African Union, Somali forces lose ground in Mogadishu

Since the end of the summer, several African Union officials have claimed that Shabaab and Hizbul Islam were being driven back in Mogadishu. These reports coincided with claims that a serious rift had developed between Shabaab’s top two leaders. The claims of a split in Shabaab proved false, and, based on this report from The Washington Post, so is the claim that Shabaab is being driven back in Mogadishu (to be fair, the daily reports in the Somali press also indicated that the African Union claims were at best wildly optimistic):

Never have the radical al-Shabab militiamen attacked so near Somalia’s halls of power as they have last week, bringing them closer to their desire to create a Taliban-like Islamic emirate from which to export jihad abroad.

Saturday’s attack triggered an intense gun battle on the Muka al-Mukarama, a vital artery that connects key government ministries and the presidential palace to the airport. The fighting sent hundreds fleeing their homes and trapped men like Mohammed Ali in the crosshairs of war.

The 22-year-old policeman fired a volley of bullets at al-Shabab fighters crouching in an alley connecting to the road. Bullets cracked back like thunderclaps. A mix of surprise and pain spread across Ali’s boyish face, as blood oozed from his shattered foot, turning the road a dark crimson.

“We warned you not to fire your rifle,” yelled a comrade, as others risked a similar fate to drag Ali to safety.

Next to them, soldiers and policemen stood against a wall of shuttered houses and stores that shielded them from the bullets whistling overhead. Scores of civilians who fled homes around the Dubka intersection huddled with them.

No one dared to go to the intersection, where al-Shabab fighters were firing on anyone attempting to cross the street.

“We are getting weaker and weaker every day,” lamented Col. Ahmed Mohammed, a burly commander dressed in camouflage fatigues.

Many of the soldiers had received only one month’s salary in the past eight months. For this, they would not risk their lives.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • J G says:

    I follow what is going on in Somalia 7/24 and I am in contact with the AMISOM force HQ in Mogadishu on a frequent basis.
    I can assure you that the AMISOM forces have not lost ground and, in fact, are extending their perimeter in Mogadishu slowly but surely at the expense of Al Shabab and Hisbul Islam.

  • crusader says:

    @ J G
    if the battle of mogadishu is lost to the islamic insurgents does that mean that the war is lost? it seems that territories in the capital change owner back and forth…who has the upper hand?
    will the us engage in this conflict or are the horrors of 1993 still in mind?


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