In August, Somalia’s Muslim rebel movement al Shabab withdrew from the capital Mogadishu. Commanders framed the retreat as tactical, leaving questions open about what new strategies the group would pursue. It is still too early to say how the next phase of Somalia’s civil war will look, but some consequences of al Shabab’s withdrawal are already occurring.
The New York Times:
The Transitional Federal Government [has] an enormous opportunity to finally step outside the capital and begin uniting this fractious country after two decades of war.
Instead, a messy, violent, clannish scramble is emerging over who will take control.
This is exactly what the United States and other donors had hoped to avoid by investing millions of dollars in the transitional government, viewing it as the best antidote to Somalia’s chronic instability and a bulwark against Islamic extremism.
But the government is too weak, corrupt, divided and disorganized to mount a claim beyond Mogadishu, the capital, leaving clan warlords, Islamist militias and proxy forces armed by foreign governments to battle it out for the regions the Shabab are losing.
There has been heavy fighting between Al-shabaab militia and Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government personnel near the Elwak Kenyan border in Mandera. Witnesses confirmed several casualties on both sides as the fighting to control the border town of Burahashe continued on Sunday.
At least 15 TFG soldiers are admitted at the Elwak Hospital in Kenya after being hit by the militia group. It is not yet clear how many are dead or injured from both sides as the fighting rages.
Locals who crossed from Somalia jammed the hospital to visit the victims as tension mounted amid claims the fighting was spreading to Kenya before the gang was repulsed.
El Wak is also somewhat close to Ethiopia (see a map here).
Somali government leaders are talking about seeking a politically negotiated end to the conflict, but for now it looks like civil war is on in the south, while a scramble is taking place in and around Mogadishu. Stability, even in the capital, remains a ways off.