3 November 2017

East Africa: Horn of Africa - Al-Shabaab Remains Permanent Threat

The terrorist group has been carrying out a series of attacks in hotels, military installations and population in Somalia and Kenya.

The Horn of Africa remains a restive zone with persistent insecurity caused the Al-Queda linked Islamist militant group, Al-Shabab mostly in the conflict-ridden Somalia and Kenya. Militants of the terrorist group have killed thousands in suicide bomb attacks carried out in hotels, schools, transportation companies and military bases and defence installations.

It is said to control large swaths of land in Southern Somalia. BCC reports say the terrorist group is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.

The most recent noticeable attacks Al-Shabab militants carried out include that of a Kenyan military base in June 2017 killing 57 soldiers, January 2017 suicide bombing in the Somalian capital, Mogadishu that killed 28 and the June 2017 storming of a military compound in Puntland which killed 70 people.

International Mobilisation The war against Al-Shabab is principally carried out by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) which is a an active, regional peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union with the approval of the United Nations. AMISOM started in 2007 with over 22,000 troops from five contributing countries that included: Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Burundi. International mobilisation to eradicate the terrorist group has essentially been a regional affair.

According to media reports, the only direct intervention in the war out of the African continent is from the United States of America that has about 50 commandos who are said to rotate in and out Somalia to advise and assist local troops. The US is also reported to have launch 14 airstrikes last year using drones. The United Nations Organisation intervention mostly comes at the level of extending the mandate of AMISOM. Means Available The African Union has been the main sponsor of the AMISON troops involved in fighting against Al-Shabab, be it in Somalia or in other affected countries like Kenya. The means is largely insufficient and reports say the African Union force plans to withdraw by the end of the year 2020, earlier than scheduled because of lack of adequate means.

The European Union, reportedly reduced its funding in 2016, explaining the budget drop on local realities. International support to war is dwindling whereas, Al-Shabab continues to be funded by charities and individuals. The terrorist group is also said to be independently generating funds by extorting money from businesses, hijacking humanitarian aid, kidnapping, and receiving payment from the Dubai-based Dahabshil money transfer company for services it provides in the regions it controls.

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