al Shabaab attack on a peacekeeper camp made it clear that the peacekeepers were getting sloppy and underestimating the enemy. Al Shabaab is trying to portray this attack in the media as a major peacekeeper defeat. The objective is to intimidate nations contributing troops to the 22,000 strong peacekeeper force to withdraw. That is unlikely as earlier al Shabaab attacks, including terror attacks in the nations supplying the peacekeepers, has simply made the victims more determined to destroy the Islamic terror group. Al Shabaab leaders ignore earlier outbreaks of Islamic terrorism in the region that ended up with the target populations enraged to the point where the Islamic radical groups were destroyed. Moreover this one al Shabaab victory comes in the midst of many Islamic terrorist defeats and territorial losses.
The September 1
Al Shabaab has suffered heavy losses since 2013 but many key al Shabaab personnel retreated with other survivors to remote areas in the south and north and continued to operate. This was seen with the continued bomb attacks. That much was known to the peacekeepers, but not known (or ignored) was the al Shabaab effort to improve their intelligence collecting and attack planning. What to do about that? More airpower and intelligence capabilities would help. None of the African nations contributing troops to the peacekeeper force have the combat and recon aircraft needed to improve intelligence and response time to al Shabaab attacks, so the pressure will be on the United States and France, who have a major base in neighboring Djibouti. These two nations have the most military experience in the region but, like most Western nations, are reluctant to commit their own troops to African operations.
One successful al Shabaab attack does not repair the damage recent defeats have inflicted. At the end of August al Shabaab lost control of two port towns (Marka and Eel-Macan) in the same area and al Shabaab has suffered similar losses in other parts of the country in the past few months. Some peacekeeper officers believe their troops are spread too thin and are more vulnerable to successful al Shabaab attacks, especially if carefully planned and carried out in the middle of the night. Groups like al Shabaab are difficult to wipe out because “wipe out” is what you have to do with terrorists who admire suicidal tactics and are generally fearless when it comes to death. That sort of thing has occurred in this are several times in the last few centuries and the traditional remedy has yet to be replaced by anything new and improved. Meanwhile al Shabaab has to make do with fewer resources than it had at the beginning of 2015 and will continue fighting to the very end.
One of the main reasons for the peacekeeper offensive in the south this year was the need to provide safe roads for aid convoys to nearly a million starving Somalis in the area. The continued al Shabaab violence down there, along with unrelenting corruption has discouraged aid donors and even with safe roads there won’t be enough food to deal with all of the hunger. The last major Somali famine, in 2011, killed over 200,000 people. These heavy losses were partly attributable to al Shabaab interfering (stealing or demanding too much “protection” money) with the aid efforts. The al Shabaab threat is reduced, but the general lawlessness is still a major problem.
September 9, 2015: Al Shabaab claims to have captured some Ugandan soldiers in a September 1 attack but offered no proof. Uganda says twelve of their soldiers died in that attack and none were captured.
September 8, 2015: In the southeast (Lower Shabelle region) several dozen al Shabaab men attacked a police station defended by soldiers and police. The attack was repelled with at least fifteen Islamic terrorists killed. Four soldiers were wounded.
The United States resumed diplomatic relations with Somalia today, after having none since 1991. While the U.S. recognized the new Somali government in 2013 it wasn’t until today that American diplomats arrived in Mogadishu. For the moment these diplomats will live in neighboring Kenya and commute to Mogadishu as needed.
September 6, 2015: Over the last two days al Shabaab forces seized control of two small towns near the two ports al Shabaab lost control of in late August. The peacekeepers are distracted with the aftereffects of the successful al Shabaab attack on September 1st and did not respond immediately to this al Shabaab advance.
September 2, 2015: Capitalizing on the rare victory over peacekeepers yesterday al Shabaab issued a warning to Somalis that visit hotels, beaches and nightclubs favored by foreigners that such immoral behavior will be punished. This sort of threat is two decades old and many Somalis are tired of it.
September 1, 2015: Some 70 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu al Shabaab attacked a peacekeeper camp near Janale and claimed to have killed 50 Ugandan soldiers but offered no proof. This was a small camp with about a hundred troops. The night attack began with a car bomb at the main entrance followed by dozens of al Shabaab gunmen entering the camp and seeking to kill all the troops there. Most of the Ugandan soldiers apparently fled and Uganda said twelve were killed with another 30 or so wounded. Al Shabaab looted the camp and then left. While this was going another al Shabaab team destroyed a nearby bridge that troop reinforcements would use, thus delaying the arrival of more peacekeepers to the camp.
In central Somalia (Galgadud) over 30 al Shabaab attacked a peacekeeper base. The attack failed and at least ten of the Islamic terrorists were killed.
August 27, 2015: On the central Somali coast (Ceel Hur) one of two Iranian fishing boats captured by pirates on March 26th managed to escape with its crew of 19. No one was willing to pay the small ransom demanded and the pirates did not have good security on the two boats.
August 26, 2015: In the southwest (Gedo, 320 kilometers from Mogadishu) a convoy of Ethiopian troops was ambushed by al Shabaab gunmen. The Ethiopians quickly turned the situation around and in the ensuing battle 34 Islamic terrorists and eleven soldiers were killed. Of all the neighboring ethnic groups the Ethiopians have always been the ones that could outfight Somalis. That is why some parts of southeastern Ethiopia contain a lot of Somalis. Ethiopia took these areas in the late 19th century and held on them despite numerous Somali efforts to get them back. This failure annoys most Somalis a great deal.
Elsewhere in Gedo Somali soldiers attacked and captured a village al Shabaab was using as a base, killing at least twenty al Shabaab men and wounding many more. The attackers lost nine men during the six hours of fighting. This attack was part of a wider operation that captured two other villages controlled by al Shabaab.
August 22, 2015: In the south (the port city of Kismayo) an al Shabaab suicide car bomb was used against a training base, leaving twenty dead and even more wounded.
August 20, 2015: Three Ugandan peacekeepers were indicted for invading a wedding in southern Somalia on July 31st and killing six men. This was done because a Ugandan convoy had been hit with an al Shabaab bomb several hours earlier and the indicted soldiers wanted revenge.
August 19, 2015: In central Somalia (Hiran) peacekeepers and soldiers drove al Shabaab out of three more villages, killing at least 25 Islamic terrorists in the process.
August 18, 2015: In Kenya police released the names of three Kenyan men (who are ethnic Somalis) it believes are the most active recruiters of young Kenyan Moslems (most of them Somali) for al Shabaab. The three men may be in Somalia but if they do show up in Somalia the police are asking the public to report it.