Somalia's Offensive Against Al-Shabaab
Over the past few months, Somali government forces have consolidated gains against Al-Shabaab in a large-scale offensive in central regions. The offensive was initiated by clans rising up against the group, which the government in turn sought to nurture and expand. While the government troops have made advances against the militant group, consolidating those gains and delivering on authorities’ promises to local communities will remain a significant challenge. Prospects for engagement with the insurgents has also taken a back seat amid the current fighting, even as Al-Shabaab has in the past shown to be a flexible and resilient actor. In the background, a festering humanitarian situation remains dire as a fifth failed rainy season has brought Somalia closer to famine.
This week on The Horn, Alan Boswell speaks with Omar Mahmood, Crisis Group's senior analyst for Eastern Africa, about the latest developments regarding the offensive against Al-Shabaab, following recent fieldwork. After reviewing the circumstances leading up to the offensive, they discuss the government's strategy to involve local militias in the fight and the challenges this could present. They also assess how Al-Shabaab has responded and whether the federal government is any closer to exploring potential political dialogue with the jihadist group. Finally, they take a look at the status of federal-regional government reconciliation efforts amid upcoming political issues.
For more in-depth analysis of some of the topics discussed in this episode, make sure to check out our Somalia country page and our report from last year, Considering Political Engagement with Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
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