and soon soldiers showed up and the al Shabaab men slipped away.
June 1, 2015: In central Somalia (Galgadud) a week of violence on the Ethiopian border has left about fifty nomads dead because of attacks by a local militia that serves as an Ethiopian government-approved border guard. The militia has long had problems with the Somali nomads crossing the border at will and this led to a series of attacks to drive the nomads away. Officials from Somalia and Ethiopia are meeting to work out a peace deal.
May 28, 2015: In the south (Lower Juba) a senior al Shabaab leaders (73 year old Sheikh Hassan Turki) died after an illness. Turki was the chief of finance and had a $3 million price on his head. He will be hard to replace and thus al Shabaab becomes even less capable.
May 26, 2015: In central Somalia (Hiran) peacekeepers and soldiers drove al Shabaab out of several more villages, killing eleven of the Islamic terrorists in the process. Many weapons and some bomb making materials were captured.
May 25, 2015: In the south (Dobley) peacekeepers killed seven al Shabaab men near the Kenyan border.
In northeast Kenya (Garissa) al Shabaab ambushed a police convoy and killed more than a dozen policemen.
May 23, 2015: In Mogadishu al Shabaab gunmen attacked a car carrying two members of parliament and killed one of them. In the south (Awdhegle and Mubarak) al Shabaab gunmen attacked two villages. Soldiers soon showed up and chased the Islamic terrorists out. All this fighting caused over fifty casualties, mostly among the al Shabaab men.
May 21, 2015: In northeast Kenya (near Garissa) al Shabaab raided a village. Soldiers soon arrived and the Islamic terrorists fled. There were no casualties.