Somali Forces seize El Buur, Al-Shabab’s central bastion

El-Buur (Caasimada Online) – In a significant strike against Al-Shabab, the combined forces of Somalia’s army and Macawisley fighters reclaimed the strategic town of El Buur on Friday.

This monumental victory offers a moment of reflection on the broader campaign against this al-Qaeda-affiliated group. It poses questions about the future of Somalia’s counter-insurgency efforts.

For 16 years, Al-Shabab wielded power from El Buur, launching many deadly attacks across the region.

But with Friday’s victory, Ibrahim Sheikh Muhydin, Somalia’s army chief, declared to the nation on a live Facebook broadcast: “El Buur district, a major Al-Shabab stronghold, has fallen into the hands of Somali forces this hour. There will be peace and prosperity.”

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who’s been at the forefront of the promise to dismantle Al-Shabab in a mere five months, will no doubt hail this as a testament to his commitment.

Collaboration and challenges

The rare synergy between the army and macawisley fighters has carved out the most substantial territorial victories against Al-Shabab since the 2010s.

Farah Aden, a Macawisley fighter, noted the change in tactics, stating, “This is the first time the federal government is in Galmudug state to fight Al-Shabab seriously.”

However, while optimism fills the air, some, including Hassan Abdullahi, another Macawisley combatant, remain cautious, revealing concerns about Al-Shabab’s resilience and tactical shifts.

He commented that the early announcement of the government’s offensive strategies provided Al-Shabab “the chance and time to plant mines everywhere and to ready car bombs.”

Looking beyond the battlefield

Experts believe that capturing territories is only part of the challenge. The government has previously faced obstacles in maintaining control over reclaimed areas and preventing Al-Shabab’s bombing campaigns.

This, coupled with the government’s vague timeline for launching a second phase targeting Al-Shabab’s southern heartland, keeps strategic analysts on edge.

Omar Mahmood of the International Crisis Group think tank expressed skepticism regarding the prospects of complete elimination.

“If military pressure is designed to push toward the complete elimination of Shabaab, then I think we’ll miss opportunities to resolve this conflict,” he opined, hinting at the need for political engagement alongside military operations.

El Buur’s capture is a landmark in the persistent campaign against Al-Shabab that began a year ago, reclaiming vast territories in central Somalia.

Nevertheless, while the government and its allies ride this wave of success, it is crucial to recognize that eliminating Al-Shabab, deeply embedded in many of Somalia’s communities, demands a comprehensive approach, amalgamating military action with socio-political strategies.

Only time will unveil the true impact of El Buur’s liberation on the future of Somalia.