Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is battling al Shabab, a Muslim rebel movement, for control of the southern part of the country. Assisting the TFG in this campaign is the African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM), which has around 9,000 soldiers drawn primarily from Uganda and Burundi. In August, al Shabab completed a “tactical withdrawal” from Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, allowing the TFG to extend its control over much of the city. Conquering the rest of southern Somalia, however, will prove very difficult.
AMISOM commanders have long asked for greater international support and for reinforcements. In July, Boubacar Gaoussou Diarra, the head of AMISOM, wrote in Foreign Policy,
Virtually everything we do at AMISOM revolves around donor support. If that support were to stall now, amid our biggest gains to date, the results for Somalia would be disastrous. The extremists, now on the brink of defeat, would regroup and renew their campaign of terror — not just in Somalia, but as they have shown, across the region and potentially the globe.
The support AMISOM most wants is more men. Now AMISOM is slated to get some of the reinforcements it wants. The BBC reports that some 3,000 troops will join the force over the next six months, coming primarily from Sierra Leone and Djibouti. But the reinforcements will not necessarily solve AMISOM’s problems, nor is their deployment an indication that international doubts regarding the TFG and AMISOM have been allayed. The subtle skepticism toward AMISOM’s claims evident in the BBC’s language is interesting to see, and likely reflects broader skepticism regarding the force:
AU commanders have long complained they have do not have sufficient numbers.
Their current force deployment is too small to hold the whole of the city, they argue, even though the Islamist insurgents of al-Shabab have pulled back from some areas they held until early August.
Now they are promised the reinforcements they say they need.
One reason for skepticism toward the AMISOM (and I suspect there are many in Washington, London, and elsewhere feeling skeptical) is the math. If AMISOM needs 3,000 more soldiers just to hold Mogadishu, how many will it need to take territory beyond Mogadishu? (20,000, at least?) And what are the chances that those forces are available? And how long, given problems within AMISOM such as soldiers’ complaints about unpaid salaries, will existing troop commitments last? Taking Mogadishu was a major accomplishment for AMISOM, and the TFG almost certainly could not survive without AMISOM, but the barriers to future success are huge, even with the scheduled reinforcements.
As I recall, a few years ago they were calling for a force of 20,000. I suppose they’ll have to make do with 12,000. It seems to me that the world is unwilling to let the TFG fall but at the same time they aren’t willing to pay for a stronger force to push forward.
AMISOM definitely needs more than 20,000 for the whole country, and it’s hard to see that happen within the next two years, at minimum. The situation is exactly as you say: the West and African states won’t let go of the TFG, but are unwilling to fully invest it in. 3,000 troops, on the other hand, will go a long way in Mogadishu. Whatever the future strategy on a national level, it starts with securing the capital and expanding outward.
The AU would make a big mistake by moving out too early.
Two years? I’ll be amazed if we see 20,000 in a decade at the earliest. As for the A.U, it might be able to hold onto Mogadishu with the reinforcements (I’m not sure what their plans call for) but there’s still the problem of the scramble but various groups to take parts of Somalia under their control. Maybe if the TFG was politically united, had managed to train a decent civil service and had a major force to take the country but they have none of those things. No matter what happens the reunification of Somalia is going to be a bloody, expensive decades-long business.
9000 THOUSENDS TROOPS
they can put alot of more troops ther the africa uni , than 9000 thousand
first the troops are much cheaper than from the vn . and ther alot of people that dont have work ther so they can easy send more people than it wil rub faster the hole process