SOMALIA: Al-Shabab retreated but not deafeted
Mogadishu (RBC) Thousands of residents of Kismayo have fled the city in the last week, fearing that an AU led assault on the city is imminent. Al Shabaab apparently does not believe it can hold onto Kismayo, as many of its best fighters have been sent to new camps in the jungles of southwest Somalia (on the Kenyan border), or the mountains of the northeast (on the Puntland border). Al Shabaab still attracts recruits, because of their history of fighting corruption and avoiding clan-based feuds. Both of these curses have long prevented good government in Somalia, and still do so. The new government is as corrupt as ever and tribal frictions still impede good government.
Al Shabaab has made itself unpopular with most Somalis because of the strict interpretation of Islam (no music, video, booze, jobs for women or shaving for men) and forcing it on Somalis. Another liability was the use of foreign Islamic fanatics (mostly al Qaeda men). Somalis don’t like being ordered around by foreigners, especially self-righteous religious bigots telling people how to live, and attacking those who resist. Al Shabaab made a big mistake when they merged with al Qaeda and joined the fight to turn the entire planet into a religious dictatorship. Global domination has never been high on the average Somalis’ wish list. Taking Kismayo will be easy compared to destroying the remaining al Shabaab groups in the southwest and northeast.
The AU has brought in more helicopters and warships for the assault on Kismayo, which is expected to take place within a week. Most of the fighting is expected to be done by Kenyan troops.
After two days of fighting AU and Somali forces captured the fortified town of Mido, which is 86 kilometers from the port of Kismayo. Al Shabaab suffered about a hundred casualties trying to defend Mido and most survivors fled towards Kismayo. Helicopter gunships attacked the fleeing al Shabaab men, increasing their total casualties for the Mido battle to over 200, with at least 70 killed. AU losses (including Kenya, whose troops are now part of the AU peacekeeping force) were about fifty.
September 1, 2012: Al Shabaab released a video of their fighters dragging the bodies of four dead AU soldiers through the city streets behind a vehicle.
AU peacekeepers and Somali troops drove al Shabaab gunmen out of the port town of Marka, which is 70 kilometers south of Mogadishu. The al Shabaab men in this town provided a base for al Shabaab terrorists carrying out attacks in Mogadishu.