Monday, September 23, 2013

Somalia's AL SHABAB and Kenya Mall Attack

Somalia's Al Shabab group carried out fierce attack on Kenya Shopping mall, and reportedly more than 68 individuals are killed in this attack. Al Shabab is linked with Al- Qaeda and his present leader Ahmed Abdi Godane
Ahmed Abdi Godane
joined Al Qaeda (present leader Aymen Al Zahrawi) in 2012. Organization is banned as terrorist group in US and UK. Al Shabab was established in 2006, since then it gained moment however, organization was contained in Somalia and now having potent authority in southern and few central regions of Somalia.
 Somalia Con by Al Shabab
         Somalia is facing civil war situation for last 20 years and divided between Somaliland, Puntland, Pro Government (Ethopia controlled) area, Government ( African Union controlled) area. Somalia capital ( Moghdishu) was liberated from militants in 2011. Kenyan forces entered the conflict zone in 2011 and gave major push to Al Shabab militants from south. Militants are restricted to Guerrilla warfare as US backed Ethiopian Army and African Union countries are having alliance to curtail this threat.
Courtesy: BBC News
Way of Government
         Group is inspired by Saudi Wahhabi form of Islam, practicing strict Sharia Law and it is important to note that most of Somalians are Sufis.    

Interest of various countries and VNSAs
  • Eritrea:  Many believe that Al Shabab is getting monetary, military and political support from Eritrea. Eritrea is having no ideological linkages with Al Shabab group, rather they are using their influence to curtail Ethiopia ingress in Somalia which is in her interest.
  • Ethiopia:   Major concerns can be:
    • Access to horn of Africa (being a land lock country).
    • Population is divided in Christians and Muslims, uprising of Muslim extremist group in                Somalia may have strategic repercussions.
  • Kenya:  
    • Kenya claims that Al Shabab is responsible for terrorist attacks and kidnapping of soldiers/ tourists. 
    • Any other aspect could be an access to rich oil unexplored reserves under sea.  
  • Al Qaeda:
    • To extend its base of operation.
    •  As foothold in Afghanistan and Pakistan are threatened, finding new front to continue their struggle.
    • Wahhabi believes of Al Shabab, strengthen Al Qaeda ideology.
  • Somalian Population:
    • Don't support Al Shabab, having different believes.
    • Somalia militia formed/ armed by Kenya and Ethiopia are fighting against militant groups.
    • Hatred against Kenyan and Ethiopians may force them to join militants; if national card played by Al Shabab wisely.
  • Boko Haram and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb: these groups are having some linkages with Al Shabab. 
Present Terrorism Activities: An armed attack in a Nairobi shopping mall. The insurgent group asserts that its militants shot around 100 people in retaliation for the deployment of Kenyan troops in Somalia.
  • Somalian Oil reserves ( more than 10 billion barrel),and geo strategic location is a major concern for most of regional powers.
  • Disturb / non government period of 20 years has created a vacuum which facilitated the creation of splinter groups to flourish.
  • Locals are against militant groups, may be due to religious belief and self impose Sharia.
  • Eritrea has been supporting Al Shabab for the last four years, moreover Al Shabab has joined hands with Al Qaeda, therefore trained manpower and funds are available to them in sufficient quantities.
  • Although, Al Shabab is under pressure due to major actions carried out by AU mission; even then they are able to show their strength by conducting major terrorist activities in Kenya.
  • Allied forces should finish operation in minimum time otherwise, militant groups can gain local support by using nationalist card effectively and they are having history of using it in past.
  • May be AU, Ethiopia and Kenya have reduced the area of influence of Al Shabab, but their capacity to strike outside Somalia still exist.

Horn of Africa is an important Sea route, this fact can be a reason for prosperity and economical stability of the region; but they same have turned into bone of contention between so many regional power. If the intentions of Kenya, Ethiopia, Cambodia, US and African Union are clear then this operation of eliminating Al Shabab from Somalia should finish in early time frame. Poverty, uncertainty, weak writ of Government and illiteracy are general causes that facilitate terrorism and create breeding grounds for terrorist organizations. Basic need of Somalian people should be fulfilled for regional and global peace.   

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