Border clash: Ethiopia and Al-Shabab’s ongoing strife

Addis Ababa (Caasimada Online) – The Ethiopian National Defense Forces have thwarted a potential suicide attack, reportedly launched by the armed group al-Shabab, on the Somali border town of Dollo, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a Twitter post on Wednesday

The gallantry of the army was demonstrated as they “halted the attackers before they could sow seeds of destruction.”

Tracing back the origins of al-Shabab, a group with confirmed ties to al-Qaeda, one finds 15 years of violent opposition against Somalia’s central administration.

From the nucleus of its creation, the group’s intentions of destabilizing the Somali government have been unwavering.

Contrasting narratives

Despite the Ethiopian government’s claims, al-Shabab, via their communications, portrayed a different account of the encounter.

According to the United States monitoring group SITE, the armed group professed to have orchestrated two suicide bombings at an Ethiopian military establishment located on the Somali side of the border.

They stated that the first attack was focused on the “local military command headquarters,” and the second targeted a weapons and ammunition storehouse.

Al-Shabab’s statement also included claims of heavy casualties and substantial injuries. However, their track record of overstating battlefield triumphs questions these assertions.

African Union peacekeeping role

This occurrence comes on the heels of a recent tragic incident in Uganda where 54 soldiers were killed in an attack on an African Union (AU) base.

Despite being expelled from Mogadishu in 2011 by an AU force, Al-Shabab remains a potent force in Somalia’s countryside.

Their operations continue to inflict fatal strikes on civilian, political, and military targets.

Ethiopia has previously experienced al-Shabab’s wrath in reprisal for its efforts as part of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

This force was established to dislodge the armed group, and Ethiopia’s role within ATMIS has been a thorn in al-Shabab’s side.

A spate of attacks on Ethiopian military camps along the border in mid-2022 offers a stark reminder of this.

Regional impact

With a strength of 22,000 troops, ATMIS has been lending a hand to Somalia’s federal government in the ongoing battle against al-Shabab since it took over the mantle from the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in 2022.

Al-Shabab’s transgressions extend beyond Somalia and Ethiopia, periodically launching attacks in neighboring Kenya in retaliation for its support of the resistance in Mogadishu.

The complexities of this conflict and its potential implications for the stability of the East African region continue to loom large.

The global community must remain alert and responsive to developments within this critical theater of war.