Five years ago, Somali and African Union forces pushed Al-Shabaab militants out of Mogadishu, allowing the government to stretch its authority beyond the capital for the first time in years. But as businesses and daily commute return to normalcy in the capital today, the militant group has proved once again that it remains a powerful force in the country.
This is Mogadishu five years ago – militant group Al-Shabaab controlled most of the capital including Bakara Market – the biggest market in Somalia. In August 2011, the militants were ousted out of their strongholds in the capital allowing the government to assert its control beyond Makka Al Mukarama road. And this is the new face of Mogadishu – businesses have sprung up all across the city smooth flow of traffic and business at Bakara Market is booming once again.
And its not just the rebuilding of the capital – foreign diplomatic missions have restored ties with Somalia for the first time in more than two decades. But five years later Al-Shabaab still remains a potent threat, with brazen attack like this on Somali government institutions, African Union and United Nations bases.
“Its five years since the Al-Shabaab was defeated – but the group regrouped outside Mogadishu and changed its war tactics. The problem then was that the government didn’t create a proper mechanism that would completely eliminate the Al-Shabaab from Mogadishu,” said Independent analyst Omar Noor Ali.
The government says the army cannot go it alone – its citing an arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council as the main obstacle – instead it relies more on a 22,000 African Union force to battle the militants in south and central Somalia.
“Only a strong partnership and relationship between the SNA and AMISOM will enhance operational effectiveness of both forces. I urge you to ensure that this coordination and cooperation is replicated at all levels. What is required now is proactive and aggressive implementation of operational plans,” said Somali Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Omar Arte.
An elite commando unit trained by the US has made great strides in the fight against Al-Shabaab – and has lately been successful in neutralizing key Al-Shabaab leaders
These commanders drawn from Somali army and AMISOM are meeting to address ways to boost the national army as AMISOM plans to exit the country by end of 2018.
“I request that all of us the AMISOM and the donor countries to work together side by side in order to fulfill the mission ahead. I assure you that, if we do that, we will succeed together,” said Somali army chief Maj. Gen. Mohamed Aden Ahmed.
“If we do not assist in the developing the Somali National Army, if we do not work together and defeat the Al-Shabaab and if we can not effectively handover the security of Somalia to Somali security forces, we will have failed in achieving our mandate,” said Amisom Force Commander Lt. Gen. Osman Soubagleh.
A new political process is already in place in Somalia, with elections slated for August and September – experts says the rebuilding of strong security institutions in the country will be among the key tasks for the next Somali government”.