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Tragic Mortar Strike Claims Lives of Five Children in Lower Shabelle

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A family of five children, including a breastfeeding baby, dies in a mortar strike

In the early hours of the morning, a resident of Balow village in Barire district, Lower Shabelle, prayed for safety. Hamud Qadi Mohamed, the elder of the family, had gone to his farm, unaware of the looming tragedy. At around ten o’clock, mortars hit their house, killing three children instantly and severely injuring others. The family was devastated as they gathered for breakfast when the deadly strike occurred. Hamud’s granddaughter, who was serving the meal, was among the casualties.

Hamud recounted the horror to the BBC, saying, “When she put the breakfast on the table in front of me, the mortar fell. Three children died there, and they are still in pieces. The girl who brought me the food died, and I was injured.” Five members of the family perished, and five others, including the mother of the four deceased children, sustained serious injuries. They are currently receiving treatment in a Mogadishu hospital.

Among the deceased was a one-year-old baby who was breastfeeding at the time of the attack. Hamud, who suffered injuries himself, described the dire condition of the surviving family members, stating, “I am the best among the wounded. The others are in a very bad condition and are kept in the ICU.”

Barwako Hamoud Qadi, the mother of the family, sustained severe head injuries and is pregnant. Another family member, Seynab Hamud Qadi, had both legs amputated. Doctors are working tirelessly to save their lives.

The family believes the incident resulted from ongoing conflict between government forces and the Al-Shabaab militant group in Barire District. This tragic event highlights the collateral damage inflicted on civilians during such conflicts. Another family in the area, belonging to Ibrahim Sidow Mustaf, also suffered devastating losses, with four children killed and several family members injured.

Ibrahim shared his harrowing experience, saying, “I was in the fields, and when I came home, I saw the dead bodies of my four children in the courtyard of the house. The remaining one was injured, and my wife was also seriously injured. I was really scared, but I tried to take the wounded to Mogadishu. I didn’t even bury the dead. I told the neighbors and the people who were there.”

The origin of the mortars remains unconfirmed, and the exact details of who launched them are still unknown. Barire, a historical district, frequently witnesses clashes between government forces and Al-Shabaab. The latest battle saw Al-Shabaab fighters attacking a military base recently handed over by Somali government forces to ATMIS peacekeeping forces, particularly Ugandan troops. This incident marks one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in recent times, leaving the local community in shock and mourning.

Terrorism

Terrorism Resurges in Syria: UN Warns of Doubling Islamic State Attacks

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UN Envoy Alerts Security Council to Escalating Extremist Threat and Humanitarian Crisis in Syria

The specter of terrorism looms large over Syria once again. The top U.N. envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, sounded the alarm before the Security Council on Monday, warning that attacks by Islamic State extremists are set to double this year. This resurgence threatens civilians already trapped in a dire cycle of displacement and severe humanitarian conditions.

Thirteen years after President Bashar Assad’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protests spiraled into a devastating civil war, Syria remains a tinderbox. It’s a landscape riddled with armed actors, terrorist groups, foreign armies, and shifting front lines. Nearly half a million lives have been lost, and half of Syria’s pre-war population of 23 million is displaced.

The Islamic State’s dark legacy began with its declaration of a self-styled caliphate across vast territories in Syria and Iraq in 2014. While the group’s territorial control was dismantled by 2017, its deadly sleeper cells continue to haunt both nations.

Pedersen’s stark warning to the Security Council underscored Syria’s precarious security situation. “The threat of regional conflict cascading over Syria has not abated, particularly with an uptick in Israeli strikes on Syria,” he noted. Israel, for years, has targeted sites in Syria linked to Iran, but these strikes have intensified, fueled by the ongoing Gaza conflict and skirmishes between Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israeli forces on the Lebanon-Israel border.

The U.S. deputy ambassador, Robert A. Wood, laid the blame squarely on Iran, Assad’s staunch regional ally. “Iran and its proxies and partners have only brought death and destruction and do nothing to help the Syrian people,” Wood declared, urging Assad to curb Iranian influence.

Meanwhile, the Syrian, Iranian, and Russian ambassadors condemned Israel’s actions. Iranian Ambassador Amir Saeed Iravani called the strikes a “flagrant violation of international humanitarian law” and a “serious threat to regional peace and security,” exacerbating the chaos spawned by Syria’s civil war.

The humanitarian crisis in Syria is staggering. Over 16 million people require aid, and 7.2 million remain displaced, making it the worst humanitarian crisis since the conflict’s inception. Ramesh Rajasingham, the coordination director in the U.N. humanitarian office, highlighted the exacerbating impact of severely reduced funding, which is straining efforts to address basic needs like sanitation and clean water, especially in the rebel-held northwest where over 900,000 people, more than half of them children, lack critical support.

Both Rajasingham and Pedersen stressed the urgent need for increased humanitarian access and international funding. The 2024 U.N. humanitarian appeal for $4 billion is currently only 20% funded, seriously hindering aid efforts.

On the political front, Pedersen urged the Security Council to push for Syrian-led peace negotiations involving all major international stakeholders, as outlined in a 2015 Security Council resolution. “The conflict is ultimately a political one that can only be resolved when the Syrian parties are able to realize their legitimate aspirations,” Pedersen stated.

Recent elections in Syria saw all 185 candidates from Assad’s Baath party secure parliamentary seats, increasing the party’s majority by seven seats. However, Pedersen dismissed these elections as inadequate substitutes for the political process mandated by the 2015 resolution. Wood echoed this sentiment, calling the elections a “sham” and a “rubber stamp on Bashar Al-Assad’s continued dictatorship.”

Wood reaffirmed the U.S. stance, stating, “The U.S. will not normalize relations with the Syrian regime or lift sanctions absent an authentic and enduring political solution.”

As Syria stands on the brink of further chaos, the international community faces a stark choice: intensify efforts to stabilize the region and address the humanitarian crisis, or risk plunging Syria into an even darker chapter of violence and despair.

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Analysis

Beauty in the Crossfire: Miss Somalia Pageant Amid Violence

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Amid Explosions and Controversy, Somali Women Defy Odds in Groundbreaking Beauty Pageant

On a night when most of Somalia tuned in to the Euro football final, a very different kind of spectacle unfolded at Mogadishu’s Elite Hotel. Hundreds gathered to witness the Miss Somalia pageant, a daring celebration of beauty and resilience in one of the world’s most dangerous places to be a woman. Just a kilometer away, the grim reality of Somali life was underscored by a car bomb explosion that killed five and injured twenty. The militant group al-Shabab, notorious for its reign of terror over Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The juxtaposition of a beauty pageant with such violence highlights the schizophrenic nature of life in Somalia. While pageant contestants paraded in glamorous gowns, the nearby explosion shattered the night, a stark reminder of the pervasive threat of terrorism. This contrast paints a vivid picture of a nation grappling with its identity and future.

Hani Abdi Gas, founded the competition in 2021. In a country where Islamist militants and conservative traditions dominate, her initiative is nothing short of revolutionary. Gas, who grew up in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya before returning to Somalia in 2020, sees the pageant as more than a beauty contest. It’s a platform for lifting women’s voices, fostering unity, and empowering Somali women.

Gas believes that Somalia, long deemed one of the worst places to be a woman, is ready to join the rest of the world in celebrating female beauty and aspiration. “I want to celebrate the aspirations of women from diverse backgrounds, build their confidence, and give them a chance to showcase Somali culture worldwide,” she said.

This year’s contestants reflected this diversity. Among them was a policewoman, a powerful symbol of women breaking barriers in a traditionally male-dominated society. However, not everyone was pleased. Many Somalis view beauty pageants as affronts to their culture and religion. Clan leader Ahmed Abdi Halane expressed disgust, saying, “Such things are against our culture and our religion. If a girl wears tight clothes and appears on stage, it will bring shame upon her family and her clan. Women are supposed to stay at home and wear modest clothes.”

Some women also oppose the pageant. Sabrina, a student, criticized the contestants for appearing in public without covering their necks, saying, “It is good to support the Somali youth but not in ways that conflict with our religion.”

Despite these criticisms, the pageant proceeded with its vibrant display of Somali culture. Aisha Ikow, a 24-year-old university student and make-up artist, was crowned Miss Somalia, taking home a $1,000 prize. Ikow, representing South-West state, vowed to use her platform to combat early marriage and promote girls’ education. “The competition celebrates Somali culture and beauty while shaping a brighter future for women,” she said.

The judging panel, which included Miss Somalia 2022 and a representative from the Ministry of Youth, found it hard to choose a winner. They assessed contestants on physical beauty, public speaking, and stage presence. An online vote, costing $1 per vote, funded the event and future international pageant participation.

The glitzy event in a luxury hotel contrasted sharply with the harsh realities faced by most Somali women. Four million Somalis, a quarter of the population, are internally displaced, with up to 80% being women. The UN ranks Somalia near the bottom on the Gender Inequality Index, with alarming rates of gender-based violence and female genital mutilation. Traditional practices still dictate that a rapist must marry his victim, and legal protections for women are severely lacking.

Despite these challenges, the Miss Somalia pageant signifies a slow but significant change. The fact that such an event could be held in Mogadishu, even amid nearby violence, indicates a shift in societal attitudes and an improvement in security.

The crowd at the Elite Hotel stayed until the early hours, undeterred by the attack’s proximity. They were engrossed in the pageant, the sound of the explosion drowned out by the waves crashing on the nearby beach.

In a nation torn by conflict and conservative values, the Miss Somalia pageant stands as a beacon of hope. It is a testament to the resilience of Somali women and their determination to carve out spaces of empowerment and celebration. As Somalia continues to navigate its complex identity, events like these are crucial in shaping a more inclusive and progressive future.

Kiin Hassan Fakat, reporting with Bilan Media, and Mary Harper, author of two books on Somalia, provide a lens into this transformative moment, capturing the courage and aspirations of Somali women amidst a backdrop of turmoil.

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Somalia's Hidden Alliances

Former National Security Advisor: Al-Shabab as Somalia’s Defense Against Ethiopia

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Somalia’s Hidden Alliances and Western Double Standards: Exposing Secret Intelligence and Government Ties to Terrorism

The explosive claims by Somalia’s former National Security Advisor suggesting Al-Shabab as Somalia’s defense against Ethiopian aggression. Uncover secret reports and Western double standards in combating terrorism.

Somalia’s former national security advisor and foreign minister, Abdi Said, has suggested that the militant group Al-Shabab is the only force capable of defending Somalia against what he describes as Ethiopian aggression. In an interview with the BBC Somali Service, Said accused Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of harboring expansionist ambitions, labeling him a “radical extremist” intent on annexing Somali territory. “There is no military power in Somalia other than Al-Shabab that can withstand Ethiopia’s provocative expansion,” Said claimed during the controversial interview.

When asked if he considered Al-Shabab a terrorist group, Said rejected the global designation, implying that the international community, including the United States, no longer prioritizes counter-terrorism campaigns. “The world, including the U.S., is tired of these terror designations and no longer sees them as relevant,” he stated.

These claims align with evidence presented in numerous reports by waryatv.com, which have repeatedly exposed the intricate and covert cooperation between the Somali government and Al-Shabab terrorists. It’s an open secret among intelligence communities that the reason Al-Shabab remains undefeated is due to the Somali government’s collaboration with these terrorists, despite publicly claiming to fight against them.

Rising Extremism in Africa: A Looming Threat to the U.S. and Its Allies

Secret intelligence obtained by waryatv.com from various Western countries reveals a complex web of deception. These documents indicate that Western governments are well aware of this collaboration but choose to ignore it, focusing instead on the broader geopolitical game. This hypocrisy extends to the financing of projects purportedly aimed at combating terrorism, which in reality end up funding the very terror groups they aim to eliminate.

The rapid expansion of violent extremist groups linked to Al-Qaida and the Islamic State in Africa has alarmed U.S. defense and military officials. The growing influence of these groups suggests a potential shift in their tactics, possibly leading to attacks on the U.S. or its Western allies. The instability across the continent, exacerbated by coups and the rise of ruling juntas, has led to the expulsion of American troops and a significant reduction in U.S. intelligence capabilities.

General CQ Brown, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, highlighted these threats at a conference of African defense chiefs in Botswana. He pointed out that instability caused by groups like Wagner, terrorist organizations, and transnational criminal enterprises has far-reaching consequences. The notorious Russian mercenary group Wagner has moved into several African nations to provide security amid the retreat of Western forces, adding another layer of complexity to the region’s security landscape with their marked brutality and human rights abuses.

ISIS’s Expanding Threat in Somalia: The New Terror Epicenter?

The conference, held for the first time on African soil, underscored the urgent need for collaboration to combat the spread of insurgents in West Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, and the Sahel. Al-Qaida-affiliated groups such as Al-Shabab in Somalia and Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) in the Sahel have become the most financially viable insurgencies, actively seeking to expand their influence. JNIM, for example, is making inroads into Benin and Togo, using these countries as logistical hubs while increasing attacks there.

Simultaneously, the Islamic State maintains key cells in West Africa and the Sahel, receiving strategic directives from leaders now based in northern Somalia. These directives include tactics for kidnapping Westerners, improving military strategies, and evading drone surveillance. A U.S. military airstrike in Somalia recently targeted and killed several Islamic State militants, though it remains unclear if the group’s leader was among the casualties.

U.S. and Daesh: Uncovering a New Battlefront in Somalia

The growth of these insurgent groups signals a strategic shift by both Al-Qaida and the Islamic State, recognizing Africa as fertile ground for jihadist expansion. This is compounded by the U.S. being forced to withdraw 1,000 troops from Niger following a coup, significantly impairing its counterterrorism and intelligence operations. The shutdown of key U.S. bases, such as the drone hub at Agadez, further hampers efforts to monitor and counter insurgent activities.

General Michael Langley, head of U.S. Africa Command, emphasized the importance of maintaining some intelligence capabilities to monitor these threats. Despite the troop withdrawals, the U.S. aims to secure a safe exit while retaining the ability to identify potential threats. The challenge, however, remains assessing whether these growing militant groups have the capability to conduct external operations that could target the U.S. homeland or its allies.

Billions Invested, Corruption Endured: The Ongoing Struggle Against al-Shabaab in Somalia

This security situation is complicated by the shifting alliances of African nations, many of which are increasingly aligning with Russia and China. These countries offer security assistance without the political conditions that often accompany U.S. aid. This has made them appealing partners for the military juntas in power in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. The U.S. faces the challenge of fostering effective communication and collaboration with African nations while addressing concerns about democracy and human rights.

As extremist groups continue to grow in numbers and capability, the threat they pose to global security becomes ever more pronounced. The U.S. and its allies must adapt their strategies to address this evolving landscape, ensuring that they can effectively counter the rise of jihadist influence in Africa and prevent it from spilling over into other regions.

The revelations by Abdi Said not only expose the duplicitous nature of Somalia’s alliances but also highlight the glaring double standards of Western nations in their approach to combating terrorism. As the world turns a blind eye to these covert collaborations, the real victims remain the ordinary citizens who suffer under the continuous threat of violence and instability. This narrative demands a closer examination of the true motives behind international counter-terrorism efforts and the shadowy alliances that perpetuate the cycle of violence.

US intelligence assesses Houthis in Yemen in talks to provide weapons to al-Shabaab in Somalia, officials say

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Terrorism

Somali Daesh Leader Abdulkadir Mu’min Survives U.S. Airstrike, Remains a Threat

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Abdulkadir Mu’min, the leader of Daesh in Somalia, evades death and continues to command from a hidden stronghold.

The leader of the Daesh group in Somalia, Abdulkadir Mu’min, has been found alive, surviving a targeted airstrike by the United States on May 31. This revelation underscores the enduring resilience and threat of Daesh in the region.

An informed source from the Puntland authorities disclosed that Mu’min is currently in a highly protected, undisclosed location in the Calmikaad mountains of the Bari region, a known Daesh stronghold. Despite the targeted airstrike, Mu’min recently appeared in a video addressing Daesh fighters who are being prepared to combat the al-Shabaab group, a rival faction vying for dominance in the Bari region.

In late May, U.S. intelligence officials confirmed an airstrike in Somalia aimed at Mu’min, the top leader of Daesh in Somalia. However, they could not verify his death in the attack. Three U.S. officials confirmed that the target was indeed Mu’min, but only three other members of Daesh were killed, with others sustaining injuries.

Daesh, also known as ISIS, has established a significant presence in the Bari region of Puntland. The group is notorious for its violent tactics, including extortion and attacks on businesses and individuals who refuse to pay protection money.

U.S. and Daesh: Uncovering a New Battlefront in Somalia

Mu’min’s survival is a significant setback for counterterrorism efforts in the region, highlighting the challenges faced in eradicating extremist leaders. His continued influence poses a persistent threat, as he commands Daesh forces in their ongoing struggle against al-Shabaab for control of the Bari region.

The ongoing conflict between Daesh and al-Shabaab exacerbates the instability in Somalia, complicating efforts to bring peace and security to the region. Mu’min’s evasion of death in the U.S. airstrike demonstrates the resilience of terrorist networks and the difficulty of eliminating their leadership.

As the battle for supremacy in the Bari region intensifies, the international community and local authorities must remain vigilant. The survival of leaders like Mu’min serves as a stark reminder of the enduring threat posed by extremist groups and the continuous need for strategic counterterrorism measures.

This development calls for renewed efforts to locate and neutralize Mu’min and other high-ranking leaders within Daesh. The international community must support Puntland authorities and other regional partners to enhance intelligence sharing, improve surveillance, and bolster military operations against these groups.

The resilience of leaders like Mu’min, despite intensive efforts to eliminate them, underscores the complexity of the fight against terrorism. It necessitates a multifaceted approach that combines military action with strategies to address the underlying issues that fuel extremism, such as poverty, political instability, and lack of governance.

In the wake of this news, the people of Somalia and the broader region remain at the mercy of ongoing violence and insecurity. The survival of Abdulkadir Mu’min is a chilling reminder of the enduring challenges in the battle against terrorism and the need for continued international collaboration and commitment to eradicating these threats.

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Terrorism

Blasts kill at least 18 in Nigeria; authorities suspect suicide bombers

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Suspected female suicide bombers target a wedding, funeral, and hospital in Gwoza, Borno state, resulting in significant casualties and highlighting ongoing insurgent threats.

At least 18 people were killed and 30 others injured in a series of attacks by suspected female suicide bombers in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state on Saturday. The attacks occurred in the town of Gwoza, targeting a wedding, a funeral, and a hospital, according to Barkindo Saidu, director general of the Borno State Emergency Management Agency.

The confirmed death toll includes children, adults, and pregnant women. The injuries sustained by the victims are severe, ranging from abdominal ruptures to skull and limb fractures. This tragic incident adds to the long list of casualties in a region that has suffered from persistent violence and instability.

Borno state has been the epicenter of a brutal 15-year Islamist insurgency led by Boko Haram and its splinter group, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). Despite efforts by the Nigerian military to diminish the capabilities of these militant groups, they continue to launch deadly attacks against both civilians and security forces.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks. The Borno state police have not provided immediate comments on the incident.

The Islamist insurgency in Borno has resulted in thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions. While the Nigerian military has made significant strides in combating these militant groups, incidents like the recent attacks in Gwoza underscore the ongoing threat posed by Boko Haram and ISWAP.

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Terrorism

Rising Extremism in Africa: A Looming Threat to the U.S. and Its Allies

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The rapid expansion of violent extremist groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State in Africa is raising alarm among U.S. defense and military officials. The growing size and influence of these groups have sparked concerns that as they hone their tactics, they might launch attacks on the U.S. or its Western allies. The current instability across the continent, exacerbated by a series of coups and the emergence of ruling juntas, has led to the expulsion of American troops and a significant reduction in U.S. intelligence capabilities.

General CQ Brown, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, highlighted these threats at a conference of African defense chiefs in Botswana. He pointed out that instability caused by groups like Wagner, terrorist organizations, and transnational criminal enterprises has far-reaching consequences. The Wagner Group, a notorious Russian mercenary outfit, has moved into several African nations to provide security amid the retreat of Western forces. Their presence, marked by brutality and human rights abuses, adds another layer of complexity to the region’s security landscape.

The conference, held for the first time on African soil, underscored the urgent need for collaboration to combat the spread of insurgents in West Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, and the Sahel. Al-Qaida-affiliated groups such as al-Shabab in Somalia and Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) in the Sahel have become the most financially viable insurgencies, actively seeking to expand their influence. JNIM, for example, is making inroads into Benin and Togo, using these countries as logistical hubs while increasing attacks there.

Simultaneously, the Islamic State maintains key cells in West Africa and the Sahel, receiving strategic directives from leaders now based in northern Somalia. These directives include tactics for kidnapping Westerners, improving military strategies, and evading drone surveillance. A U.S. military airstrike in Somalia recently targeted and killed several Islamic State militants, though it remains unclear if the group’s leader was among the casualties.

The growth of these insurgent groups signals a strategic shift by both al-Qaida and the Islamic State, recognizing Africa as fertile ground for jihadist expansion. This is compounded by the U.S. being forced to withdraw 1,000 troops from Niger following a coup, significantly impairing its counterterrorism and intelligence operations. The shutdown of key U.S. bases, such as the drone hub at Agadez, further hampers efforts to monitor and counter insurgent activities.

General Michael Langley, head of U.S. Africa Command, emphasized the importance of maintaining some intelligence capabilities to monitor these threats. Despite the troop withdrawals, the U.S. aims to secure a safe exit while retaining the ability to identify potential threats. The challenge, however, remains assessing whether these growing militant groups have the capability to conduct external operations that could target the U.S. homeland or its allies.

This security situation is complicated by the shifting alliances of African nations, many of which are increasingly aligning with Russia and China. These countries offer security assistance without the political conditions that often accompany U.S. aid. This has made them appealing partners for the military juntas in power in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. The U.S. faces the challenge of fostering effective communication and collaboration with African nations while addressing concerns about democracy and human rights.

As extremist groups continue to grow in numbers and capability, the threat they pose to global security becomes ever more pronounced. The U.S. and its allies must adapt their strategies to address this evolving landscape, ensuring that they can effectively counter the rise of jihadist influence in Africa and prevent it from spilling over into other regions.

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Analysis

Somalia Urges Peacekeeper Withdrawal Delay Amidst Al Shabaab Resurgence Concerns

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As Somalia grapples with the persistent threat of al Shabaab militants, the Somali government is urgently seeking to slow the withdrawal of African Union peacekeepers. This request, highlighted in documents reviewed by Reuters, underscores the fears of a potential security vacuum that could embolden the Islamist insurgency.

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) is set to complete its withdrawal by December 31, 2024. However, Somalia’s government has requested to delay the withdrawal of half of the 4,000 troops slated to leave by the end of June until September. This plea, contained in a letter to the acting chair of the African Union Peace and Security Council, reflects deep concerns over the readiness of Somali forces to fill the impending security gap.

A joint assessment by the Somali government and the AU in March, reviewed by Reuters, warned that a rapid drawdown of ATMIS personnel could lead to a dangerous security vacuum. “I’ve never been more concerned about the direction of my home country,” expressed Mursal Khalif, an independent member of Somalia’s defense committee.

The European Union and the United States, primary funders of the AU force, have been keen on reducing the peacekeeping mission due to sustainability and long-term financing issues. The complexities of negotiating a new force with a robust mandate acceptable to all parties, including Somalia, have proven challenging. Diplomatic sources indicate that a heated political dispute could lead Ethiopia, a key contributor of battle-hardened troops, to reconsider its involvement.

The call for a smaller force likely reflects the views of nationalists within Somalia who oppose a heavy foreign presence. “The AU and Somalia’s government have emphasized the importance of a conditions-based drawdown to prevent any security vacuum,” said Mohamed El-Amine Souef, AU special representative to Somalia and head of ATMIS.

Neighboring countries like Uganda and Kenya, which have contributed troops to the mission, share Somalia’s concerns. Henry Okello Oryem, Uganda’s state minister of foreign affairs, warned against a hasty withdrawal reminiscent of the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan, fearing a similar collapse. “We do not want to get into a situation where we are fleeing,” he said.

Recent military setbacks in Somalia have compounded these worries. In August, al Shabaab counter-attacked in the town of Cowsweyne, killing scores of soldiers and beheading civilians. This attack underscored the militants’ resilience and the Somali army’s vulnerabilities, despite previous territorial gains.

The potential withdrawal of peacekeepers poses significant risks. Somalia’s army, estimated at around 32,000 soldiers, faces a shortage of about 11,000 trained personnel. While the government claims its soldiers can confront al Shabaab with limited external support, ongoing external assistance remains crucial. The United States, for instance, maintains around 450 troops in Somalia for training and advisory roles, alongside conducting regular drone strikes.

International support for Somalia has been substantial. The U.S. has spent over $2.5 billion on counterterrorism assistance since 2007, while the EU has provided about $2.8 billion to ATMIS and its predecessor missions. However, resources are increasingly strained, with the EU shifting towards bilateral support and the U.S. grappling with competing priorities, including Ukraine and Gaza.

As Somalia navigates this precarious phase, the international community must balance the need for Somali self-reliance with the reality of al Shabaab’s persistent threat. Delaying the withdrawal of peacekeepers could provide the necessary time for Somali forces to strengthen and stabilize. However, the complexities of international funding and regional politics add layers of uncertainty to an already volatile situation.

The upcoming discussions at the Peace and Security Council will be pivotal in shaping the future of Somalia’s security landscape and its ongoing battle against terrorism.

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Terrorism

ISIS’s Expanding Threat in Somalia: The New Terror Epicenter?

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The United States is sharpening its counterterrorism focus on Somalia, reacting to the increasing threat posed by the Islamic State’s (ISIS) resurgence in the Horn of Africa. U.S. officials express growing concern that ISIS-Somalia, a regional affiliate, has evolved from being a financial linchpin to hosting the terror group’s top leader.

According to senior U.S. defense officials, ISIS views Africa as a fertile ground for expansion, with Somalia becoming a pivotal hub. This shift reportedly includes the movement of ISIS’s global leader, Abu Hafs al-Hashemi al-Qurashi, from Syria or Iraq to Yemen, then into Somalia’s Puntland region. This relocation signifies a strategic maneuver by ISIS to leverage the relative operational freedom in Africa compared to the Middle East.

The growing strength of ISIS-Somalia is attributed to an influx of fighters and operatives from Yemen. In response, the U.S. has intensified its military actions, including a targeted airstrike in May that aimed at ISIS-Somalia leader Abdulqadir Mumin. Initial assessments reported the death of three militants, although it remains unclear if Mumin was among them.

Despite this uncertainty, U.S. officials maintain a firm stance on countering the terrorist threat. John Kirby, White House national security communications adviser, emphasized the necessity of sustained vigilance and action against ISIS.

Not all experts agree on the extent of ISIS’s power shift to Somalia. Former U.N. counterterrorism official Edmund Fitton-Brown and other analysts question the feasibility and strategic logic of relocating ISIS’s top leader to Somalia. They argue that Somalia’s infrastructure and the persistent threat of U.S. counterterrorism operations make it an unlikely safe haven for the caliph.

Colin Clarke of The Soufan Group points out logistical challenges and questions the benefits of such a move. Despite Somalia’s role in ISIS’s financial network, it remains under significant international surveillance.

Regardless of leadership dynamics, Somalia’s importance to ISIS cannot be understated. The al-Karrar office in Somalia has been crucial in moving funds and coordinating logistics for ISIS operations globally. Reports indicate that ISIS-Somalia has facilitated financial transfers to its Afghan affiliate, IS-Khorasan Province, underscoring its role in sustaining ISIS’s broader terror network.

Aaron Zelin of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy suggests that Mumin’s leadership could elevate Somalia’s status within ISIS’s strategic hierarchy. However, he also emphasizes that the core identity of ISIS remains deeply tied to the Middle East, particularly Iraq and Syria.

The potential relocation of ISIS’s top leader to Somalia, whether factual or rumored, signals a strategic pivot that could have far-reaching implications for global security. If true, it marks a significant shift in ISIS’s operational strategy, potentially making Somalia a new epicenter of global jihadist activities. This move could intensify the U.S. and international counterterrorism efforts in the region, leading to heightened military and intelligence operations.

Conversely, if the relocation is merely a strategic ploy, it could be an attempt by ISIS to mislead international counterterrorism forces, dispersing attention and resources.

The U.S. focus on ISIS in Somalia highlights the evolving nature of global terrorism and the persistent threat posed by jihadist groups. As Somalia potentially becomes a new strategic front, the international community must adapt its counterterrorism strategies to address this shifting landscape. The controversy surrounding ISIS’s leadership movements underscores the complexity and unpredictability of modern terrorist networks.

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