Somalia’s Latest Battles Against Al-Shabaab
Somalia’s Latest Battles Against Al-Shabaab
Podcast / Africa 1 minutes

Somalia’s Latest Battles Against Al-Shabaab

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard speaks with Omar Mahmood, Crisis Group's Somalia expert, about the Somali army’s latest offensive, together with clan militias, against Al-Shabaab’s Islamist insurgency and challenges as the battle moves from central Somalia to Al-Shabaab’s southern strongholds.

Over recent months, the Somali army, backed by clan militias, has recaptured areas in central Somalia from Al-Shabaab militants. Profiting from local anger at Al-Shabaab’s predation, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s government has deployed Somali forces to Hirshabelle and Galmudug states, just north of the capital, Mogadishu, to fight militants. The campaign has reversed some of Al-Shabaab’s gains of the past few years, forcing the militants out of several areas, including some important towns. Yet big challenges remain. Al-Shabaab continues to mount resistance in parts of central Somalia. In recaptured areas, the government must ensure disputes among clans do not flare up again and show locals its value – in the short term by delivering aid and over time by reestablishing services like health and education. Fighting Al-Shabaab in its southern strongholds – the government’s planned next phase of operations – will likely be a tougher slog. The al-Qaeda linked insurgency has weathered previous offensives only to bounce back. 

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Omar Mahmood, Crisis Group's senior analyst for East Africa, about this latest fight against Al-Shabaab and the challenges that lie ahead. They discuss the clan politics in central Somalia that have enabled the government’s offensive. They look at the challenges in stabilising recaptured areas and curbing Al-Shabaab's formidable revenue generation, including its parallel tax system. They look at the drought blighting parts of the country and how Al-Shabaab’s predation, in combination with water shortages, has forced a wave of displacement. They also discuss fighting – separate to the war with Al-Shabaab – on the edge of Somaliland, a northern region that declared independence in 1991. They ask whether the latest offensive against Al-Shabaab stands any hope of dealing the Islamists a decisive blow, or whether it is better seen as a way to weaken the group and force it to negotiate. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

For more in-depth analysis of the topics discussed in this episode, make sure to check out our recent briefing, Sustaining Gains in Somalia’s Offensive against Al-Shabaab and our Somalia country page.


Executive Vice President
Senior Analyst, Eastern Africa

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